Can airlines set fares based on our search history?

Imagine a world where you pay for things based on personal details like your profession, your age, where you live or even your internet search history.

Excuse us while we hurry home to clear our browser histories.


According to tech experts, major airlines could soon be using similar information to determine the price of your airfares.

Ticket prices already vary based on the day of the week, the time of day and whether or not you’re flying in peak season.

Not to mention, this airline we reported on last year who confirmed it plans to charge ticket prices based on passengers weight.

John McBride, the director of product management for a software provider that works with airlines like Lufthansa, Emirates and Southwest told Travel Weekly US a number of operators have already introduced dynamic pricing on some ticket searches.

“2018 will be a very phenomenal year in terms of traction,” McBride said.

“Based on our backlogs of projects, there will be a handful of large carriers that move toward dynamic pricing.”

According to a white paper on pricing written by the Airline Tariff Publishing Company,

“The introduction of a Dynamic Pricing Engine will allow an airline to take a base published fare that has already been calculated based on journey characteristics and broad segmentation, and further adjust the fare after evaluating details about the travellers and current market conditions,”

Basically, it works like this: airlines identify the person making the flight inquiry, whether they’re logged into an OTA or frequent flyer account, and gathers data on their travel history.

Airlines could also set cookies at login (not the delicious kind, the data mining kind) to identify a person even during searches when the person is logged off.

Experts speculate the system will most likely be used to offer discounts to loyal customers, but critics worry about a lack of transparency in the generated ticket pricing.

Mcbride told Travel Weekly US dynamic pricing will benefit customers as much as it will airlines,

“Dynamic pricing clearly speaks to the opportunity for airlines to service a wider range of customers with a broader set of fares.”

What do you think? Is it fair to set ticket pricing based on customers personal details?

Let us know in the comments!