Save money on Ryanair fares by... deleting your cookies?

23 March 2011

While we were idly skimming through The Twitter yesterday, this offering from Andrew Sampson started being retweeted all over the place...

Screen shot 2011-03-23 at 10.08.49

Hmm, what he seems to be suggesting is that Ryanair’s prices can fluctuate according to whether or not they know you have visited their site a short time beforehand. Delete the cookies from your web browser and the original, cheaper price remains available.

Anyone else ever experienced this kind of shady unusualness? Anyone fancy trying it out so that we can see how widespread it might be? There’s your challenge crimefighters – off you go!

TOPICS:   Travel   Technology


  • John
    Seems legit, see:
  • Dominik
    Yes, I fly to Poland very often and the price change exprience is happening to me every time I'm searching for flights. I thing a legal action should arise against Ryanair as this is against the law what they've been doing over years. They are untouchable as single person claim will never win against a giant company like Ryanair but if there is more of us we have a chance. I would also like them to stop stealing the money by charging for every person on the ticket both ways with debit card fee!! Sometimes the amount of money I pay to paym for my ticket increases the total price 2x - that is ridiculous!!! People, let's fight with Ryanair!!!!
  • Gunn
    Nice tip will make sure I do that before booking. i heard there are new EU laws on cookies so perhaps that will help.
  • SB
    RyanAir have been doing this for at least 2 years, it's a bit of a disgrace but I thought this was widely known!?
  • Ally
    That is some cheeky cheeky shenanigans - I also doubt it'll be restricted to a RyanAir practice.
  • Richard
    Yes - I have seen this on Ryanair many years ago - it "knew" I was looking for this fare and it bumped up the price each time I visited. New computer, back to normal prices.
  • dvdj
    Pretty sure that do the same as I had endless trouble trying to book a train to London as the prices kept changing up and down.
  • marky
    I seem to recall Amazon have 'dynamic' pricing too but it's based on overall popularity, not just revisits. If you want something at a good price, don't keep going back to it!
  • Chris W.
    I'm fairly sure Amazon got caught doing something similar to this in the US a few years back.
  • Jason
    I had the same issue on Expedia several years ago when booking holidays. It became a matter of course to clear cookies before visiting the site...
  • Kevin
    It's happened to me on several sites over the last year or two, everything from hotels, to flights, to dvd's!
  • Dickie B.
    Have had similar experiences with both Easyjet and Virgin......
  • Charlie
    @ Dominic - they are not stealing money by charging you for using a debit card. You agree to paying it by flying with them and using a debit card to book. If they don't charge you for that, they will charge you for something else. So be smart, avoid the charges that you can easily avoid and let others subsidise your flights for you. If you want to avoid the charge, get a prepaid mastercard from FairFX ... They are free when you top them up (with your debit card). Get one now (they can take 10 days to arrive), and be ready next time you book. Everyone should have one, just to avoid the charges imposed by Ryanair for booking using other ways. Even if you fly only once with Ryanair, it is worth getting one, just to stick your fingers up to the Air Marshall when you book. You can always use the card like a regular mastercard after that to clear the balance if you do nto need it to book flights.
  • Tweedskin
    @ Charlie I think you're missing Dominik's point there. If you buy 4 tickets with ryanair in ONE TRANSACTION, why should the debit card booking fee be applied FOR EACH TICKET? Surely, it is one transaction so the fee should be charged once. And yes, I did call you Shirly.
  • blagga
    I've seen this with several over the years - Amazon, Lastminute, Expedia, Eurostar. It's not just Ryanair, even though I hate them the most for it. @Charlie - fuck off and post your referral link somewhere else. If anyone wants that card, just go to Fairfx via their portal and avoid topping up his referral rates.
  • Big D.
    This happened on the website when I checking laptops. Went up by over £100 when I went back to buy it.
  • PokeHerPete
    @Charlie, Thanks I signed up for one pause not.
  • HateStupidGossip
    @John Wow, nicely ripped out of context. Why don't you link to the whole discussion...? Hate you people... sneaky bastards!
  • sgandtg
    If you want to avoid the massive charges added when paying by credit card (or just about any other card), why do you book direct with ryanair? If you book through Travel Republic (or some other similar agent), you can avoid the extra card charges. For example, I "booked" a ryanair flight from Prestwick to Alicante from April 3rd to April 11th and didn't include any extras such as bagge, insurance, extra. The cost came to about £248.36. When you choose to pay by any card other than Mastercard prepaid, it adds £24 making the total £272.36. Booking the exact same via Travel Republic amounts to £248.36 plus either £6.21 if you pay by American express / Visa /Mastercard or £3.10 with mastercard Debit / Maestro / Switch / Visa Delta. Paying by Connect, Solo or Visa electron is completely free. Potentially a saving of £24 based on this example.
  • sgandtg
    Meant to say, this was based on 2 people.
  • Slacker
    Frankly I'd rather be pushed to my continental destination in a wheelbarrow than fly with this bunch of cunts, irrespective of price.
  • Murt
    Use to plan your trip. If you do it this way Ryanair cookies don't get onto your PC. When you actually decide to book skyscanner will transfer you to the Ryanair site
  • Simon
    I know BA don't do this (even though they say they can) ... Another reason to never go anywhere near ryanair
  • Jimbo
    I noticed that Easyjet do this as well.
  • callum
    I'm personally glad they seem to put so many people off flying with them. Because people are either so lazy they won't check terms and conditions etc. or are making some kind of point (which no-one else notices so is pretty futile really), and I can follow the simple terms and conditions they impose, I get to fly a lot cheaper than I would otherwise.
  • Screw B.
    [...] Mum will be savvy enough to clear the cookies on her browser to avoid getting completely screwed over by Ryanair’s [...]
  • Ryanair I.
    [...] Rumours allege that Ryanair uses browser cookies to unfairly push prices up. Specifically, it has been suggested that travellers who search for a flight, don’t buy it, and then carry out the same search later are given a higher price. A few users have reported that clearing their browser cookies appears to bring the price back down again. [...]
  • Robin L.
    Turns out Ryanair isnt a cookie monster after all
  • Why T.
    [...] of sudden, pay-to-pee, standing room-only etc was forgiven and Ryanair could be gamed by simply deleting cookies after a search was carried out, apparently giving users a fare costing [...]
  • Why T.
    [...] of sudden, pay-to-pee, standing room-only etc was forgiven and Ryanair could be gamed by simply deleting cookies after a search was carried out, apparently giving users a fare costing [...]
  • RLF
    Had a similar experience last night whilst trying to book 12 flights, card got declined at very last click due to over cautious fraud protection at my Bank! Ryan Air sent me back to their homepage without keeping all the details I had entered for the 12 passengers and funnily enough it leaves no evidence of the initial price! I then had to start all over again and the prices had gone up by 15 euros per flight! Unbelivable. Felt I had no option but to book it at higher price, as I needed these flights for a group booking and Ryan Air Customer Service wasn't open late. Then this morning I check the flights out of interest and they're back down to what they were the first time I tried to book....disgusting. So they knew I needed to book these flights and it does make me wonder if there's some sort of cookie scam going on. I understand flight prices do fluctuate etc, BUT the fact they were a higher price purely for my second attempt at booking last night and then back to the lower price this morning, says something! I have written a letter of complaint to Ryan Air Customer Services as I think the situation is unacceptable and I am 180 euros out of pocket for no valid reason. We'll see what happens, but they shouldn't be allowed to operate so unfairly and take extra money from innnocent people who are spending money with their company. I'm not a happy Ryan Air Customer and I doubt I will receive any response from them, although I will keep trying.
  • JW
    I searched for 2 flights to Marrakech at work, first they were around £150 then after checking a few other flights a day later (same computer) they were £193. Came home and booked on my home pc which hadn't looked at those flights before and the cost was £141.96. Very suspicious but a result regardless.
  • Porn? G.
    [...] the good folks at Bitter Wallet give us at least one legit reason to use it, which is to fool some shady princing tactics which [...]
  • Not d.
    [...] other services make it easy to search all the possible Prices quickly (although you may want to clear your cookies before searching). Travelocity even gives me the option to say that I’m flexible with dates and [...]
  • Gareth W.
    This happened to me a few weeks ago. Booked a flight to Thailand with Qatar airways after checking their website for weeks to see if the price was coming down for the date that i wanted. I checked their website a week later and the flight was £50 cheaper. All the details and connecting flights were all the same so i was'nt pleased to say the least. Contacted Qatar about this and all the could say was prices go up and down. This should be illegal to view cookies to rip off people.
  • [...] [...]
  • Bazza
    Yes I have witnessed this price bumping on Ryan Air, I tried deleting cookies on all browsers but no luck, I even tried sites like hidemyass to hide my I.P address by using different proxy servers but Ryan Air seems to detect them as I can't seem to get to the flight prices after submitting times and dates etc., very odd.
  • Raymond D.
    Hi. Checked prices Belfast to Luton return on 7th April 2012. Originally quoted £26.99 out and about £29.99 back. Checked an hour later and prices had gone up to £31?? & £36??. On third visit I ended up paying £34?? & £40??. I thought the reason was due to a demand and prices were rising. When I checked later on after booking the prices had gone down to £24.99 & £31.99. I will be more carefull in future. I would describe Easy Jets practice as sharp.
  • Ryanair a.
    [...] informácie sa objavili pred rokom – Save money on Ryanair fares by… deleting your cookies? Ľudom to nedalo, tak testovali – Ryanair Manipulating Prices with Cookies? It’s an Urban [...]
  • cautela r.
    [...] [...]
  • Si
    Does Ryanair ask for your permission to store these cookies and explain their purpose. No? The IPC might be interested to hear from you...
  • Susan
    same thing happened to me, I booked a flight for £129 as it said special fare as was christmas time and I look a few days after and it had gone down to £69! I agree, I think Ryan Air can detect when you want to book and bump the price up. I have written to complain but doubt they will do anything about it! In future I will be very careful to use different computers when checking fares before I book with Ryan Air again, otherwise I will lose a lot of money.
  • ukphil
    Ryanair are not using cookies to monitor your pricing. They do store the last flight setup but not the price. I watch Ryanair prices every day and keep accurate records. I am looking six months ahead and book many flights. What I have found is that the prices do move, often on a daily basis, the nearer you get to a flight. There is no science to it, it is simply a demand based pricing model that seems to follow a polynomial trend. That is, the price starts high about six months ahead and gets cheaper until about 10 - 15 days before the flight, then if the demand is still good it will continue to rise as the flight day gets nearer. What you people are seeing the changes due to demand. However, there are other factors too. This morning I sampled 15 different flights then I deleted my cookies, restarted my browser and sampled them again. Everyone was exactly the same as before. But tomorrow, I guarantee, many will have changed. It is not the cookies. Relax.
  • Andrea
    I was purchasing a Ryanair flight, but the credit card transaction failed for unclear reasons: I am pretty sure I had entered the right numbers. I switched to another browser, so I should have been free from cookie issues: but still the same flight, two minutes later, was charged about 15 Euros more. I suspect that Ryanair tracks not only by means of cookies, but also by registering the IP from which you are connecting: most probably, the IP stays constant for a given ADSL session, so to really appear as a new customer you should rather switch off and on again the modem ... Did anybody experience the same issue, namely an authorization failure and immediately after an increased price? I am unsure if it is illegal, but certainly looked like a trick to me.
  • Alex
    Andrea, the same happens to me regularly. You go through the whole booking. The transaction is mysteriously denied even if the numbers carefully. You try again - it keeps being denied. I once contacted my bank to know what was wrong and I was told no request for debit was made according to their records. You then close the session (there is no way to change the card numbers), start again, and voila' the prices are up! I think they register the IP or simply check how many times a particular flight is requested and adjust their prices on demand.
  • burt's c.
    i ahve observed these in stores, but i havent gotten my hands on a single yet! : i've the requlars even though! these look incredibly incredibly good
  • Tony
    I found the same thing happening on so today I tried an experiment both on Firefox and on Internet Explorer. Before cookies & cache were deleted I was offered a stright return fare of £27.50 with no cheap single options. After deleting cookies and cache I was offered single fares of £9.00 and £12.00 each way.
  • maybe n.
    Sorry guys.. And how do we delete the cookies from ryanair? (i dont know much :$ ) Thank you.! :)
  • Lele
    @ukphil Then how would you explain prices going down when a user changed PC?
  • SillySod
    Sorry to poo poo this idea, but I doubt very much that cookies are having anything to do with this. If they were using a cookie to record that you had previously shown an interest, then if anything I would expect them to offer you a cheaper flight next time if anything. I know Ryanair flights vary in price constantly, I have used skyscanner to get email alerts and its quite unusual for the price not to change from day to day. I suspect its just price fluctuations and not the cookie causing this. There is a lot of paranoia around RyanAir, dont believe everything you read.
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