Can someone explain what "consolidator" airfares are in the airline travel world, and how they differ from "normal" airline fares?

  • (PS - I know what they are, but I'm sure someone can give a better explanation) Jul 27, 2015 at 0:13
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    A couple of years ago, I gathered a list of consolidators across the USA, so I could find the best fares. I had used them in the past. Out of my entire list only one still had an active phone. I was told that airlines no longer sell seats to consolidators except for high capacity tour requirements. Since that time, I have not seen any activity in this area. I have no knowledge of other countries. Jun 1, 2019 at 15:52

1 Answer 1


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.

  • Is this actually true? I thought consolidators buying seats in bulk is a myth... Jul 27, 2015 at 12:33
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    The fares were traditionally known as "bulk fares", but that sounded too much like cattle car seats. "Consolidator" sounds better. But they get the low rates because they contract for XX hundred seats a year.
    – user13044
    Jul 27, 2015 at 18:39
  • It's not a myth.
    – jetset
    Dec 2, 2015 at 2:41
  • Consolidators get lower fares because they are buying multiple seats and because they are assuming the risk of unsold seats.
    – jetset
    Dec 2, 2015 at 2:42

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