I shared the 5 OTA scams in my last post. It’s dumb to tell you the problem but not provide the solution. So here are 7 tips to avoid OTA scams and the scientific reason behind why you should periodically clear your browser history.
7 Tips to Avoid OTA Scam
So here are the tips to avoid OTA scams:
- Do not buy anything from an online travel agent like Travelgenio, Travel2Be, Tripmonster, and Schiphol Tickets. Their pricing seem low, but you will lose more money in the long run. It’s cheaper and easier to book directly with the airlines. Trust me! I have made the mistake before.
- Use credit card to pay. You can request chargeback from your credit card company and you get protection from your card.
- Book directly. If you accidentally spell your name wrongly like “Elizabeth” instead of “Elisabeth”, you can edit directly with the airlines. With OTA, good luck spending hours in the phones, talking to the idiots on the other side. And paying 50€ for the “admin fee”.
- Clear your cookies. Use incognito window to find your flights. I use flights.google.com to look for the routes, then book directly with the airlines by going to specificairlines.com and find the prices.
- After check everything, log in to your frequent flyer account. Otherwise, the prices might increase when you search for flights and your account is logged in.
- Book directly at the airlines website, with your credit card. Some credit cards, like AMEX, have travel discounts, but it’s cheaper to book on the airlines website than on AMEX travel platform.
- Do not book your hotel on the airline website. Why: remember how these idiots lose your air tickets booking or forget to add extra baggage into the booking? Yeah. Same thing will happen for your car and hotel. I use Booking because it is automated, and very little human transaction. I never had an error with Booking.com.
Why Clear Cookies and History
You’re probably wondering why in the hell does clearing cookies work? See, the pricing engine price air tickets not just based on the air ticket itself, but also on your personal information you give. If your history has a lot of fancy searches and website, or your frequent flyer history shows only flying business/first class, they will give you the upper bound of ticket prices because they know you can afford it.
Give them as little details about you as possible, so as to get the fairest price.
That means, delete history. Delete cookies. Use a different browser. Use incognito. Use VPN.
The pricing engine that airlines use to determine fare is incredibly complex, and the cost of the actual ticket is only part of the inputs. Other inputs include things like “customer id”, “number of times user has searched for this itinerary”, the time of day, the day of the week, the time of the month (early, middle, late), the month, how close it is to the 1st or the 15th (paydays, when people are feeling rich), the browser you’re using, and a whole host of other stuff.
It’s all centered around presenting you with a price that seems reasonable, but sits just under the “no, that’s too much,” threshold, and they are very good at figuring out what that is. Don’t give them more data than you need to.
My secret solution: 1. VPN. 2. specific browser for searching flights (I use firefox and delete history all the time). 3. Once I find the flight pricing, I book directly.
Trevellers is my way to change the world. Through my stories, tips and lessons learnt, I truly hope to inspire you to get out of your comfort zone, see the world and see who you truly are. Travel is more than just taking a selfie. Travel is an adventure, where you can truly become who you are, give you the time to reflect and grow to become the person you’ve always wanted to be.