Airline Code Shares

» Posted by on Dec 29, 2014 in Airlines | 0 comments

In many days past, there was a time when the name on the side of a plane – was actually the airline that you were flying on.  Those days are, as I’ve already mentioned, in the past.  Fast forward to current day and now, when you are certain that you just know that you bought a ticket on Airline A. However once you’ve arrived at the ticket counter of Airline A, you get sent to Airline B because Airline B is actually operating the flight.   And, alas, welcome to the world of airline code shares.

A code share is an arrangement where an airline sells seats, under its own name, on another carrier’s flight.   Code sharing is a practice that allows airlines to extend their reach into cities or routes beyond those they actually serve.  It was implemented in order to link regional feeder carriers to larger airlines.  Code sharing allows airlines to say it serves smaller cities like Parkersburg, WV or Fort Wayne, Indiana from its hub in Atlanta, when the real airlines operating those hubs are actually much smaller subsidiary airlines.  Eventually, code sharing grew to include marketing agreements between larger airlines.  Most of the world’s top 20 airline carriers have links with, at a minimum, one other airline, and many have actually joined in to powerful partnerships with several other carriers.  Additionally, code sharing has enabled the airline industry to earn additional revenue by selling tickets on another airline partner’s flight.  Code sharing has helped the airline industry to financially stay afloat in a very strained industry.

There are advantages and disadvantages of code sharing for travelers.  It permits seamless transfers and ‘through checking’ of baggage, while enabling the traveler to continue on to their final destination.  It also simplifies the booking process for the traveler.  Being a shared service provider, our EGov Travel Service (ETS) allows travelers to book their reservations seamlessly (even when a reservation includes code shares).  Due to the use of code sharing, at times, our Travel Management Center (TMC) may have to manually intervene with the reservation process.  Ultimately, code sharing offers a greater amount of flexibility for passengers.

The downside for travelers is that code sharing can be somewhat misleading for those who believe they’ve bought a ticket on one airline, only to discover they are actually flying on another.  Even worse are situations when a passenger believes they are staying on a single airline on a multi leg trip, only to discover that they are not only changing planes, but changing airlines also.  Code shares are normally defined/indicated in our ETS and on the travelers’ itinerary by an “operated by” statement.  With that being said, code sharing can confuse even the most experienced of travelers.  Both the selling airline and the operating airline are required to be disclosed during the purchase process, and on the travelers boarding pass and ticket.  However, in this era of electronic tickets, it is easy for a traveler to show up at the wrong ticketing counter when checking in. Most airlines will tell you that you should check in at the ticket counter of the airline that is actually operating the flight and not the airline that sold the ticket.  In some cases, however, travelers may luck out and be able to check in at the counter of the flight vendor they purchased their tickets from.  It is always important that travelers print and carry their itinerary with them to the ticket counter or gate.  Being a shared service Travel provider, we always encourage our travelers to print and take their itinerary with them when traveling.

In the event a traveler needs to make a change?  Our Travel customers may initiate a change in our ETS, or they may call their TMC.  Depending on the timing of the ticket change with regard to departure date or whether it is a foreign trip determines whether the traveler can make the change in our ETS or contact the TMC directly.

Last but not least, code sharing alliances often mean that travelers can earn frequent flier points on their favorite airlines, even when they are flying on a different carrier.  There are often exceptions to this, so we always advise our customers to read up on their airlines policies regarding their Frequent Flyer Program.  The airline industry argues that code sharing provides customer convenience because it allows the customers to cheat a bit, allowing them to stick with their favorite airlines yet, while flying on many others.  I would agree with that, however, just remember; If your flight reservation involves code shares, you should carefully review the fare rules and policies – and know for sure which counter to head for once you’ve arrived at the airport.

By:  Brian Shears

The contents of this message are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the Government or my agency.

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