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Using airfare consolidators to reduce travel costs

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Some common synonyms for the word "consolidate" include "to join, unite or combine." So what does this mean in terms of airfare? What is an airfare consolidator? An airfare consolidator is an entity (usually a travel agent or on-line travel site) that purchases the unwanted/unused seats on a particular flight and attempts to sell them to a buyer. Naturally the airline is happy to have a guaranteed sale, even if it is lower than they charge directly through the airline. The airfare consolidator can then add their commission to the price and sell it to the consumer at a price still lower than the airline would charge had you bought the ticket directly from them. With airfare consolidators all parties receive the advantage of saving or in some cases making money.

If you do a lot of air travel you know that it can be quite expensive. Airfare is constantly on the rise and so are the bargain hunters. Fortunately the rest of the business world has caught on to trying to cure the epidemic of high air travel rates. There are many different companies that offer reduced rates. You have probably heard of the more popularly advertised on-line agencies, but don't forget the ever present travel agent. Using airfare consolidators to reduce travel costs is certainly an economical idea, however, in order to save a few bucks you often have to sacrifice something.

For example, consolidators get their tickets from airlines right? Well, the more time there is before a flight, the more that ticket is going to be worth. Airfare consolidators pay more for tickets that require long-term planning. The airline can sell these at a higher price because most people like to have their flight arrangements made ahead of time to ensure that they get the flight they want at the times they want. If however, you do not mind waiting for the last minute and can be flexible, you will be able to buy a cheaper ticket from airfare consolidators. This is the case because airline consolidators will have gotten them at a lower price form the airlines that are beginning to panic because they want to fill seats (a.k.a. make money) and time is running out.

So, we know that airfare consolidators get good deals from airline that want to sell every seat on every flight. Here are some tips for using airfare consolidators to get your dollar to stretch further...

First, know the commission rate difference between using a travel agent and an online travel site. Both entities have bought (or can buy) tickets at a rate lower than buying directly from the airline. Typically the travel agent is going to add a higher commission rate to the sale. The online travel site gets its airline tickets through the same consolidators method but can charge a lower commission because of the lack of human involvement (as in, they do not have to pay for employees who sit in offices, everything is electronic).
Travel agent vs. on-line

Second, consider the differences between international and domestic flights. An airline is much more anxious to sell their international flight seats because they cost the airline more money. There are simply more costs to fly to another continent than to simply cross state lines. This discounted ticket is then sold to you by the consolidator. Using airfare consolidators to reduce international travel costs is often very rewarding.

Third, be prepared to be flexible if you want to get a great deal. Airlines and consolidators get nervous when a flight departure date and time approaches and they still have lots of seats to fill. This anxiety over not selling seats translates into really good deals for the flier who can wait to the last minute and be flexible with the less than first choice arrangements. For example, if you wait until the day before to buy your flight ticket, you are probably going to have to deal with layovers and inconvenient departure times. However, you will most likely be saving much more money than had you bought your ticket two months in advance.

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Posted by DF
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