Where to Source Cheap Airfares
Websites such as Kayak, Momondo, Cheapflights, Skyscanner, Farecompare and similar apps are often used to compare the same airfare across multiple web pages. This, we agree, is a great starting point when one is looking for an airfare deal.
What one should, however, take into consideration is that about 2 years ago, airlines clamped down pretty heavily on discount OTA’s (Online Travel Agencies). Essentially, while airlines were spending big marketing dollars to appear on these websites, they were not converting their investment into sales; simply because the same ticket was available through an OTA on the same website for much less.
What did they do as a result? They banned most travel agents/OTA’s from displaying the airline’s fare online. You will notice that if you were to use comparison websites, most of the vendors are the airlines themselves, and possibly a few of the big names.
So if you can’t view the airline’s fare, how does one get access to bulk/discounted fares? There is only one way, (and many may not like it!) – It is indeed, the good old-fashioned way of calling a travel agent and asking what price they may offer on the same itinerary.
In a worst-case scenario, the agent should at least be able to match the fare you are seeing online. If it’s the same fare, then why bother you may ask? The answer is having a travel agent in your corner can save you grief when it comes to changing, cancelling, or even re-protecting due to a schedule change or flight cancellation. Not to mention that you will be covered by the compensation fund in the unlikely event that an airline or vendor goes bankrupt.
So, what is a consolidator?
Essentially, consolidator’s are wholesalers of airline tickets, sometimes described as brokers. Airlines make tickets available to consolidators at significant discounts and special conditions compared to those available to the general public. Consolidators seek to reach more niche markets and are able to offer discounts and fare flexibility that is relevant to the target group.
Are the fares that much better?
Usually, you will find a larger spread on International tickets, especially high yield tickets like Premium Economy and Business/First Class.
The differences are very nominal when comparing domestic intra- Canada flights.
Are they supposed to be serving retail clients directly?
However, with ethics out of the window these days, most consolidators actually have a retail outlet and bulk fares do become available to the general public.
Are the rules different to the tickets offered by airlines directly?
Sure the rules that govern these tickets can be more restrictive, but this is a trade-off most don’t mind if it means they will save significantly.
As an example, the cancellation or change fee on a bulk ticket may be $50-$100 more than if one would have purchased the regular fare. If, however, you are saving more than a couple of hundred on a ticket, such a difference may sound pretty negligible.
All in all, comparison websites are a great starting point but a phone call to your travel agent is actually your best bet if you are looking for an added discount.