Fare Rules Explained
The Fare Rule Definitions section below describes the following terms, which may be displayed in the Fare Rules Details page:
 Fare Rule Terms
 BK Code  Penalty  Res/Tktg
 Min Stay  Max Stay  Day/Time
 Seasons  Blackouts  Eff/Exp
 Flt Appl  Stopovers  Discounts
 Reroute  Transfers  Combinations
 Open Rtn  Co-Terminals  
The Glossary section below provides explanations of these additional terms:
 ASC  Circle Trip  Direct
 End-On-End  Inventory  Maximum Permitted Mileage
 Nonstop  Open Jaw  Originating Flight
 PTA  Revalidate  Round Trip
 Routing  Segment  Standby
 TBM  Upgrade  Waitlist
 Fare Rule Definitions
 Rule Explanation
 Booking Code
(BK Code)
The airlines control how many seats on each flight are available for each fare, according to booking code.
e.g. F,P,J,C,Y,B,M,Q,V,H,L
 Penalty Each ticket has different restrictions when it comes to making changes or cancellations. Tickets may be non-refundable, partially refundable, or applied as credit towards future tickets. There also might be a service or change fee applied. (Please see Rerouting for relevant information.)
 Res/Tktg Reservations have restrictions as to when they can be made (e.g. 7, 14, or 21 days in advance). Similarly, tickets also follow rules for when they can be issued (e.g. 24 hours after making reservation). Usually, the earlier of the two deadlines takes precedence.
 Min Stay Some tickets require a minimum stay. Most common are Saturday night stays, meaning passengers must stay over a Saturday night.
 Max Stay Some tickets have a maximum stay restriction (e.g. 30 days, 60 days, 365 days).
 Day/Time Some fares are only valid on particular days of the week or at particular times. For example, some fares are valid Monday-Thursday or from 7pm-6am only.
 Seasons Some fares, particularly overseas fares, have an associated season (e.g. Sep. 15-Dec. 12). For overseas travel, usually the departure date determines the season for the round-trip fare.
 Blackouts Fares are not valid on certain dates, such as over a holiday weekend.
 Eff/Exp Effective/Expires: Many seat sale fares must be purchased by a certain date. Find this date in this section of the rules.
 Flt Appl Certain fares are only valid for particular flights (e.g. nonstop or flight 123 only).
 Stopovers If there is more than a four-hour break between flights, it is considered a stopover. Some fares allow free stopovers, others allow stopovers for an additional fee, and many fares do not allow stopovers at all. For more information, see Stopovers in the Glossary below.
 Discounts Fare rules commonly refer to three types of discounts: infant, child, and senior. Infants under two usually fly free on domestic flights provided they do not occupy a seat. Some fares offer children's discounts, generally for children aged two-11. Deeply discounted seat sale tickets may not offer a further discount for children. Many airlines offer senior citizen discounts, and some also offer discounts for a companion traveling with the senior citizen, even if the companion is not themselves a senior citizen. Different airlines have different age definitions for senior citizens. The fare will indicate the discount when available.
 Reroute Voluntary rerouting is when a passenger wants to make a change to their itinerary before departure. The term rerouting may be confusing, in that the actual route does not have to change (although it could). Any change to flights, dates, times, or destinations are considered rerouting. Rerouting rules usually are different before departure and after departure. See Rerouting in Glossary for more information.
 Transfers A transfer is a connection en route from origin to destination.
 Combinations   Fare combinations come into play when a round-trip fare is not purchased. Combinations refer to whether two or more fares can be combined to construct an itinerary for a given passenger. Types of trips involving combinations include circle trips, open jaws and end-on-end combinations. See Combinations in Glossary for more information.
 Open Return
(Open Rtn)
An open return is a ticket valid for transportation between the destination city and the city of origin with no set date or flight. Many fares do not allow open returns. The rules might say so explicitly, or you may see something like segments using this rule must be confirmed", which means no open return and no waitlisting.
 Co-Terminals  Co-terminals are different airports that are equivalent with respect to fare calculation. For example, if FLL-MIA are listed as co-terminals, Fort Lauderdale and Miami would be equivalent airports for fare construction under that particular fare rule. Note that cities may appear as co-terminals for a given fare rule, which have nothing to do with the routing between your origin and destination. The fare rule is of a general nature, and fares may be offered between many different city pairs under the same fare rule (e.g. a seat sale).
ASC Back to top 
Administrative Service Charge is usually the same as the change fee or the fee to exchange the ticket for future travel.
Circle Trip Back to top 
Travel from A to B then back from B to A using different fare basis codes. See Round Trip for more information.
Any trip involving a stopover in addition to the ultimate destination (e.g. A-->B, B-->C then C-->A using the same or different fare basis codes).
Combinations Back to top 
A few basic, general principles apply to fare combinations. The most restrictive conditions apply. If combining a fare that is 50% refundable with one that is non-refundable, the whole ticket becomes non-refundable because the non-refundable rule is the most restrictive. As another example, combining a fare that requires seven days advance purchase with one that requires 14 days advance purchase, the entire ticket must be purchased 14 days in advance. The same reasoning applies for minimum/maximum stay, change fees, service charges, and other restrictions.
Direct Back to top 
A flight from A to B with the same flight number and no change of aircraft. May have one or more stops. Compare with nonstop.
End-on-End Back to top 
A special type of combination in which two round-trip fares are combined to produce a complete itinerary. An example is given below:
From To Rule
AAA BBB Rule 1
BBB CCC Rule 2
CCC BBB Rule 2
BBB AAA Rule 1
In this example, the passenger buys a round-trip ticket from AAA to BBB (Rule 1) and a separate round-trip fare from BBB to CCC (Rule 2). The net effect is to travel from AAA to CCC, but breaking the fare at BBB, which may in some cases be less expensive than the round-trip (through) fare from AAA to CCC. Fare rules usually specify whether end-on-end combinations are allowed. Sometimes end-on-end combinations can be used as a tip for finding low fares online. End-on-end combinations are very different from back-to-back ticketing, which is expressly forbidden by most airlines.
Inventory Back to top 
Inventory is another word for available booking classes. You may see a phrase in the fare rules, often in the section on Rerouting, like "INVENTORY MUST BE AVAILABLE FOR FARE TKTD".
Maximum Permitted Mileage Back to top 
In general, international fares are based on mileage and North American fares are based on routing. In the international fare tariffs, there is an established amount of mileage called the maximum permitted mileage (MPM) between every point A and B. The carriers interested in the traffic between these points A and B can use their own hubs to fly this traffic provided the maximum permitted mileage is not exceeded. In the event that the mileage is exceeded, a surcharge of 5%, 10%, 15%, 20%, or 25% can be assessed for an additional 5%, 10%, 15%, 20%, or 25% mileage, respectively. Beyond 25% additional mileage, the through fare must be broken.

In the MPM system, backtracking is not prohibited. However there are certain other restrictions in place, such as:

  1. The point of origin or the point of destination cannot be used as an intermediate point in the same fare breakdown (i.e. the following examples would not be allowed: YYZ LON PAR ZRH FRA ZRH or BKK SIN HKG BKK LAX YYZ)
  2. You can travel via the same intermediate point more than once but you can only stop once (i.e. the following would not be allowed: YYZ LON PAR FRA PAR ATH (stopping in PAR twice would require a side trip PAR FRA PAR))
  3. In some fares such as round-the-world fares, the rules state that travel must be in the same global direction, thus preventing backtracking.
Nonstop Back to top 
Used to describe a flight from A to B with no en route stops. Compare with direct.
Open Jaw Back to top 
Travel from A to B and then from C to A, with no air ticket from B to C. Usually the distance BC must be less than both AB and CA (i.e. the part without the air ticket must be shorter than the shortest distance flown).
Open Jaw
Originating Flight Back to top 
The first flight on your ticket is your originating flight.
PTA Back to top 
PTA stands for prepaid ticket advice. This option allows someone other than the passenger to pay for the ticket, even if the payer is in a different city. The passenger then picks up the ticket from the airline or the travel agent in the passenger's city. Sometimes a fare rule states "PTA satisfies ticketing requirements," indicating that once the PTA is arranged, even if the ticket is not physically issued, the requirements for ticket issue (e.g. within a certain number of days after reservation and before departure) are met.
Since the advent of electronic ticketing, PTA is used far less commonly. Electronic tickets are a much better way to handle this situation. Usually the airline charges a fee for processing a PTA, unlike for electronic tickets.
Reroute/Rerouting (Voluntary) Back to top 
First, consider some background. Recall that in the Penalty section of Fare Rule Definitions, certain conditions would apply to the ability to change a ticket for the change fee (e.g. $75). The rerouting rule describes conditions under which the itinerary can be changed for only the change fee.
The underlying principle is to provide the passenger with some degree of flexibility while at the same time not being unfair to passengers who have paid much higher fares (e.g. Full Coach) for maximum flexibility. For example, suppose a business traveler bought a full coach fare from New York to Los Angeles for $1680 return. She did so to provide maximum flexibility. Suppose also that a college student bought a ticket on the same route for $318 return. If the college student could make any changes he wanted for only $50 with no additional restrictions, then why would the business traveler pay $1680? As you will see, the rerouting rules attempt to be fair to both parties.
Before Departure...New Fare Required
At the time the passenger wants to make a change to his/her originating flight, the passenger becomes subject to the fares in effect on the date the change is made for travel on the dates desired. In other words, the passenger is in effect making a new reservation, and is subject to all of the rules of the new fare, including advance purchase requirements, ticket purchase deadlines, and minimum/maximum stay requirements. The new itinerary must usually be of equal or higher value than the original itinerary. The passenger must pay the difference between the original fare and the new fare plus the administrative service charge (e.g. $75). If the new fare is of lower value, you may get a refund, a credit for future travel, or neither, depending on the fare rule.
Upgrade Example:
Suppose that today is March 25 and several weeks ago a college student living in New York bought a round-trip ticket to Los Angeles with a departure date of April 1. The student now wants to leave March 26 instead of April 1. The only applicable fare at this time may be a Full-Coach fare. The student would then be required to purchase a Full-Coach fare, but he/she could use the value of his/her special-fare ticket towards that purchase. The original non-refundable amount remains non-refundable. In other words, one can not get around the system by upgrading a discounted ticket to a full-fare ticket, then getting a full refund for the full-fare ticket as a way to in effect get a refund for an unused discounted ticket.
After Departure: Don't Forget to Enjoy your Saturday Night Stay
After departure, voluntary rerouting is not permitted except to the dates/times of your flights. That is, once you have departed from New York to Los Angeles, it is now too late to change your itinerary and decide to stop in Indianapolis on the way home. (At least, it's too late to do so using any credit from this fare. It's never too late to do whatever you want if you're willing to buy a new ticket). You can change the day or time you are traveling, provided that you don't change the origin/destination/stopover points, that the change meets the minimum and maximum stay requirements of the original fare, and that applicable inventory is available on the new flight.
If the inventory (booking class) at the original fare is not available, changes can be made to the return with any combinable fare. (Not all fares are combinable with each other. See Combinations.) For example, if M class is not available, K class can be booked on the return, provided that the restrictions mentioned apply. The difference in the fare would have to be paid as well as the applicable service fee (e.g. $50).
As another alternative if the applicable inventory is not available, you may be able to standby at the airport.
Revalidate Back to top 
Generally airline tickets are valid for one year from date of issue. If the airline revalidates a ticket, its value could be extended beyond one year. Some fares specifically exclude revalidation.
Round Trip Back to top 
Travel from A to B then back from B to A using the same fare basis code. See also Circle Trip.
Routing Back to top 
Routing lists the allowed connecting cities for travel from A to B for a particular fare. Sometimes this rule indicates that travel must be nonstop.
Segment Back to top 
A segment refers to a single flight with the same flight number. For example, if you travel from A to B, change planes at B, and then travel from B to C, you will have flown two segments. On the other hand, if you travel from A to C and the flight stops at B, but you don't change planes, then your trip from A to C is one segment from the point of view of fare rules. Note that the U.S. federal segment tax defines both of these scenarios as two segments.
Standby Back to top 
Standby allows a traveler to wait at the gate for a seat to become available, usually minutes before a flight departs. Some fares, which otherwise require a change fee, allow passengers to standby for earlier or later flights on the same day at no additional cost. See waitlist.
Stopover Back to top 
From the previous example, your flight might be routed through Indianapolis anyway and you might even have to change aircraft there.You might think you could beat the system by booking a connecting flight for the next day. You usually cannot do so, since if you do not depart your intermediate point (Indianapolis) within four hours of your arrival there, it would normally be considered a stopover. Therefore, such an arrangement would not be allowed if the fare did not permit stopovers.
Three important notes:
  1. A connection in Indianapolis would be allowed provided that the time between flights was no greater than four hours. (An additional proviso is that Indianapolis must be on the fare routing. You can't say that Los Angeles is on the way from New York to Miami and book a connecting flight through Los Angeles at no extra charge!)
  2. You may still be able to stay over in Indianapolis for a few days using this fare if booked as a circle trip, rather than a stopover. See Circle Trip for details.
  3. Generally speaking, the four-hour rule applies provided that there is a connecting flight departing within four hours. For example, if there is no connecting flight for six hours, then it is usually valid to take that flight and still call it a connection rather than a stopover.
TBM Back to top 
Ticketing by Mail means that one can order tickets from the airline to be sent in the mail.
Upgrade Back to top 
While most of us think of an upgrade as an opportunity to sit in First/Business class, in the world of fare rules an upgrade means something entirely different. An upgrade refers to changing your ticket to a higher fare for the same or different flights. The higher fare may still be in coach, but you may be required to upgrade if you want to make a change that does not meet the conditions of the change fee for the lower fare. See example in Rerouting.
Waitlist Back to top 
Some fares allow a passenger to be put on a waiting list for the required booking class if it is sold out. Usually the deeply discounted seat sale fares do not allow waiting lists, but intermediate and higher fares usually do. A waitlist refers to making reservations only, and it has nothing to do with the standby list at the airport.
 This information used with permission from TravelTerminal.Com.
 Copyright © 1999,2000,2001 TravelTerminal.Com
 All rights reserved.