Business travelers and those who coordinate business travel need to be aware of the various types of flight pricing they will come across. Understanding the differences between private and public airfares, and when to use each, is an important starting point.

What Is Private Airfare?

When you are on an airplane, two people in identical seats may pay different fares. You already know that business class is more expensive, and some airlines offer “Plus” seats with extra leg room for a higher fee. You may also expect lower prices if you book further in advance.

But this is not what we are talking about. We are talking about how people with identical seats and amenities could pay different fares. This is due to airline consolidators and the difference between public and private fares.

Essentially, private fares are those offered by consolidators, and they tend to be more affordable than public fares. Consolidators have contracts with airlines to buy airfare in bulk. They are negotiated at a lower rate, letting the consolidators sell them for less than the publicly listed fares for the same flight.

How to Find Private Fares

The tricky thing about private fares is that they are not easy to find. You will not find them by talking to an airline or searching. You will have to work with a travel advisor or agent that works with an airline consolidator.

This contrasts with the published or public fares. Those terms refer to the prices for flights that are publicly published on the airline’s website.


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Airlines Using Consolidators Helps Business Travelers and Airlines

The practice of using consolidators is a win-win-win situation for airlines, consolidators, and business travelers. Consolidators and travel agents get the obvious benefit of having a job. They earn a profit by serving as a middleman.

Airlines benefit from the ability to fill all of the empty seats on the plane, or at least most of them. For airlines, it is more beneficial to make a little less per seat and fill every seat than it is to charge more and have more empty seats. Business travelers (and their companies) tap into the benefits of paying lower fares for their flights.

When and How to Benefit the Most from Private vs. Public Airfares

In most cases, getting a private fare will lead to more savings. But it may also take a bit more effort to find them. Take a look at when and how to benefit from each private and public fares.

Private Fares

As mentioned, private fares typically offer savings. That being said, they deliver even more savings than normal in a few key situations.

International flights are one of these. The extra savings come from the fact that international flights tend to be more expensive, offering more opportunities to save.

There are also usually huge savings by choosing private fares for one-way flights. The only caveat is that there are sometimes restrictions, especially on international flights.

Private fares also tend to be better if you book last-minute or very early. Keep in mind that sometimes, if a flight sells well, the public fare will actually be cheaper than the private fare for a short amount of time. However, airlines tend to increase the prices for last-minute bookings, hoping that people need the flight enough to pay high rates. At the same time, the private fare will usually stay the same.

Public Fares

If you want to save on public or published fares, there are a few tricks you can try as well.

Being flexible typically leads to savings, as prices can vary greatly from day to day.

You can also typically save money on public fares by booking round trips.

Savings can also come from staying over on Saturday night. This is because prices tend to be higher for weekday travel, as that is when businesspeople travel.

Have the Right Data to Get the Best Prices

Whether you are in search of public or private fares, being informed is crucial to getting the best prices. Services like FairFly let you see flight prices so you know what to expect and can get the best deal.