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How to Find Cheap International Airfare - 300x250If you've been shopping for cheap flights online, you have encountered hundreds, if not thousands, of sites selling airfares. These sites are made of Mega Online agencies, Airlines, Online Airfares Specialists, Traditional Brick and Mortar (B&M) Travel agencies. Not only does this present a huge pool of resource to wad through, it is also compounded by the fact that there are international versions of each of these sources to find cheap international flights.

What is the best way to find a cheap international flight?

First it is helpful to understand how the market for international fares works. Official "published" international airfares are largely governed by IATA (, the body that all major international air carriers belong to. IATA regulations forbid the direct discounting of tickets directly to passengers. IATA prices are set at high levels and results in all airlines selling at this exact same high price for international flights.

IATA prices are the most common and readily available airfare prices to all online and B&M Travel Agencies. This is the reason why you sometimes see many online travel agencies that have not only the same price for an airline, but also different airlines all having the same price for the selected flight itinerary.


If every company has the same price for flights because of IATA, how do I find a cheap international flight?

International airlines have a way to get around the IATA rule against discounting airfares. IATA allows its members to offer companies known as Consolidators, airfares at a significant discount and then it looks the other way when the resellers pass some of the savings on to passengers. By selling excess capacity at reduced prices to consolidators, an airline can sell tickets that otherwise might not be sold. Consolidators then resell these tickets to some online and B&M Travel Agencies. This results in savings that can be passed on to you for cheap international flights.

Why Don't Airlines Provide These Cheap Fares to All Travel Agencies Instead of Only to Consolidators?

Consolidators are companies that buy large quantities of tickets from the major airlines at bulk prices and resell them at attractive discounts. The airlines deal with a very few number of consolidators compared to the number of online and B&M Travel Agencies. Particularly on international flights, consolidator fares are generally the best discounted airfares available.

Now that I understand how the market for consolidator fares for cheap international flights work how do I find them?

Many online sites for cheap flights do not offer consolidator airfares. The main reason it is extremely complex technology to include consolidator airfares in their online booking engines. Also, many B&M Travel Agencies do not even search for consolidator fares when you contact them about looking for international airfare. In 2004, only 4% of online booking engines contained consolidator airfares. Therefore you must find these sites by searching for key words which describe consolidator airfares such as "consolidator, bulk, net and negotiated" fares.

I have found an online site that sells consolidator airfares for cheap flights, is my search done now?

The simple answer is No. Firstly, like any business, online or B&M Travel agencies need to make a profit. They first purchase the ticket from the wholesale consolidator and then mark up the price to you for their profit. Different agencies charge different mark ups which can vary by hundreds of dollars. Therefore, you should shop around for the best fares because once you find consolidator fares, different companies will have different mark ups for the exact same flight.

Consolidator fares will save you between 10 to 70% on international flights and therefore it is one of the best ways to save money when you travel.

About the Author: Naman Budhdeo is a contributing writer for Flight Network, which offers cheap flights worldwide.


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