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airline consolidator

What Is An Airline Consolidator?

Understanding the airline consolidator

If you’ve spent any time in the travel industry, or even consider yourself a frequent traveler, you may be familiar with the term “airline consolidator.” Even so, many travel agents remain a little uncertain of what an airline consolidator does or why they should use one. We’ve pulled together some of the top questions surrounding airline consolidators and the reasons to start using one!

What is an airline consolidator?

In short, an airline consolidator is a wholesaler for airline tickets. An airline consolidator contracts with an airline to sell seats at a special, discounted price. The consolidator sells these seats to qualified travel agents who are representing their clients.

1. Airline consolidators are a “discount channel”

Essentially, an airfare consolidator is a discount channel that airlines use to offload a certain amount of inventory at a lower price to get the highest possible “load factor.” Some retailers will use the same strategy to sell clothes at a cheaper price via their discount store knowing that certain customers will never pay full price. But the store doesn’t want that price available to anyone except the true bargain shopper, aka the travel agent.

2. Airline consolidators fill airplane seats

Airlines have pretty strong motivation to fill their planes. Every empty seat is revenue that is lost forever. That is why an airline will often, much to their travelers’ outrage, overbook flights. Airlines use consolidators to sell their excess inventory and make sure every seat is filled. They release this inventory to consolidators in what’s called a booking class or a “bucket.” The number of seats an airline offers for the bulk fares or “bucket” fares fluctuates based on the airlines’ need to offload inventory.

Why should you use an airline consolidator?

Travel agents often hesitate to sell airfare because they feel it’s too complicated or they can’t make any money. But by allowing their travelers to book air elsewhere, agents miss huge earning opportunities and may lose their clients completely. An airfare consolidator takes the confusion of a complex GDS out of the mix. This helps travel agents book easily and make money on every ticket.

1. Save time

Booking through a GDS is time-consuming and confusing. By going through an airline consolidator, agents can find what they need quickly and easily.

2. Save money

Agents who book airfare through a GDS incur an average of $12.70 in airline debit memos for every $100 of commission they make. By going through a consolidator, you can avoid these costly mistakes.

3. Save headaches

In addition to protection from debit memos, a great airfare consolidator, such as Centrav, will take on the responsibility of issuing tickets and monitoring schedule changes. This way, you can focus on what you do best — taking care of your clients!

How does booking through an airfare consolidator work?

During the registration process, an airfare consolidator will determine that an agent has the correct credentials (IATA, CLIA, TRUE number, etc.) to use their services. Once an agent has registered with the consolidator, they can search the consolidator’s airfare matrix for the thousands of consolidator and published fares available. Consolidator fares are often low enough that an agent can build a markup for themselves into the total cost of the ticket while still offering the client a discount. If no consolidator fares are available, agents can offer a published fare and add a service fee to the ticket.

It’s important to research your airline consolidators and check reviews to make sure they will provide you with fast, dependable service and send your commission checks in a timely manner.

How to register with Centrav

You can register with Centrav.com here to get started and receive updates about our upcoming webinars. For more information on how to use Centrav’s tools and services, you can view our training tutorials here.

➡️ Read next: How Do Travel Agents Make Money?

Shawna Levet

Shawna is passionate about helping travel agents grow their business and expand their knowledge as travel experts. She has been in the travel industry since 2011, helping agents and travelers alike find the best negotiated airfare and travel coverage to meet their needs.


  • Is the consolidator only out of certain airports?

    • Hi Charlotte, a consolidator works with airlines wherever their fares are available.

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