While domestic flights in the US are much more volatile (i.e. prices change much more often), the price difference between major travel sites such as Orbitz, Travelocity, Expedia and airline sites often does not exceed 10-20%. Sellers of domestic airline tickets basically fall into two categories: (1) airlines and (2) online travel agencies. There are several niche players, but they serve a very small market. Therefore, when buying domestic flight tickets, "when to buy" is usually more important than "where to buy."
The opposite situation occurs when securing the international aviation system. "When to buy" is still important (as in the case of not waiting until the last minute), but "where to buy" is much more important. This is due to the fact that flights to Europe, Asia, Africa, and South and Central America are slightly less volatile (may not change as often), but the price difference between different suppliers can sometimes be up to 50% or more. This is for several reasons, but the two main reasons are (1) the type of tariffs offered and (2) the number of players in the field.
There are basically 2 types of international flights without technical knowledge; published and unpublished. 97% of recreational tariffs are published on the domestic market (give or take). Published tariff, which you can call a retail tariff. The airline creates the tariff and rules associated with this tariff, and then publishes information through the ATPCo (Airline Tariff Publishing Company). ATPCo then distributes the tariff to global distribution systems. In turn, online and offline travel agents charge these published fares via one or more of these systems. Everyone has access to the tariff. An unpublished tariff (also called a negotiated tariff) is still issued via ATPCo, but some "tariff rules" indicate which seller can access and sell the tariff. This is essentially a private tariff. Another difference is that published fares must be sold at a price set by the airline (no mark-ups or discounts), while a private fare can be priced. That's why online and offline agencies add a service fee of $ 5 to $ 50 to the published ticket. For a negotiated tariff, the airline will receive the agreed amount and the seller can mark (add his margin) to that tariff. So the seller can negotiate a $ 300 fare from New York to London with airline X, and then mark and sell it for $ 345. Another visible difference between the negotiated and published tariff is the fact that on many (almost all) negotiated air tickets you will not see the actual price paid for the ticket. Instead, you'll see either a much higher tariff or just tax information. Published fare tickets show exactly what you paid for the ticket (no service fees). Generally, negotiated fare tickets are often cheaper than published fare tickets (there are times when an airline may have a "fire sale" that lowers negotiated tariff levels) and therefore "where" is more important than "when" when it comes to buying an international ticket air.
International airline ticket sellers fall into the following main categories:
(1) Main airlines
(2) Charter lines
(3) Online travel agencies
(4) Offline travel agencies
(5) Global consolidators selling publicly
(6) Global consolidators who do not sell in public
(7) Ethnic consolidators or Placement specialists
(8) Student travel consolidators
(9) Tour operators
These are all carriers we know, such as American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Airlines, Northwest Airlines, Lufthansa, British Airways, KLM and many others. They offer airline tickets via their own website and many other sellers listed above. They can offer special internet offers on their own website. They do not charge for the service.
In Europe, this type of airline is much more common than in the US. Charter generally takes place when a tour operator 'rents' or 'charters' an aircraft to fly vacationers from the departure airport to the destination airport. There are several airlines offering services to / from the USA, which have their roots in charter activities. They regularly offer year-round or seasonal services to / from several selected US airports to one country. They are approved by the FAA and must comply with all airline safety rules and regulations. What makes them different is the business model that usually allows them to sell places cheaper than major companies. Some of these alternative airlines are LTU, Condor, FlyGlobespan or Martinair. They also usually don't charge for the service.
Online travel agencies
Players in this category are Travelocity, Orbitz, Cheaptickets, Expedia, Priceline, Hotwire and so on. They sell published and unpublished airline tickets. They charge a service fee. They also usually try to sell you other travel items, such as hotel accommodation, car rentals, attraction tickets, and / or travel insurance. If you're going abroad on vacation, buying a package (where the seller will combine the aviation component with one or more land components) can be an option and can save you money. In the next article I will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of packages.
Offline travel agencies
They are also traditional travel agencies that you can enter, sit down and book. Depending on the size and target market, they may also be specialists in ethnic consolidation or destination. They also have access to consolidation tariffs that are not offered directly to the general public. Bricks and mortars almost always charge a service fee.
Global consolidators who sell directly to the public
Many times these are travel agencies that have decided to "cut off the broker" and go directly to the airlines to negotiate their own private fares. This then allows them to resell them at a lower price without losing their margin. To get decent private tariffs, the global consolidator would have to offer over $ 100 million in annual agency sales. Most negotiated tickets are sold without a service fee. If the consolidator sells the published tariff, it regularly adds a service fee.
Global consolidators who do not sell directly to the public
In the days leading up to internet travel over the internet, very few agencies acted as their own consolidator. Instead, they worked through intermediaries (consolidators) who negotiated agreements with airlines. The consolidator would negotiate the same USD 300 deal as mentioned above, add the margin, and then sell it to a retail agency. The retail agent would then add his margin and sell it to the public. As the Internet evolved, the agencies could reach a much larger audience and thus gained strength to negotiate directly with the airlines. Nevertheless, there are still many agencies, offline and online, that offer a consolidator broker, including. Due to the fact that volume consolidators can offer an airline, these tariffs can be an opportunity even after a few markups.
Ethnic Consolidators or Destination Specialists
They are probably one of the least known (by the general public) sources of cheap air tickets. They are also among the most difficult to find. The United States is a nation of immigrants, and ethnic consolidators have traditionally served their former patriot or immigrant community. They were and still are cheap sources of flight to the country. Unlike global consolidators, who can turn over $ 250 million in sales a year, these ethnic stores can earn only $ 2-5 million a year, but most of them can reach 1 or 2 carriers. They are highly specialized and have long-lasting relationships with preferred carriers. These long-term, reliable relationships are the reason why some ethnic mother and pop operations are able to provide flight rates that are 20-30% lower than any mega-online agency. Destination Specialist is similar to ethnic consolidators in size and style. They became real experts in the country or region and built relationships. The difference is that they are often directed to a foreign independent traveler (FIT). As I mentioned before, the flight opportunities offered by some of these outlets are often difficult to beat, but the challenge is to find them. Google, Yahoo and other search engines often do not find them.
Student travel consolidators
As the name suggests, these are agencies for students (and in some cases for lecturers). Like the global consolidator, they approach the airlines and negotiate special discounts or private tariffs. The difference is that, according to the agreement with the airlines, they can only be sold to students (and lecturers) acting in good faith. Often, students must be enrolled in an accredited college or university, and high school students are not eligible. The same applies to the faculty. Some agencies are better than others by ensuring that the ticket buyer is a student.
Tour Operators are entities that sell holiday packages, such as all-inclusive, etc. They negotiate contracts with airlines, hotels, ground operators, etc., pack them together, mark them, and then sell them as one product to the public. Sometimes they will only sell airline tickets (at the lowest prices) to fill empty seats on the plane. Because they have a fixed price that the plane operator must pay, any empty space is a missed opportunity. The best chance to get one of these cheap places is usually the Caribbean or Mexico.
Sources of international aviation opportunities are rich. Finding the right one at the right time can have a decisive impact on whether you get a good price or a great deal. While getting a national flight contract is often the (lucky one) result, time to get a great international contract is often the result of knowing where to look.