An airline consolidator (sometimes called a bucket shop) is a specific kind of airline ticket reseller. Consolidators work through contracts with major carriers to manage blocks of airline seat inventory at reduced prices which they then sell. The main benefit being that fares through consolidators will be lower than published rates available from the airlines themselves. Airlines consolidators do not buy the seats in bulk for resale, they sell the available inventory at contracted rates. The consolidator gets the ticket rates at a less rate and they can sell it within a the maximum limit [putting an adequate profit to it]. The consolidator rates are usually lesser than or equal to the net fare.
Consolidators are most beneficial in international markets. For domestic U.S. markets, typically, they are only advantageous for business class and first class fares. Tickets purchased through consolidators may have very different fare rules than typical published fares, and sometimes frequent flyer credit may not be accrued.
Even though many consolidators are online, most consolidators still work only through bona fide retail travel agents.
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