The Basics

Glossary of Airline Terms

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Here are just a few terms that we may use here on the blog and that may be useful for you to become familiar with as you plan your trips. If you hear of other acronyms or have questions regarding other meanings, feel free to leave a comment and I will include that term as well.

BLACKOUT DATES: Certain days during high-traffic seasons and holidays when airline and hotel-award travel is restricted or not available. Introduced in 1989, blackout dates help protect travel dates when the airlines have the most revenue to gain. For instance, blackout dates for some international partners extend all summer long.

BULKHEAD SEATS: A bulkhead is a dividing wall in an airplane that separates one section from another. The bulkhead seats are those placed immediately behind this divider. Bulkhead seats generally provide added legroom, but they also tend to offer less storage capacity, as there is no seat in front under which carryon luggage can be stowed.

BUMPING: On full flights, the practice of removing a confirmed passenger to make room for a passenger with higher priority.

  • IDB: Involuntarily Denied Boarding. Airline offers cash consolation.
  • VDB: Voluntary denied boarding. More commonly known as a “bump”. Most airlines offer $$$ travel credits or “VDB vouchers” in such instances.

CLASS OF SERVICE/TRAVEL: Usually refers to airline travel; indicates the level of travel, size of seat and surrounding area, cabin position and amenities offered. Generally first class (F), business class (C) and coach (Y).

CODESHARING: When one airline provides connecting service under another carrier’s name. Both airlines’ codes appear in reservation systems and on tickets. Codeshare flights often accrue mileage.

COMPANION TICKET: A free or discounted ticket for another person flying with a traveler who has purchased a ticket.

CONNECTION: Changing to a different airplane en route to the final destination. Actual mileage, connection bonuses and segment promotion credits are earned only if the connecting flight number is different from the originating flight number.

DIRECT FLIGHT: This is a tricky one. The term “direct flight” can actually be applied to any routing that maintains the same flight number throughout the entire course of the routing, even if the routing contains enroute stops or requires a change of airplane. Strange but true.

ELITE LEVEL: Additional benefits for members attaining thresholds of accrued miles or points. Elite-level membership usually allows travelers to accrue miles or points faster, provides special perks and grants special airplane seating or hotel accommodations.

ELITE-LEVEL BONUS: Miles earned in addition to actual mileage as a benefit of being an elite-level member.

ELITE-LEVEL UPGRADE: Upgrade to higher class of service available through membership in an elite level of a program.

EQM: Elite Qualifying Miles – Many programs allow members to earn miles from a variety of activities, but generally, only miles earned through designated activities count toward the achievement of elite status.

FARE BASIS: Determines how many miles or points are earned based on the fare paid. For example, to accumulate mileage on some airlines, you must pay a published full-fare rate; some programs do not award miles for highly discounted fares. Some hotels require that you pay corporate rates or higher to accrue points.

GATEWAY AIRPORTS: Domestic airports that are origination points for foreign destinations.

HIDDEN-CITY TICKETING: Purchasing a ticket that travels City A – City B – City C when the real destination is City B and there is no intention to travel to City C (City B is often a “Hub” airport for a particular airline which makes it more expensive to travel to as the final destination).

HUB AIRPORT: An airline hub is an airport that an airline uses as a transfer point to get passengers to their intended destination.  Normally are found in higher population cities.

IRROPS/IROPS: Short for Irregular Operations, such as equipment change, delay, flight cancellation, etc.

MILEAGE RUN: A mileage run is an airline trip designed and taken solely to gain maximum frequent flyer miles, points or status. If a traveler has already achieved some sort of elite status they will be earning bonus miles on top of their actual flight miles, and consequently they will reach their goal sooner.

MQM: Medallion Qualifier Miles, miles that count towards achievement of Elite status on Delta

NONSTOP: A flight that does not stop en route. A nonstop flight is always direct, but a direct flight is not always nonstop.

OFF-PEAK TRAVEL: Travel at a particular time of year when airlines predict a lower demand for seats. This usually excludes the time surrounding major holidays. Airlines designate specific “peak” and “off-peak” dates, and many do not allow award travel during peak times

OPEN JAW: A roundtrip ticket that has three or more points of departure/arrival. For example, a routing from Chicago arriving in New York, which returns to Chicago from Boston. Open jaws are often allowed when flying on an award ticket and are often counted as a stopover.

PARTNER: Two programs joining together to allow members to accrue miles or points in one or both programs. Also may allow members to use accumulated miles or points to redeem awards with the partner. Partners may be accrual partners only, award partners only or both.

PNR: Passenger Name Record. Used to record reservation and passenger information.

RDM: Redeemable miles

STATUS MATCH: A “fast track” to elite status in which an airline will award status in its program based on a member’s status in another program, usually because the member is switching. Status matches are once-in-a-lifetime affairs and airlines may match only to a lower level (e.g. someone in the highest tier of the old airline may only be matched to the middle tier of the new one). Some airlines do not match status, or do so only in conjunction with a Challenge.

STOPOVER: An intentional interruption of a flight along a direct route. Stopovers are allowed sometimes when flying on an award ticket. Length of stopover varies by airline.

THROW-AWAY TICKETING: Purchasing a round-trip ticket when only planning on using it as a one-way to your initial destination (often cheaper, especially international, to purchase a round-trip than a one-way).

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About the author

Charlie

5 Comments

  • […] Continental and United are close to final integration into the new United Airlines. Detailed information for those interested in the facts of the merger can be found here. In the meantime, their frequent flyer programs are still separate point earning entities. To take full advantage of their new association, however, you need to link those two accounts. If you happen to already have elite status with one of them, it will then give you the comparable status with the other airline. For the best part, if you have redeemable miles in one of them, you can transfer them to the other airline and transfers can be made once every 24 hours and they are free. This allows you to take advantage of the better aspects of each program for the time being, for example, Continental has a better award calendar that allows you to utilize their alliance partners. (For more information about elite vs. redeemable miles, refer to the glossary) […]

  • […] Continental and United are close to final integration into the new United Airlines. Detailed information for those interested in the facts of the merger can be found here. In the meantime, their frequent flyer programs are still separate point earning entities. To take full advantage of their new association, however, you need to link those two accounts. If you happen to already have elite status with one of them, it will then give you the comparable status with the other airline. For the best part, if you have redeemable miles in one of them, you can transfer them to the other airline and transfers can be made once every 24 hours and they are free. This allows you to take advantage of the better aspects of each program for the time being, for example, Continental has a better award calendar that allows you to utilize their alliance partners. (For more information about elite vs. redeemable miles, refer to the glossary) […]

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