I admit I am confused on this. Let me start that since we got experienced (thank you all in the community here!) we have always been buying our flights directly from the airlines. We are planning our fall trip, and for itineraries we would like, we are seeing substantially better pricing on some OTAs (e.g. Kayak and its subsidiary Priceline, Fareboom after having followed the recent thread and checked out of curiosity, I am sure I could find some others). To give a couple examples, routings we have considered include Philly-->Prague, and return Munich->Philly, Philly ->Rome or Venice and return from the other, Philly -> Dublin and back from Prague. Needless to say, these prices adn combos do NOT show up when using ita-Matrix or Google flights, which is normally the first place I search (in fact Google flights had gotten us directly to the airlines the last couple times with prices that I could not get if I started at the airline site itself!
In each case, I've been finding a serious saving offered via an OTA. What it has involved is a combination of flights where each 1/2 is handled by one side of a codeshare, e.g, flight from here to Prague on BA and a return via American. I've also seen this with Lufthansa and United or Air Canada, coming out of Philly Lufthansa and AA are our primary choices. In any event, the codeshare combo is not only significantly cheaper, but may also not even be available from either parent airline. When I say significantly cheaper, I am finding as low as mid-$700s vs $1050 from the airline. Now the connecting flights (and often these show at least one way as the normal non-stop flight) are the normal connecting flights one would expect when booking with the airline, so crazy routing - which we caught a couple times from an OTA before I learned my way around - does not appear to be an issue.
I would rather buy direct from an airline but $500 to $600 is significant savings. I am aware of the problems that can arise when a you have to deal with a third party rather than the airline, but these are all main-stream itineraries. What I am having trouble comprehending is WHY the airlines are willing to let these seats go fora price that is undercutting them by this much.
So does anyone have any insight as to why I am finding this?