Consolidators are not airlines; they are independent entrepreneurs, like travel agents, intent upon offering you (on behalf of your clients) domestic and especially international airline tickets on name brand, as well as secondary class, IATA airlines at rates well below the posted tariff rates. The air ticket consolidator makes it possible for travel agents to obtain reserved seats for their clients, add a specific service charge or commission for you (the amount of the charge is not disclosed in the client's ticket) and still provide a round-trip airline ticket at lower cost than the client would pay by purchasing a regular ticket directly from the airline.
Most, but not all, air consolidators have contracts with at least one and usually a dozen or more IATA airlines. (Note: Charter flights are not involved in air consolidation.) Consolidators must use the ticketing and conditions of carriage rules of the specific airlines that they have contracts with. These are called prime consolidators. Some air consolidators do not have contracts with any airlines. These consolidators—also legal—purchase airline tickets for resale to travel agents from prime consolidators.
All consolidators live by their reputation and are not specifically regulated by the U.S. or foreign governments or by IATA. Each airline makes its own decision whether or not to do business with any particular consolidator. It can be assumed that airlines set meaningful standards of performance and financial status when they appoint air consolidators. (The airlines want minimum negative exposure from consolidators.)
Why Use a Consolidator?
Travel agents can utilize the expertise of air consolidators who compete openly
against each other to provide quality air transportation on a wide range of airlines at
prices highly competitive with tickets sold by the airlines or by “online” air ticket sell-
ers—sellers who make little or no personal contact available to the travel agent. Air ticket consolidators offer travel agents the choice of access to the consolidator's website or toll free phone. All consolidators sell tickets to travel agents in either net fare or commission
categories. When purchasing a net fare, travel agents can add a service charge of
their own selection. The amount of the charge is not identified in the passenger's ticket as such. If the ticket includes a commission for the agent, the amount of the commission also is not identified. Be sure that your service charge or commission (as appropriate) is always included when quoting the selling fare to your client!
By using air consolidators, travel agents have a convenient, legal way to provide lower fare international (and domestic) airline tickets to their clients.
Choosing a Reliable Consolidator
Most travel agents have already chosen one or several air ticket consolidators who have earned the agent's confidence in recent or past transactions. JAX FAX constantly monitors the general performance of the consolidators who list their flights and/or advertise in JAX FAX's bi-monthly issues. Subscribing travel agents are encouraged to report poor performance and specific problems directly to JAX FAX. It is the ongoing goal of JAX FAX to maintain the highest level of credibility of its listers and advertisers.
When initially selecting or reviewing the choice of a consolidator, make sure that they meet your standards for business conduct.
1. Ask your fellow travel agents who they patronize.
2. Make sure your potential (and actual) consolidator provides several optional carriers to the areas most in demand by your clients.
3. Test them on reliability and keeping their word.
4. Ask them how many airlines they have contracts with (a measure of how they rank with major airlines).
5. Do they provide you with written copy of the airline rules and restrictions of the carrier you booked? (They should.)
6. Ask members of your office staff if they have had personal business experience with prospective consolidators.
Continue to be alert after you select a consolidator to make certain that they do not lapse into poor service. As with any other business relationship, vigilance is the key to serving your clients with the best products at prices that maintain your clients' loyalty.
‘Some Restrictions Apply’ When Booking a Consolidator Ticket
As noted previously, all consolidators must operate under the rules of the airline on which your client will fly. Since all airlines have their own rules/regulations, each and every ticket may carry unique conditions. Airlines change rules all too frequently, so be alert and insist that your consolidator informs you in writing (preferably at the time of booking) so that you can advise your client regarding penalties for flight changes, frequent flyer miles, refunds, etc. Make sure that your client accepts the rules and regulations before you pay for the ticket.