Things to know about getting discount airline tickets
Consolidator travel - what is it?
One of the best, if not the best, way to get discount airline tickets is by purchasing consolidator tickets via your travel agent. These are most likely the cheapest airfares available whether you plan your trip a month ahead or if you are seeking a last minute airfare.
A consolidator airfare come from major airlines and is usually for international travel. There is no real difference between standard airline tickets and a consolidator ticket in terms of the feel of your flight, only consolidator tickets are most likely the cheapest and the best discount airfare you can avail yourself of.
Some people think they can get the cheapest flights if they wait for last minute airfares, when “airlines sell off blocks of unsold seats cheaply to consolidators, who sell them for whatever they can get". This is not true. Airlines and agencies don't really work that way. It is sometimes possible to get discount airline tickets on very short notice, but you rarely get a cheaper ticket than if you had planned ahead, and it may be impossible to get a discount price, or even to find any available space at all, at the last minute.
If a plane leaves the gate with any empty seats, it translates into lost revenue for the airline. A consolidator must take care of the expense of the marketing costs of the "cheap seats", that is why airlines can afford to sell tickets to the consolidators at such discounted prices.
Using a consolidator travel ticket, you can save between 10 and 70% or more off the airlines' published retail airfares. During airfare sales, you may be able to get discount airline tickets with a published fare, but that is not the normal case, particularly in spring and summer season.
Consolidator tickets usually do not impose all the restrictions that airlines have on advanced purchase airfares. For example, you can fly into one city and depart from another. Saturday night stays are not always required, and your trip can last for more than 30 days.
There are a few differences between standard and consolidator airline tickets which you should know about:
Make sure to find out the rules before you buy your ticket. The cheap flights you can enjoy with consolidator travel tickets (unlike many other discount airline tickets) may be refundable with a penalty, be sure to ask.