Booking Class – Definition

Cite this article as:"Booking Class – Definition," in The Business Professor, updated June 9, 2019, last accessed October 29, 2020,


Fair Basis Code, Booking Class, and Reference Number Definition

A Booking class is an indicator of traveling class presented in a traveler’s fare code. A fare basis or fare code is an alphabetic letter or numbers (numeric codes) through which a fare type is identified by airlines. The fare code also contains rules applicable to different fare types or tickets.

Usually, fare codes have specific patterns that have been used overtime to differentiate a fare ticket from another. Many airlines have also set standards guiding their fare basis codes (fare codes). Through the fare basis codes, travel agents and airline staff are able to know the status or class of booking and rules that apply to the booking class.

A Little More on What is the Fair Basis Code, Booking Class, and Reference Number

All data basis codes begin with booking class. This is a letter that reflects the type of class the traveler has selected when purchasing his traveling ticket as well as other information. Airline staff know the status of an individual’s booking through the booking class number which appears as the first letter on a fare basis code.

A typical fare basis will be between 3 to 7 characters, which might be numbers or letters. There are some cases where we can have up to 8. The booking class is basically a letter that reflects the status of an individual’s booking.

Booking class

The booking class is the first number or letter on a fare basis code. Through booking or fare codes, the limits of seats that can be sold for a particular fare is known by travel agents or airplane officials.

For instance, a reservation system that displays the following codes Y7 K5 M4 T6 E3 show that the plane has only 25 economy seats, hence, the number of booking class that can be placed on reservation is limited to this number.

Also, this code shows the number of seats that cannot be booked by agents or seats that are reserved for business connections or designated persons.

The International Air Transport Association have certain standards that define booking codes but these standards are not strictly adhered to by many airlines. Some airlines set their standards for setting fare basis codes. Although, the same codes might have different meanings, some booking codes retained the same meaning across all airlines. Examples of these codes are;

F which means full-fare first class,

J means full-fare business class,

W means full-fare Premium economy while

Y is full-fare economy class.

Airline-specific codes

There are specific codes that airlines use for modern fares. These are not standards, they are called airline-specific codes that airlines use for short-term use. Examples of airline-specific codes are;

  • Codes that indicate common name for a fare that an airline uses.
  • Airlines use certain alphanumeric codes to indicate the percentage of discount from full fare that airline staff and travel agency staff can enjoy. Industry Discount (ID) and Agent Discount (AD) used for an airline staff or a staff from a travel agency.
  • There are codes set aside for military personnel and federal government employees.
  • Codes that limit certain fares to a particular company such as negotiated fares.

References for Booking Class and Reference Number

Academic Research on Booking Class and Reference Number

Modelling choice of flight and booking class-a study using stated preference and revealed preference data, Algers, S., & Beser, M. (2001). International Journal of Services Technology and Management, 2(1-2), 28-45.

Airline revenue management: A simulation of dynamic capacity management, Frank, M., Friedemann, M., Mederer, M., & Schroeder, A. (2006). Journal of Revenue and Pricing Management, 5(1), 62-71.

The potential impact of IATA’s New Distribution Capability (NDC) on revenue management and pricing, Westermann, D. (2013). Journal of Revenue and Pricing Management, 12(6), 565-568.

Classification of reference models: a methodology and its application, Fettke, P., & Loos, P. (2003). Information systems and e-business management, 1(1), 35-53.

Designing new ways for selling airline tickets, Vukmirovic, M., Szymczak, M., Gawinecki, M., Ganzha, M., & Paprzycki, M. (2007). Informatica, 31(1).

Principles for simulations in revenue management, Frank, M., Friedemann, M., & Schröder, A. (2008). Journal of Revenue and Pricing Management, 7(1), 7-16.

Modeling aggregate air-travel itinerary shares: logit model development at a major US airline, Coldren, G. M., Koppelman, F. S., Kasturirangan, K., & Mukherjee, A. (2003). Journal of Air Transport Management, 9(6), 361-369.

Class-of-service mapping for QoS: a statistical signature-based approach to IP traffic classification, Roughan, M., Sen, S., Spatscheck, O., & Duffield, N. (2004, October). In Proceedings of the 4th ACM SIGCOMM conference on Internet measurement (pp. 135-148). ACM.

Design of composable services, Feuerlicht, G. (2008, December). In International Conference on Service-Oriented Computing (pp. 15-27). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

Requirements analysis and UML use cases and class diagrams, Vidgen, R. (2003). Computing & control engineering journal, 14(2), 12-17.

Revenue management for air cargo space with supply uncertainty, Huang, K., & Hsu, W. (2005, September). In Proceedings of the Eastern Asia Society for Transportation Studies (Vol. 5, No. 2005, pp. 570-580).

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