Some Travel Agent Lingo

If you’re ever looking at fare rules, travel agent forums (who’d be looking at those for fun!?), or out of pure interest, knowing some travel agency lingo can be helpful. Note that I’m not a licensed travel agent, rather, just did some research on some words/phrases that I’ve encountered. If you have any requests, put them in the comments and I’ll do my best. Right now the list is rather short, but as I encounter words/phrases, I’ll put them here – a handy-dandy reference guide!

Area 1 / Area 2 / Area 3

IATA, the international body for the airline industry, has divided the world into three areas:

Area 1: North/Central/South America + Caribbean +  Greenland + Hawaii + Midway.

Area 2: Europe + Africa + Middle East + Ascension Island + Asia, West of Ural Mountains.

Area 3: Asia, East of Ural Mountains + Oceania

Base Fare

The cost of a plane ticket without the taxes and fees. I’ve seen tickets to Europe from Canada with a $1 base fare, and $1000 in taxes and fees!

Bulk Fare

A discounted airline ticket that is usually purchased in a large number at a time. Bulk fares often don’t allow for frequent flyer point collection. This are often sold by ticket consolidators.

Global Distribution System (GDS) 

A software used by travel agents, airlines, etc. that shows inventory, prices, and  facilitates travel reservations. Ex. Sabre.

Hidden City Ticketing

When your intended destination on an itinerary is a layover/stopover point rather than the destination. i.e, I’m ticketed to go YYZ-DUB-LHR, and I ticketed it that way because it was 200$ cheaper to go to LHR than DUB. I just get off in DUB and abandon the DUB-LHR flight. Note that by missing a flight in an itinerary, the rest of your ticket is likely to get cancelled!

Minimum/Maximum Stay

Part of a fare rule. It means that if you want that fare, i.e. the price, to be eligible, you can’t stay more or less than the minimum/maximum stay number of days.

Maximum Permitted Mileage (MPM)

The number of miles between two cities that you’re allowed to fly. Sometimes airlines will allow MPM to be exceeded by a certain percent.


Practice of an airline or hotel selling more seats/rooms than are available.

Passenger Name Record (PNR) 

Your travel booking. A PNR reservation number is assigned with a Record Locator, which looks something like PN28X8.

Rack Rate

The “standard” rate for a travel product, like a hotel. The rack rate will typically be way higher than what you’re paying. For example, have you ever been to a hotel where on the door there is a placard that says a “hotel rate” that is WAY higher than what you’re paying? That’s the rack rate. You might pay the rack rate if you’re buying it last-minute, don’t know how to search for any sort of deal, or for some other, technical reason.

Flight Interruption Manifest (FIM) 

Produced by staff at the airport, usually the gate agent, when there is an interruption in your travels. It acts like a flight coupon for another airline. For example, your original ticket might be on Air Canada, but because of weather, they would issue a FIM valid for travel on a specific flight with WestJet.

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