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Common Travel Terms And Glossary

Common Travel Terms and Glossary4/19
Common Travel Terms and Glossary

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Common Travel Terms and Glossary


The travel industry is filled with specialized terminology that can be confusing for those unfamiliar with the lingo. From acronyms and abbreviations to industry-specific phrases, the language used by travel professionals can seem like a foreign tongue to outsiders.

To help demystify the jargon, we've compiled a comprehensive glossary of common travel agency terms. This handy reference guide covers everything from booking procedures and travel documents to industry organizations and fee structures.

Whether you're a seasoned travel advisor or a curious traveler, understanding these key terms will provide valuable insight into the inner workings of the travel industry. Familiarizing yourself with this lexicon can help streamline communication, avoid misunderstandings, and ensure a smoother, more informed travel experience.

So let's dive into the ABCs (and XYZs) of travel terminology, starting with the "A" section:


Add-On - A tour option not included in the basic price.

Advance Purchase – Refers to a requirement that a ticket must be purchased a minimum number of days prior to departure.

Adventure Tour - A tour built around an activity, such as rafting or bicycling.

Affinity – groups of people who share a common hobby, interest, activity, or are united in some type of social interaction and activities.

Air/Sea Package - A package offered by a cruise line that includes the cruise, airfare and transfers between the airport and the ship.

Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC) - The U.S. airline industry organization that appoints travel advisors in the United States and processes air travel sales. ARC issues ID numbers termed “ARC numbers” to accredited U.S. advisors, which are used by travel industry suppliers to track commission payments.

All-Inclusive (AI)- A tour product that includes all trip components, including meals, for a set price.

Amadeus - A Global Distribution System (GDS) that has its global marketing headquarters in Madrid, Spain, operations facilities in Erding, Germany, and customer support offices in Nice, France. Amadeus’ National Marketing Company (NMC) for the United States is located Miami and the bulk of its subscriber base was converted from the System One platform in 1997 and 1998.

Amenities – a desired or useful feature of a building, destination, and/or mode of transportation American Plan (AP) - Hotel room rate which includes breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Ancillaries – Airline products sold to the traveler in addition to the seat itself, such as bag fees, premium seating, on-board food, WI-FI and other services.

ARC Number - The eight-digit identification number assigned to accredited travel agencies in the United States by the Airlines Reporting Corporation. Travel agencies situated outside the United States are accredited by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which issues a similar tracking number.

Availability – The total inventory available for sale at a particular rate. For example, airline seats, rental cars, hotel rooms, cruise cabins, etc.


Back-Office Automation - Systems that computerize non-air booking functions, including accounting and reporting. In many cases these systems interface with the front office reservation systems (GDSs) and are used by many travel advisors to process the weekly ARC sales and other reports.

Back-to-Back Ticketing - The practice of booking two round-trip excursion tickets with overlapping Saturday night stays for the purpose of circumventing higher unrestricted fares.

Baggage Allowance- the amount of baggage a passenger may transport without having to pay additional charges

Base Fare – The cost of an air ticket prior to the addition of fees, taxes and any surcharges.

Blackout Dates – Specific dates on which certain fares do not apply.

Bleisure - travel that combines business trips with leisure travel

Blocked Space – Seats, cabins or hotel rooms reserved for sale to third parties at a discounted group rate.

Boarding Pass – A document issued online or at check-in authorizing boarding (air, cruise, etc.).

Business Class – A class of service generally falling between First Class and Coach/Economy with travel amenities commensurate with the higher fare generally paid.

Business Development Manager (BDM) - a representative of a travel supplier who is responsible for building brand awareness and growing sales with travel advisors


Cabin - the passenger area on an airplane often segmented by class of service – First, Business, Premium, Coach/Economy; the stateroom aboard a cruise ship

Cancellation Penalty – A variable fee charged to the traveler when travel is cancelled after purchase that may be charged by the travel supplier or agency.

Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) - an optional add-on benefit of travel insurance that lets you cancel travel plans for reasons other than those listed as "covered reasons" on a policy

Class of Service – the inventory in which an air passenger is booked according to the fare rules of the ticket purchased, usually on airfare tickets

CDW/LDW - Collision Damage Waiver/Loss Damage Waiver insurance for damage to a rental car vehicle.

Churning - Repetitive or excessive booking and canceling of a reservation in a GDS to achieve productivity credit or to circumvent ticketing restrictions.

City Guide - The tour guide of a city tour, usually a local resident.

City Pair - The origin and destination airports.

City Tour - A guided sightseeing trip through a city.

Coach Class (Economy) - Often used to describe the cabin or “economy” section of an airplane.

Code-Sharing - An agreement whereby one airline markets and sells the services of another airline. The name of the “marketing carrier” may appear on the ticket; however, the service is actually provided by a separate “operating carrier.”

Commission – A fee, often a percentage of the price, that a supplier or agency may add to a service or product in order to make money.

Computer Reservation System (CRS) – Also referred to as Global Distribution System (GDS) (see below).

Consolidator – A business entity that contracts with travel suppliers, usually airlines, to sell tickets in bulk at discounted rates.

Consortium – A collection of organizations made up of independently owned and managed agencies who band together to increase buying power for their members.

Consumer Protection Plan (CPP) - A tour operator-provided policy that provides compensation in case of a tour operator bankruptcy.

Continental Breakfast - Hotel stay that includes breakfast, typically consisting of bread, rolls, butter, jam and tea or coffee.

Continental USA - All areas in the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia.

Corporate Agency – A travel agency whose primary clientele are medium to large corporate businesses.

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) – The trade association of cruise industry. CLIA also is a marketing association that promotes cruise vacations distributed through travel agencies.

Cultural Tour - A tour focused on interacting with and exploring a specific culture.

CVB - Convention and Visitors Bureau.


Debit Memo – A bill or demand for payment from either an airline or ARC to a travel agency for charges it believes the agency owes. Demographics – Population measures, such as age, gender, income, education, race/ ethnicity, religion marital status, household size, and occupation Deregulation - An Act of Congress which took effect in 1978 under which the former Civil Aeronautics Board lost direct responsibility for overseeing and assigning routes, frequencies and fares for the nation’s airlines. Destination Management Company (DMC) - a for-profit company that operates similar to a CVB by providing planning and execution services for travelers specific to their destination Direct Access - A term used by Global Distribution Systems to describe the mode of reservation processing in which the supplier’s reservation system provides a confirmation number within seven seconds of completion of the booking requests and prior to the travel advisor ending the booking transaction. Double Occupancy Rate - The price based on two people sharing a room or cabin. DRS (Direct Reference System) - The section of each Global Distribution System containing specific supplier policies and a descriptive list of supplier services. Dynamic Packaging - An online booking tool that can combine multiple travel components (typically air, car and hotel) in real time into a single, fully priced package (hiding the pricing of the individual components).

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