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Everything You Need To Know About Codeshare

Jonathan Chum
Jonathan Chum

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If you are getting ready to go to the airport, you are probably looking forward to getting on your flight. You go to the process of security. Then, you find your flight on the big board. After this, you walk to your gate. All of a sudden, you feel like you are in the wrong place. You are looking down at your ticket, noticing a specific logo. Then, you take a look at your gate and realize a different airline is operating your flight. What happened? Are you in the wrong place? Did the airport change your gate without telling you? Even though that is possible, there is a greater chance that you have just experienced something called codeshare. In this post, we are going to cover: 

  • What codeshare is
  • Why codeshare might be in place
  • How this is going to impact you 

Because we have flown all over the world, we have experienced gate and flight changes more than once. We understand this can be confusing. We are here to help you understand how this process may impact you. 

What Is Codeshare?

Essentially, codesharing is exactly as it was described above. This is a policy that was put in place by the United States Department of Transportation. This is a marketing arrangement that takes place between two separate airlines. Most airlines place something called a designator code on all of their flights. Then, this airline is able to share this code with another airline. That other airline may be responsible for selling tickets for that flight. For example, you may have purchased a ticket for a flight that is being operated by United. Then, all of a sudden, you show up at the gate and realize that a different airline is operating that flight. United has probably sold its designator code for that flight to another airline.

On the surface, this may seem like it doesn’t make sense. Why would an airline go through the trouble of purchasing a plane just to let another airline sell tickets for seats on that plane? Even though this may not make sense, there are situations where this is beneficial for not only airlines but passengers as well. 

Why Do Airlines Operate Under a Codesharing Policy?

There are several reasons why airlines may do exactly that. First, this allows airlines to offer flights to destinations that they do not actually serve. The vast majority of airlines only offer flights to specific locations. It can be expensive for them to purchase a plane, purchase a flight route, and try to find a gate at that airport. It takes time for an airline to set up a flight destination somewhere else. If they can simply sell tickets for another plane, operating through that airline instead, this makes it much easier for airlines to serve new destinations. 

Furthermore, this is also helpful for ensuring customer loyalty. A lot of people are very comfortable flying a specific airline. If they had a choice, they would not want to fly on a different airline, particularly if they have a reward account with that one airline. Therefore, passengers may like to access other destinations through the same airline. Code-sharing allows them to take advantage of that opportunity. Basically, this process allows you to earn points on a route that your airline might not actually serve. 

How Is This Going To Impact You?

So, this sounds like it is an agreement between airlines. How is this going to impact you? Well, there are a number of ways that you could be impacted by this policy. As mentioned above, you can rack up a lot of rewards. You might be able to fly with the same airline, going to a destination that the airline does not actually serve. On the other hand, this can be confusing. We have already mentioned getting confused at the airport if you see a different logo at the gate. There are other situations where this can create problems as well.

For example, you could experience issues when you are trying to check a bag. Or, if you are looking for customer assistance, you may not know which airline you actually need to go to. You may have purchased the ticket from one airline. Then, if there is a different airline operating the flight, that airline is going to be the main contact for you. If you do not know who you should go to, you should always go to the customer service agent that is representative of the airline actually operating the flight. That is the airline that is going to be responsible for getting you to your destination and taking care of your luggage.

Fortunately, the government has also made it mandatory for all airlines to clearly disclose when a flight is operating as part of a codeshare agreement. This means that all you need to do is take a look at your ticket or boarding pass. If you see the words “operated by,” then you know the airline is operating under some sort of codeshare agreement. That is the airline that you need to go to in the event of any issues. Even though you may not run into this problem on a regular basis, you do need to know who you should talk to if you have questions and concerns. 

Make Sure You Are Aware of This Possibility at the Airport

When you go to the airport, you are going to have a lot to think about. You need to think about getting through security, finding your gate, and figuring out what bags you are going to check. On the other hand, you also need to make sure you know exactly which airline is operating your flight. That way, you do not get confused if you need assistance from someone. There is a chance that you could run into this situation in the future. You should be aware of this possibility when you arrive at the airport.


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