Did you know that the price of your airplane ticket will be dependent upon which booking code you book your flight under? Booking codes, booking classes or fare classes, the terms mean the same thing. It specifies the rules for an airline's fare. Booking codes vary by airline and are specific to individual airlines. A rough guide is:
F: first class
J: business class
Y: economy class
Everyone has to live by the rules and we all know that airlines have plenty of rules. How do you find out whether or not the ticket you are purchasing is refundable? How do you know if you have one of the cheapest airfare ticket available on your flight? This article is specifically about Delta Airlines fare classes however, for the most part the rules are similar for all airlines.
The chart primarily breaks down fare classes by coach, first/business, and whether or not a fare is upgradeable. How many of us have purchased an airline ticket and later decided to upgrade to first or business class using our frequent flier miles? It further details whether or not the class of ticket which you purchase is upgradeable on a domestic or international flight, the percentage of published fare miles which will credited to your account, as well as the published fare Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs)*.
Delta's economy fare classes are S, H, Q, K, L, U, T, X, V and E.
B, H, K, L, M, N, Q, T, V, X generally offer various types of discounted or restricted economy class tickets. On Delta Economy M and B are discounted coach fares.
You can shop Delta by fare class by fare basis code by going to their site, "more search options" and searching by "Fare Class".
This knowledge is especially handy when you need to know if the fare is a sale, how soon must you pay for it, when must the ticket be purchased by or if you wish to "hold" a ticket, can you cancel without penalty or blackout dates for a specific fare.
Fare codes (or in Delta's case, Fare Class) start with a single letter, called a booking code (again in Delta's case, Fare Class), representing the type of ticket and fare, followed by optional letters and digits- the fare basis code. The fare basis code will specify the rules for an airline's fare. These are the specific set of fare rules for that particular fare code, for instance how many days in advance the ticket needs to be booked, corporate discounts, or other special promotional elements.
But how do you find the "rules" for the fare class, 14 day advance purchase etc? You can see the fare rules at the ITA Software website. Go to the site as if you were going to book a ticket. Be sure to specify the cabin and cheapest available, premium economy (handy if you are looking for refundable tickets), business class or higher or first class. Once you have searched for flights, click on the flight which you are interested in booking. A box such as the one to the left will appear. Click on the graphic for a larger view.
Underlined in red will be the fare basis code. In this case, "VNN14ASZ". Click on "rules" and you will see the "rules" for your ticket. Essentially these "rules" are the airline's "fine print" when you purchase the ticket. Below is an example of some of the information which will be show for the rules and restrictions for a one way mid-week in December, Economy (V) class fare Aruba to Atlanta:
Fare rules & restrictions
Delta Air Lines Inc. DL VNN14ASZ AUA to ATL Flight restrictions THE FARE COMPONENT MUST BE ON ONE OR MORE OF THE FOLLOWING ANY DL FLIGHT.
Advanced reservation/ticketing restrictions RESERVATIONS ARE REQUIRED AT LEAST 14 DAYS BEFORE DEPARTURE. TICKETING FOR DEPARTURE OF EACH TRIP MUST BE COMPLETED WITHIN 72 HOURS AFTER RESERVATIONS ARE MADE OR AT LEAST 14 DAYS BEFORE DEPARTURE FROM FARE COMPONENT ORIGIN WHICHEVER IS EARLIER.
Blackout Dates TRAVEL IS NOT PERMITTED 26NOV 13 THROUGH 01DEC 13.
Travel restrictions VALID FOR TRAVEL COMMENCING ON/AFTER 08OCT 13. TRAVEL ON THIS FARE COMPONENT MUST COMMENCE BY MIDNIGHT ON 13DEC 13.
Penalties CANCELLATIONS ANY TIMETICKET IS NON-REFUNDABLE IN CASE OF CANCEL/NO-SHOW.WAIVED FOR DEATH OF PASSENGER OR FAMILY MEMBER.
CHANGES ANY TIME
CHARGE USD 200.00/CAD 200.00.
So how do you decipher the above? Read between the lines.
Flight restrictions- the flight must be on Delta no alliance partners.
Advanced reservation/ticketing restrictions- You must book your ticket at least 14 days prior to your planned date of travel and pay for that ticket within 72 hours. Hint- booking less than 14 days in advance for the most part will cost you a higher fare.
Travel restrictions- No travel is permitted under that fare class, which is what determines the price of your ticket, during the Thanksgiving holiday period, November 26 to December 1.
*Beginning January 1, 2014, members will earn Medallion status based on the existing criteria of Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) or Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs), PLUS the new criterion of annual spend on Delta flights (Medallion Qualification Dollars or MQDs). Alternatively, Delta SkyMiles Credit Card Members can be waived from the new Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) requirement if they make at least $25,000 in Eligible Purchases within the calendar year.