When the itemized price of an airline ticket includes a charge with the code "YR," that usually indicates a fuel surcharge -- an extra amount added to the price to account for the cost of jet fuel.


The "YR" in the surcharge is a code assigned by the Airline Tariff Publishing Company, or ATPCO. This firm collects and distributes detailed fare data from more than 460 airlines worldwide. Nearly all airline fares quoted in the U.S. come through the company, so they will show "ATPCO" codes for the elements that make up the final ticket price, including base fare, baggage charges, meal costs, taxes and fees. The ATPCO code system includes two codes that airlines themselves can define: YR and YQ. These are usually surcharges, although they may also be used for insurance or international fees.

Playing With the Numbers

A YR fuel surcharge doesn't necessarily represent actual fuel costs. "USA Today" has reported that some airlines tinker with their pricing structures to make it look as if the base fare is lower than it really is, thus blaming fuel costs for higher ticket prices. It doesn't really matter, as you don't have a choice. You have to pay both the fare and the surcharge.