Air Travel Consolidators
Several years ago Edward Hasbrouck of airtreck.com kindly prepared a comprehensive guide to air travel consolidators. Looking back at his notes, it is incredible to see how much the aviation industry has changed over the last few years and the sheer wealth of opportunities available to travellers today to find the cheapest airfares online.
In essence air travel consolidators enable travellers to compare flight prices across a range of airlines for a particular flight route on at the same time period. This enables travellers to save time and money by comparing a range of airlines simultaneously to determine not only the most cost effective airline, but also the most convenient time to travel and airline to travel from/to where there are several options.
The core benefit of using an air travel consolidator is that you can inevitably find not only the cheapest flight route, but also the most affordable flight at the most convenient time.
As the online travel market has grown over the last decade, so the number of travel consolidators on the net likewise has increased, and is due to eclipse traditional offline travel consolidators within the next two years.
Indeed, the benefit of using an online air travel consolidator is that you are able to not only compare several airlines using one consolidator, but in fact quickly and conveniently compare several travel consolidators' best prices for a particular travel route against one another. As such you are effectively comparing 'the best quote' across a range of 'best airfare' quote providers.
While many online air travel consolidators may offer the same flight routes by the same airline, the relationship and deals that they have which airline will inevitably vary, as such one consolidator will be able to quote a far more cost effective price on the same flight as another airline.
Traditional Air Travel Consolidators
There are three main types of airfare consolidators:
Specialising in a particular region, these consolidators are able to negotiate strong discounts for flights to particular destinations. Usually, these type of consolidators often cross sell their flights as packages with hotel and/or car hire to maximise their commissions, and often use the flight as a loss leader. Naturally, as they tend to send a high volume of travellers on particular routes with their chosen airline partners they are able to get great deals on flights to particular destinations.
While you won't normally have any contact with these type of consolidators they inevitably will be the company your high-street travel agent contacts to find the best deal on a particular flight route.
These consolidators operate huge volumes of sales on extremely low margins to a wide range of travel agents. By bringing together a range of travel agents they are able to provide best airfares for thousands of travellers and thus negotiate stronger airfare rates than a single travel agent could negotiate.
It is rare that such consolidators ever sell air tickets directly to the public as their margins are unable to accommodate customer service on a large scale.
Multi-Stop/Round the World Specialists
Most air consolidators struggle to give really competitive rates on multi-stop and 'round the world' flights as they tend to calculate costs by combining single trip airfares which can be the most expensive way to book several flights.
Multi-stop specialists are capable of accommodating a combination of single flights by negotiating special deals with larger airlines which serve multiple destinations.
Online Travel Consolidators
The internet is arguably the best place to find the cheapest airfares nowadays. While they lack the attention and service of a traditional travel agent, the ease of price comparison cannot be beaten. Online travel consolidators tend to be able to undercut traditional agents simply because, they can afford to market to a wider audience online to attract more customers and can cut their overheads by avoiding the expensive high-street rents that travel agents must absorb.
- Arguably the net's biggest travel consolidator offering special flight prices with hundreds of airlines across the globe.
- searches the lowest fares from hundreds of airlines, and gives you access to Web Fares from all six major airlines. Choose your plane seat with Seat Maps, and know when fares to your favorite destinations drop with Fare Watcher.
- Cheap flight comparison engine from the same people responsible for Money Supermarket, finance comparison engine. What separates this engine from other European-focussed airfare consolidators is that it provides flight comparison for budget airlines which tend not to be featured on some of the bigger flight consolidators. Also enables you to submit multiple departure airports for the same flight.
- Award-winning flight search engine makes it easy to find the lowest fares on more than 455 airlines.
- Uses search engine technology to obtain ticket information from airline websites. This provides visitors with a single place where they can find flight prices for budget airlines throughout Europe, and enables travelers to quickly compare airfare prices on a route across a range of departure dates.
- Cheap Flights
- With more than 700 travel companies displaying over one million deals each day, Cheapflights is also the UK's most complete travel portal displaying great bargains on flights to destinations throughout the world.
- STA Travel
- Student specialist offering discount flight deals for students and travellers under 26. STA Travel compares flight prices across all major airline groups.
- One of the UK's top travel companies offering cheap flights, hotels, car hire, city breaks holidays, travel insurance and Business Travel to help you to create the perfect all-inclusive trip to any worldwide destination
- We are one of the largest Airlines Consolidators in the USA with contracts with 50+ carriers to worldwide destinations. We offer NET fares and commission on selected Published fares. The booking engine on our website allows Travel Agents to easily search and book fares and keep track of their bookings.
- Air Travel Discounts by Sherman's Travel
- Your Guide to Deals and Destinations
When to buy your flight to get the cheapest price possible
In addition to finding a good online air fare ticket consolidator, it is possible to get a cheaper airfare by taking into consideration the yield management system that is used to calculate your airfare. While, it is near impossible to work out the system that each airline works on, it is of interest to have a broader understanding of the pricing structure used to determine your flight ticket price as this is a base upon which your consolidator will take its own commission.
A yield management system is designed to calculate the optimum selling price of an airfare based upon a range of variable factors which will influence the popularity of any given flight route at any time in the year, thus influencing factors include the time of the flight, season, local events at the point of departure and arrival and the pricing patterns of competing airlines.
The demand for any particular flight is based upon such factors which are then applied to a base flight rate, thus certain flights may cost 120% the base rate, whereas other may cost 50% of the base rate depending the time of year etc.
Utilising figures from similar flights, airlines are then able to predict the demand for a particular flight which will determine the rate at which they expect to sell tickets for the flight. If tickets are selling slowly, then they may modify the prices to realign their selling expectations for the flight as it nears the date of departure. Naturally all these metrics are perpetually changing, so calculating the optimum time to buy a ticket is notoriously difficult.
Nevertheless, while it is potentially possible to get great deals at the very last minute, the safest option is to buy your ticket as early as possible. One thing that is for certain is that you are unlikely to have paid the same price for your ticket as the person sitting next to you.
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