While different airlines may include different information on an airfare ticket, most include the same general information. Fare basis code is determined by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), and is often universal among airlines, which makes it easy to learn how to read and understand the wording, abbreviation and codes on a ticket or boarding pass.

Fare basis codes are used worldwide to help passengers, airlines, and travel agents understand the terms and pricing of airline flights. Before reading your ticket, confirm that you have the correct ticket for the flight you are traveling through check-in. Many airlines will not issue a ticket until you arrive at the airport unless you have purchased an e-ticket.

1. Confirm basic flight information

Confirm basic flight information. Under the "Issued By" line on the top left side, determine which airline you are flying with. The airline name will be printed in large, bold print to help the passenger identify who he is traveling with. Under the airline information, your name, departure city and arrival city should be listed.

2. Look for the Airline Abbreviation Codes

Read the rest of the ticket. The ticket includes the double-digit airline abbreviation code.

Popular Airline Abbreviation Codes Include:

  • AA for American Airlines
  • WN for Southwest Airlines Co.
  • DL for Delta Airlines
  • UA for United Airlines
  • BA for British Airways
  • B6 for JetBlue Airways

3. Determine your Ticket Class

Ticket Fare classes are determined using different letters. The class of service determines if the passenger is sitting in first class, business, premium economy, or basic economy class.

Many times A and F are first class tickets, C, D are business class tickets, with J often being full-fare business class. Most other booking class letters mean economy class. Y is often full-fare economy.

Ticket Fare rules, such as baggage allowance, vary across class, so be sure to confirm your booking code as soon as you are able.

Published fares are also often able to be upgraded, so getting the jump on your fare type can help you decide if you want to change to a different fare.

4. Find your group number

The group number is also printed in a large font, telling passengers which group they will board with.

Gate agents will announce one group at a time, boarding first- and business-class passengers first and then loading from the back of the plane to the front of the plane.

Some airlines, like Southwest Airlines, who do not have assigned seating will board based on class.

5. Read the Boarding Pass

On the right side of the ticket, a tear-off section known as the boarding pass can be found. The boarding pass includes the name of the passenger, departure and arrival city, airline, carrier (this is the airline abbreviation), flight number and class.

The boarding pass also includes the gate number, boarding time, seat number and group number.

Larger airports will also include a terminal number or letter to help you determine which terminal your gate is in.

6. Understand other Airline Codes.

Tickets may include other codes or abbreviations:

Infants traveling without a seat will have a separate ticket but will have an infant fare code on the ticket stating that they do not have a seat.

  • Children paying a child fare will also have a code stating that they have paid a reduced fair.
  • Groups traveling together will have codes such as GV 2, GV 4 or GV 10 to determine the number of people in that group.
  • Ow stands for one-way ticket and Waitlist is printed on a ticket when a flight is full and you are waiting for a cancellation or no show to make it onto another flight.

If you are connecting, your flight ticket should give you information on stopovers and your next flight. Round-trip information might also be included.