We all know when you book a flight, depending on when you book and how you book can affect the price. The person sitting beside you may have paid less for the same flight because they booked early, or used a price comparison site or booked with the airline direct. We are all aware of this and because of this awareness accept it as a fact of life. But did you know that it seems it is not only when and how that can affect the price, but also the operating system you use.
A study published today by Northwestern University found that some websites offer cheaper prices to different operating systems. The study looked at 16 sites and of those sites, 6 of them used the pricing scheme known as 'Discriminatory Pricing'. Probably the most famous of the sites monitored was Travelocity which was found to offer iOS users quotes which were typically $15 cheaper than users on a non-iOS device. The study also noted that it was just the operating systems that defined the price you would receive, but also whether it was mobile or desktop orientated. For instance, the researchers found that users on mobiles and browsing Home Depot's website were typically directed to a product which was $100 more than those who searched for the same criteria on a desktop browser.
What was less clear from the findings was why or what made the companies opt for the operating systems that they did. As the companies have not commented, it is not known why iOS users might be receiving a discounted or cheaper price than Android or any other operating system. To try and test the claims we decided to run a very unscientific test. We tested the results of two searches using an iOS device (iPad), Android device (OnePlus One) and Windows based laptop. They were all tested against each other at the same time, using the same searches and on their respective browsers. Following this, the iOS and android devices were tested again using the Travelocity app. You can see the results of our searches in the images below but to cut a long story short there were not any differences in the prices we checked. On all comparisons prices were always the same regardless of operating system and as such we could not replicate the findings by Northwestern University. However, that does not mean it does not happen. We did however note on iOS a 'daily deal' is promoted much more prominently than on Android although the deal and its price were the same on both operating systems. It is probably best to take from this that it might always be best to double check a quote you receive on another OS before buying. You never know, you may be being charged more just for using android.
iOS, Android and Windows Hotels
iOS, Android and Windows Browser Flights
iOS and Android App Flights
iOS and Android App Hotels