Airline Consolidators Misconceptions: How to Shop Smart

sujal Singh
Nov 27 · 3 min read

Check below three distinct types of consolidators:

Ethnic consolidators? — ?Ethnic consolidators focus on selling to ‘Visiting Friends and Relatives (VFR)-type travellers (i.e., travellers who want to buy tickets to specific countries for leisure or personal reasons)

Trade Consolidators? — ?Airlines use Trade Consolidators as their funnel to distribute off-tariff tickets to the various in-county retailers (like travel agencies, offline and online) rather than having to deal with the hundreds (if not in some countries literally thousands) of these re-sellers themselves.

The re-sellers who buy from trade consolidators resell those seats to their clients. Generally, Trade Consolidators are large companies in their respective market.

Ethnic Resellers? — ?Ethnic Re-sellers are typically small operators, sometimes no more than one-person shops, who ‘flip’ consolidator tickets bought from larger Ethnic Consolidators to customers in their niche travel

Airline Consolidators: Misconceptions

Airline Consolidators Have Restrictive Terms and Conditions.
Airline consolidators once functioned under a difficult system with restrictions preventing travelers from reaping benefits beyond low airfare. Passengers could not use frequent flyer miles on flights booked through a consolidator, which provoked questioning whether or not they were really saving money on flights.

Airline Consolidators Are Unreachable.
In the early days of airline consolidation, travel agents didn’t have access to local offices and face-to-face communication with the consolidator they were working with. To top it off, customer support operated within a limited time window, so agents were unlikely able to execute damage control with the airline consolidator when flights were cancelled or altered.

Airline Consolidators Don’t Offer Great Discounts.
Some assume there is not a large difference between net and published fares. Airline consolidators serve as a resource that allows travel agents to compare fares among different airlines; which, as stated before, can be up to 65% off.

Airline Consolidators Don’t Speak English.
Today, the travel industry is intent on hiring multi-lingual employees, and airline consolidators are no exception. Present travel agents can rest easy knowing they are able to speak with a consolidator in their native language and keep any misunderstandings at an all-time low.

Airline Consolidators Charge Penalties for Ticket or Itinerary Changes.
Airline consolidators can even aid in adjusting itineraries to fit present circumstances. Note that, while the consolidator doesn’t charge changing fees, some airlines do. Your consolidator can help navigate which airlines have pricey change penalties.

Airline Consolidators Have Limited Options.
Because they didn’t offer the option to choose specific seating and had limited flights available.

Here’s a checklist of important points for consumers to consider when buying airline tickets from a consolidator:

  1. Which airline will you fly on, and is the flight nonstop or one-stop?

2. Can you pay by credit card, and, if so, is there a charge?

3. Can you get a full or partial refund if you cancel?

4. Can you change your return date without a penalty, or do you have to buy a new one-way ticket (this point should also be checked with the airline’s nonrefundable fares)?

Guidelines for buying consolidator tickets:

When you’re shopping for airfare deals, always start with the airlines’ advertised “sale” fares. Consolidators often can’t do any better — or even as well.

But at least look for a consolidator ticket, especially if you think the best published fare you can find is overly high — or if you need to leave right away, or stay longer than 30 days, or such.

Always ask (or find out) about exactly what sort of “discount” an agency is offering you before you buy. Be especially careful to check the conditions attached to the ticket.

Accept a consolidator deal only if it’s significantly cheaper than the next alternative: Except for price, it’s almost always a less attractive proposition than a published-fare price alternative.

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