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The atomic unit of price in the airline industry is called a fare. A fare is a price an airline offers for one-way travel between two cities, usually good for travel in either direction. Such a city pair is known as a market. Each fare is given an alphanumeric identifier called a basis or fare basis code, H14ESNR in the example. Each fare is published with a set of rules restricting its use.

Fundamentally, each flight must be paid for by exactly one fare, but a single fare may pay for more than one flight. Multiple fares may be combined to pay for all the flights in a journey. The airline industry uses the term fare component (FC) to refer to a fare and the flights it pays for (covers).