In simple terms, consolidators are airline ticket brokers who buy air tickets from airlines (in bulk and at heavy discounts) and sell them to the travel agencies for a profit. Travel agencies in turn offer such consolidator fares to the consumers (after adding their profits to the price). The airlines use consolidators to offload their excess seat capacities and hence give away blocks of seats at very low price to these consolidators. The consolidator fares, even after markup by consolidators and then by travel agencies, are significantly discounted (up to 70%) to the published fares of airlines. So, the consumers get the cheapest airline fares. Thus, everyone in the equation gains from consolidator fares.
Consolidator fares are available to the consumers both through online and offline (Brick and mortar) travel agencies. However, most airfare search engines do not include the consolidator fares in their airfare search results. Including consolidator fares in the airfare search results in not so straightforward (technically) as the other types of airfares. So, most search engines think it better to leave them out. That said, there are some online travel agencies that actually specialize in finding the consolidator airfares for the consumers e.g. http://www.gofly.ca is one such online travel agency that provides access to airfares from several consolidators in Canada. Actually, such online agencies are where you find the cheapest airfares.
People go to consolidators since they help save a lot of money on international airfares. And there are none denying this fact. But there are a few things that you should keep in mind when looking for the best consolidator fares. Here are the top tips for booking the best consolidator fares:
1. Check Several Options: Since consolidator fares are marked up twice before they reach the consumers – first by the consolidators and then by the travel agencies, there can be significant difference in the consolidator fares from various travel agencies. You must shop around for consolidator fares in order to get the best deal. If you can locate a travel agency (especially online travel agencies) that specializes in providing consolidator fares then nothing like it.
2. The Price: This is the first thing that you must check on a consolidator airfare. Check if the price includes taxes and other fees. Ask your travel agent about the total payment (all inclusive airfare) that you will need to make for the flight. Good travel agencies (online as well as offline travel agencies) will normally specify the fare inclusive of taxes and fees etc, but some others might not do so. This will also help you in filtering out the deals quickly (after all, ‘price’ is the main thing that you are looking for in consolidator fares).
3. Frequent Flier Miles: Check if frequent flier miles will accrue to you on consolidator fares. It’s a good idea to tell the travel agent about the frequent flier programs that you are enrolled onto. Some good travel agents might take a note of this and in case a same price option is available with your preferred airline, they might book you on that airline. However, this will be of use only if the airline credits frequent flier miles on consolidator fares too.
4. Flexibility: Show your flexibility on the travel dates, in order to get the best consolidator fares. First check the airfare for the dates that best suit you. If the fares are not as good for your best dates and if you are really flexible on the dates, then let the travel agent know about your flexibility. You might sometimes get really good airfares in this way.
5. Verify The Details: Once you receive the tickets verify your name, dates and other details as appearing on the ticket.