Fare Basis Code

You may have noticed that your flight ticket contains alphabetic or alpha-numeric code. No matter what kind of ticket you have purchased, these codes are assigned to each ticket by the airlines to identify the ticket’s fare rule. These codes are called Fare Basis Code. Airline staff or travel agents use this code to check how many bags you can check for free, what your cancellation fees are, if your ticket is refundable, and the type of class.

Fare Basis Code, which can be either alphabetic or alpha-numeric, is used by airlines to distinguish different fare types. This code enables both airline staff and travel agents to easily find out the rules applicable to that fare. Airlines create ‘N’ numbers of booking or fare classes to which different prices and booking conditions may apply. Moreover, fare classes are complicated and vary from airline to airline.

Fare codes begin with a letter known as a booking class. This letter usually matches the code of the reservation. The code may also include other letters or numbers. Generally, the fare code is 3 to 7 characters long, but it can extend up to 8.

Meaning of Different Fare Basis Code

If a passenger is enlisted to an airline’s loyalty programs or if a passenger has redeemable miles and points, Fare Basis Code can determine your travel type. For example, if you have booked a flight, the fare you choose will determine how many redeemable miles and points you have or you can earn.

The fare type will also stipulate whether or not you are able to be upgraded. If you are using the redeemable points and miles, you can find award seats if a particular fare code is available.

Airlines use different codes for various flights, but at least three of them are usually the same.

  • F – Full-fare first class, on airlines which have first class distinct from business class
  • J – Full-fare business class
  • W – Full-fare premium economy
  • Y – Full-fare economy class

Booking Class

The fare basis code always starts with a letter, typically matching the booking class. Booking codes help airlines manage how many seats they can sell at specific prices. For instance, if a plane has 25 economy seats left, the airline might display it as Y7 K5 M4 T6 E3 in a reservation system. This shows how many seats are available for each booking class. Some codes can’t be sold by agents as they’re set aside for international connections, loyalty programs, or airline staff relocation.

Initially, booking codes were determined by IATA. But airlines have deviated from IATA standard and current booking codes are airline-specific. Moreover, the meaning of each code varies from airline to airline. For example, the same code may have different meanings for tickets issued by different airlines.

Airline Specific Codes

Codes that indicate an airline’s name for a fare. For instance, an airline might call a fare Super-Saver and use SPRSVR as the fare basis or the whole code.

Codes restrict a fare to a specific company. For example, an airline might agree on a fare with the XYZ company and include these codes in their fare basis. Usually, only agents with a contract to sell these fares can see them. These fares are not listed publicly.

Codes that are dedicated to military staff or federal employees. They’re mostly used in the US and usually mean fares can be changed or refunded without any issues.

Industry Discount (ID) and Agent Discount (AD) are discounts for airline and travel agency staff. They might show a number like AD75, which means a 75% discount from the full price.

Fare Details

Each Fare Basis Code corresponds to a fare, which applies to traveling between two cities on certain airlines with certain restrictions. Some of these restrictions are as followed:

  • Which particular flights can / cannot be taken on this fare.
  • Whether the fare can be used for one-way / round trip journeys.
  • Changeability / Refundability
  • Restrictions on connections and stopovers.
  • Any minimum or maximum stay requirement. It is applicable to only round-trip fares.
  • Whether Open Jaw is allowed or not. Open Jaw is a return ticket, where the destination or the origin are not the same in both directions.
  • Combinability with other fares.
  • Advanced purchase restrictions.

Multiple Fare Basis

Generally, multi-sector fare tickets have more than one fare basis, particularly if it is for carriage on more than one airline or different classes. The issuing airline may often have an interline agreement to allow other airlines on ticket. But it has a disadvantage. If any change is made in the reservation, the most restrictive or the highest priced change fee would be applicable to the entire ticket.


Fare Basis Code, 1-8 alpha-numeric characters are used by the airline to enable airline staff and travel agents identify the rules applicable to the fare. With the code, gate agents or travel agents can easily identify if the ticket is one-way or refundable, number of stopovers, and if the ticket is refundable.

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