Travel - A-Z Flights Glossary





An option, usually at extra cost, added to travel arrangements


Advance purchase requirement

An airfare that must be purchased a certain number of days ahead of departure, usually 7, 14, or 21 days, for the best fare



The Airlines Reporting Corporation - is responsible for supervising payments from travel agencies to airlines along with the manner in which tickets are issued to consumers.


Airport access fee

A fee paid to the airport authority by car rental companies for the use of shuttle vehicles.  This often appears in customer’s car rental bills.



The actual inventory of seats that are available to be sold at a certain fare. Just because a fare is presented as “available” between two cities does not mean seats at that rate are available. This causes much confusion when airfare ads are published, so you must read the “fine print” before calling your agent and asking them to get that fare for you.


A la Carte

Referring to meals, an indication that each dish is priced separately; also that a choice of meals may be available.



Toward the rear of a ship


Air mile

A distance of approx. 6076 feet


Airport transfer

A transport service to/from an airport to hotel, etc, normally prepaid as part of a package tour, but available separately as well.



A term referring to tickets, trips, fares, etc. that include both air and land-based travel arrangements, such as a cruise package with air included



American Express (AX)



Toward the middle of a ship - usually the most stable part of the vessel



An airline term meaning " advance purchase excursion fare " - normally the least expensive fares



Airline Ticket Office - becoming rarer these days, as carriers continue to reduce customer service


Base fare

The cost of an airfare prior to addition of fees, taxes or surcharges.


Blackout dates

Specific dates in which special fares or promotions do not apply.  Typically around holidays or special events.


Blocked space

Seats reserved to be sold to third party companies at a discounted group rate.


Boarding pass

A receipt with a seat number, now issued only at check-in at the airport. A ticket is not valid unless a boarding pass has been issued.


Bulk contract

An agreement whereby an airline sells large blocks of seats at a discount price for resale by a third party.


Bulk fare

A fare only available when buying blocks of airline seats, usually lower than the published fares.


Business class

While amenities vary based on the airline, business class generally falls between first class and coach.


Back-to-back ticket(ing)

An against-the-rules practice whereby an air ticket is issued round-trip with only one portion to be used. Another is then issued roundtrip, again with only one portion to be used. In effect, this amounts to using one ticket for the outbound part of a trip, and the other for the return. The normal Saturday night stay requirement is then avoided - useful only when two roundtrip tickets are LESS than the cost of a single ticket with no Saturday night stay over. Most agents will not issue such tickets, as they can be severely penalized - please DO NOT ask for them!



The navigational centre of a ship



The airline practice of denying boarding to confirmed passengers who hold tickets on a specific flight, due to an oversold condition. The carrier will ask for volunteers to take later flights, and will normally provide some sort of compensation in the form of vouchers or tickets for future travel. Rules for when compensation must be provided are complicated; ask the ticket agent for a copy of that carrier's rules, as each has their own set of guidelines.


Cancellation penalty

A fee to charged to customers that cancel flights after booking reservations.  Fees typically vary based on the agency or carrier.



A business that has contracts with airlines to sell tickets in bulk, generally at a discounted rate.


Corporate agency

A travel agency that usually caters to medium-large sized businesses.



The passenger area on an aircraft; the stateroom aboard a cruise ship


Cabin steward

The person responsible for maintaining/cleaning the cabins aboard ship


Card mill

A " business " that sells potentially fake travel agent ID cards, usually in a sort of pyramid scheme, whereby the buyer intends only to partake of any legitimate agent benefits. Please do NOT get involved with these - there is no such thing as a " free lunch! "



Generic term for any company that transports passengers and/or freight



Currently, there are no uniformly enforced airline restrictions concerning carry-on luggage. Most carriers state that the bag must fit in the overhead bin or under the seat in front of you. The usual maximum measurements are said to be 22 X 14 X 9 inches, but many passengers continue to exceed that and are allowed to do so. At most airports, there are bag checking " frames " that you can insert your carry-on into to see if it meets these requirements.


Change of equipment

When a flight, with a single flight number, lands and changes the type of airplane used before continuing on to its destination


Change of gauge

When a flight, with a single flight number, lands and changes the type of airplane used before continuing onto its destination


Circle/Round trip

Any trip that involves more than a single destination, but which returns to the initial point of departure


City pair

The departure and arrival cities on an airline booking



The " economy " section of an aircraft, which may have literally scores of different fares for the same flight


Commission cap

The limit placed on commissions paid to travel agents for the sale of air tickets, regardless of their price; designed to allow airlines to increase their profits at the expense of their primary distribution system - the travel agents



Term referring to the small, regional airlines.


Connecting flight

An air journey that requires changing planes at an intermediate city along the way



To get off an airplane


Denied-boarding compensation

That payment and/or voucher given those bumped from a flight. See " bumping "


Direct access

Refers to a travel agent's ability to get directly into an airlines database to get true last-seat availability and correct pricing.


Direct flight

A flight to another city that stops at least once en route, but does not involve a change of equipment (you do not have to change planes)



A legal document that advises clients that a travel agent acts only as a middleman in the sale of travel products; any liability ultimately lies with the supplier, i.e. airline.


Domestic fare

A fare charged for travel within a country


Double booking 

A not-nice practice of holding reservations to the same destination for the same times/days, on the same carriers but through different travel agencies, when only one reservation will ultimately be used



Being exempt from any import tax


Electronic ticket

A paperless ticket that allows travellers to fly with only a photo ID.  Commonly referred to as “E-ticket’s”, they cannot be lost or stolen because it is an electronic reservation.


Exclusive fare

Discounted airfares offered by travel consolidators.



To board a plane.



Estimated time of arrival



Estimated time of departure


Fare basis (code)

The code that determines the price of an airline ticket. Some itineraries contain many different codes. Most will indicate whether a fare is refundable or not. If even one fare code contained in a ticket in non-refundable, then the entire ticket becomes non-refundable. Even some first class fares are now non-refundable.


First class

Most aircraft have at least some first class seats up front, which offer more room and upgraded cabin service, meals, etc. Worth the price on some long, international destinations, if you can afford it.


Fly-drive package

A travel package featuring airfare, car rental, and perhaps hotels. Usually less expensive than booking each separately


Funnel flight

A flight, such as on a regional or commuter carrier, that "feeds" larger planes which continue on to other destinations. Also, the use of a single flight number for an itinerary that really involves a connection with two separate flight numbers, thus making the itinerary appear to be a direct flight with a change of aircraft as opposed to a connection.


Global distribution system (GDS)

An international computer reservation system that accesses many databases of suppliers, airlines, etc. in different countries.


Gateway city

A city that operates as an arrival or departure point for international flights


Global positioning system (GPS)

System of satellites that allows miniature radio receivers on earth to pinpoint one's location within a few feet.


Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)

Solar based time in Greenwich, England, on which time in all other time zones in the world is based



A city in which an airline has a major presence.  Often, it is the city in which the airline was formed.



A printed version of a document, such as an airline ticket.


Hidden-city ticketing

Another airline no-no; buying a ticket from A to C with a stop in B. The passenger gets off at B, which was the intended destination anyway. The ticket is purchased because the fare from A to C is LESS than A to B! Please do not ask a travel agent to do hidden-city tickets; he can be seriously penalized for it


High season

The time of year when a destination gets the greatest crowds, and thus can increase hotel and rental car rates, etc. As an example, summertime is high season for travel to Europe (just check the airfares!)



International Airlines Travel Agent Network - Administers the IATAN card, the only widely accepted form of legitimate travel agent identification.


Interline connection

A flight on one airline that connects to a flight on another carrier. These tickets are usually more expensive than flying all on one carrier but may be the only way to get to a destination in some cases. Also unless an interline agreement for baggage handling exists, you may have to claim your luggage from the first flight and recheck it on the next carrier’s flight. 


In season

Meaning only available at certain times of the year


In transit

En route; in the process of travelling


Incentive travel

Travel as a reward for an employee's outstanding performance


International Date Line

At 180 degrees longitude, the date on one side of this imaginary line, running from the north to the South Pole, is different from the other. The line runs through the Pacific Ocean, and because of it, it is possible to leave one destination on one day, and arrive in another the day before!


Jet lag

An upset of one's biological clock, due to travel across many time zones; not all passengers are affected by it



The period of time spent between connecting flights.


Leisure travel

Usually signifies travelling for relaxation, vacation, or to visit friends/family.


Lowest available fare

The most inexpensive flight currently available


Maximum stay

The longest period of time a traveller can stay at a particular destination and still qualify for the promotion or discounted fare.


Minimum connect time

The shortest time required in order to successfully transfer to a connecting flight.  It is recommended to select a connecting flight that exceeds the minimum connection time. 30 minutes domestically, usually - ideally, at least an hour.



Same as "amidships"


Net fare, net rate

Implies the commission has already been added to the price of the fare.


No show

A traveller that doesn’t appear for their flight.



A ticket in which no money will be returned if the customer no longer intends to use the ticket.



A ticket that can only be used by the person who was originally scheduled to fly at the time of purchase.



A flight that travels directly to its destination without connections or layovers


Nautical mile

Air distance measurement of approx. 1.1 statute miles


Occupancy rate

The proportion of reservations expected during any given period.


Offline connection

A connection that requires switching to both a new aircraft and carrier.



A less expensive time to travel as result of lower consumer volume during these periods.



Any company that provides any transportation service.  Not just limited to flights, it also includes trains, buses, and cruise ships.



When a carrier books more reservations than available seats


Open return

An air ticket with no return date specified. Rarely done these days, usually quite expensive and not allowed on most discounted fares


Option date

Drop dead date on which a reservation must be deposited or cancellation will result



The departure leg of a journey


Passenger facility charge (PFC)

A fee for the use of many airports, added in to the cost of an air ticker.


Passenger name record (PNR)

The official name of one's reservation in a computer reservation system (CRS).


Published fare

A fare immediately offered for purchase by the airline.  This does not include heavily discounted flights usually offered to consolidators.


Passport/visa service

A service that will take your passport and hand carry, if necessary, to the appropriate embassy in order to expedite a visa. Can be expensive if you have waited until the last minute to obtain a travel visa


Positive space

Space aboard an aircraft that can be confirmed ahead of time


Prepaid ticket advice

A form used when purchasing an air ticket to be picked up and used by someone else at another airport. E-tickets have reduced the need for this greatly



Referring to propeller-driven aircraft



To double-check a reservation.


Record locator

The number assigned to a reservation in the airlines number.  This number is unique, as it will never be assigned again.


Red-eye flight

A flight in which the travel takes place between the hours of

9pm and 7am.



When a new ticket is issued as a result of a change of plans.  This can often require fees or penalties from the airport.


Round trip

Two flights: the destination flight and its return trip


Rate desk

The office of an air carrier that calculates fares for passengers and travel agents



The practice of returning part of an agency's commission on a sale back to the client in the form of a rebate or "discount." The trade-off is usually little or no personal/customer service. This is practiced often by " 800 " number travel sellers and others who deal in huge volume.


Referral agent/agency 

An " agent " that refers business to a travel agency in return for a commission or fee - often as part of a card mill operation. Knows little about the travel industry - be sure you know who you are dealing with!



Short for " reservation "


Scheduled carrier

An airline that offers regularly scheduled flights between destinations.


Special fare

Any fare that deviates from normal pricing (typically discounted).


Shoulder season

The period of time between busy and quiet seasons in which prices are typically at a midpoint.



A "leg" or part of a journey, usually in reference to an air itinerary. One take-off and landing during air travel constitutes a " segment "



A planned stay over in a city for a day or more, while enroute to another destination. Sometimes adds significantly to the cost of an air ticket


Student visa

Permission to enter a country, issued to a student, normally for the purpose of attending school in that country


Through passenger

A passenger who remains on the plane at a connecting stop on the way to his/her final destination.


Ticket stock

Blank airline tickets.


Travel agent

An individual or company that sell travel services on a commission basis.



A schedule of prices/fares


Unrestricted fare

An airfare that has no special advance purchase, Saturday stay or certain days to travel requirements, and is usually refundable. Many full coach and most first-class fares are unrestricted


Value added tax (VAT)

A tax on goods, which under certain circumstances can be refunded


Value season

Similar to shoulder or low season, when pricing is lower



Usually a stamp in a passport allowing entry into a country for a specific purpose and a finite amount of time


Visa service

A service that can expedite the processing of a visa, sometimes even at the last minute. A fee is charged that varies, depending on the nature of the service needed. Visas are usually stamped into the pages of a valid passport and are issued for varying reasons and periods of time. Not all countries require them, especially for United States Citizens. Be sure to allow enough time for them if you travelling to a destination that requires one!



A written acknowledgement that a passenger has declined something, such as insurance coverage for a trip, for example. Also, the formal acknowledgement of the waiving or dismissal of a requirement, such as a waiver of a penalty for late booking, etc



One who purchases an air ticket at the last moment, usually at the airport ticket counter.

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