Speed 22 May 2012

While watching the Twitter stream from #Multimania this morning I saw a photo from Aral Balkan (@aral) of a presentation showing a tweet from Andrew Sampson (@sampsonian) about Ryanair and the cost of a trip.


This wasn’t the usual Ryanair complaint about being charged £5 for two bits of bread, or £30 to print out a boarding pass. This was something much more sinister.

Ryanair Exhibit A - Image from Aral Balkan (@aral)

Andrew’s tweet read:

“Ryanair exhibit A. Looked up fare yesterday, total £123.00. Returned today and fare is £237.00. Flushed cookies. Fare back to £123.00.”

What this means is that Ryanair has purposefully tracked when Andrew’s visited the site, looked at a specific fare and not made a booking. Usually this sort of thing is done for targeted advertising across other sites, but Ryanair it seems has something else in mind. The next time Andrew visited the site to look at the same fare he had look at previously, Ryanair had hiked up the cost. I assume this is to get a customer to worry that the cost will go up further and book a trip there and then.

Being a web savvy guy, Andrew reset his cookies and went back to the Ryanair site to find that his proposed trip was at the original cost of £123. This in my opinion goes way beyond the use of cookies for more relevant advertising and is a blatant misuse of data. For other consumers who aren’t as switched on as Andrew, it means paying almost double the price for no reason whatsoever, aside from having visited the site and looked at fares the previous day. It’s perhaps the closest thing to daylight robbery you could find online.


While I’d like to think that Ryanair are the only ones doing this, unfortunately, I’m sure they’re not alone. I’m going to do some investigating to see what might be occurring with cookies and other travel sites. Stay tuned….

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