If you’re a frequent flyer, chances are you’ve heard of airline codeshares. And if you’ve heard of airline codeshares, chances are you’ve looked into using them to save money. And if you’ve looked into using airline codeshares to save money, chances are you’ve been disappointed. Booking codeshare flights doesn’t always guarantee a discount, and it can even lead to surcharges. But why?

With airlines merging and acquiring one another, flying between certain cities is often possible on multiple carriers. But there are times when you have to book a flight with just one airline, such as when you’re booking a ticket for a sports event like the Oscars or an awards show like the Emmys, or if you’re taking an overnight trip, you may not be able to book a nonstop flight. While you can still book flights on these airlines, most often you’ll have to take an airline codeshare flight—which means your flight is technically operated by a different airline.

Why you should never book code agreements with airlines

Gary Leff 5. May 2021

One of the most problematic forms of booking is code-sharing, where an airline places its code on another airline’s flight and sells it as if it were a flight on its own aircraft and operated by its own crew. Often this does not lead to a good result.

There are several ways in which two airlines can cooperate with each other. For example,

  • Airlines can sell tickets to other airlines. This is part of the deposit.
  • You can join frequent flyers, which will allow you to earn miles and receive certain elite frequent flyer benefits, such as priority check-in and boarding.
  • There are also joint ventures where airlines share revenue on certain routes. It is assumed that passengers do not care whether they fly with one airline or the other.

All of this has benefits for the airline and the customer. However, they do not require the code of one airline to be placed on a flight operated by another airline (codeshare).

But if you see [an airline flight] being operated by [a second airline] and it’s not just a regional airline operating a flight (like Delta, operated by SkyWest). – If you see something like United Airlines, operated by ANA – run away. That was fast.

Currently, codeshare bookings have several potential benefits,

  • Since the flight is sold by two airlines, the price can vary and you can save money by using a codeshare on a larger route.
  • Airlines may prefer to exchange codes to earn miles and elite status.

But when things go wrong, it can get complicated. If you have an American Airlines ticket for a JetBlue flight and JetBlue cancels your flight before your travel date, you must contact American Airlines to obtain a new ticket. They may not have much inventory to work with JetBlue, and may prefer their own flights over putting you on another JetBlue flight.

Coded flights also help travelers who don’t know who they’re flying with. An American Airlines customer buying an American Airlines flight number to take a British Airways flight out of London was able to check into London Heathrow Terminal 3 (where American Airlines is based!) before the pandemic, not knowing that he would have to go to a completely different terminal because he would in fact be taking a British Airways flight.

One of the most difficult aspects of booking flights in code can be the seat assignment. Often you won’t even find a seat assignment on a codeshare flight. Essentially, an airline flight has a flight number and an associated cabin plan. But the airline selling the flight doesn’t own or control the cabin plan for that flight, and they may not communicate well.

American Airlines is currently unable to assign you a seat on a JetBlue flight.

If you book on American Airlines with an American Airlines flight number and American Airlines tells you to call another airline if you need seats, that’s a problem.

There are many more effective ways for airlines to solve financial problems than code agreements. Of course, if American sells its flight number to JetBlue, it gets money on that ticket. But why can’t they just negotiate a commission on the sale of a JetBlue flight, so the customer gets a JetBlue flight number for the same trip? This would greatly simplify table seating and reduce confusion about who the passenger is actually flying with.

When other airlines complain to the government about the partnership between JetBlue and American Airlines and say that the deal is bad for consumers, they obviously don’t argue any of these points as being bad for customers. They can’t because they do all those things too.

Lake View from the Wing

This source has been very much helpful in doing our research. Read more about code share meaning and let us know what you think.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do airlines codeshare?

Code-sharing is a type of airline agreement where two airlines, usually a larger carrier and a smaller carrier, agree to sell seats on each other’s flights and to share revenue. This benefit is also extended to the passengers though, since code-sharing can mean more destinations, better flight schedules and lower airfares. Airline codesharing is the practice of selling tickets for the same flight on two different airlines (or an airline and a travel agency). Codesharing makes it easier for you to find a seat on a specific flight, while also allowing airlines to sell seats on each others flights. So, why do airlines codeshare?  The biggest reason is it makes it easier for airlines to expand their networks. For example, United Airlines has a major hub in Chicago. By codesharing with another airline, it can offer service to smaller cities nearby. That way, when there’s a big event in the Windy City, United can offer more flights to and from those smaller cities, without having to add flights to its own schedule. ~~

What does it mean when airlines say operated by?

If you’ve ever bought a plane ticket, you may have heard that your flight is operated by a certain airline. Sometimes the name of the airline is the same as the one you’re flying under, and sometimes it’s not. But what does it mean, exactly? To understand what a code-share flight is, you need to understand how airline partnerships work. There are a couple of different meanings to the term “operated by”. The most literal meaning is that the airline is actually operating the flight itself. This is the most common form of code-sharing, where the two airlines have entered into an agreement where they share the flight’s revenues and expenses.

What are the advantages of code sharing in airline industry?

Code-sharing definition: Code-sharing occurs when a passenger purchases a ticket from one airline, but is flying on another. For example, suppose you purchase a ticket from Delta that is “valid” on any of its partner airlines, such as KLM, Air France, or Alitalia. If you choose to fly on any of these partner airlines, your ticket is “code-shared”. Airlines have different ways of handling code-sharing, and it can sometimes lead to confusion. For example, United Airlines requires passengers to check-in at an airport kiosk to verify their code-sharing flight. However, some airlines, such as Delta, will automatically “code-share” for you. ~~ The airline industry is a unique one. It requires coordination between a great number of people, companies, and systems. The good news is that we have technology to help us deal with this complexity. One of the most effective tools to use is code sharing. Code sharing is a practice in which one airline sells tickets for another airline, usually for flights that the airline it is selling the tickets for doesn’t fly itself. “Code sharing” is accomplished by setting up agreements with other airlines that allow your airline to sell their tickets. This is a great practice because it allows people to buy a ticket on your airline, but at the same time have the benefit of your airline’s frequent flyer program and the ability to change their tickets without penalty, since

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