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Old Apr 28, 10, 10:44 am   #1
 
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Fare Classes - Simple Explanation?

I've looked but can't seem to find the answer I'm searching for (the forums are huge!!) on the boards. Can someone give me a relatively simple explanation of what the different airline fare classes are and, more importantly, what they mean should mean to me???

New here, sorry if this belongs in another section.
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Old Apr 28, 10, 11:21 am   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by divjnky View Post
I've looked but can't seem to find the answer I'm searching for (the forums are huge!!) on the boards. Can someone give me a relatively simple explanation of what the different airline fare classes are and, more importantly, what they mean should mean to me???

New here, sorry if this belongs in another section.
Welcome to Flyertalk!

I´ll give it a shot (please note: I´m simplifying things a little):

1) 50 years there was one fixed price for a certain route. Nowadays an airline has several dozens of different prices. There are two major reasons:
1. "price discrimination": airlines want to maximize their profits while different customers are willing to pay a different amount, e.g. a business traveller booking a flight one day in advance is likely to be willing to pay ten times as much as a student looking for the cheapest fare 6 month in advance
2. different fare classes come with different terms & conditions, generally the more flexible a ticket is (i.e. dates can be changed, ticket doesn´t have to be bought weeks/months before) the more expensive it will be

The T&C (can the ticket be refunded? can the dates be changed? etc.) are determined by the fare class / fare rules associated with a particular fare class. E.g. "Y" is often used as the most expensive economy fare class.

The fare class you book determines:

- whether your ticket can be refunded, dates can be changed (at a fee/no fee) etc.
- whether you earn miles and if you do, how many
- whether you can upgrade using miles, upgrade certs etc.

Last edited by Jasper2009; Apr 28, 10 at 11:57 am..
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Old Apr 28, 10, 11:40 am   #3
 
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Thanks for the quick - and helpful - response Jasper!

So if I'm following you then basically the three 'main' classes of tickets I'm used to seeing (economy, business, 1st) are further subdivided? And this further division is related to the flexibility and 'perks' associated with the particular class as opposed to physical difference (i.e. location in the plane)?

If that's correct then I'm wondering if all the airlines use the same, or at least similar, fare class designators? As I look at the AA fare classes they have 3 in First Class (A, F, P), four in Business (D, I, J, R), and whole slew in various levels of Economy Class... is there a pattern/meaning here or do they just mix up the alphabet and shake a random selection of letter into each fare class???
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Old Apr 28, 10, 11:48 am   #4
 
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Although similar not all airline fare class codes have the same meaning. Here is an overview of United's taken from:http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/unite...-each-one.html

A = Discounted Fare First Class. Round The World First is booked in this class.
B = Almost Full Fare Economy with minimal restrictions - also used Star * RTW
C = Full Fare Unrestricted Business Class
D = Discounted Fare Business - used also on all "Business" Class Star RTW fares
E = 'Ted' and some low web/discount fares from early 2005. Now officially elevated to above H class!
F = Full Fare Unrestricted First Class
G = Travel Industry Economy Class fares
H = Higher level Economy Class with few restrictions. Some "RTW" coach is H
I = Business Class Upgrade class from Economy (Better known as 'NC' class)
K = Seasonal Economy heavy discount Promotional Fares/Reduced Fare Gov’t contract etc
L = Discount Fare Economy often with a lot of restrictions
M = Almost Full Fare Economy with very few restrictions
N = Economy Class AWARD TICKET (Better known as 'XY' class)
O = Business Class AWARD TICKET (Better known as 'XC' class)
P = Premium USA Transcon First Class on 3 classers
Q = Discount Economy with moderate restrictions. (Bereavement tix are often in Q)
R = First Class AWARD TICKET (Better known as 'XF' class)
S = Real Lowball coach with lot of restrictions. Reports that some are not mile earning ex UK/Brazil etc.
T = Heavy discount Fare Economy - often with a lot of restrictions
U = Showed up Nov/03 as booking class for "TED" also in mid 2005 a high level mainline class!
V = "Mid level" Discount Fare Economy, often with quite a few restrictions
W = "Mid level" Discount Fare Economy, often with some restrictions
X = First Class UPGRADE AWARD from paid Business* (Better known as 'NF')
Y = Full Fare unrestricted Economy class - generally fully refundable
Z = Heavily discounted Business Class - generally NOT "legally" upgradeable.
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Old Apr 28, 10, 11:51 am   #5
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Absolutely correct!

Each class of service (Economy/Business/First) is divided into different fare classes.

First: usually 2-3 fare classes
Business: 3-5 fare classes
Economy: 10-15 fare classes

Unfortunately there is no pattern, but airlines within one alliance (Star Alliance / OneWorld / SkyTeam) often use similar fare classes, e.g. Star Alliance uses:

- F for the most expensive First class tix and A for discounted First class
- C/D/J/Z for business class
- Y for fully flexible / most expensive economy fare

Anyhow you could probably spend hundreds of hours comparing fare classes and wouldn´t really profit very much. Instead I´d recommend having a look at the fare classes of the airline you fly most and compare the restrictions/benefits to get a basic idea about how fare classes work.
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Old Apr 28, 10, 11:59 am   #6
 
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Ahhh, now things are beginning to make a little more sense. Thanks to you both!! I'm off and find the codes for the airlines I normally find myself on and do a little research from there...
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Old Apr 28, 10, 12:03 pm   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by divjnky View Post
Ahhh, now things are beginning to make a little more sense. Thanks to you both!! I'm off and find the codes for the airlines I normally find myself on and do a little research from there...
You´re welcome!

There is a seperate forum for each (major) airline on FT, and many forums have a "sticky"/master thread/beginners guide etc. which I can highly recommend.

If you have any specific questions feel free to drop me a PM.
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Old Apr 28, 10, 12:56 pm   #8
 
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Originally Posted by Jasper2009 View Post

Unfortunately there is no pattern,
There is:
http://www.atpco.net/atpco/download/rbd_iata_res728.pdf

The problem is, there are so many airlines violating the Resolution that it takes a lot remembering the exceptions.
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Old Apr 28, 10, 5:57 pm   #9
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chornedsnorkack View Post
There is:
http://www.atpco.net/atpco/download/rbd_iata_res728.pdf

The problem is, there are so many airlines violating the Resolution that it takes a lot remembering the exceptions.
Jackpot!!! Now this is the key to the puzzle I was looking for. Will take some time to digest but nice to know there is some rhyme & reason.

On a side note I had *no* idea that so much information was available from the codes on the tickets/boarding passes.

Thanks a ton chornedsnorkack
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Old Apr 28, 10, 7:50 pm   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chornedsnorkack View Post
There is:
http://www.atpco.net/atpco/download/rbd_iata_res728.pdf

The problem is, there are so many airlines violating the Resolution that it takes a lot remembering the exceptions.
Thank´s for posting this interesting link!

Just being curious, do you know whether any airline follows this resolution? At least all airlines I fly regularly (mostly *A; LH, AC, UA) violate this resolution in one way or another. Unfortunately the only "pattern" I can see is the use of F, A, J, C, D, Z, Y (see post #6)
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