Understanding Flight Loads

Understanding Flight loads

Have you ever seen something like is F6 A1 J9 C7 D0 RC IC W9 E9 T4 Y9 B9 M5 U3 H0 ? How can you read this and get a better insight of the flight loads?

Airlines provide precise load figures to their employees. These figures are shown by class of travel, contain bookings and estimated figures, and also show staff listed on the flight. However if you are travelling on another Airline, this basic and important information is not available to you when booking the tickets.

Understanding Flight loads provided by reservation systems will give you the first glance you need when booking a ticket. This will allow you to choose a flight that has better chances for non-reving.

How do you read this then?

F6 A1 J9 C7 D0 RC IC W9 E9 T4 Y9 B9 M5 U3 H0

Fare type

The numbers show the available seats for sale in every particular fare. Fare not cabin! So, in order to translate this into our normal terms: First, Business and Economy, we need to know that every fare (letter) between the class F and the class J is going to belong to First class cabin. Every fare between J and W is going to belong to Business class cabin, and every fare from W to the end is going to belong to Economy class cabin.

First class cabin are: F6 A1
Business class cabin are:  J9 C7 D0 RC IC
Economy class cabin are:  W9 E9 TY9 B9 M5 U3 H0

It’s important to mention that you may see more or less fare codes (letters) in each cabin depending on the airline and the fare offering. Also, some Airlines will have fare codes assigned for Premium Economy, for example W and R, that normally belong to business and economy.

Seats availability

Now that we understand the fares codes, how can we interpret the numbers? Each number represent the number of available seats for sale in each fare, being 9 the maximum number to show and meaning that there are 9 or more seats available.
So what you need to do is to look at the higher number in the class of travel you are opting for to get an idea on the number of available seats. If you want to gets the number of open seats, just add the figures of all cabins.

First class cabin: F6 A1
have 6 seats available
Business class cabin:  J9 C7 D0 RC IC
have 9 or more seats available
Economy class cabin:   W9 E9 TY9 B9 M5 U3 H0
have 9 or more seats available

The total of open seats would be 24 or more. (9 + 9 + 6 or more)

The C that shows next to some fare types means that the fare is closed and there is not availability to even list yourself on a waiting list.

Business class cabin:  J9 C7 D0 RC IC


The most important thing to know and consider when looking at these figures is that they are not 100% reliable. First because they are not precise figures as 9+ does not tell you how many seats and if there are 12 staff listed for that flight, you won’t be able to know if there is a seat for everyone.

The other reason is that these numbers keep on changing as passengers make reservations, reservations get cancel or are not confirmed, and when a particular cabin is overbooked and passengers are shifted from one cabin to another. Example: Business class is overbooked and Economy shows:

Business class: J0 C7 D0 T0
Economy class: Y3 M1 U0 H0

You make think that there are 4 available seats in Economy, but you don’t know how many extra passengers from Business class are going to be shifted to Economy leaving no room for non-revs.

In conclusion, understanding this system and numbers will give you a better picture of the flight loads, but it must not be used as a reliable and last tool when making your travel arrangements. Always ask a colleague working in that Airline you want to flight, or use any other social network resources available these days.

Share your opinion

  1. Anonymous is essentially correct, the OPs comments lack a understanding of revenue management. In both F and J (all inventory buckets are subsets of the root). Since F and J are rarely overbooked (except on US domestic flights), chances are reasonable that what is the the F and J buckets are good numbers as to the number of seats left available for sale.

    W class is essentially the same, mist international carriers who offer a separate Premium Eco product will have W as its principle bucket. Anything to the right of W and before Y is a subset of W (unreliable for determining load).

    In Y class, anything to the right of Y is a subset of Y. Usually, booking classes to the right of Y are subsets of each other. So Y9 M9 B9 H0 T0: M and B are subsets of Y (generally), H is a subset of B, T is a subset of H. So a booking in. There are so many seats allocated to B, then H, then T. If there are enough B bookings, then H and T will be zeros out. Once the T and H buckets are filled, they are zeros out and do might be B. This is a revenue management function controlled by the system to optimize revenue on each flight.

    Therefore, the only accurate indicator that there are Eco seats available is Y, but then again, since Y can be overbooked, but a lot sometimes, even that is not entirely accurate.

    So how can you tell the situation on a given flight? You can’t, but there are a couple of educated guesses you can make.

    1. If a flight has 9 across the entire Y inventory (everything to the right of Y, chances are good that there are open seats.

    2. If a flight has Y less than 9, it’s probably overbooked. If there are Y9 M9 B9 and everything to the right is zero, the flight is fully booked, but not overbooked. If there are still some H and T seats, but less than nine, the flight is close to capacity, but not fully booked.

    So how does this affect non rev strategy?

    The first one might look good, but if there are others on the same route which are at or near zero, then you can expect every non-rev, their parents kids and guests to show up. If the flight is zeros out, everybody who has access to actual loads and non rev priority will bail out.

    The last example is actually the biggest crap shoot, since non revs will aim for this flight first likely because chances are good that high priority SAs will get on.

    A lot depends on who you fly. If AA, UA and to a lesser degree DL, you can add open F seats to the Y count because at departure, all those seats will be filled with upgrades. So if it’s mines across the board, then there will be and F5, there will be at least 14 seats available for sale. If F5Y9M9B9H9T9, there at least 14 seats available, probably more.

    So what do you do? If you have high priority, you go for anything that is F>5,Y>0. If you have low priority, same thing. Why? Chances are better than good that a) few no revs will show for that flights and if F isn’t full, chances that a couple seats will open are better than 50/50.

    Additionally, always have two other flights for which you can list and fly, best if NOT on same airline, since SB lists will roll over to the next flight.

    Lastly, experience is the best teacher. Be at the gate an hour before departure. The flight status boards will tell you how many seats are left and how many upgrades and standbys are listed. The minute there are zero seats, you are done. If there are a lot of non revs left behind, go to another airline.

    Be flexible…that is the key.

  2. Well, you’re interpretation needs a little help.. In your example of seats availability, they are all incorrect. In the first example, if someone took the A seat, there would be 5 left in A–takes inventory from the “cabin” every time you book.