Recently, I was trying to use my Miles and More voucher to upgrade my travel class for a long-haul flight to Beijing but my request was rejected. The man on the phone told me that my booking class N does not allow him to give me this upgrade… a man learns something new every day.
Till that day I was thinking that the world of travel class is divided into the economy, premium economy, business class and the first class. So let me share with you what I’ve learned in the topic of booking class codes.
What does booking class mean?
Booking class matches the seat in an airplane with price and privileges. It is always indicated by one letter code from A to Z. When I say privileges it means that passengers with the same travel class can have tickets with different booking classes. For example, both can have Premium Economy tickets and one of them is with W booking code and the other one with N. Then the guy with W code will be able to upgrade his travel class for miles and the other no.
Why airlines need it?
Airlines treat airplane seats as products for sale and to make it easier to follow sales and availability, they group it in booking classes. This approach means that each seat which was not sold becomes the “inventory” on the stock what is waste for an airline. Therefore some ticket prices fall in particular booking class, some seats become award from loyalty programs and so on. In other words, airlines are using booking class to find the balance between full occupancy of a plane and maximized profit from each flight.
Why is it worth to know details about your booking class?
As it was mentioned before, some fare codes are restricted in terms of:
- The number of points awarded in your loyalty program – you can use this tool to know how many points you will get with your booking class
- Flexibility – example: free rebooking, low-cost cancellation
- Travel class upgrades – see above mentioned example
- Baggage allowances
Each airline has its own coding system so try to dig more details of your booking class code before pushing the “Buy” button on the carrier’s website.
In fact, some booking codes are standard across all airlines and below you can check what I’ve researched:
|Class||Full Fare||Discounted / award / restrictions|
|First Class||F||A, P|
|Business Class||J, C||D, I, Z, R|
|Premium Economy||W, E||G, N|
|Economy / Coach||B, M, H, Y||K, L, O, Q, S, T, U, V, W, X|
It’s always worth to know what’s behind your booking class to avoid disappointments. And believe me, this is not the last thing which can bring you some surprises. If you want to know some more “pre-booking” traps, read my article about tips for booking the flights.
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