In the old days, travel agents made an acceptable, commission-fuelled living mainly from airlines (including override payments for difficult-to-sell airlines, poorly-patronised routes and low-load-factor flights), plus packaged tours and the odd hotel or car booking, all topped up by GDS rebates and travel insurance.

Today, the paradigm has shifted to a position where airline commissions and GDS rebates have dropped dramatically. Airlines now more commonly sell their fares to travel agents at a net price and the agents add margins to make a profit.

In a competitive market, then, you?d expect only a few dollars difference between the web sites? airfares, because everything above the airline?s net price is the seller?s markup after costs.

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