With the best VPN installed, you’ll be able unlock cheaper flight prices
Looking for the cheapest flights for your next trip?
While you might start by checking the best easyJet deals, best British Airways deals, or a comparison tool like Google Flights and Skyscanner to find cheaper flights … there’s a trick to unlock the biggest discounts that every traveller needs to know.
The travel hack? You need to use a VPN to hide your IP address and browsing habits.
Yes, it’s true. VPNs are a secret flying hack that offers access to dramatically lower prices not usually open to you, with research revealing that VPN users save £130 per flight on average.
This clever travel trick works because airline companies, search engines, and booking sites serve up different rates based on a whole host of information on you – like the country you’re based in when you visit its website. Some brands go as far as to drill down on the specific geographic region within each nation to tweak airline ticket prices.
‘Why are airlines and flight comparison sites so bothered where I am?’, you might be wondering.
It’s because these companies use location data – with a slew of other signals gleaned from your browsing habits, web browser, and device – to dynamically alter the prices shown on-screen.
For example, if you’re visiting a flight search engine or airline website from a country with a high average income, you could see higher prices. Other factors, like demand in the country and the home countries of airlines, can also impact the price of international flights.
With a few taps, VPNs can make it appear as if you’re located in any country on the planet. That makes these applications a superb way to find cheaper flights you wouldn’t ordinarily see.
The best VPN will offer a stable, speedy connection and a wide choice of server locations dotted across the planet. That means you’ll be able to browse as normal – all while spoofing your location to appear as if you’re located in different countries around the globe.
Short on time? If you want to use a VPN to unlock more affordable flights, then look no further than ExpressVPN. For a limited time, you can unlock 3 months of this VPN service for FREE.
And that’s not all, sign-up for a longer contract and you’ll enjoy a 49% discount on your subscription. ExpressVPN has 24/7 customer service and offers a 30-day no-quibbles money-back guarantee, which essentially functions like a free trial.
ExpressVPN has over 3,000 servers found in 94 countries worldwide, so no matter what airline you’re trying to book with, or where you trying to book flights from …you should be able to lower prices by switching between dozens of VPN locations.
We awarded the service five stars in our ExpressVPN review.
There’s more detail on ExpressVPN and some of its closest competition below.
We’ve also got information on how VPNs work, instructions on how to use a VPN for cheaper flights, the best locations for low-cost flights, and whether it’s legal to use a VPN to find cheap flights. Scroll down for our complete guide to the ultimate cheap flight VPN or use the links above to immediately jump to the relevant section.
Why are flights cheaper with a VPN?
Airlines don’t typically set an RRP – Recommended Retail Price – for their flights in the same way that, say, an iPhone or a car has a price tag set by the manufacturer.
Instead, airlines are constantly tweaking the price of routes based on the demand, events taking place at that time (half terms, festivals, concerts, etc), the location where you’re visiting its booking system, the location of its planes, and much more.
As mentioned above, airlines and booking sites use your IP address – the number every device is assigned when it connects to the internet – to identify the brand and model of your device, your operating system, and your location to dynamically alter the prices too.
Dynamic pricing from airlines can work to your advantage …or it can cost you a small fortune
This information is used to influence the prices shown on-screen. For example, the travel website Orbitz admitted to showing more expensive hotel rooms to those visiting its service from a Mac over a Windows PC since the former tends to cost more money (and therefore suggests a higher income)
It’s widely rumoured that cookies, software that tracks your movements around the web, are also used to adjust price tags. Although a number of the biggest travel search engines and booking sites deny this practice, anecdotally, users often report that plane and train tickets rise in cost when revisiting a previously-visited listing to book at a later time.
As mentioned above, location (determined by your IP address) is another factor that can impact pricing. For example, if you’re visiting a website from a country with a high average income, you’re likely to see higher prices. Other geographical factors – like the level of demand in the country and where the airline is based – can also influence the prices listed.
Many of these techniques were publicly confirmed for the first time in 2018 when airline revenue management software firm PROS revealed that its clients rely on dynamic pricing structures – using indicators like user location, previous flight data, shopping trends, and more to tailor individual flight prices. This confirmed suspicions that prices differed from customer to customer. Popular airlines such as Lufthansa, Virgin Atlantic, Qantas, Emirates, Southwest, and many more rely on PROS.
The practice was also revealed in research published in October 2016 by Consumer Reports which showed that across nine of the top travel search sites « 42 pairs of different prices on separate browsers for the same sites retrieved simultaneously. »
Is there a VPN flight discount that applies the moment you load up one of these apps? No, of course not.
There are a number of reasons to use a VPN …but a discount on your next flight is a nice bonus
Using a VPN to create an encrypted tunnel to funnel all of your web traffic so that it’s hidden from criminals, trackers, and advertisers will not lower the cost of flights.
But the ability for VPNs to re-route encrypted web traffic via servers dotted across the globe can unlock cheaper flights. Of course, you’d have the same impact on prices by travelling to different countries, opening your laptop, connecting to a local Wi-Fi network, and booking a flight from there… it’s just that that would be a lot more expensive as you’d need to factor in the cost of all of that travel (and that’s literally what we’re trying to reduce!)
In comparison to that, the best VPN deals are incredibly affordable.
Research from ExpressVPN has shown that, on average, its users save around £130 per flight. Speaking about this phenomenon, Harold Li, Vice President at ExpressVPN told us: “A VPN should be at the top of everyone’s travel packing list. It’s essential for protecting the privacy of your daily digital life, so you can use the questionable free wifi in the hotel with less security stress. Our research into airline and hotel bookings has also confirmed that the travel benefits of VPNs can extend to much earlier in the vacation planning process. Choosing a different server location can provide a notable advantage when making travel plans, in some instances allowing people to save money on their vacation budgets and avoid price discrimination.”
What is a VPN?
Chances are, you’re familiar with the term « VPN » …but what does it actually mean? Well, in a very literal sense, VPN stands for « Virtual Private Network », but that likely doesn’t make things much clearer.
A VPN adds an extra layer of protection to everything you do online by encrypting your data.
Without a VPN, the information sent between your device and the website you’re using is like a postcard – everything is clearly visible as it travels to its final destination. The encrypted tunnel for your online traffic created by a VPN is like a sturdy, triple-padlocked envelope around the metaphorical postcard. It means that only you and the intended recipient can see the information.
VPNs route all of your internet traffic via an encrypted tunnel – keeping everything private
This protection works regardless of whether you’re connected via Wi-Fi, ethernet, at home, or in using a public Wi-Fi network in a coffee shop or airport. Since all of your data is encrypted, your online activity will be completely hidden – like Incognito Mode mode on Google Chrome, but cranked up to 11.
As well as the huge boost to privacy, this has other perks too.
If your broadband provider places restrictions on certain types of internet traffic (this is quite common when connected to Wi-Fi networks in coffee shops or University campuses) this can be avoided by masking the nature of your web traffic with a VPN.
But the biggest single perk of using a VPN is the ability to manually change your IP address, which contains information about your current location. This allows you to spoof your location to countries around the world. This allows you to access sites and services that aren’t usually available in your country, unlock new shows and films on streaming services, and access cheaper flights when booking your next trip.
Is it legal to use a VPN for cheap flights?
Using a VPN to re-route your traffic to different server locations around the world is not illegal in the UK. In fact, most company laptops provided to employees working from home likely ship with a VPN installed to protect sensitive information.
VPNs have been an essential part of day-to-day life for enterprise or government workers for years but, as we rely on the internet for more tasks in our daily lives, these apps are becoming increasingly common with individuals to enhance their privacy, bolster streaming, and unlock cheap flights.
There are only 10 countries in the world where VPNs are outlawed
VPNs aren’t legal everywhere. At the time of writing, there are 10 countries in the world where VPNs are specifically outlawed: China, Russia, Belarus, North Korea, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Iraq, Turkey, UAE, and Oman.
If you’re travelling to any of these, you might want to uninstall the app from your device. Anywhere else on the planet, you’re allowed to connect to the internet using a VPN.
That said, it’s worth checking the Terms and Conditions of each service that you intend to use with your VPN to ensure that you aren’t breaking any of its rules. For example, streaming boxsets, live television, and movies from BBC iPlayer is restricted to those located within the UK who are covered with a television licence – with the use of VPNs to unblock the streaming service from mainland Europe, the USA, and elsewhere, specifically called-out are against its T&Cs in the small print.
It’s the responsibility of the user to check whether using a VPN with your favourite airline companies, booking tools, flight search engines and comparison sites are outlawed.
How to get the cheapest flights with a VPN
Accessing the cheapest flights with a VPN is incredibly simple.
First up, you’ll need to launch your VPN on the device you’re planning to use to book your flights.
The best VPNs all offer dedicated apps for all of your favourite gadgets, including Windows PCs, Mac, laptops and desktops, Android tablets and iPads, iPhone, Android, Google Chrome web browser, Fire TV Stick, as well as Wi-Fi routers so that every single device that connects to your home internet will be routed via the secure VPN connection.
Open you’ve opened the VPN app, then you’ll need to choose a location. Unfortunately, there’s no single country that always guarantees the cheapest flight deals, so you’re going to have to experiment a little bit.
However, if you’re flying with a flag carrier – like Singapore Airlines, American Airlines, Air Canada, Qatar Airways, and others – it might be advantageous to locate yourself in that country. Likewise, if you’re flying from an airport abroad, local rates might differ.
Keep in mind some of the data that booking services take into consideration when tweaking their pricing.
With a few taps, you can change your IP address and feign being in another location
Once you’ve selected a location and all of your web traffic is being re-routed to that server location – effectively making it appear as if you’ve hopped to the other side of the planet – it’s time to clear the cookies in your web browser.
There’s no point going to all the trouble of manually changing your IP address, only for the prices to remain consistent because the cookies stored in your Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Microsoft Edge have kept a record of how many times you’ve checked a particular route, your online shopping habits, and more.
And that’s it.
Load up your chosen booking site, comparison tool, or airline website and start searching for flights.
If you want to switch to another VPN server location, you’ll need to clear the cookies stored in your browser each time. Keep screenshots (Ctrl + PrtScn on Windows, Shift-Command-3 on Mac, Side button + Volume Up on iPhone, Power button + Volume Down on Android) of the different prices so you can keep a record of how much ticket prices have changed, especially since there are a few steps each time you want to switch back to check at another location.
The best VPN for cheap flights
If you’re searching for best VPN to find discounts and deals on flight prices that you wouldn’t usually be able to access …look no further than ExpressVPN.
This nifty software is already ranked in the Gold Medal position in our in-depth guide to the best VPN and earned the full five stars in our ExpressVPN review, so it’s perhaps unsurprising that this superb service is our recommendation for travellers.
ExpressVPN has a minuscule impact on download speeds – perfect for those without the fastest home broadband connection – despite connecting to far-flung server locations on the other side of the planet. It also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you join risk-free and receive a full refund if you’re unhappy with the service. It’s essentially a free trial.
For a limited time, ExpressVPN customers can enjoy 49% off their subscription, with free months of the service bundled for free. As such, you can get 15-months for the cost of just 12.
Need more detail? Our in-depth ExpressVPN review has all of the answers.