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Everything You Need to Know About Fare Basis Code in Airlines

Airlines contain so many designated codes, both numeric and alpha-numeric, that a lot of travellers may not know about. These codes are present everywhere, including your flight ticket. One type of code which is a key focus here is called a fare basis code. If you have not heard of this code before, this travel guide is for you.

In this blog, we are going to give you a detailed overview of what fare basis code is, what is its significance to airlines and travellers and several other important things that you need to know.

What is a Fare Basis Code?

In air travel, a fare basis code is basically an alpha-numeric code that is printed on flight tickets, e-tickets, receipts and also appears in booking records. The code can often be 3 to 8 characters long and always starts with a letter that identifies the booking class or fare class.

This fare basis code is used to categorise the travel class in which passengers travel and associate certain rules that are allowed or restricted. Furthermore, the fare code can also be referred to as identifiers, since the airline carriers primarily use them to manage the selling of seats for a particular fare type.

The fare basis codes were previously defined by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) standard, but now, are specifically defined by airline carriers.

What Purpose Does a Fare Basis Code Fulfil?

Besides being printed on your flight ticket in order to determine your fare class, a fare basis code can also signify a lot of things. This is particularly with regard to the products and services that passengers can avail (or cannot avail) throughout their trip. For instance, the staff of the airline carrier that you are travelling can also identify from your ticket as to which services you will be allowed or denied.

In other words, the fare basis code printed on your flight ticket can relate to a lot of things, such as:

  • Whether your ticket is refundable or not
  • Whether your ticket can be changed or not
  • Can your ticket be combined with other fares
  • Can you make changes to your itinerary
  • Can your fare be used with one-way or round-trip journeys
  • Which particular flights can or cannot service on your fare
  • Which or how many stopovers or connections you may be allowed or restricted
  • Whether you are allowed open-jaw flights or not
  • How many minimum or maximum stay requirement is applicable on your round-trip fare
  • What upgrades you are eligible for
  • What advanced purchases are your allowed or restricted
  • How much bonus miles you can earn on each trip

You can learn more about fare basis code rules that may be specific to airline carriers on their websites.

How to Find Fare Basis Code on Your Ticket?

You will usually find the fare basis code printed on your flight ticket and also, under the flight details on your e-ticket.

As already mentioned above, fare basis codes usually contain alpha-numeric characters that can be 3 and up to 8 characters long. The code starts with an alphabet which signifies the travel class (also called booking class) followed by digits that is defined by the respective airline carrier’s standards.

Here is a list of the booking codes with their respective fare basis codes and what they mean.

  • First Class – A, F (full fare)
  • Economy Class – H, B, M, Y (full fare), K, L, M, N, O, Q, S, T, U, V, W, X (discounted fare)

In addition to the booking codes given above, airlines may include other letters and numbers in their codes in various sections of the fare basis code that can provide more information. For instance, the letters H and L in the beginning of the code, other than the booking code, signify the high and low season. Also, the last two characters ‘CH’ and ‘IN’ in the fare basis code signify child fare up to 11 or 15 years and infant fare up to 3 years travelling on the flight, respectively. Again, the code ‘RT’ placed after the booking code indicates a return fare, specifically on higher level fares.

Bear in mind that the fare basis codes defined by airlines can possibly have different meanings for which the tickets are issued. Some airlines may use more letters to signify certain things, while other airlines may stick to the universal standard that was defined by the IATA.


Fare basis codes can vary from one airline carrier to another, since they can also combine additional letters to the code that can be used to identify fare type, features and also, rules associated to the passengers.

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