Friday, April 25, 2014
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Fare Codes

Every time you buy a plane ticket, not only are you buying a specific class of travel (Upper, Premium or Economy), each of those cabins is subdivided into fare codes (sometimes called 'buckets') - and each fare code comes with different restrictions, benefits and mileage earning possibilities. Savvy travellers don't just look for the cheapest price; they look for availability of the bucket that is going earn them the most miles, or allow them to upgrade, or get them a chauffeur driven car. Whatever the reason, you'll want to know what bucket your ticket is in, and what restrictions it comes with. The codes below are divided by cabin, and shown left-right in order of full fare to most heavily discounted (and restricted), which is the norm for GDS availability, such as Bear in mind that it's not always the order of expense, as a Full Fare Economy will often be more expensive than a Discounted Premium Economy. Click on the Fare Code letters to see more detail about a particular bucket.

Upper Class Premium Economy Economy Other


Discounted Economy/ MilesPlusMoney/ Student Fare

  • The second lowest level of fare class for Economy, very restricted in regards to changes, and changes will attract a fee. Non-refundable and Advance Purchase is required.
  • Flying Club Miles and Tier Points will be earned. 50% of mileage flown earn for all passengers (100% for Flying Club Silver and 150% for flying Club Gold members) and 2TP's per sector.
  • This fare is one of the classes that are used for Economy Flying Club Miles Plus Money (MPM) fares. There will need to be availability in this or one of the other MPM fare classes for you to be able to take advantage of MPM. MPM fares do not earn Flying Club miles or Tier points even though it is booked in this fare code.
  • This fare class is also utilised on the Delhi route for redemption of Select voucher, if there is no availability in N and a customer wishes to use a Select voucher - Virgin will manually check through the sold allocation of N Class to see how many are Select voucher redemption's, as they are allowed to oversell this class to take them up to a maximum of 4 Select voucher redemption's. Some Virgin Holiday flights now book into this class, in particular the MegaDeals.
  • This fare class is also commonly used by agents that specialise in Student Fares as it is the lowest and special rates sometimes apply for student travellers
  • You cannot use Flying Club Miles to upgrade this fare to a Premium Economy or Upper Class Reward fare

Decoding GDS Availability

If you've got a 'load check' of a flight, and are looking at a line of letters and numbers and wondering what it all means, here's a quick guide to understanding what you're seeing.

The letter/number pairs show you seat availability in the buckets as described above. So 'J4' would mean there are 4 seats available for sale in the 'J' bucket (full fare Upper Class), and 'X0' would mean there are no seats for sale in the 'X' bucket (discounted Economy). There are three important points to bear in mind when reading these availability strings:

  • The numbers are not cumulative. Each discounted bucket is a subset of the bucket above it, so if you see 'Y8 B6', that does not necessarily mean there are 14 seats available in Y & B buckets. There are 8 in Y, of which 6 can be sold as B.
  • The numbers are not necessarily all the seats available. The highest number you will see is 9, which means when you see 'Y9', there are 9, or more, seats available in full-fare economy. Also, the Revenue Management team at Virgin Atlantic can and do shuffle around availability all the time. So you may see 'X0', then an hour later, it's 'X9'. It's Revenue Management's job to monitor sales and adjust the availability of buckets accordingly to maximise the sales on a flight.
  • The numbers are the number of tickets available for sale, not necessarily the number of physical seats left on the aircraft. Most airlines oversell flights based on known historical data about no-shows and re-bookings. It's also possible that the number of seats on sale is less than the actual number of seats on the aircraft to take into account any config changes - this is why it's common to see more reward seats and discounted fares appear a week or so before a flight, since the schedulers can be more sure about where their aircraft are going to be.

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Gizzy arrived at the gate in London Heathrow at 7:46am local time, on Virgin Atlantic VS3046 from Manchester aboard EI-EZW (Rosie Lee)
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