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.
Discounted Premium Economy
- This is the second highest Premium Economy Fare. It is typically non-refundable, but some changes can be made for a fee, including date changes.
- Flying Club Miles and 100 Tier Points will be earned.
- This fare is eligible for utilisation of:
- Upgrades - from Premium Economy to Upper Class. (There must be availability in G Class for an Upper Class Upgrade)
- Companion - Flying Club Premium Economy Mileage Redemption Companion award
- 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 (there must be availability in U class for the companion seat) You don't have to take the companion seat in the same class, it can be in a lower class so you could buy this qualifying revenue fare and then use miles to get a 'companion' seat in Economy. 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 S class revenue fare, and gets a companion reward for person B (booked in U class), person A can then use miles to upgrade to Upper Class (booked in G class) but person B cannot use miles to upgrade.
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.