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I just added a tag for since I saw a question about them and thought it's a frequent enough topic in air travel even though I didn't know exactly what it was.

I guess it's something more technical used by airlines but only pretty savvy fliers really know properly.

I tried to look it up on Wikipedia but there's no article on it though it is used in other articles. Google instead offered me two Wikipedia articles, Fare basis code and Travel class one of which is probably another word for the same thing, but I'm still not sure, so why not ask a bunch of experts like all of you?

My guess is it's the former and that non savvy fliers would kind of assume that it's the latter but is actually more technical?

20

The fare basis is the airline's identifier of your exact air fare. This is usually an impenetrable looking 7-to-8 letter string like TA2PXOW.

The extended version of this is the fare construction, which adds in key details like what flight from where to where this air fare is for.

The fare class is simply the first letter of the fare basis, which identifies the "bucket" of seats the fare is in and often maps directly to how many frequent flyer miles you'll get for the flight. This is also known as booking class or, confusingly, ticket class.

Finally, travel class is the class of the physical seat you end up in on the plane: first, business, premium economy, economy, etc.

An illustrated example of all four for the same ticket, from long to short:

Fare construction: CPT TK X/IST TK NYC 406.06 TA2PXOW NUC 406.06 END ROE 10.146090 XT 1.60EV 2.00UM 18.70WC 32.40ZA 6.80TR 5.50YC 7.00XY 5.00XA 17.20US 278.40YR (Cape Town on Turkish Airways transfer at Istanbul on Turkish Airways to New York City $406.06 for fare basis TA2PXOW ...)

Fare basis: TA2PXOW

Fare class: T, Discount Economy

Travel class: Economy

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    You, sir, have written the perfect answer! Do you think I made a reasonable new tag or would fare basis be better? Or one that covers both. I saw "fare class" in about four questions and "fare basis" in only one. But both turned up more times in answers and probably comments. – hippietrail Apr 6 '15 at 12:59
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    There are hieroglyphs, and then there's fare construction. :) – JoErNanO Apr 6 '15 at 21:32
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    @hippietrail 99% of the time, flyers care only about the fare class, because frequent flyer miles, and the other 1% is people like me printing out fare constructions to tell travel agents exactly what we want. I can't ever recall caring much about the fare basis alone. – jpatokal Apr 6 '15 at 23:07
  • So maybe we could have fare basis as a synonym then? It would be great if you guys could do a tag wiki by the way, since you grok this black art. – hippietrail Apr 7 '15 at 5:44
  • When looking for a good fare, I sometimes search first by published fares to find low-priced ones that may have restrictive rules, then read the rules to construct an itinerary that satisfies them, then check for availability in the booking class on desirable flights. I then double-check that the auto-priced fare used the same fare basis as what I originally found. – jetset Dec 2 '15 at 2:20

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