Frustrations with Fares

A couple of days ago I posted about some very good fares from Oslo in Premium Economy.

In the past, I’ve booked similar fares from Sweden, and then upgraded them using a gold upgrade voucher to Club World, which is a great use of the voucher, and provides excellent value.

However this time, things are not quite so straight-forward, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear.  Warning, this article gets quite technical about how fares work!

Firstly, these fares are what is known as a Dual Inventory Fare, or DIF.

In a previous post, I mentioned that airlines separate the inventory into fare buckets, which are identified by letters.  There’s then a number after letter which indicates how many seats they want to sell at that price point.  For example, this is tomorrow’s BA177:

F3 A2 J9 C0 D0 R0 I0 W8 E5 T0 Y9 B6 H3 K3 M3 L2 V0 S0 N0 Q0 O0 G3

For each cabin there are multiple fare buckets.  British Airways uses the following with the most expensive being to the left:

  • First – F, A
  • Business – J, C, D, R, I
  • Premium Economy – W, E, T
  • Economy – Y, B, H, K, M, L, V, S, N, Q, O, G

So if you wanted the cheapest economy fare on this flight, you’d need to look at a “L” fare as that’s the lowest letter with a number that isn’t 0.  We can ignore G as that’s typically used for special fares.

However to complicate things, a Dual Inventory Fare requires two fare buckets to be available.  The reason is to provide a more graduated level of fare increases.  They are essentially a fixed price supplement on a regular economy fare.  So these fares need to have availability in an economy fare bucket and a premium economy fare bucket.

In practice, these fares need to have availability in either O, Q or N in economy and then also T in Premium Economy.

However quoting these fares is proving a challenge.  There’s a particular command line switch in the GDS that one needs to use to do that, but despite that, they don’t seem to pricing correctly, outside of British Airways.  The documentation that British Airways have provided to the trade is correct, however didn’t seem to work.

What’s strange is that the AA fares are definitely filed correctly, and appear on tools like Expertflyer.  However if you want to use a Gold Upgrade Voucher, then everything needs to be under the BA codes.  If you look in the screenshot below, it’s the extra long ones with the /EUUP on the end.  The British Airways fares should have a /DIF4 on the end.

Screen Shot 2017-07-04 at 13.22.50

Further, in terms of processing the upgrade, the British Airways Travel Trade team are having issues combining what is now three separate classes!  It’s the underlying economy fare, plus the Traveller Plus supplement, plus the business class fare bucket (in this case it’s “I” class) for the Gold Upgrade Voucher.  All in all, a complete mess.

I’m at an event in London this evening with some senior British Airways managers so will attempt to get some clarity from them, or at least a contact in fares who knows what they’re doing!

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