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Using this airline traveler tool, you can do much more than look up all flights available between any two airports in the world. The display will include the itinerary for each flight so that you can see which airports offer potential for alternate multi-city booking or two ticket booking strategies. It will also display what days of the week that each flight is available. Using any of the online booking engines, you can divide the itinerary into two logical tickets to test if the total cost is lower than a single ticket from departure to arrival airport. You can also apply the route information to a multi-city booking to set your own itinerary. For example, if you are departing Chicago enroute to Manila, the display above will show you if any non stop flights are available and which USA airports offer them. You can use the tool again to see if any flights are non stop from US west coast airports to Manila. You can see what pacific rim airports are used for routing and which itineraries make the most direct flight route or shortest overall trip time or the best potential for a lower price using a two ticket or multi-city strategy. Shopping with all that information, you might discover a very low cost flight from Chicago to a west coast airport (or Detroit) to connect with a non stop from there to Manila. If it seems that available flights are taking you via Pacific rim airports like Seoul or Shanghai or Bangkok or Hong Kong, you might discover a consolidator or discounted fare between Chicago and that approach airport which will connect nicely with a cheap flight from there to Manila. The same is true of many trips to South Pacific Island destinations. Sometimes, one ticket to a pacific rim airport combined with a second ticket from there to the destination island will total half the price of one ticket to the island for a flight that departs from your local airport. This same technique can work as well when flying to sub-Saharan airports in Africa. You might discover that a ticket to a major city in Europe combined with a ticket from there to Africa will cost 30 percent less than one ticket. Trade agreements often impact heavily upon the price of international flights.

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§  When you shop for flights and fares on the Internet, with near certainty, the website booking engine you shop with will access one of the following Global Distribution Sytems: Amadeus, Sabre, Travelport (Galileo & Worldspan), Abacus, TravelSky, KIU or SHARES. The largest among them is Travelport which carries about forty percent of the world’s available flights and fares. With that information, a person quickly sees that a one stop shop is a very limited resource.

¶  Beyond that apparent resource limitation is the fact that airline consolidators and some air ticket agencies and some airlines do not use a GDS at all. Instead, they operate their own database of flights and fares which they own. Among those airline consolidators and air ticket agencies that deploy website booking engines at all, some will access only the proprietary database and provide a null search result when no itinerary of theirs will serve the itinerary that you input; and some will rebound to a GDS and display the GDS results when no itinerary of theirs will serve the one that you input. The first case leaves you hanging without flight search results. The second case leaves you with flights and fares similar to many other sources. In case 2, when flights and fares are displayed and you book one, a two step must be accomplished behind the booking engine. Firstly, the booking is presented to the airline behind a firewall and the airline checks each flight segment for seat availability et al and then for contract qualification and other (nothing about you) details. If all the airline checks succeed, the consolidator gets a go from the airline and begins to process your booking (mostly about you). When all checks succeed, your payment is accepted and tickets are issued. Case 2 can seem like a bait and switch but truly, it is not. A proprietary flight and fare displayed can be rejected by the airline (usually because seats are not available across the entire itinerary)(sometimes because the consolidator has oversold its quota for that travel day)(sometimes because the airline sold the same seats at a higher price)(etc.). The consolidator must then try another itinerary, in its own inventory, to approximate your booking request or rebound to a GDS when the consolidator owns nothing that will serve you. In either case, the price will be different and usually (but not always) higher. With that knowledge, you can appreciate the second effort to meet your travel needs and try yet another booking engine if nothing presented is acceptable.

¶  Allotments to a consolidator for any given flight on any given date can be as few as four seats at the lowest price and maybe seven or nine seats at the next up price tiers. Roughly speaking, the three pricing tiers result in your price being fifty percent to eighty percent of the published fares for the same itinerary. When these seats are sold; that ends it for that consolidator’s pricing for that flight on that date. The principle option is to use a different booking engine with hope that a different consolidator or agency will have a contract for that itinerary and seats available for you.

¶  By aggregating global distribution systems and the inventory of airline consolidators, air ticket brokers, and airlines worldwide, The Center provides access to the greatest number of public and privately held airfares in every class with almost every airline in the world. While this website will always have more than one hundred internet booking engines deployed, not all of them apply to a singular shopping situation. All of the engines that do apply can usually be shopped within a period of ninety minutes. You are very likely to save at least one dollar for each minute of shopping; so pay yourself well.

¶  Take a deep breath and shake off the frustration. Take the time required to find the Internet booking engines that will give you access to the airfare databases you want to leverage for your current trip. Then take the time you need to shop them. No single database and no centralized system will ever hold the best itinerary or the lowest price all of the time. Airline seat availability and prices are in constant flux from hour to hour. Discount seats are offered and sold out, promotions begin and end, air routes change, flights are added and discontinued, independent companies make their prices available and their seat allotment becomes sold out, airlines alter their base prices, a regulatory body adds or removes a fee, a government adds or removes a tax, operating costs change, and airlines sometimes engage in pricing contests; all of these and other influences mean that prices are constantly in flux and that the impact upon one database of fares will not be the same as upon another. Shop at least three; but four, five, and six Internet booking engines are better and better for making sure you are not missing an appreciably lower price and or a better itinerary and or a favored airline. Be aware that no seat and no fare is ever confirmed by an airline until the ticket is actually issued.

¶  Bear in mind that, regardless of source, the more you ask for, the more likely it becomes that you will pay more. Setting a flight search engine to display only flights departing at popular times will surely cost more because of higher demand and selecting results for a specific airline can preclude the display of lower fares or a better itinerary offered by a different airline. When a flight search engine offers a flexible date search and you select exact dates, you can miss a lower fare a day before or a day after the travel date.

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