The airline business is a very competitive environment. Domestic and international flights demonstrate how competing airlines fight for a share of the market.

And yet airlines collaborate to enhance efficiency and grow their revenue stream. That comes as a benefit to the traveler as well as we explore and understand the importance of airline codeshare.

What is codeshare?

Codeshare or code sharing is a commercial pratice by which an airline operates a flight that is marketed by another airline or more.

Therefore, partner airlines are allowed to use their own designators to market the flight: airline code and flight number.

For example, American Airlines operates flight AA106 linking JFK to London Heathrow. This flight is also marketed and sold by AA’s partners:

British Airways: BA1517
Iberia: IB4222
Finnair: AY4018

It is different from an interline agreement/ticket. I wrote an in-depth article about interline ticketing you can read.

Codeshare and alliance benefits

Codeshare agreements allow partner airlines to expand their network beyond their own.

Air Canada does not fly Montréal-Zurich. However, its partner Swiss International Air Lines operates that flight under LX87 which Air Canada can sell under its own designator : AC 6820.

Montreal-Zurich trip summary AC6820 sold by Air Canada
Source: Air Canada .com

Google Flights mentions that flight LX87 is also sold by Air Canada below.

Montreal-Zurich trip summary AC6820 sold by Air Canada
Source: Google Flights

Codeshare agreements are the cornerstone of airline alliances. There are 3 major airline alliance in the world: oneworld, Star Alliance and Skyteam.

Each member airline extends its network thanks to codeshare agreements it signs with the other members. That brings many benefits to the carriers and the travelers.

Airline codeshare benefits to the carriers

Carriers work more closely together to lower their costs and their inefficiencies.

Using local airline operational facilities and staff at check-in, boarding and handling saves carriers a lot of money. They also optimize the use of lounges thus avoiding duplication of facilities.

That’s on top of sharing revenues on marketed flights and extending member airlines networks.

Codesharing can also come in the shape of a joint business agreement, such as the American Airlines, British Airways and Iberia’s Joint Business which concerns the lucrative trans Atlantic flights. Currently, British Airways London-New York sector alone generates over $1 billion yearly!

Airline codeshare benefits to the traveler

The benefits to the traveler are many:

  • You get to book your ticket through one airline.
  • Entirely protected if delay or cancellation occurs by any carrier under the single booking.
  • You can book a trip with a shorter travel time and at a lower airfare.
  • There’s no need to worry about luggage transfers with different carriers.

If you are a frequent flyer member:

  • You earn miles/points and status miles or tier points.
  • Your benefits and airport fast track access apply across the entire trip and the alliance.
  • You can book a reward ticket using your carrier miles on another airline.

All of these benefits apply whether it’s a paid or a reward ticket.

An alliance is an extension of the codeshare agreement by which it enables travelers who earn miles/points to use them on other carriers. In this case, I used my British Airways Avios on a Qatar Airways Business class one way ticket. See how many Avios and fees this high end Business class flight cost.

British Airways and oneworld logos
British Airways booking confirmation of Qatar Airways business class flight

I had access to the Qatar Airways Business Class lounge at Doha’s Hamad International airport thanks to my AA Platinum status at the time. I was flying Economy class with Qatar Airways.

Qatar Airways Business Class lounge dessert buffet at Doha Hama international Airport
Qatar Airways Business Class lounge dessert buffet at DOH

Conclusion

Codeshares allow airlines to sell tickets on flights operated by other airlines. As a traveler do your homework and familiarize yourself with your preferred airline’s network and its alliance. This is a great way to maximize the value of your future trips.

Whether you’re earning, burning miles, looking-up a multi destination itinerary or a round the world ticket, codesharing is often playing a significant role behind the scene.