Tuesday, May 26, 2015
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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 ExpertFlyer.com. 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


Fully Flexible Economy Fare

  • The highest Economy fare code and therefore the most expensive as it is a full published fare. This fare is fully flexible and refundable.
  • Flying Club Miles and Tier Points will be earned. 100% of mileage flown earn for all passengers (150% for Flying Club Silver and 200% for flying Club Gold members) and 3TP's per sector.
  • This fare is eligible for utilisation of:
    • Upgrades - from Economy to Premium Economy for 10,000 miles each sector or from Economy to Upper Class for 30,000 miles per sector. Note there must be availability in U Class for a Premium Economy Upgrade or G Class for an Upper Class Upgrade. You will still the Economy level of miles and Tier Points if you upgrade to a higher class
    • Companion - Flying Club Economy Mileage Redemption Companion award for 20,000 miles
    • Complimentary Flying Club Companion award for renewing Gold Status or Complimentary Virgin Credit Card Companion ticket award for reaching the spend threshold in the 12 month designated period. Note there must be availability in T class for the companion seat. Note: If you utilise the revenue fare for a companion reward, you can then also upgrade that revenue fare to a higher class but not the reward seat. So person A buys the Y class revenue fare, and gets a companion reward for person B (booked in T class), person A can then use miles to upgrade to Premium Economy (booked in U class) but person B cannot use miles to upgrade. The exception to this rule is if you have reached the threshold via spend on your Virgin Credit Card for the upgrade award, in this instance you can use the upgrade award to upgrade the Economy Companion seat to Premium Economy.

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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