Travel Tips

Travel Tip: How Airline Code Sharing Affects You

planeEver looked at your ticket and realized you’re at the wrong check-in counter?

You’re probably on a code share flight, and once in a while, that can have some consequences.

A code share means more than one airline can sell tickets on the same flight. One is the operating airline, and one or more can be the marketing airline.

It happens all the time with foreign carriers marketing on U.S. airlines. It’s also common domestically—so you book through a legacy carrier, and end up boarding a tiny regional jet.

The bottom line is that airline code sharing is a benefit for the airlines, not the consumer. It means the airline can earn revenue on a route it doesn’t actually fly, without spending on additional resources or equipment.

A code share isn’t the same as an alliance. If the airlines aren’t part of the same frequent flyer program, you could miss out on earning miles.

Depending on the airlines, you also may not be able to upgrade using existing miles.

Airlines may even charge a different price for the same flight. Pay attention to the operating airline and go directly to the source.

For more information, visit the Airlines & Airports Archives.

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