Share This Article:
Fare codes are a type of shorthand for fare rules. As chemists describe molecular structures with numbers and letters, so do airlines describe fares. After the initial letter— the class of service— the rest of the letters tell us about the rules of the fare.
Some fares have no rules beyond ticket validity (expiration date); some have convoluted rules longer than real estate contracts. The reservation training program I attended spent an entire week of a six week program exclusively covering fares and parts of the other five weeks as well. Fares, fare codes, and fare rules truly boggle the mind.
At the most basic level, there are two types of fares. Do you expect me to say, 'first class and coach' or 'one way and round trip'? We will encounter those fares later but first we will look at the advantages and disadvantages of refundable and non-refundable fares.
Refundable fares are, as their name implies, tickets that can be refunded without penalty and changed without penalty up to one year from the date of purchase. They are great tickets to purchase if you anticipate changing your travel plans.
The drawback to refundable fares is the price. They cost more than non-refundable fares, often considerably so. In markets that rely on business travellers more than leisure travellers, refundable fares may be as low as non-refundable fares. They have few, if any, restrictions and are the last fares to sell out. If you buy a plane ticket at the last minute, you are likely to be stuck with an expensive but refundable, changeable fare.
In the spring after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, I sold a refundable fare to a fellow there whose friends in Chicago insisted he stay with them if another hurricane struck. Chicago and New Orleans are both high business traffic areas. The airline offered a fully refundable H class fare at a surprisingly reasonable price. Luckily, he did not need the ticket and was entitled to a full refund at the end of hurricane season. Had there been another hurricane, he could use the ticket on any flight on which H class was available.
Non-refundable fares, also known as excursion fares, are a good value but typically restrictive. Unlike refundable fares, any change will result in an additional charge known as a penalty or change fee.
A penalty is an extra charge applied for changes to a ticket according to the fare rules. Airlines set their own penalties and adjust them according to their need for increased revenue. When one legacy airline raises penalties, others soon follow suit.
Fares with advance purchase requirements must be booked and paid for a predetermined number of days prior to departure. You must purchase your ticket no less than the number of required days before your departure date. Typical advance purchase periods are three, seven, and fourteen days prior to departure, although there are others. Most people are not aware of this fact of fare life and accuse airlines of ‘bait and switch’ advertising. To know more, call at Ryanair contact number.