10

We are planning a long-haul flight of 5 persons on Oct. 2019 for a month. The best offer we have right now is of Alitalia. Since it's future is not so clear, We're afraid we will lose our flight money, but mostly that we will miss our trip (and all the other booking).

I saw somewhere a suggestion to buy the ticket through a skyteam partner so the tickets will be insured. Is that the only way? The other skyteam partners are much more expensive.

Isn't skyteam responsible for replacing the tickets in case Alitalia goes bankrupt even if I purchase directly from Alitalia?

I saw skyteam have a new Rebooking service for canceled flights, is it also relevant in case of a bankruptcy?

Any other suggestions?

  • 4
    No. The alliance is just a marketing arrangement. There is no liability. You are advised to take out appropriate travel insurance. In some countries, if you pay on a credit card, the credit card issuer is liable for the failure of the merchant to honour the contract. However, you are probably better served by avoiding a carrier you think may fold. – Calchas Dec 10 '18 at 20:34
  • 3
    Alitalia is pretty much always in trouble, but since it's the national carrier of Italy, the chance of it really going bankrupt are small. – DJClayworth Dec 10 '18 at 22:23
  • 5
    @DJClayworth Being the national carrier didn't stop Sabena or Swiss Air going bust (though Belgium and Switzerland are much smaller countries, and those two airlines went bankrupt in the fallout from 9/11). – David Richerby Dec 10 '18 at 23:29
  • 1
    Oct 2019 isn't that far away in time, and I believe that Alitalia will be alive at that time (just a comment that might help). :) – gsamaras Dec 11 '18 at 11:52
  • 3
    @DavidRicherby the same happened to Hungarian Malév in 2012. As pointed out by the article, the EU does not allow long-term state aid for airlines. – molnarm Dec 11 '18 at 13:19
13

When you purchase an airline ticket for a flight there are up to 3 airlines involved for each leg of the flight : 1. The "operating" carrier - this is the airline that is actually operating the flight 2. The "marketing" carrier - this is the airline of the flight number that you purchased. 3. The "ticketing" carrier - this is the airline that you actually purchase the ticket from.

For example, you might buy a ticket on Delta flight 1234. But that flight is actually a codeshare flight that's really flown by Air France, as AF567. And you might have bought the ticket itself from KLM.

In that case, Delta is the "marketing" carrier, as you purchased their flight number, DL1234. Air France is the "operating" carrier, as you actually flew on their flight AF567. KLM is the "ticketing" carrier, as you purchased the ticket from them.

Much of the time, especially for simple tickets, all 3 will be the same. You buy a ticket from Lufthansa, with a LH flight number, which is flown by a LH plane.

But for more complex itineraries you might end up with a combination of carriers involved. For example, your outbound flight might be on Delta, whilst your return might be on an Air France flight connecting to a KLM flight number operated by Aeromexico.

In general, the airline you actually purchase the ticket from must be either the marketing carrier or the operating carrier for one of the flights, and normally for one of the longer flights. As a consumer, you the only way you can potentially affect who the ticket is actually purchased from is to but it from a specific airlines website - although travel agents sometimes have the flexibility to buy a ticket from a specific carrier (called "plating").

Now, with all that as background, lets get to your question.

For the most part, what matters when it comes to an airline going out of business is who you purchased the ticket from - the "Ticketing" carrier. If you buy a ticket from Alitalia, and they go out of business, then your ticket is potentially worthless - even if it includes flights with another airline!! ie, even if those flights were with Air France, the fact that the ticket is from Alitalia means your booking potentially no longer exists! In practice, other airlines will sometimes still honor such bookings, but they have no obligation to do so.

The opposite of this is also true - if you had purchased a ticket from Air France, with flights on Alitalia, and Alitalia went under, then your ticket is still valid. Your contract is with Air France, and as they are no longer able to fly you on the existing flights, they will arrange alternate flights on an alternate airline.

So the question becomes how can you purchase the flights you want on Alitalia, but with a ticket purchased from a different airline - and the answer is that you likely can't, or at least not at the same price you are seeing from Alitalia. You can certainly try booking the flights on the Air France website (or any other Skyteam carrier), but don't be surprised if they simply don't show up. If you include a flight from the carrier whos website you're booking on as a part of the itinerary then you MIGHT be able to make it work, but even then it's unlikely you'll get the same price.

The better option is potentially to book the flights with Alitalia and make sure you have insurance of some form (credit card and/or otherwise) that will reimburse you if they go under.

  • 1
    About a month ago, I bought an intinerary consisting of operating carriers JAL, BA, BA, JAL and JAL (in that order) on an intercontinental return trip from Japan to Europe. Ticketing carrier is Finnair. Interestingly, I was not able to book this itinerary either with BA or JAL. This is just to point out the caveat in ‘in general, the airline you actually purchase the ticket from …’ (Unless I’m mistaken, marketing and operating carriers are identical for each individual legs) – Jan Dec 11 '18 at 2:07
  • 2
    @Jan That's exactly why I said "in general". Most airlines do not permit travel agents to plate tickets on an airline without any flights for that carrier, but as is always the case in the travel industry, it varies from airline to airline, and even agent to agent! – Doc Dec 11 '18 at 4:23
  • Back in 2005 or 2006 you could even get AA's website to do a "broad" search and ticket on non-partner airlines, so I once booked a stunning HNL flight marketed and operated by United on 001 stock instead of 016. At the time, I flew AA so rarely that I thought my credit card had been stolen when I saw "American Airlines" on the statement. Things have tightened up quite considerably since then. I don't miss booking UA flights on AA.com, but I miss $300 mileage runs to HNL quite dearly. – choster Dec 11 '18 at 15:11
4

Nope. Your contract is with the marketing carrier not with the entire alliance.

You could try buying the tickets as a code share from Delta, KLM or Air France (if they offer it). If Alitalia goes belly up, the marketing carrier would still be responsible for getting you there. It's risky though: you should study the contract of carriage for details and there may be significant delays or re-routings involved.

Travel insurance would be highly recommended, but you should make sure that the specific insurance actual covers that case.

Better yet, spend a few more bucks and buy tickets for a different flight.

  • Your contract is with the ticketing carrier, not the marketing carrier. – Doc Dec 11 '18 at 4:21
2

Is the alliance responsible for tickets of bankrupt airline?

NO.

But they are be responsible for your transportation if you buy the same flights, code share or not, from a different carrier and they are issued on stock other than 055 (the first three letters of the ticket number).

However, you probably won't get the same deal doing it that way.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.