One of the most popular posts here on Frequently Flying is my Airfare Pricing Buckets & Airline Fare Basis Codes Revealed! entry from a couple of years ago. It’s still very much valid in decoding domestic United Airlines fare basis codes, as revenue management post-merger with Continental kept the same logic.

What has changed – just a bit – is the alphabet soup of fare classes used. And with the fairly recent addition of the super-discounted N-class on United, as well as all Star Alliance carriers now using the same letters for award redemptions, every letter of the alphabet is now in use at United.

Here’s a current alphabetical list and description of what each letter translates into (bold letters are award/upgrade classes only):

  • A – First class
  • B – Economy – Full fare (even though Y-class is the highest level in coach, it’s still considered a full fare)
  • C – Business class
  • D – Business class
  • E – Economy
  • F – First class – Full fare (“FN” is for MileagePlus Standard Awards)
  • G – Economy – Discounted
  • H – Economy (“HN” is for MileagePlus Standard Awards)
  • I – First (2-cabin)/Business (3-cabin) – MileagePlus Saver Award class (“IN” is expanded award availability for GS/1K/Plat elites)
  • J – Business class – Full fare (“JN” is expanded MileagePlus Standard Award for elites and Chase credit card holders, as well as an upgrade class from Y-fares for elites)
  • K – Economy – Discounted
  • L – Economy – Discounted
  • M – Economy
  • N – Economy – Discounted
  • O – First Class (3-cabin) – MileagePlus Saver Award (“ON” is upgrade class on 3-cabin aircraft)
  • P – First/Business class – Discounted (“PN” is upgrade from B/M-fares for elites; only GS/1K can upgrade from M)
  • Q – Economy
  • R – First (2-cabin)/Business (3-cabin) – Upgrade bucket (“RN” is expanded availability for elites)
  • S – Economy – Discounted
  • T – Economy – Discounted
  • U – Economy
  • V – Economy
  • W – Economy
  • X – Economy – MileagePlus Saver Award (“XN” is expanded availability for elites)
  • Y – Economy – Full fare (“YN” is an expanded MileagePlus Standard Award for elites and Chase credit card holders)
  • Z – Business class – Discounted (“ZN” is for MileagePlus Standard Awards)

As far as the revenue fare classes above, here’s the order from highest to lowest in terms of where each class falls on the spectrum of overall contribution to United:

F, A, J, C, D, Z, P, Y, B, M, E, U, H, Q, V, W, S, T, L, K, G, N

One important thing to note is that the leading letter of your fare basis code, not necessarily which letter it books into, is what determines your flight mileage accrual. They can be different, which is often the case for “Y-UP” fares where you purchase a coach ticket that books directly into first class.

Another example is what I encountered earlier this year on my mileage run to Tokyo. United had an unadvertised promotional first class sale which booked into “A” class, but my fare basis code began with a “P,” so I only earned redeemable and Premier Qualifying Miles based on the “P.”

I think this causes a lot of confusion for some travelers as the “A,” in my example, was the only thing that appeared online or on a ticket receipt. To see the fare basis code, you have to click the “View Rules and Restrictions” link during the booking process, which yields something like this:

Questions? Comments?

– Follow Darren Booth on Twitter, @FrequentlyFlyin, for more airline, hotel and travel industry news, reviews and opinions.

Related posts:

Airfare Pricing Buckets & Airline Fare Basis Codes Explained

The NEW United Airlines Upgrade & Award Fare Buckets

How to Find Mileage Runs – 2013 Edition

Posted by Darren | 6 Comments

6 Responses to “List and Description of All United Airlines Fare Classes”

  1. Seth Miller says:

    Your “JN” entry implies that CC holders can Y-Up; that isn’t actually the case.

    And I still think the grid format I have them in is easier to read and clearer. ;)

  2. Darren says:

    @Seth: Thanks, I reworded “JN” to make it clear.

  3. Bruce says:

    The UA Fare Pricing & Bucket posts are my favorite. I should know this information better but I don’t. Seeing it on here is always a welcome refresher course.

  4. Dave says:

    Any insight into which fare class indicates availability for GPU into int’l first or business? I am sometimes instantly confirmed when I use GPU, other times I am waitlisted and wondered if there’s an easy way to discover this.

  5. Darren says:

    @Dave: “R” is the upgrade class for business class, “ON” for international first. If you enable “expert mode” under your United.com profile, you’ll be able to see all fare classes when shopping for flights when signed in. Alternatively, there are other (paid) services, such as ExpertFlyer and KVS Tool with availability displays.

  6. […] about $600ish more than the cheapest economy ticket. And if you’re unfamiliar, a W-fare is the lowest fare class in which you can use a GPU […]

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