Can someone explain what "consolidator" airfares are in the airline travel world, and how they differ from "normal" airline fares?
Consolidators buy seats in bulk from various airlines and then re-sell the seats, usually through travel agents, at a discount. Because they buy seats in very large quantities, they get much lower fares and even adding on their margins provides an airfare that is often lower than the airline's best internet fare.
But these come with conditions, one of the biggest of which is NO frequent flyer points for the traveler. They also have other potential headaches such as no pre-reserving of seats, extra baggage charges, severe restrictions on change (ie absolute use it or loose it policies), etc.