Flights Can Be Cheaper On Smartphone
March 19, 2014

Flights Can Be Cheaper On Smartphone

I was looking to book a flight recently, and having had a good look around while on the PC at home, I hadn’t quite got to booking anything. Then later in the day I checked on my iPhone, using the Skyscanner app, just to make sure the price hadn’t gone up before I got home and booked it that evening. I then saw that the flight was considerably cheaper than when I had looked at it earlier in the day on my PC.

In the morning, the flight from Nagoya in Japan to Shanghai in China had been $250. Now, it was $160. Obviously flights do not usually go down in price so significantly in such a short space of time. Having checked that I hadn’t just put in the wrong dates or route or something, I called the travel agency to ask what was going on. The friendly guy there told me that it is not uncommon for flights to be up to one third cheaper (as mine was) when booked on a smartphone. He said this was done by travel companies in order to promote their apps for these devices.

Until then, I hadn’t bothered to use a smartphone to look for flights much because there is often a lot of cluttered information on the screen and it can be a bit unpleasant to navigate. For over 30 percent off, though, it’s well worth it!

This does not mean that all flights are cheaper when found and booked on a smartphone. In fact, the majority are the same price as when booked on a computer. However, it is worth having a quick check the next time you book a flight, as there may just be big savings there.

This experience led me to research other ways of saving money on flights. Aside from the obvious stuff like booking a decent time in advance (six to eight weeks being optimum), one thing I came across was people saying that travel sites use cookies to assess what you have looked at already, and raise or lower prices accordingly. They can tell how prepared you are to buy something from previous activity. A bit of research found this theory to be questionable, but certainly possible. Even on the USA Today website, two different opinions on the subject from two different people were there to confuse us. One said it was a myth, the other that it was essential to clear cookies before looking to book flights.

Along similar lines, there have been accusations that travel sites target Apple users with higher end stuff, believing them to be more likely to ‘go luxury,’ and that there are different prices for loyal customers who are logged into a site, and newer customers who are not (and it’s not a lower price for loyal customers as a reward, it is a lower price to encourage newer, less likely to buy customers).

I had heard the Tuesday/Wednesday rule, too – that it is cheaper to book on those days – but a Business Insider article simultaneously quotes different sources that say it is likely a myth, that weekends are actually cheaper, and that no specific day is cheaper or more expensive.

In the same set of search results in which I found that article, which says, “A Texas A&M University study found airlines are more likely to post discounted airfares on Saturday and Sunday,” yet another USA Today article was entitled “Airfare Expert: Why it’s risky to book flights on weekends.”

A minefield of confusion, it seems. But from personal experience, I can say that the booking on smartphone thing can be cheaper. Other than that, I can only guarantee the age-old classic – go with a budget airline.

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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John is a freelance writer from the UK, currently living in Japan and thoroughly enjoying their food and whiskey. His first novel, Three Little Boys, and his travel book, Following Football, are currently available on

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