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Code-Sharing

You've probably heard of code-sharing or codesharing, but what is it? The details of code-sharing are explained here as well as some things to watch for when dealing with the airlines who practice it.

Code-sharing…What is it?

Code-sharing began in the late 1970’s. It is a partnership between competing airlines to share a flight to a particular destination. Code-sharing originally began with international flights, but is now a common practice on domestic flights as well. Currently code-share flights account for more than 2/3rds of all domestic fights in the US.

Code-sharing contracts are usually formed when one airline does not offer flights to a specific region, but does have requests for flights; while the other airline offers the flights, but does not have enough passengers to fill the planes. What this means for the passengers is that there will be more access to different regions throughout the world, but the airline they make their reservation with may not be the airline providing the flight.

Each airline involved in the contract, which could be up to three different carriers for one flight, will be given a specific number of seats to sell. Each airline will sell the seats under their own flight number and will also set the price for the seats they sell. It is always good to ask if the flight you are booking is a code-share, if so who will be the other carrier. Once you have this information contact the other airline or airlines for pricing before choosing who to book the flight through.   

Code-sharing…Which airlines participate?

Almost every major airline is participating in code-sharing these days, such as, Continental with America West, Delta with United, and North West with Alaska Air and Continental. In fact, there are a few airlines working with some of the major railways on a form of code-sharing to provide an almost “seamless” connection between airline and train. Visit the following web-sites for up to date information on which carriers are currently partnering up:
 One World (www.oneworld.com)
 SkyTeam (www.skyteam.com)
 Star Alliance (www.staralliance.com)

Code-sharing…How safe is it?

Code-sharing, both domestic and international, are regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Any potential passenger of a code-sharing flight can read the FAA’s safety guidelines on code-sharing at www.intl.faa.gov/restriction/code1.pdf . You will need to have Acrobat Reader installed on your computer. Or request a copy from the FAA at the following address or telephone number:

U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Aviation Administration
800 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20591
1-866-TELL-FAA (1-866-835-5322)

Code-sharing…What to watch out for.

  • Check the prices of all carriers participating in the code-share.
  • Verify which carrier will be providing the flight, so you don’t end up at the wrong airline check-in counter or wrong terminal.
  • Ask what about the privileges such as frequent flier miles and seat up grades. Benefits may vary depending on who you booked your ticket through.

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