Ticket Fare Codes
Every time you buy a flight 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.
Premium Economy Reward Flight or Confirmed Upgrade
- Previously the U class fare
- This is the class that Reward Premium Economy tickets are booked in, limited amounts are available per flight - the number is determined by Revenue Management. Also used for confirmed upgrade, where Flying Club miles have been used to upgrade from a qualifying Economy revenue ticket for travel in Premium Economy. Again there will need to be an available seat in U Class on the system to do the upgrade; just because there are seats in Premium Economy to buy (revenue seats) it does not mean that you can use miles to upgrade. This may change on day of departure where flights are busy.
- To upgrade to this class you will need to use miles in conjunction with a qualifying revenue Economy fare booked in Y, B or L class (latter revenue class is not valid for the Tokyo route), or for a companion seat in Premium Economy in conjunction with a qualifying S or W revenue Premium Economy fare.
- If you have reached the threshold via spend on your Virgin Atlantic AmEx Credit Card for the upgrade award, and want to use your upgrade award, there will be need to be availability in this class, and you must use miles firstly to purchase an economy reward and then use the voucher to upgrade to Premium Economy (there does not have to be T reward class available to do this).
- On a confirmed upgrade, where you have purchased a qualifying revenue ticket in Economy and are using miles to upgrade, you will earn miles and tier points for the revenue class of cabin you purchased.
Decoding GDS AvailabilityIf you've got a ExpertFlyer or one of the other GDS availability tools and done a 'load check' of a flight, you're probably 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.