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I was searching for a few flights for my parents, specifically from JFK to visit India (bucket list trip). Emirates was their airline of choice. On directly checking on Emirates.com, the shown fare was around $1000 per person; however, on searching on Expedia, the fare for the same flights came up to $750 per person. I ended up buying the tickets on Expedia and I was able to confirm on Emirates.com that the tickets were generated and indeed valid.

So how does this work? Does the airline allocate x tickets to their booking partners/travel agents and did the number of available tickets for that fare on Emirates run out while it was still available on Expedia?

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Certain large travel agents negotiate consolidator fares with airlines.

The link is a few years old but I don't think there is anything significantly out of date:

A consolidator will have a contract to sell private fares at a lower price than the published fare. If there's a printed ticket, only "bulk" generally appears on the receipt. They generally can't - or won't - sell the ticket straight to you, but will offer it through a travel agent (including an online travel agent such as Travelocity or Expedia), or agencies such as the ones that advertise in Sunday newspaper travel sections. The agent adds their markup - keeping the margin slim so they're not out-priced by published fares - and passes the remaining savings on to you. True consolidators don't buy in quantity or ahead of time. Rather, they pull availability from their assigned class until the airline decides to close the window.

Wikipedia's article on the same:

An airline consolidator is a wholesaler of airline tickets. Airlines use consolidators as a means to reach out to more niche target audiences, and by offering discounts and fare flexibility that is relevant to the target group. Consolidators work through contracts with major carriers to sell at reduced prices

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