"Cookie Monster" Driving Up the Cost of Travel

Shopping around for airline deals could end up costing you more

By Anne Reynolds
|  Tuesday, Mar 17, 2009  |  Updated 6:22 AM EDT
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 "Cookie Monster" Driving Up the Cost of Travel

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These happy travelers avoided cookies.

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It's time to start planning your summer vacation, but as you search for travel bargains on the Internet, your computer may be working against you. Many Web sites use so-called "cookies" on your own computer to keep you from getting the best price.

Cookies are parcels of information that get stored on your computer when you visit certain sites. They can be really helpful -- you have cookies to thank for storing passwords and your preferences on sites you frequent, enabling the site to remember you, and saving you from having to re-enter basic information on each visit.

However, some airline Web sites are using the technology against you. By implanting a cookie on your computer, that site will recognize you if you return to the site, and will often quote a higher price.

The philosophy is simple: if you're shopping around and return to the site, you probably saw something you liked, and are ready to book. If the price has gone up, you'll likely want to book quickly, because you think prices are now on the rise.

It's a sneaky practice, but you can trick the Web site by removing cookies from your computer.

Here's how: Open Internet Explorer, click on tools, then Internet options, then delete cookies.

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