All travelers have heard about Upper class, First Class, Business class and Economy class, bud did you know that each airline can have up to 5 different classes of service on Business Class and over 14 on Economy Class.
What is a Class of Service?
A class of service is airline jargon for the amount of seats available for a certain airfare. Each airfare deal has a specific class of service letter attached to it. For example, that hot $99 deal to London has to be booked in Q or S class (the actual letter is decided by the airline).
What does Q or S class mean?
All airfares advertised by airlines are considered a special discounted fare, the full non discounted airfare is called the rack rate and no one ever pays it unless they are upgrading from Economy Class to Business class or from Business to First class. The Rack rate is normally assigned the letter Y. All the other discounted airfares on Economy class will be assigned letters other than Y, for example: Q, X, S, M, B, ETC.
How do I know what each letter means?
They don’t really mean anything (B class does not mean Business Class; F Class does not necessarily mean First Class). You only have to know that each airfare has a finite amount of letters available, for example if an airline assigns their hot $99 deal in Q class, then the deal will end as soon as all the Q class tickets are sold. The next letter up could be S or M, or B, the only certainty is that each letter along the line will be progressively more expensive. That way the airlines sell the cheapest airfares first and sell them on a first come first served basis until the airplane is filled.
How do I get the lowest class?
I use the vayama.com booking engine because it automatically searches for the cheapest class of service available on all flights on the class or service requested (Economy, Business or First). If I see a hot airfare deal advertised, I put in my dates and let the computer search for the lowest class available. If an airline is sold out for a particular class of service on a particular day, you have to change dates until you find a flight that has the proverbial Q or S class available. The same applies with Business and even First Class.
How do I eliminate the guessing game?
A more time consuming old school method is to actually ask your travel agent what class of service needs to be available to score the lowest seats, but I recommend using the vayama.com booking engine as it can search faster than any human pecking around for Q or S class, so the real secret is to be flexible with your dates until you score the lowest class of service available.
Now you try it, how many airfares can you break?
Your posts are welcome and I will reply to all the questions that are not already answered here.
Enjoy your trips.
Florin R. Ferrs International Discounted Airfares Specialist.