With booking websites you input the dates, number of passengers and route, and the best flights on offer will come up. But this doesn’t give you all the facts. Every ticket has a ‘fare rule(s)’ that goes with it.

Most of the time these rules are ignored by the DIY customer. You should read them before confirming the order as the restrictions imposed may put you at a disadvantage. They should be available to read (the link may be ‘Terms and Conditions’) before the ticket is confirmed. If they’re not, book elsewhere as you will be held to them whether you have read them or not. You should always print out the rules for your own records.

By understanding fare rules, you’ll have a much better idea whether or not you’re getting the best ticket for your trip.

Rules to look out for

  • Is the ticket refundable? (the cheapest fares generally are not refundable) If not, can the ticket be used for part payment for future flights?
  • Can you alter it, and what are the fees?
  • Can two singles be combined to make a return trip, or open jaw trip (fly a-b and then c-a)? One way fares may be cheaper, but booking terms may not allow them to be combined


Rule Explanation
BLACKOUT DATES Cheap rates are not always available in peak seasons. These are the dates where the ticket cannot be used.
BOOKING CODE What is the Fare Class for this ticket? This restricts the number of seats available for this price.
CANCEL Can the ticket be cancelled, e.g. once issued the ticket is non-refundable
CHANGE This lists any changes that are permitted, with their fees
CONTRACT The number for the contract/ticket, e.g. VSITT211/A1301476
FARE TYPE ROUTES The flights that this type of ticket can be used, for example Heathrow to Newark, Heathrow to JFK
FARE VALID The dates when the passenger can travel with this ticket e.g. 22/08/2010 – 09/12/2010
MAXIMUM STAY The latest date that a traveller can fly back before the ticket becomes void e.g. 30 days, 60 days, 365 days
MINIMUM STAY This may also include any days that must be included for the ticket to be valid. In most instances this means that you cannot return until after a Friday or a Saturday.
OPENJAW Can the ticket be used as an open-jaw –e.g. a to b and c back to a?
PASSENGER TYPE Breakdown of fares – child 75%, infant 10%, adult 100%
RESTRICTIONS The flights that can and cannot be used with this ticket
RES/TICKETING How far in advance the ticket must be booked e.g. 7, 14 or 21 days in advance /when the ticket has to be issued e.g. 24 hours after making the reservation.
STOPOVER Can the passenger stop over-night when connecting?
TOUR If the ticket is an IT fare, what must be booked with the ticket? This is usually means that a hotel must also be booked. Sometimes this has to cover the full length of stay.
VALIDITY Many special fares must be purchased within a certain range of dates.