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When paper tickets were still frequently used, a practice existed by travellers to get rid of their tickets (which are person-specific), when they decided to alter the course of their trips. This practice consisted of selling the ticket to other travellers (often at discount prices), after which the seller accompanied the buyer at the time of departure to the airport. Here, the original owner checked in under his name and provided the airline with the buyer's baggage. After this, the buyer boarded the airplane at the moment of departure. However, since most airlines check identification on boarding, this procedure is rarely functional.

An airline consolidator is a wholesaler of airline tickets. Airlines use consolidators as a means to reach out to more niche target audiences and by offering discounts & fare flexibility that is relevant to the target group. Consolidators work through contracts with major carriers to sell at reduced prices which are for niche ethnic markets. 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. Airlines normally preset the selling rates for these fares for sale to sub agents and to end customers and thereby ensuring that the fares are not undercut.

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.

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