Although US airline tickets are much more volatile (ie far more frequent), the price difference between major travel sites such as Orbitz, Travelocity, Expedia and airline sites often does not exceed 10-20%. Local airline ticket sellers almost fall into 2 categories: 1) airlines and 2) online travel agencies. There are some niche players, but they serve a very small market. Therefore, when shopping for a local airline ticket, "when to buy" is usually more important than "where to buy".
In the case of international airline tickets, the opposite is true. "When to buy" is still important (just as you don't wait until the last minute), but "where to buy" is much more important. This is because airfare to Europe, Asia, Africa and South and Central America is slightly less volatile (may not change as often), but the price difference between different vendors can sometimes reach as much as 50% or more. There are several reasons for this, but the two main reasons are 1) the type of bid offered and 2) the number of players on the pitch.
Type of tariffs
There are basically 2 types of international airfare in addition to highly technical equipment; published and unpublished. 97% of the holiday rates (give or take) are published in the local market. A published price, which you can call a retail price. The airline sets the price and the rules associated with that price and then publishes the information to a clearing house called ATPCo (Airline Tariff Publishing Company). ATPCo then allocates the price to the global distribution systems. Online and offline travel agencies, in turn, obtain these published prices through one or more of these systems. Tariffs are available to everyone. The unpublished ticket price (also called the negotiated price) is still passed through ATPCo, but part of the "tariff rules" is an indicator of what the seller is allowed to access and sell for a fee. It is essentially a private charge. Another difference is that published prices must be sold at a price set by the airline (without mark-ups or reductions) while the private price can be denoted. Therefore, you see that the ticket issued by an online and offline agency raises the service fee from $ 5 to $ 50. Using the call price, the airline will receive a certain amount and the seller is allowed to write down this price (add their margin). So the seller can negotiate a $ 300 airline ticket from New York to London with X, then tag it and sell it for $ 345. Another obvious difference between a negotiated and a published price is that for many (almost all) negotiated airfares, you won't see the actual price you paid for the ticket. Instead, you will see either a much higher price or just tax information. Published tickets will show exactly what you paid for the ticket (excluding any service charges). In general, negotiated tickets are often cheaper than published tickets (there are cases where an airline may have a "fire sale" that lowers call rates) and therefore "where" is more important than "when" when it comes to the purchase of international air tickets.
International airline ticket vendors fall into the following main categories:
(1) Major Airlines
(2) Charter Airlines
(3) Online Travel Agencies
(4) Offline travel agencies
(5) Global Consolidators Selling to the Public
(6) Global non-market consolidators
(7) Ethnic unifiers or target professionals
(8) Student Travel Agents
(9) Tour operators
These are carriers we all know, such as American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Airlines, Northwest Airlines, Lufthansa, British Airways, KLM and many others. They offer airline tickets through their website and many other vendors listed above. They can offer special web offers on their site. They do not charge for the service.
In Europe, this type of airline is much more common than the US. Charter is basically when a tour operator "hires" or "charters" an aircraft to fly vacationers from the departure gate airport to the destination airport. There are some airlines that offer services from / to the US that are rooted in the charter business. They offer regular services all year round or seasonally to / from some individual US airports per country. They are FAA approved and must comply with all airline safety regulations and regulations. What sets them apart is their business model, which allows them to typically sell seats cheaper than large companies. Some of these alternative airlines are LTU, Condor, FlyGlobespan or Martinair. Nor do they usually charge for the service.
Online travel agencies
The players in this category are Travelocity, Orbitz, Cheaptickets, Expedia, Priceline, Hotwire and so on. They sell published and unpublished airline tickets. They charge for the service. They usually try to sell you other travel components, such as hotel accommodation, car rentals, amusement tickets and / or travel insurance. If you go on holiday abroad, buying a kit (where the seller will tie the air component to one or more ground components) may be an option and can save you money. In the following article, I will look at the advantages and disadvantages of packets.
Offline travel agencies
They are also called brick and mortar travel agencies. These are traditional agencies where you can go in, sit down and book your trip. They may also double as an ethnic consolidator or destination specialist, depending on size and target market. They also have consolidation prices that are not directly offered to the general public. Brick and mortar agencies almost always charge for the service.
Global consolidators that sell directly to the public
Many times it is the travel agencies that have decided to "exclude the broker" and go directly to the airlines to negotiate their private fares. This allows them to resell at a lower price without losing profits. To get decent private prices, the Global Consolidator will have to offer $ 100 million + in annual agency sales. Most call tickets are sold free of charge. If a consolidator sells a published price, they regularly add a service fee.
Global consolidators that do not sell directly to the public
In the days before online travel, very few agencies would act as their mergers. Instead, they worked through intermediaries (consolidators) who negotiated deals with airlines. The consolidator will negotiate the above $ 300 deal, add its margin and sell it to a retail agency. The retail agent would then increase his reserve and sell it to the public. With the advent of the Internet, agencies have been able to reach a much wider audience and thus have gained a great deal of direct conversation with airlines. Nevertheless, there are still many agencies, both offline and online, that offer broker consolidators, including. Because of the large amount that consolidators can offer the airline, these prices could still be a profitable move, even after multiple markups.
Ethnic reunions or destination professionals
It is probably one of the least known sources of cheap airline tickets (for the general public). They are also some of the most difficult. The United States is an immigrant nation and ethnic consolidators traditionally serve their former patriots or immigrant community. These were, and still are, cheap sources for airline tickets back to home. Unlike global consolidators, whose annual sales may exceed $ 250 million +, these ethnic outlets can exceed $ 2-5 million per year, but most of them can be acquired by 1 or 2 carriers. They are highly specialized and have long-standing relationships with their preferred carriers. This long-term, trusting relationship is why some ethnic moms and pop operations are able to provide airfare rates that are 20-30% lower than any online mega agency. Destination professionals are similar in size and style to ethnic unifiers. They have become true experts in a country or region and have built relationships. The difference is that they are often aimed at independent foreign travelers (FITs). As I mentioned, it is often difficult to beat the airline deals that some of these outlets have to offer, but the challenge is to find them. They are often not found by Google, Yahoo, or other search engines.
Student Travel Agents
As the name implies, these are agencies that target students (and, in some cases, faculty). Like a global consolidator, they turn to airlines and negotiate special discounts or private prices. The difference is that they are only allowed to sell to good faith students (and faculty) under an agreement with the airlines. Often students are enrolled in an accredited college or university and high school students are not eligible. The same goes for the faculty. Some agencies do better than others to ensure that the person buying the ticket is a student.
Tour operators are organizations that sell holiday packages such as all inclusive, etc. They negotiate deals with airlines, hotels, aerodrome operators, and so on, pack them together, label and then sell them as a single product to the public. Sometimes they will only sell airline tickets (at the lowest prices) to fill empty spaces on the plane. Because they have a fixed price to pay to the aircraft operator, empty seating is an untapped opportunity. The best way to get one of these cheap places is usually in the Caribbean or Mexico.
There are many sources of international airline ticket deals. Finding the right one at the right time can make a lot of difference whether you get a good price or a lot. While getting a domestic airline deal is often the result of a (happy) time, getting a big international deal is often the result of knowing where to look.