What is British Airways Dual Inventory Fare

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A Dual Inventory fare is an interesting pricing initiative put forward by British airways from around the 2015/16 mark.

Put simply, it is a way of keeping a fixed financial gap between the prices of two different cabins. It’s achieved by using the available inventory from 2 different classes of travel, using the fare from the lower cabin but booking a seat in the higher cabin – hence the name. It maintains the gap by applying a fixed mark-up amount which varies depending on the route, cabin and availability of tickets.

Its mainly found in World Traveller (Economy) and World Traveller Plus (Premium Economy), as people are mainly pricing sensitive in these cabins. The aim is to create as many price points as possible, so people are “encouraged” to spend a little bit more for a better seat. If the gap between World Traveller and World Traveller Plus got too big then no one would want to upgrade; costing the airline potential revenue.

In some ways they are comparable to a British Airways Proactive Online Upgrade (POUG) – with the upgrade taking place at the time of booking – however, they are only in-passing similar to Y-UP Fares which are mainly found in North America.

How Does It Work

British Airways put in place Dual inventory Fares in certain places to stop the price difference of the two cabins diverging to quickly. You are therefore sold a hybrid ticket which is effectively a ticket in the higher cabin with the price made up from a more economical ticket with a mark-up.

In effect, the ticket varies by destination and season and can be sold in World Traveller Plus, Club World and First. They can also be found on the North American Joint venture between American Airlines, Finnair and Iberia with routes from the UK and Europe to/from the USA, Canada, Caribbean and Mexico.

Since you would need two tickets to be free – the chances of this being the case is naturally further away from the date of travel where more tourist-centric travellers are looking for the “best deal”. Furthermore, this creates the perception of a discount as it allows people to sample the more premium cabin in the hopes that in future travel they book into the higher cabin.

British Airways is no stranger to this, they created their own system called the Discretionary upgrade tool which categorises who should be upgraded on a flight when it is oversold. The system is not based who spends the most with the airline, rather who has the potential to spend more.

Working Example Of Dual Inventory Fares

The concept is quite straightforward. On any given flight between London and New York (for example), there can be a number of flights each with different seat availability. For example, it can look something like this:

  • W9 E9 T2 Y9 B9 H9 K9 M9 L9 V9 S9 N9 Q9 O9
  • W9 E9 T9 Y9 B9 H9 K9 M9 L9 V9 S8 N6 Q1 O0
  • W9 E9 T5 Y9 B9 H9 K9 M9 L6 V3 S0 N0 Q0 O0
  • W9 E9 T4 Y9 B9 H9 K9 M6 L6 V0 S0 N0 Q0 O0
  • W9 E9 T0 Y9 B9 H9 K9 M6 L3 V0 S0 N0 Q0 O0

According to British Airways, Due to the type ticket being constructed, the lower cabin fare basis needs to meet a minimum threshold to enable a Dual Inventory Fare construction, so some of the cheaper lower cabin fares will not produce Dual Inventory Fare – in the above example, Fare Class S & Q will not produce a Dual Inventory fare.

As the price of a Dual inventory fare is taken from the lower cabin with an added mark-up, the most economical ticket available plays an important part in the fare.

If you book early enough, such as in the above example, Band 1 will be the most economical as there is availability in Fare Class T & O with O being the most economical economy fare class that BA offers.

If Band 1 is no longer valid, say due to lack of availability, then the system would try Band 2. This time the price is now drawn from Fare Class N

This happens again for Bands 3 & 4 once the prior Fare Classes sell out.

The only issue is that if World Traveller plus sell out, such as is the case for Band 5, where no Dual Inventory Fares will be offered as there is no availability in the higher cabin.

Identifying Dual Inventory Fares from the Fare Basis

Duel inventory fares can only be found with the airline with ticketing code “F” (last 9th character of fare basis) with ticket designator DIF4 (for fares originating in Europe) and DIF2 (for fares originating in US/CA)

Fare Basis      Airline Class Trip Type   Fare        Cabin
TNN0S1M8F/DIF4  BA      T     Round-Trip  553.00(GBP) PE
TNN0O1M8F/DIF4  BA      T     Round-Trip  621.00(GBP) PE
TLN0G1M8F/DIF4  BA      T     Round-Trip  635.00(GBP) PE
TLN0G1M8F/DIF4  BA      T     Round-Trip  671.00(GBP) PE

However there are differently labelled Dual inventory Fares for different markets

  • ANN0G0M7F/DIFP – can be found from LHR with Dual Inventory Fares in Business to First
  • TLNC60M3F/DIFA – can be found from Sao Paulo to LHR
  • TLWTS2BF/DIFJ – can be found from HND to LHR
  • TNNT88S6F/DIFM – can be found from DOH to LHR
  • TLNC00S6F/DIFN – can be found from SYD to LHR
  • ANNC00S0F/DIFS – can be found from SIN to LHR
  • TNNC00M6F/DIFK – can be found from HKG to LHR
  • TLXC00M2F/INFK – can be found from BOM to LHR

How Are Dual Inventory Fares priced

This un-intentionally published trade document from British Airways gives an understanding of how the calculation kind of works. It shows that the calculation can be a fixed value or be variable depending on the underlying fare class.

If you are trying to find the exact mark-up amount you will need to pay, you will need the help of Expert Flyer as ITA matrix is unable to pull out the fare basis. However, a warning should come with this as Expert Flyer does not always play nicely with pulling out the Fare Rules.

If you did manage to get it to work

Simply scroll down until you find the correct information

If you didn’t manage to get it to work

You can hunt for it on the BA’s website (usually by looking at the fare you want and the cheaper option is the Dual Inventory Fare. simply open the fare rules once you found the information.

Other Ways to Tell a Dual Inventory Fare

You can tell you’ve got a dual inventory fare based on the fare conditions. If you are successful it will state:

NOTE – THE FOLLOWING TEXT IS INFORMATIONAL AND NOT VALIDATED FOR AUTOPRICING.
BRITISH AIRWAYS SPECIAL WORLD TRAVELLER PLUS DUAL INVENTORY FARES
APPLICATION
CLASS OF SERVICE
THESE FARES APPLY FOR ECONOMY CLASS SERVICE.

If you scroll down to “Fare By Rules” it will also show

ORIGINATING UNITED KINGDOM – VALID FOR ADULT PSGR.
THE FARE WAS CALCULATED AS 100 PERCENT OF THE QNN0O1M8 FARE PLUS GBP250.00.

Things To Watch Out For

However, the application of terms are not consistent, for instance for a Business to First Dual Inventory Fares can be labelled incorrectly in the system (for the example below, note how both are calculated using a business class fare as the fare basis):

From LHR to HND – ANN0A0M7F/DIFP

NOTE – THE FOLLOWING TEXT IS INFORMATIONAL AND NOT VALIDATED FOR AUTOPRICING.
BRITISH AIRWAYS SPECIAL FIRST AND BUSINESS CLASS DUAL INVENTORY.

ORIGINATING UNITED KINGDOM – VALID FOR ADULT PSGR.
THE FARE WAS CALCULATED AS 100 PERCENT OF THE CNN0A0M7 FARE PLUS GBP500.00.

From KUL to LHR – ANNC00S0F/DIFM

NOTE – THE FOLLOWING TEXT IS INFORMATIONAL AND NOT VALIDATED FOR AUTOPRICING.
BRITISH AIRWAYS SPECIAL WORLD TRAVELLER PLUS DUAL INVENTORY.

ORIGINATING KUL – VALID FOR ADULT PSGR.
THE FARE WAS CALCULATED AS 100 PERCENT OF THE DNNC00S0 FARE PLUS MYR3700.00.

*The point being made is fare class “D” is not an Economy Fare although labeled as a DIF into First Class

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