Is it true that third-party websites offer air tickets cheaper than the official websites of the airlines? Why does it happen like that?
It may seem a bit illogical when airline tickets (as well as the hotel rooms or let’s say car rentals) are cheaper on the airfare search site than on the official website of the company that provides the service. We may think that an airfare search site is an agent, and it can earn money (such websites earn a lot because there’s no place for charity) only by adding a surcharge, which makes our tickets and services even more expensive.
In reality, the situation when an airfare search site offers prices lower than the official website of the airline are not rare but happen all the time. That’s why the majority of travelers prefers using airfare search sites because they are able to choose one of the numerous offers, thus saving a lot of money.
Why do third-party websites sell tickets cheaper? What’s their benefit?
The lower price on the airfare search site can be reached by entering into an agreement between the airline and the website. The airline is able to sell a bunch of ticket by giving a discount. The popular website can provide a lot of new customers for the airline, thus generating more profits. At the same time, the airfare search site promotes offers of such airlines in order to increase the demand from the customers. As a result, both companies can generate more revenues, and attract new customers.
No doubt that before entering into such agreements the airfare search site has to be popular and attract a lot of traffic. That’s why the most popular websites can offer more favorable conditions that new startups and unpopular websites.
In case if an airfare search site serves as an agent, it means that the process should be higher than on the website of the airline. However, such logic is obsolete and outdated. In reality, the majority of market mechanisms works in such a way that airfare search sites offer tickets cheaper than the direct seller.
At the very same time, a surcharge for one of the segments can cover the discount for another. In such case, the tourist is able to get one leg cheaper, while the second one will be more expensive than offered on the official website of the airline.
Maybe there’s a way to cheat customers?
No, not at all. The ticket bought on the website of an airfare search site is more reliable than a ticket bought on the official website. Companies are fighting for the customers, and ready to lose their profits just to retain the customer. That’s why there’s no risk in buying the tickets on the airfare search sites.
What is the position of the airlines relatively to the tickets purchased on such websites?
It’s the same as to the tickets, which were bought directly on the official website of the airline. The company needs your money, and there’s no difference in the fact that you used an agent to make a booking.
Why do people still search the official websites of the airlines?
In some cases, the situation can be totally different and an airfare search site may use a surcharge, which makes the final price higher than offered on the official website. That’s why experienced travelers always check the most popular airfare search sites, going to the official websites of the airlines after that in order to compare the results.
Furthermore, airfare search sites are not really great when it comes to low-cost airlines, and don’t offer charter flights. If the tickets of a low-cost airline are offered within the system, they will be sold with a huge surcharge; otherwise, the airfare search site has no interest in dealing with them.
Finally, the airfare search sites don’t offer special promotions, which can be found on the official websites of the airlines. That’s why if you want to fly with the maximum discount, you need to control the offers from the airline without trying to find the lowest prices on the airfare search sites