While domestic flight prices in the U.S. are more volatile (meaning the prices change a lot more), the price difference between major travel sites like Orbitz, Travelocity, Expedia and airline sites is no more than 10-20%. Domestic airline ticket sellers are divided into two categories: (1) airlines and (2) online travel agencies. There are a few specialized players but they serve a very small market. Therefore, when shopping for local airline tickets, "purchase time" is more important than "place of purchase".
The opposite is true when securing an international flight package. "Buy time" remains important (as is the case until the last minute) but "place of purchase" is much more important. This is because air travel to Europe, Asia, Africa, South and Central America is somewhat less volatile (may not change much) but the price difference between different sellers can sometimes reach 50% or more. There are several reasons behind this, but the two main reasons are (1) the type of prices offered and (2) the number of players in this field.
Type of price
Without getting too technical there are basically two types of international airline tickets. Published and unpublished. In the domestic market, 97% of the entertainment price (bid or take) is posted. Published fare you can refer to as retail fare. The airline creates the fare and rules associated with this fare and then publishes the information through the clearing house called ATPCo (Airline Tariff Publishing Company). ATPCo then distributes the fare to global distribution systems. Online and offline travel agencies in turn retrieve these published prices through one or more of these systems. Everyone has access to the fare. An unpublished fare (also referred to as a negotiated fare) is still issued via ATPCo but part of the "fare rules" is an indication of what the seller is allowed to access and sell the fare. It is basically a private fare. Another difference is that the published prices must be sold at the price set by the airline (there are no signs or price reductions) while the special fare can be coded. This is why online and offline agencies see adding a service fee of $ 5 to $ 50 to a published travel ticket. With the negotiated fee, the airline will receive a specified amount and allow the seller to code (add its margin) to this fee. Therefore, the seller may negotiate a $ 300 fare from New York to London with airline X, then set it and sell it for $ 345. Another obvious difference between the negotiated fare and the published fare is that in many (almost all) airline tickets negotiated, you will not see the actual price you paid for the ticket. Instead, you'll see only higher fare or tax information. The published fare tickets will show exactly what you paid for the ticket (excluding any service charges). As a general rule, negotiated fare tickets are often cheaper than published fare tickets (there are cases in which an airline may have an "unprecedented sale" that reduces fare levels for the negotiated price) and this is why the "place" is more important than " When "when it comes to buying international airline tickets.
International airline ticket sellers are divided into the following main categories:
(1) Major Airlines
(2) Charter Airlines
(3) online travel agencies
(4) Offline travel agencies
(5) Global federations that sell to the public
(6) Global federations that do not sell to the public
(7) Ethnic Supporters or Destination Specialists
(8) Student Travel Associations
(9) Tour operators
These are the airlines that we all know like American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Airlines, Northwest Airlines, Lufthansa, British Airways, KLM and many more. They provide air travel via their website and many other vendors listed above. They may display special web offers on their site. They do not charge service fees.
This type of airline is more popular in Europe than in the United States. The charter is essential when a vacationer or chartered plane for a vacationing plane “hires” from the departure gate airport to the destination airport. There are a few airlines that provide service to / from the United States that have their roots in charter business. It regularly provides year-round or seasonal service to / from a few designated US airports to one country. Approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and they must comply with all aviation safety rules and regulations. What sets them apart is their business model that allows them to sell seats that are usually cheaper than large companies. Some of these alternative airlines are LTU, Condor, FlyGlobespan, or Martinair just to name a few. They also usually do not charge service fees.
Online travel agencies
Players in this category are Travelocity, Orbitz, Cheaptickets, Expedia, Priceline, Hotwire, etc. They sell it published and unpublished for air travel. They charge a service fee. They also usually try to sell other travel components to you such as hotel accommodation, car rental, travel tickets and / or travel insurance. If you are traveling abroad for vacation, you can purchase a package (where the seller assembles an antenna component with one or more ground components) as an option and may save you money. In a future article, I will cover the advantages and disadvantages of packages.
Currently travel agencies
Also referred to as brick and mortar travel agencies, these are the traditional agencies where you can walk, sit and book your travel. Depending on the size and target market, their number may also double as ethnic or destination specialist. They also have access to standard rates not provided directly to the general public. Brick and mortar agencies always charge service fees.
Global consortia sell directly to the public
Often these are travel agencies that decide to "cut off the middleman" and go directly to the airlines to negotiate their own rates. This allows them to then resell at a lower price without losing the margin. In order to obtain decent special rates, Al Tawheed International will have to provide $ 100 million in the agency's annual sales. Most of the tickets negotiated are sold without service fees. If the consolidator sells published fare, he regularly adds a service fee.
Consolidated global companies that do not sell directly to the public
In the days before online travel, very few agencies would serve as their own merger. Instead, they worked through (unified) middlemen who negotiated deals with airlines. A trader negotiates the same $ 300 deal mentioned above, adds his margin and then sells it to a retail agency. Then the retailer adds her margin and sells it to the audience. With the development of the Internet, agencies can reach a much larger audience and thus have gained influence to negotiate directly with airlines. However, there are still many agencies, both outside of the Internet and online that provide Single Broker tickets. Due to the heaping aggregation airline companies can offer an airline, these prices may be a bargain even after several purchases.
Ethnic federations or specialists in the destination
This is perhaps one of the lesser known (by the general public) sources of cheap airline tickets. They are also some of the hardest to find. The United States is a nation of immigrants. Ethnic supporters have traditionally served their national community or immigrants. It was and still is the cheapest source of air travel back home. Unlike global back-up companies that can sell more than $ 250 million a year, these ethnic outlets may only turn between $ 2 and $ 5 million a year, but most of that can go to one or two. They are very specialized and have long-term relationships with their favorite carriers. These long-term and reliable relationships are the reason why some ethnic mothers and pop-ups are able to secure airline fares that are 20-30% lower than any of the large online agencies. Destination professionals are similar in ethnicity in size and style. They have become real experts in a country or region and forged relationships. The difference is that they mostly target the independent foreign traveler (FIT). As I mentioned, the travel bargains that some of these outlets can offer are difficult to overcome, but the challenge is to find them. Google, Yahoo and any other search engines are often not found.
Student travel associations
As the name implies, these are agencies that target students (and in some cases faculty). Just as with the global merger company, it deals with airlines and negotiates special discounts or special rates. The difference is that according to the agreement with the airlines, they are only allowed to sell to outstanding students (and faculty). Often, students must be enrolled in an accredited college or university and high school students are not eligible. The same applies to faculty members. Some agencies are better than others in ensuring that the person who is purchasing the card is actually a student.
Tour operators are entities that sell vacation packages such as All Inclusive, etc. They negotiate deals with airlines, hotels, ground operators, etc., bring them together, teach them and then sell them as one product to the public. Sometimes, they will only sell airline tickets (at very low prices) in order to fill empty seats on board. Since they have a fixed price that they have to pay the aircraft operator, any empty seat represents a missed opportunity. The best opportunity to get one of these cheap seats is usually in the Caribbean or Mexico.
Sources of international deals for airfare are abundant. Finding the right time may make a big difference in whether you get a good fare or not. Whereas getting a domestic air travel deal is often the result of the (lucky) timing of getting a great international deal often due to knowing where you are looking.