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I am travelling using United Airlines and I booked flights for myself and a relative, and wanted to ensure we were both physically sitting on the same plane. I checked the flight codes upon booking but realised afterwards that the flight codes were slightly different: mine was UA 179 K whereas my relative's was UA 179 W. The flight codes are the same (UA 179) but the classes are diifferent (K and W). Will this still mean that we will both be sitting on the same plane? (I have checked other details such as departure time, layover times, aircraft... and they're all pretty much the same). Many thanks.

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    If the flight number is the same and it's the same time/date why wouldn't you be on the same plane? – andrewmh20 Jun 21 '16 at 12:00
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    "[...] they're all pretty much the same". I'm assuming they are the same, not only pretty much the same..? – Stewie Griffin Jun 21 '16 at 12:01
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    The fare class relates to the cost of the ticket. It has nothing to do with which flight you're on. For that, you need only look at the flight number, UA 179. – phoog Jun 21 '16 at 13:52
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    @phoog UA 179 is both EWR-HKG and HGK-SGN (and they're different aircraft to boot). You'd need more than the flight number to uniquely identify the flight, because obviously it's too simple to have a flight number uniquely identify a flight. – Zach Lipton Jun 21 '16 at 18:55
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    @LightnessRacesinOrbit That's definitely not true in the U.S. We'd literally run out of 4-digit codes on the large airlines if we made that limitation. It's even possible to have 2 different planes in the air at the same time with the same flight number. They'll have different callsigns, though. However, on a given day, there will generally only be one flight originating at a given airport with the same flight number. – reirab Jun 21 '16 at 19:14
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Yes, you will be on the same plane (and in the same section, namely, economy.) As Berwyn mentioned, these are just different fare classes, both of which are economy fares. The K fare is a cheaper fare class than the W fare.

What appears to have happened is that there were no more seats available in the cheaper K fare class when you booked the ticket for your relative, so their ticket ended up in the somewhat more expensive W fare class. In general, this just means that you paid more for your relative's ticket than for your own. There are a few more small differences, but they probably don't apply to your situation (these are mostly just related to things like upgrade eligibility/priority for people who have elite status with the airline.)

In general, as long as you're on the same flight number on the same date with the same origin city, you are booked on the same plane, regardless of what fare class you have booked (or what class of service you have booked.)

  • This means that it is well possible to get seats together if you select them early enough (although I would not wait till checking in if possible.) – Willeke Jun 21 '16 at 17:51
  • @Willeke Yes, that's true. And I agree on not waiting until check-in to select seats. I always do that as soon as possible. – reirab Jun 21 '16 at 17:54
  • @Willeke do you mean waiting till checking on the airport, or checking-in online? – Crowley Jun 22 '16 at 14:33
  • @Crowley I assume he means not waiting until check-in regardless of whether it's done online or at the airport. U.S. airlines typically allow seat selection at the time of booking (with the notable exception of Southwest, where you select a seat by sitting in it.) – reirab Jun 22 '16 at 14:39
  • Indeed, I mean to select seats at first chance. At the time of booking or as soon after as possible. – Willeke Jun 22 '16 at 17:13
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United airlines booking classes can be seen here.

  • K Deep Discount Coach
  • W Discount Coach

These are different fares within the coach/economy section.

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