Have you been hearing about airfare consolidators lately and wondering what in the world it is and how it could help you find cheap airline fares? Are you even sure exactly what it is? I was in the same boat, wanting to find cheap travel deals and inexpensive airfare for my yearly vacation, but scratching my head about how to do so. I kept reading about these airfare consolidators all over the place and I actually had no idea what the term even meant. Why would I want to consolidate airfare anyway?
Consolidator fares are those elusive fares that are released in very limited amounts to various companies who then resell them. It's possible to get a hold of them but it's also possible to find better deals elsewhere sometimes.
To gain a better understanding of what these fares actually are, it basically goes like this. In years past, airline companies realized that the process of selling fares to travel agencies and to regular consumers was too "visible" to the competitors, allowing those qualifying companies to lower their fares enough to steal away their customers. So what they did was, on the not-so-popular flights, they began offering non-publicized lower fares to consolidators, who would then sell them in a fire-sale-type manner.
Nowadays, consolidators are still doing business and most airlines have contracts with them. The consolidator will be contracted to sell these "private" airfares at a lower price than any published fares the general public would see. You generally will not be able to find any consolidators who will sell straight to the consumer, but you will find these cheap travel tickets possibly in the travel section of your paper on Sunday, offered by a local travel agency. You may also find them advertised through some of the online travel agencies.
The best opportunities for finding these marked-down prices from the airfare consolidators is if you happen to be shopping for a plane ticket at the last minute, and / or if you happen to be planning to travel out of the country by coach.
Remember though that not all bargain basement prices you find are in reality consolidator fares, although they might be. The best way to find value-priced airfare is still to shop around and compare prices well in advance of your travel date.