What Are Fare Codes & How Do You Find Them On American Airlines & British Airways Tickets?

airline fare codes

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UPDATED 13 January 2018

When discussing air travel we normally discuss the tickets that we book in terms of the class of travel that we’re booking into (First, Business, Premium Economy, Economy) because that’s usually what’s most important to us. But airlines see things a little differently.

Airlines have subdivisions within each of those classes that, in simple terms, allow them to set different prices within a single class of travel and offer different benefits to travelers depending on which price they pay . These subdivisions are called “fare codes” (sometimes, to my mind incorrectly, called “fare class”).

In this article:

Use the links above to skip to the section that you need.

How do fare codes work?

Taking American Airlines as an example:

American Airlines lists a total of 19 bookable fare codes within 4 classes of travel. You can get an idea of how it uses these fare codes when you see how AAdvantage Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs)are handed out:

From the table you can see that the very cheapest Economy fares (coded H, K, M, L, V, G, S, N, Q, O) earn Elite Qualifying Miles at a rate of 1 EQM per mile flown while full-fare Economy fares (Y) earn 1.5 EQM per mile flown.

The next set of fares on the ladder (Premium Economy) also earn 1.5 EQM per mile flown but we see further differentiation within the same class of service at the top of the chart – discounted First Class and Business Class fares earn 2 EQM per mile flown while the more expensive First & Business Class fares earn 3 EQM per mile flown.

Bear in mind that everyone booking an economy class ticket will be sitting in the same cabin as will everyone who has booked a Business Class fare or a First Class fare….it’s just that some passengers (usually the ones who book earlier) will have booked into a cheaper fare code than others and therefore paid less for the same seat.

Why is this important?

Firstly, fare codes are important as they let you know just how many Elite Qualifying Miles (or Tier Points) you’ll earn from a trip you’re planning to take (or have already booked) but, sticking with the American Airlines example, for bookings with American Airlines’ partners they also let you know how many Elite Qualifying Dollars you’ll earn and how may AAdvantage Redeemable Miles you’ll accrue.

Here’s an example of the AAdvantage earnings you can expect when you book a trip on British Airways and credit the trip to the AAdvantage program :

This table shows how fare codes differentiate earnings within the same cabin of service very nicely.

While everyone booking an Economy Class fare will end up sitting in the same cabin on the aircraft we can see (from the table above) that not everyone will earn the same redeemable miles, EQM or EQD.

Those booking into the cheapest fare codes (G, O & Q) will only earn redeemable miles at a rate of 25% of the miles flown while those paying more (fare codes H, K, L, M, N S & V) will earn double that.

Knowing which fare code you’re booking into is crucial to understanding what you can expect in return from the airline (in terms of rewards, miles and credit towards elite qualification).

Will all that in mind just how do you find the fare codes?

Finding American Airlines Fare Codes

Finding the fare code in an existing booking:

There are two ways of finding the fare codes from an existing booking:

1. From The Email Confirmation

You’ll find the fare codes you’ve been booked into in the email confirmation sent to you by the airline. As far as I can tell these are often formatted in two different ways but both will give you the information you need.

The older format looks like this:

The newer format looks like this:

2. From AA.com

If you can’t find your email confirmation you can find the fare codes on AA.com..here’s how:

At the top right-hand-side of the home page, in the “AAdvantage” tab, click on “My Trips”

American Airlines Fare Codes

On page that opens up you’ll see a list of your upcoming trips booked through American Airlines.

2. From that list, select/click on the trip you’re interested in.

3. On the top right of “Your Trip” page, that should have now opened up, click on the link that reads “Print trip and receipt”

American Airlines Fare Codes

The screen that you should now see will show your itinerary and, under the arrival city for each leg of your journey, you should see the fare code for that individual segment.

American Airlines Fare Codes

If for some reason that doesn’t work (I’ve know it to fail sometimes) then you should generate a new confirmation email from the link at the top of the trip page:

The email you receive should be in the same format as I shoed earlier and will show the fare codes quite clearly.

Finding the fare code while you’re making a booking – Price & Schedule Search :

Once you’ve entered the route you wish to fly and the dates you wish to travel AA.com will offer you a selection of flights. To view the fare code for any of these flights click on the “Details” link that you’ll see under the flight number:

This opens up information on the flight and the fare codes can be seen under each class of service:

Finding British Airways Fare Codes (Selling Classes)

Note: British Airways calls fare codes “selling classes” but, for the sake of continuity I’m, going to continue referring to fare codes.

Finding the fare code/selling class in an existing booking:

There are two main ways you can access your bookings on BA.com but, luckily, both take you to the same place so it’s not complicated.

  1. Either fill in your booking details in the “Manage My Booking” tab at the top of the British Airways homepage and click on “find booking”….

Or, from your “Executive Club” page, click on the “manage my booking” button that you’ll find next to each of your bookings:

Whichever way you start this process you’ll end up at the same page – which shows your booking details:

2. Click on the flight whose fare code you want to see and you should see the page expand to show something like this:

3. Now click on “more flight information”

4. A pop-up box will appear with details of your flight and the fare code (selling class) will be shown at the bottom (you may need to scroll down to see it):

Finding the fare code (selling class) while you’re making a booking:

British Airways has recently revamped its website and as this in BA’s IT we’re talking about the changes are less than impressive. Specifically, the new BA.com layout does not give you access to fare codes/selling classes….but there are ways around this.

The key to making sure you can see what fare codes are on offer is starting in the right place with your flight search.

You should start your flight search from either:

Once you’ve entered the route you wish to fly and the dates you wish to travel, BA.com will offer you a selection of flights. Next to each flight is a flight number with a link (click to enlarge):

Clicking on the flight number opens up a “flight details box” which will show the fare codes for all classes of travel that are being offered:

Hopefully that’s helped out. If you have any questions please ask away in the comments section below and I’ll see if I can help 🙂


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