You know what I noticed recently? That it’s a pain in the ass to find the booking code on Orbitz and Priceline for airfare. I started putting this post together for my own future reference, but It made more sense to flesh it out into a full length article. So, here it is.
On Orbitz, you are never given the chance to see the fare code until right before you plug in your credit card and commit to a purchase.
You must dig deep past the search results, the trip details, you even need to provide your traveler TSA info and make it past seat selection before you are given a chance to see what it is you are committing to.
So here we are, the last section before your credit card gets charged, but where’s the fare code? It’s conveniently buried behind a link inside all this small print. The full fare basis code is under the “fare rules and restrictions“ link. Clicking that link will open this screen…
If you’re saying to yourself “what the heck is VLV3XPC!?” — that’s the “fare basis code”. The first letter is your booking class and is used to determine how points and miles accrue with airline loyalty programs. In this case our booking class is “V”. As for the other letters, it’s really beyond the scope of my knowledge to discuss their significance because they can have different meanings depending on the airline that created the fare basis code.
So, after all that work we’ve finally determined the fare codes on Orbitz. They have really outdone themselves in making something simple so inaccessible.
[How to find the fare code on Priceline]
Priceline is another Online Travel Agency that buries the fare code until the last minute. You must jump through all the same hoops as Orbitz so I won’t detail them again. See the screenshot below, this section is right before you are asked to provide payment details.
The full fare basis code is under the “fare rules and restrictions“ link.
Update: It looks like that Priceline only provides the fare basis code for some airlines. When I tried it with KLM today, I wasn’t able to pull it up at all, which is just ridiculous.
Alternatively, you could try looking up your flight on ITA’s matrix search. They provide the full fare basis code and a link to the rules for each of the fares listed. Unfortunately, that doesn’t solve the problem of finding the fare basis code of the ticket you’re about to buy (or already bought) from Priceline. If the price and flight numbers on your itinerary match the ones you see on ITA then it’s “probably” the same fare basis code — but there is no way to tell with 100% certainty that it is because Priceline has no way to confirm it.
Use Orbitz or Expedia if all you need is the booking code. If you need the fare basis rules, Orbitz is actually pretty consistent in having them after you jump through all the hoops; ITA is also good if you’re just browsing fares.
It’s really unfortunate that Priceline and Orbitz make it so difficult to find important details about the airfare they’re selling. By comparison: Expedia has the booking code right on their search results page. They don’t require the customer to fill out any information, or dig all the way through the registration process for it but I’ve never been able to find the full fare rules on their site.
If you found this article useful, check out this related post [Understanding how your booking code affects point and mile accrual]. This post is in the [Budget Travel Tips] category, there are many other useful posts under that category that are similar to this one.