NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — New preferential pricing could take off at some major airlines, as providers are looking at ways to charge passengers based on their online shopping habits.

People who spend more may find themselves paying higher prices. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is preemptively asking the federal government to protect passengers from technology that uses personal information such as income to affect pricing.

Schumer says under the policy, two flyers sitting next to each other could be given two different prices based on their internet browsing history, online purchasing, or even income level.

Travel expert Peter Trabucco says the idea mixes big brother with big business.

“This is a dangerous precedent to do something like this,” he told CBS2’s Meg Baker. “You have to be careful how to go about doing that.”

Aviation expert Brian Summers says most airlines have antiquated computer systems that may delay the preferential pricing from happening any time soon.

But airlines could target certain types of travelers.

“They do want to get to a world where if they know you’re a business traveler and you’re travelling to Europe and have to get there immediately, they may show you the most expensive ticket first,” he said.

So what can you do if you’re planning a trip? Experts say you should make sure to get rid of your cookies or use someone else’s computer if you’ve made multiple online searches.

The proposed technology tracks customers’ IP addresses and predicts how much they’re willing to spend on a ticket. It may violate consumer protection laws, but there’s no evidence airlines are using the information yet.

The Federal Trade Commission does not comment on the business practices of a specific company or a specific industry, with narrow exceptions.

Comments (3)
  1. Rich Mann says:

    How is this any different than the Federal government charging someone a 10% tax rate if they earn $5,000 and charging another person a 39.6% tax rate if they earn $500,000?

    1. Rob Fink says:

      Or charging for low-income housing based upon income (the more you make, the more you pay). Or charging for medicare based upon income. Or any of a thousand other government programs. I do not know how it is different, except Chuck Shumer and the government aren’t doing it with airfares (but if they nationalized the industry, you can bet they would).

      Don’t get me wrong, I wish the airlines wouldn’t do it. But at least I can find out what a fair price is and demand it or walk away; Chuckie doesn’t give me that option.

  2. Paul Roberts says:

    The airlines are slotted to give me a real deal. I am willing to spend $0.00 on an airline ticket to have my balls groped before boarding a plane. I do not want the plane to be turned around because some person is passing gas. Fire the TSA and take control back of your airline!

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