Northwest Travel Planning
Cheap Airfares (page 1 of 3)

Disclaimer: This information is provided as a service to Go Northwest! visitors and no guarantee is made as to its completeness or correctness. All information should be independently verified.


Cheap airfares on the internet - are they for real, or is it just hype?

The world of buying and selling airfares, especially discount airfares, is complicated as it is, before adding the internet to the mix. That is why you will hear different stories and different opinions. Please regard the information on these pages as just another piece to add to the puzzle.

It appears that the cyber world of airfares roughly parallels the "real world", so the hype probably lies in the idea that the internet per se is making cheaper airfares possible. It is probably a more balanced view to see the internet as offering another method for finding the same sorts of deals you could find offline.

In the real world you can buy air tickets direct from the airlines, or through travel agents, or resellers known as "consolidators" and "bucket shops". Travel agents are for those who prefer to have the leg-work done for them, and a good travel agent will get you a good deal.

Consolidators are for those who prefer a do-it-yourself approach. Consolidators buy tickets (usually for international flights) in bulk from the airlines at about half the full price, and sell them to consumers at a markup. You can expect to save 20-30% off the full fare, however consolidator tickets usually come with more restrictions. It's a good sign if your consolidator is approved to issue tickets directly, as they have shown financial means and ticketing experience to do so. In the real world, if you choose the latter you need to have done your research to know what you are getting and who you are dealing with. You can get lucky, or you can get stung. Same goes for the internet.

However, the internet does offer some advantages that we can see.

1. It is easier to do your research: for example, to find discounts, to compare prices, especially within the USA, and to find out what other consumers are saying.

2. World-wide reach: comparison shopping can be "world-wide" perhaps allowing people to take advantage of the "global" nature of the "bucket shop" system and those international agreements that ensure "a customer in country W can buy a ticket from a travel agent located in country X for a flight from country Y to country Z." See FAQ mentioned below.

3. Convenience: Being able to book tickets 24 hours a day.

4. Late booking. A noticeable change pre-and post-Internet booking is that booking well in advance does not necessarily equate with getting the best deal. In fact the opposite can be true with "e-saver fares"..

Read on for tips on finding and buying air tickets on the web...

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