Let’s face it: traveling by air is becoming increasingly expensive. What with all the baggage fees, priority boarding, a seat that isn’t in the middle, and even a snack to eat that’s not peanuts, we’re constantly forced to pay extra if we want our trip to be comfortable. Needless to say, every bit we can save on the flight ticket itself goes a long way.
Here’s a little secret even your most tech-savvy friends probably don’t know. Booking your flights by using a VPN can save you hundreds of dollars. Here’s how it works.
In layman terms, a Virtual Private Network, or VPN, provides a secure “tunnel” for your data to travel through, meaning all your online activities are anonymous and hidden from prying eyes. That data is routed from your computer to the website you’re wanting to visit via the VPN’s secure servers, where it is then encrypted.
When connected to the internet via a VPN, not only can a website not see who you are, neither can a hacker, government actor, or your Internet Service Provider (ISP). Hence VPNs are essential tools for people looking to protect their online security, privacy, and their freedom of information.
How does a VPN get me cheap flights?
A quality VPN not only hides your IP address but it allows you to pick the location in which you want to “pretend” you’re from. For example, if you are using your computer within the United States but you’re connected to a VPN server that’s located in the United Kingdom, the website you’re visiting will think you’re in the U.K. This means we can search for flights while pretending we’re in a different location. Our Hotspot Shield VPN app has well over 20 virtual locations around the globe to pick from.
The reason you want to do this is simple: Airlines have different rates for different locations. A person booking a flight in Brazil, for example, may pay more for a ticket than a person booking the same trip from Mexico. And the differences can be substantial—hundreds of dollars, even.
Let’s look at an example
Using our Hotspot Shield VPN application, we looked at flights on Kayak from Indianapolis, Indiana, to Manchester, England.
Firstly, we found the price of a Virgin Atlantic flight from IND to MAN on Kayak during Spring Break. Our server location was set to the “United States,” and the cost of the ticket was $2,607.
Next, we switched our server location within the Hotspot Shield app to “United Kingdom.” We then opened up a new browser, cleared the history—including cookies and cache—and typed “Kayak” into the search engine. This time, rather than Kayak.com showing up, we were routed to the U.K. version (Kayak.co.uk)—because that’s where our VPN was telling the site we were located.
We then searched for the exact same flight on the exact same date and were given a total price of £1,751.
When we take that figure and convert it to U.S. dollars using today’s exchange rate of 1.40, the price when booking through the U.K Kayak site was $2,442.87 — a total savings of $164.13.
Now that’s a lot of peanuts!
Booking the flight through the U.K site, or any other site around the world, is no different than booking through your local site. Your email confirmation is the same, your flight details are the same—you just saved a boatload of cash.
And there’s nothing wrong with using a VPN to do this. Kayak has stated on record that it doesn’t care which location you book a flight through, and United Airlines acknowledged that it posts different prices in different countries and that various travel agents (like Kayak) post different rates. It reiterated that there’s nothing in their contract preventing people from booking a flight using a VPN.
In short, it doesn’t matter which location you book the flight through. So you’re free to scour through all 20+ server locations on Hotspot Shield to find a country with the lowest rates. A good rule of thumb is to look for servers located in low-income countries. Typically, that’s where you’ll find the best rates.
Imagine that dream trip to Sydney you’ve been saving for, or your Spring Break vacation in Florida. This trick could literally save you hundreds of dollars, making your trip a reality—or at the very least, pay for a few meals once you’re there. (Plus, there are plenty of examples where people have saved over $400 on flight tickets by using a VPN, so depending on where you’re traveling, the savings could be huge.)
After all, everyone likes to save money. And with just a few clicks of a button, a VPN like Hotspot Shield could be your ticket to considerably lower prices.