coach class

Travel class

A travel class is a quality of accommodation on public transport. The accommodation could be a seat or a cabin for example. Higher travel classes are more comfortable and more expensive.

Airlines

Airlines traditionally have three travel classes, although many airlines are eliminating first class from international flights and now offer business class as the highest level of service:

  • First Class, generally the most expensive and most comfortable accommodations available.
  • Business Class, high quality, traditionally purchased by business travellers (sometimes called executive class)
  • Premium Economy, slightly better Economy Class seating (greater distance between rows of seats; the seats themselves may or may not be wider than regular economy class)
  • Economy Class (also known as coach class or travel class), basic accommodation, commonly purchased by leisure travellers

Three-cabin configuration is found on international and transcontinental flights. For shorter distances, most airlines fly a two-cabin plane, featuring only Business and Economy Class cabins. The short-haul Business Class cabin is usually designated as "First Class" in the USA (domestic).

Some airlines merge their international First and Business classes into a premium business product with the consequence of lost exclusivity (for example, Continental Airlines has a BusinessFirst class), whereas others supplement the Business Class cabin with a Premium Economy class cabin. Some flights operated by Singapore Airlines (using their Airbus A340-500 aircraft) offer only Business and Premium Economy Class service. Some airlines, such as Japan Airlines and Lufthansa, offer flights with only a Business Class service.

Most low-cost carriers and regional affiliates of major carriers only provide an Economy Class. The costs of extra services and amenities afforded to the premium cabins is eliminated, and more seats can be installed on an aircraft.

Fare class

Within each travel class there are often different fare classes, relating to ticket or reservation restrictions and used to enhance opportunities for price discrimination. Passengers within the same travel class receive the same quality of accommodation and may indeed sit next to each other; however, the price or restrictions they face for that accommodation will vary depending on the fare class. Fare classes may also vary by how far ahead the ticket must be purchased, or how long the length of stay is. For example, full fare economy class passengers are usually able to make changes to their reservation, while discount economy class passengers in the lowest booking code usually have tickets that are non-refundable, non-upgradeable, non-transferable, or non-changeable without a fee.

Airline fare classes are commonly indicated by letter codes, but the exact hierarchy and terms of these booking codes vary greatly from carrier to carrier.

First class codes

  • F, A, P, R

On USA domestic flights, F commonly indicates first class on a two-cabin plane. If a three-cabin aircraft is used, P (for "premium") may be used to distinguish the higher level of service in first class. The R code indicated supersonic transport and was no longer used after the retirement of the Concorde, however with the introduction of the new Airbus A380, Singapore Airlines and Qantas have re-introduced the R class to distinguish a higher class than regular First Class. The A and P codes may indicate a first class ticket whose fare is reduced due to restrictions on refunds, advance reservation requirements, or other terms.

The codes in short:

  • F = Full-Fare First Class
  • P = First Class
  • A = First Class Discounted
  • R = First Class Suites (currently only A380), and formerly Supersonic (Concorde),
  • (a lowercase "n" after any class code indicates Night Service)

Business class codes

  • C, J, D, I, Z

On many airlines, C or J indicate full fare business class, whereas discounted and thus restricted and typically non-upgradeable fares are represented by D, I or Z.

The codes in short:

  • C, J = Full-fare Business Class,
  • D, I, Z = Business Class Discounted,
  • (a lowercase "n" after any class code indicates Night Service)

Economy class codes

  • Full fare: Y, B
  • Standard fare: M, H, N
  • Special or discount fares: G, I, K, L, O, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X

On most airlines, unrestricted economy ticket is booked as a Y fare. Full fare tickets with restrictions on travel dates, refunds, or advance reservations are commonly classed as B, H, or M, although some airlines may use S, W, or others. Heavily discounted fares, commonly T or W, will not permit cabin upgrades, refunds, or reservation changes, may restrict frequent flyer program eligibility, and/or impose other restrictions. Other fare codes such as X are restricted for use by consolidators, group charters, or travel industry professionals. However on some airlines X is used for frequent flier program award redemptions.

Most low-cost carriers have greatly simplified the fare classes they use to a handful of cases, unlike the dozens employed by a traditional airline. While some traditional carriers have followed, others continue to prefer price discrimination over commoditisation.

The codes in short:

  • B = Economy/Coach Discounted
  • E = Shuttle Service (No reservation allowed), or Economy/Coach Discounted
  • G = Conditional Reservation
  • H = Economy/Coach Discounted
  • K = Economy/Coach Discounted
  • L = Economy/Coach Discounted
  • M = Economy/Coach Discounted
  • N = Economy/Coach Discounted
  • O = Economy/Coach Discounted
  • Q = Economy/Coach Discounted
  • S = Economy/Coach
  • T = Economy/Coach Discounted, or Premium
  • U = Shuttle Service (No res. needed/Seat guaranteed)
  • V = Economy/Coach Discounted
  • W = Economy/Coach Premium
  • Y = Economy/Coach
  • (a lowercase "n" after any class code indicates Night Service)

Trains

Trains often have first class (the higher class) and second class (known as standard class in the UK). For trains with sleeping accommodation, there may be more levels of luxury.

In the United States train classes emulate the airlines, although airlines probably took the class levels from trains of the time when they were coming of age (e.g. first, business, coach), trains with sleeper cars have additional levels.

History

During the Victorian era, in the United Kingdom, most trains had three classes of accommodation: First Class (for upper-class people); Second Class (for middle-class people); Third Class (for working-class people). From the 1870's onwards, Second Class was gradually abolished and First Class and Third Class were retained. The reason that Second Class was abolished and Third Class retained was that the Railway Regulation Act 1844 required a Third Class service to be offered. After nationalisation, Third Class was re-named Second Class, which in turn was renamed Standard Class in the 1980's. A coach with accommodation for more than one class is called a Composite Coach.

See also

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