Coded messages

I blogged recently about airlines communicating with each other about pricing through the media, since anti-trust rules preclude them from discussing their pricing directly.


Airlines also communicate with each other through arcane ‘fare basis codes’. Every airfare carries with it a several letter code which is used to identify the rules and restrictions associated with the ticket.


On Friday Delta loaded a fare of ~ $98 between Chicago and New York … no advance purchase or Saturday stay required. The fare basis was UA0TN. Get it… UA, for United Airlines, which is headquartered in Chicago?

So sometime on Saturday United loaded a fare of ~ $98 between New York and both Cincinnati and Atlanta, Delta’s two East Coast hubs. Delta sent United a message, and United sent one back.


United’s fare basis is TNMX. The first two letters are “TN” and the last two letters of Delta’s message fare end in “TN.” I am wracking my brain over whether TN could have some meaning. Kinda like the famous fares ending in “FU” …


It all kind of reminds me of the early 1980s when State Department-issued license plates for Soviet diplomats all began with “FC” for F…. Commies.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community Milepoint.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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