International flights are a lucrative business for all the major airlines in the world. Longer flying times allow for higher price margins and extra fees to each ticket, allowing the airlines to make huge profits. One of the biggest fears of the airline industry is the lack of passengers and empty seats. To combat this situation, they have made a deal with businesses called “consolidators” who buy the tickets in bulk from the airlines and sell them to travel agents or to the travelers directly at deep discounts.
One of the best options for travelers with computer access is the ability to search for the best prices on several airlines in a matter of minutes! These prices can also be compared at different site so that a consumer can then choose the best price for the trip that they desire. It’s the best of all worlds when all of the information is available with the click of a mouse and computers do most of the work for you!
The ticket that you get from consolidators (wholesale) gives you all the privileges of a full price ticket while you may be paying the consolidator a much smaller amount. We have to always verify that the quote we get from a consolidator includes all extra charges such as tax, credit card fees and other hidden fees. If we are willing to make multiple stops during the journey, if we don’t mind odd travel times, longer wait times, inconvenient days of the week etc., the cheaper our fare could be.
Here are the ways by which we can save thousands of dollars in international airfare:
1. Consolidators can help you save up to 70% off published international airfares. At their websites, you can search for flights departing from any country to many destinations in the world. These consolidators not only sell to travel agents, but to the direct consumer and can help you gain the most for your money by also using airline specials, last minute departures and Web Specials.
2. The more flexible you are, the more you can save. If you travel during the holiday season and purchase your tickets through a consolidator, you may get much deeper discounts when compared to the non-holiday season when the difference in price may not be very high. But on international holidays such as Christmas, its best to avoid the blackouts on travel dates by going one day earlier than the blackout start day and returning one day after the blackout is lifted. Or, if you have to be somewhere for Christmas, its best to travel on Christmas day when, surprisingly, there will be few travelers and lots of empty seats!
3. Sometimes its best to call the travel agents or consolidators directly at the telephone numbers listed on their websites. They can help you navigate through the web pages, find the best days of the week with the better fares, give you the low-down on the extra fees that have to be paid and may be able to give you additional tips. Make sure that you call on a toll-free number!
4. Even if the Airline’s website tells you that the ticket has been sold out, consolidators may still be holding tickets that you can get easily and at cheaper prices. So always be sure to check the online websites before you make a decision. APEX fares or Advance Purchase Excursion fares are another way of reducing the amount of money you shell out. Also, early bird specials such as that created especially for international passengers who book months earlier can shave off hundreds of dollars from that of the average traveler’s prices.
5. If you travel at off-peak season such as to Europe in the winter season (October to May), the fares are lower than the peak season. Fares from November through March are usually the lowest to Europe. Similarly, choose the Caribbean islands in the fall or hurricane season and you may be able to get much cheaper fares because Dec – April is the peak season there. Flights are full on planes traveling to the Far East in August, but they may be quite empty on off-peak months of January and February. Here are the times when the cheapest fares are a possibility on international flights:
a. Asia – January to March
b. Caribbean – September to mid-December
c. Europe – November to March
d. South America – April to November
e. Australia – April to August
6. In addition to the websites listed below, many local travel agents with offices in our cities can help you get the best of consolidator tickets. Just use your telephone directory pages to find local travel agents and call them or discuss face-to-face your options. Since air travel began, these travel agents are locally helping people to save thousands of dollars in local and international tickets. Now that most people prefer web-surfing for bargains rather than whistle away minutes hanging on to telephone lines, most of these telephone lines are usually not very busy.
7. The airline you choose can also make a big difference. Some of the newer airlines give huge discounts and the larger airlines with their higher capacity find it imperative to have consolidators take up the slack during off-peak times.
8. Most international travelers prefer to fly on weekends. So you will find that the cheapest fares are usually offered on weekdays. Middle of the week flights happens to be the best deals when flying domestic or international.
9. Air passes are a good option for travelers wishing to visit several continents in a matter or weeks or months. Star Alliance is one such group consisting of a number of major airlines such as United Airlines and Singapore Airlines that allows many of the major airlines to cooperate and offer the travelers huge discounts in air passes for globe-trotting. The extreme discounts offered if we are flexible and can avail of their services will allow most travelers to visit many continents around the globe on the same price as that of a single ticket between two continents! For more information, visit their website given below or contact your local travel agent for these passes.
a. Round the world fare
b. Circle Asia fare
c. Circle Pacific fare
d. African Air pass
e. Asian Airpass
f. European Airpass
g. Japan Airpass
h. North American Airpass
i. South Pacific Airpass
j. Thailand Airpass
Remember, there are some restrictions and disadvantages when buying from consolidators. Be aware of penalties for exchange and return of tickets, preferred seat assignments, convenient flight timings and third party payments such as using someone else’s credit cards. These may delay or reduce the discounts on your bargain tickets. Also be sure to check if children traveling alone can use these tickets.