Consolidators are ticket brokers who negotiate airline ticket prices (primarily international tickets) directly with the airlines and sell them to travelers at discounted prices, sometimes at prices up to 70% lower than the airlines’ published prices. Consolidator contracts are awarded to companies that show excellent selling records and big volumes. This article explains how to purchase consolidator airline tickets, provides useful tips and lists some of the better known consolidators.
- Plan your travel ahead of time but be flexible on exact dates and flights. If price is your number-one priority, booking consolidator airplane tickets can save you money.
- Work with a travel professional. A travel agent is the best way to purchase tickets from a reputable consolidator. Travel agents who deal with consolidator tickets will have a list of consolidators they work with on a consistent basis so they know who is reputable and who is not. Although they may add a slight mark-up to the ticket, the price you pay will be less than anywhere else you purchase the tickets. Plus, if you have a problem with flight delays or cancellations, you have a person to contact.
- Examine the travel section of your local newspaper, especially the Sunday edition, for advertisements from airline ticket consolidators who sell to the public.
- Go online. Although many travel sites advertise that they sell wholesale fares, only a few of them actually do. Some that do are listed below. Each of these sites have a large selection of consolidator tickets and they handle the customer service on behalf of the consolidator so you have an advocate in case of a problem. If you use an online consolidator make sure you can contact the company off the Internet, in case of emergencies.
- The majority of discounted consolidator tickets are on international flights. Domestic flights at reduced prices are far less common and typically are only standby tickets on commonly and popular domestic flights between major hubs, like Denver to New York, or San Francisco to Chicago.
- Be prepared to travel from a major city or hub. If you do not live near a major hub, your travel agent can find you the least expensive way to get to the departure point for your international flight.
- Try to travel Monday through Thursday. This will give you two big pricing advantages: a) much better seat availability, b) you will save on average $30 or more per person in each direction by not incurring the weekend surcharge. More people travel on weekends and airfare will cost much more.
- Minimum stay Saturday required. Many of you have seen this before but what it really means? It’s pretty simple. The majority of airlines require traveler(s) to spend an overnight Saturday during his or her trip. If you depart on a Tuesday, in order to qualify for a cheaper rate you must return at least on a Sunday. If you need to depart on Sunday and return the next Saturday, or earlier, you will not be able to qualify for the cheaper fare.
- Travel off-season. Prices are highest during Summer and Holidays. You can save as much as 60% on airline tickets if you travel during low seasons like Winter, Spring or Fall.
- There are guides available that can help you sort out the reputable consolidators from the shady ones. Some recommended books: are
- First Class Travel Tips by Jim Burke
- Air Travels Bargain Basement by Kelly Monaghan
- Discount Airfares by George Hobart
- Fly Free Stay Cheap by Vicki Mills.
- Believe it or not, most travel sites (the big 4 included) do not sell consolidator airline tickets.
- Purchasing consolidator tickets is not any riskier than buying published airline tickets, however, some have more restrictions and higher penalties. The majority of consolidator tickets are not refundable and are changeable with a penalty. Be sure to ask about the penalties before you purchase the tickets. Consider buying flight insurance so if you have to change your dates of travel or cancel the trip, you can receive a refund.
- When making a booking make sure not to make mistakes (dates, names, etc). If you find a mistake contact your travel agent as soon as possible and notify them of the error. If you arrive at the airport with the wrong name on your tickets, you may be denied boarding and can loose full amount of the ticket.
- Call the airline to confirm your reservation 72 hours in advance on international flights. Make sure there have been no schedule changes.
- If you have to cancel your flight, be sure to call the airline before the flight departs. By doing this, you may receive a partial credit for the value of your ticket. If the flight departs and you are listed as a “no show,” your tickets have zero value.
- Often your consolidator ticket will not show a total amount of the purchase; this is common with consolidator tickets in order to comply with IATA requirements.
- How to Get an Upgrade to First Class
- How to Fly First Class or Business Class for Less
- How to Buy Airline Tickets
- How to Handle Long Layovers at an Airport
- How to Travel on a Budget
Sources and Citations
- Consolidator Ticket Websites
- http://www.iata.org/index.htm “” The IATA
- http://www.bbb.org/ “” The Better Business Bureau
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