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I live in Toronto. I'm flying down to LA this summer as part of a summer program at UCLA. They've offered to reimburse me up to $600 USD for travel. I have a friend who lives in Vancouver, and so I'd love to be able to fly to LA via Vancouver, and maybe hang out with him for a night or so.

The catch is that my summer program, being American, will only reimburse me for flights purchased through US-owned airlines. Is there a way for me to fly Toronto to Vancouver on a US-owned airline for cheap-ish (under $300)? From a quick search I do, all the cheap flights are on Canadian airlines.

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    Are you sure your summer program will pay for you to stopover in Vancouver? A flight from Toronto to LA with an extra day in Vancouver in between may well cost more than a flight without the stopover, and they may well not be willing to pay for the extra cost when it has no relation to your program. – Zach Lipton May 2 '16 at 18:24
  • What Zach says. It's unethical to coattail personal stuff on a company funded junket if the coattail costs more. It's OK if the deviation is equal or Saves money..... Once the company put me up in an extended stay hotel. I was 4 miles from a fabulous beach community. It was labor day, season was over. I haggled a whole beach house rental for $50/week less than the hotel. Company was thrilled! – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jul 9 '17 at 23:37
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You can buy the ticket from United, and it will be on "United Stock" (the e-ticket will start with their numbers, once upon a time it would literally have been printed on paper with their logo) even though it will be on "Air Canada metal" for the first and possibly second leg. It will be called something like United 4321 operated by Air Canada. This is how code sharing works.

Search for flights on United.com and you should see what you want. In a weird twist, such flights are often cheaper than buying from the operating carrier directly. I have no idea why.

Another trick, if you are ok buying your "free" travel with time, is to go through Chicago - YYZ-ORD-YVR-LAX. I'd buy my own ticket to YVR before I did that, but you might be able to work it out.

It's possible you can pull off the same trick with WestJet and Delta, but I'm not entirely sure. I have done a combined WestJet-one-leg, Delta-the-other fight all on WestJet stock, but I don't know if they have enough code sharing that Delta will sell you a WestJet flight. Also I bet YYZ-YVR has to change in Calgary on WestJet.

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    Just to clarify, does "metal" in "Air Canada metal" denote "aircraft" (presumably because airplanes are generally made of alumin(i)um)? – phoog May 2 '16 at 20:26
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    Yes, the name comes from the fact airplanes are made of metal, but it refers not just to the plane itself but also crew and everything else. It means who the flight is operated by and that's distinct from who the ticket was issued by. – Kate Gregory May 2 '16 at 21:07
  • Despite the United ticket, the flight will look, waddle, and honk like a Canada flight. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jul 9 '17 at 23:53
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No, you can't, because no such airlines exist.

[Transport Canada] requires domestic air services operators [...] to be majority-owned and controlled by Canadians. [ref]

You could book a flight from Vancouver to LA on a US airline, of course. And might be able to book a flight to LA from Toronto via Vancouver through a US airline (through codesharing) but probably not with a long layover.

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    right, operating YYZ-YVR on United metal would be cabotage. But codesharing is the key. – Kate Gregory May 2 '16 at 18:20

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