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I would like to know how an airline files it's fare with a GDS (Global Distribution System), e.g. Sabre. What are the minimum of pieces of information required in case to file a fare with say Sabre? If someone could elaborate on this, it would be very helpful.

Edit I did a bit of reading on this, and I've think they go through companies like ATPCO or SITA, but still I would like to know what the airline needs to provide to these companies to file a fare.

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is about GDS systems. – JonathanReez Nov 5 '15 at 20:44
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    I disagree with the close vote. GDS systems are highly relevant to travel, and gaining knowledge of how the system works "from the inside" can help travelers get better fares. I, for one, would love to see more GDS-related questions (and high-quality answers) on this site. Given the number of travel professionals who likely browse Travel.SE, I don't think it's an impossible goal. – Eugene O Nov 5 '15 at 22:08
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The minimum information to supply will be something like this—

  • A name for your fare, where the first letter is the prime booking class of the fare (you can just give it a one letter name if you wish). This is known as the "fare basis".
  • The cabin into which the fare books [although this can be inferred from the booking code, actually you also need to know which booking code books where, and this varies by airline].
  • The city pair on which the fare is filed (e.g., LON to AKL).
  • The price of the fare (prior to taxes, fees and surcharges).
  • Whether pricing units constructed under the fare must be round-trip or whether one-way units are allowed.
  • A minimum set of fare rules, including a human-readable description of the fare under the Fare Applications category, but probably the other categories can be left empty. That said I have never seen a fare with an empty Combinations category.
  • Either a maximum permitted mileage ("MPM") for the route constructed under the fare or a specified routing in the fare routing table.
  • Whether the fare may be autopriced (that is, whether tickets can be issued using this fare by a computer), or whether a human must be involved to do the ticketing.

A good example of a short fare with minimal information is any "YY" fare. These are generic fares filed by IATA instead of by an airline, but every IATA-member airline is supposed to accept tickets using these fares printed on neutral ticket stock as valid for transportation. Therefore these fares effectively set a price ceiling on many routes. The original intention of YY fares is to relieve airlines of the burden of setting up fares between unusual cities, but since the process is all automated nowadays, such reasoning no longer applies. Indeed, many airlines (LH, BA at least) no longer accept YY fares as valid on their services, and many file higher prices than the YY fare (such as BA on London-Dubai). Anyway, here is a YY fare list on London-Nairobi. You can see most of the columns are blank, indicating no restriction applies.

Fare Basis  Airline  Booking  Trip Type   Fare           Cabin  Effective  Expiration  Min/Max  Advanced
                     Class                                      Date       Date        Stay     Purchase Req
YIF         YY       Y        One-Way     1708.00 (GBP)  E                                      
YIF         YY       Y        Round-Trip  2440.00 (GBP)  E                                      
CIF         YY       C        One-Way     3308.00 (GBP)  B                                      
CIF         YY       C        Round-Trip  4726.00 (GBP)  B                                      
FIF         YY       F        One-Way     5344.00 (GBP)  F                                      
FIF         YY       F        Round-Trip  7634.00 (GBP)  F                                      

Picking the oneway CIF fare, the rules of this fare are as below. You can see that most of the categories have been left blank, but some have been filled out. In principle you could also leave the Discounts and Sales Restrictions categories blank.

Rule Category                           Rule Text

RULE APPLICATION AND OTHER CONDITIONS      NOTE - THE FOLLOWING TEXT IS INFORMATIONAL AND NOT
                                           VALIDATED FOR AUTOPRICING.
                                           NORMAL FLEX FARES
                                           APPLICATION
                                            AREA
                                             THESE FARES APPLY 
                                              BETWEEN EUROPE AND AFRICA.
                                            CLASS OF SERVICE
                                             THESE FARES APPLY FOR FIRST/BUSINESS/ECONOMY CLASS
                                              SERVICE.
                                            TYPES OF TRANSPORTATION
                                             THIS RULE GOVERNS ONE-WAY AND ROUND-TRIP FARES.
                                             FARES GOVERNED BY THIS RULE CAN BE USED TO CREATE
                                              ONE-WAY/ROUND-TRIP/CIRCLE-TRIP/OPEN-JAW JOURNEYS.
                                            OTHER CONDITIONS
                                             PASSENGER EXPENSES -
                                             PERMITTED.
                                             INTERMEDIATE/BUSINESS CLASS-
                                             WHENEVER TRAVEL ON THE SECTOR BETWEEN EUROPE AND
                                             AFRICA IS IN INTERMEDIATE /BUSINESS CLASS. THE
                                             THROUGH FARE SHALL NOT BE LOWER THAN THE
                                             APPLICABLE THROUGH INTERMEDIATE/ BUSINESS CLASS
                                             FARE.

ELIGIBILITY                                      NOTE - TEXT BELOW NOT VALIDATED FOR AUTOPRICING.
                                                  UNACCOMPANIED INFANT - NOT ELIGIBLE.

DAY/TIME                                   NO DAY/TIME TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS APPLY.

SEASONALITY                                NO SEASONAL TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS APPLY.

FLIGHT APPLICATION                         NO FLIGHT RESTRICTIONS APPLY.

ADVANCE RESERVATIONS/TICKETING             NO ADVANCE RESERVATIONS/TICKETING REQUIREMENTS APPLY.

MINIMUM STAY                               NO MINIMUM STAY REQUIREMENTS APPLY.

MAXIMUM STAY                               NO MAXIMUM STAY REQUIREMENTS APPLY.

STOPOVERS                                  UNLIMITED FREE STOPOVERS PERMITTED ON THE PRICING
                                           UNIT.

TRANSFERS                                  UNLIMITED TRANSFERS PERMITTED. - SURFACE AT FARE BREAK
                                           AND EMBEDDED SECTORS PERMITTED EXCEPT FOR PRICING UNITS
                                           WITHIN/BETWEEN US AND CANADA - INCLUDING PR/USV1 -
                                           SURFACE AT FARE BREAK IS NOT PERMITTED.

COMBINATIONS                                
                                            FARES MAY BE COMBINED ON A HALF ROUND TRIP BASIS WITH
                                            ANY FARE FOR ANY CARRIER IN ANY RULE AND TARIFF TO
                                            FORM ROUND TRIPS/CIRCLE TRIPS.
                                           END-ON-END
                                             END-ON-END COMBINATIONS PERMITTED. VALIDATE ALL FARE
                                             COMPONENTS. SIDE TRIPS PERMITTED WITH NO
                                             RESTRICTIONS.
                                             END-ON-END NOTE -
                                               SIDE TRIP COMBINATIONS PERMITTED.
                                               IN THE CASE OF SIDE TRIPS SUCH SIDE TRIPS ARE
                                               ONLY PERMITTED FROM AND TO THE SAME ENROUTE
                                               POINT OF A FARE COMPONENT.
                                           OPEN JAWS
                                             FARES MAY BE COMBINED ON A HALF ROUND TRIP BASIS
                                             -TO FORM SINGLE OR DOUBLE OPEN JAWS
                                              A MAXIMUM OF TWO INTERNATIONAL FARE COMPONENTS
                                              PERMITTED. MILEAGE OF THE INTERNATIONAL OPEN SEGMENT
                                              MUST BE EQUAL/LESS THAN MILEAGE OF THE SHORTEST
                                              FLOWN FARE COMPONENT. THERE IS NO MILEAGE
                                              RESTRICTION ON AN OPEN SEGMENT WITHIN ONE COUNTRY.
                                             OPEN JAWS NOTE -
                                               SCANDINAVIA SHALL BE CONSIDERED AS ONE COUNTRY.
                                             PROVIDED -
                                               COMBINATIONS ARE WITH ANY FARE FOR ANY CARRIER IN
                                               ANY RULE IN ANY TARIFF.

BLACKOUT DATES                             NO BLACKOUT DATES APPLY.

SURCHARGES                                 NO SURCHARGE REQUIREMENTS APPLY.

ACCOMPANIED TRAVEL                         ACCOMPANIED TRAVEL NOT REQUIRED.

TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS                        VALID FOR TRAVEL COMMENCING ON/AFTER 01MAY15.

SALES RESTRICTIONS                               NOTE - TEXT BELOW NOT VALIDATED FOR AUTOPRICING.
                                                  ADVERTISING AND SALES - NO RESTRICTIONS.
                                                  SALES -
                                                  SHALL INCLUDE THE ISSUANCE OF TICKETS AND
                                                  MISCELLANEOUS CHARGES ORDERS -MCO- / MULTIPLE
                                                  PURPOSE DOCUMENTS -MPDS- AND PREPAID TICKET
                                                  ADVICES -PTAS-.
                                                  ADVERTISING -
                                                  ANY LIMITATIONS ON ADVERTISING SHALL NOT
                                                  PRECLUDE THE QUOTING OF SUCH FARES IN COMPANY
                                                  TARIFFS AND SYSTEM TIMETABLES AND AIR GUIDES.
                                                  EXTENSION OF VALIDITY -
                                                  A CARRIER MAY WITHOUT ADDITIONAL COLLECTION OF
                                                  FARE EXTEND THE VALIDITY OF THE TICKET OF A
                                                  PASSENGER WHO IS PREVENTED FROM TRAVELLING
                                                  WITHIN THE PERIOD OF VALIDITY OF HIS TICKET.

PENALTIES                                  NO PENALTIES APPLY.

HIP/MILEAGE EXCEPTIONS                     NO HIP OR MILEAGE EXCEPTIONS APPLY.

TICKET ENDORSEMENTS                        TICKET ENDORSEMENT NOT REQUIRED.

CHILDREN DISCOUNTS                         ORIGINATING EUROPE -
                                             CNN/ACCOMPANIED CHILD PSGR 2-11 - CHARGE 100 PERCENT
                                               OF THE FARE.
                                               MUST BE ACCOMPANIED ON ALL FLIGHTS BY ADULT PSGR
                                                 12 OR OLDER.
                                             OR - UNN/UNACCOMPANIED CHILD PSGR 2-11 - CHARGE 100
                                                    PERCENT OF THE FARE.
                                             OR - 1ST INF/INFANT WITHOUT A SEAT PSGR UNDER 2 -
                                                    CHARGE 10 PERCENT OF THE FARE.
                                                        TICKET DESIGNATOR - IN AND PERCENT
                                                        APPLIED.
                                                    MUST BE ACCOMPANIED ON ALL FLIGHTS BY ADULT
                                                      PSGR 12 OR OLDER.
                                             OR - INS/INFANT WITH A SEAT PSGR UNDER 2 - CHARGE 100
                                                    PERCENT OF THE FARE.
                                                    MUST BE ACCOMPANIED ON ALL FLIGHTS BY ADULT
                                                      PSGR 12 OR OLDER.
                                                 NOTE - TEXT BELOW NOT VALIDATED FOR AUTOPRICING.
                                                  UNACCOMPANIED INFANT UNDER 2 YEARS -
                                                  TRAVEL NOT PERMITTED AT THIS FARE.
                                           ORIGINATING AFRICA -
                                             CNN/ACCOMPANIED CHILD PSGR 2-11 - CHARGE 75 PERCENT
                                               OF THE FARE.
                                                   TICKET DESIGNATOR - CH AND PERCENT APPLIED.
                                               MUST BE ACCOMPANIED ON ALL FLIGHTS BY ADULT PSGR
                                                 12 OR OLDER.
                                             OR - UNN/UNACCOMPANIED CHILD PSGR 2-11 - CHARGE 100
                                                    PERCENT OF THE FARE.
                                             OR - 1ST INF/INFANT WITHOUT A SEAT PSGR UNDER 2 -
                                                    CHARGE 10 PERCENT OF THE FARE.
                                                        TICKET DESIGNATOR - IN AND PERCENT
                                                        APPLIED.
                                                    MUST BE ACCOMPANIED ON ALL FLIGHTS BY ADULT
                                                      PSGR 12 OR OLDER.
                                             OR - INS/INFANT WITH A SEAT PSGR UNDER 2 - CHARGE 75
                                                    PERCENT OF THE FARE.
                                                        TICKET DESIGNATOR - CH AND PERCENT
                                                        APPLIED.
                                                    MUST BE ACCOMPANIED ON ALL FLIGHTS BY ADULT
                                                      PSGR 12 OR OLDER.
                                                 NOTE - TEXT BELOW NOT VALIDATED FOR AUTOPRICING.
                                                  UNACCOMPANIED INFANT UNDER 2 YEARS -
                                                  TRAVEL NOT PERMITTED AT THIS FARE.

TOUR CONDUCTOR DISCOUNTS                   NO DISCOUNTS FOR TOUR CONDUCTORS.

AGENT DISCOUNTS                            NO DISCOUNTS FOR SALE AGENTS.

ALL OTHER DISCOUNTS                        NO DISCOUNTS FOR OTHERS.

MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS                   NO PROVISIONS APPLY.

FARE BY RULE                               NOT APPLICABLE.

GROUPS                                     NO GROUP PROVISIONS APPLY.

TOURS                                      NO TOUR PROVISIONS APPLY.

VISIT ANOTHER COUNTRY                      NO VISIT ANOTHER COUNTRY PROVISIONS APPLY.

DEPOSITS                                   NO DEPOSIT PROVISIONS APPLY.

VOLUNTARY CHANGES                          NO VOLUNTARY CHANGES DATA FOUND.

VOLUNTARY REFUNDS                          NO VOLUNTARY REFUNDS DATA FOUND.

NEGOTIATED FARES                           NOT APPLICABLE.

INTERNATIONAL CONSTRUCTION                 NOT A CONSTRUCTED FARE
                                        .

This probably represents something close to the minimal information you could supply in a rule. Finally as I say we should look at the fare routing table. Again for YY CIF on LON-NBO, you can see the only restriction is that the total route length (in each direction) between London and Nairobi should be a maximum of 5089 miles, and each flight should be constrained to be within the eastern hemisphere.

    V FARE BASIS     BK    FARE   TRAVEL-TICKET AP  MINMAX  RTG
  1 . CIF             O  5099.00     ----      -    -/  - EH01
PASSENGER TYPE-ADT                 AUTO PRICE-YES              
FROM-LON TO-NBO    CXR-YY    TVL-06NOV15  RULE-EUAF 023SITA/23
FARE BASIS-CIF               NORMAL FARE  DIS-N   VENDOR-SITA
FARE TYPE-BU      OW-BUSINESS CLASS UNRESTRICTED
TARIFF FAMILY-G    DBE-C      FARE QUALITY-N    ROUTE CODE-40
GBP  3308.00   MPM  E01MAY15 D-INFINITY   FC-CIF  FN-15   
SYSTEM DATES - CREATED 30APR15/1130  EXPIRES INFINITY

PUBLISHED RTG LON-NBO/YY      EF-01MAY15 DIS-INDEF

/WITHIN THE EASTERN HEMISPHERE/ MPM 5089
MILEAGE SYSTEM APPLIES BETWEEN ORIGIN AND DESTINATION
.

If you don't file a routing table, someone will construct a route going all over the world before eventually ending at the destination, and you'll have to compensate all the other airlines who offered carriage under your fare. So be sure you get that right.

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