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It seems that code-shares are extremely common nowadays, with any flight on a non-budget airline having at least one. However I could never understand why airlines bother with code shares in the first place. I'm pretty sure they can sell connecting tickets on partner airlines without a code-share and having several codes creates some confusion when trying to find your flight at the airport.

So what's the rationale for having a code-share agreement in the first place?

  • Yes, that wikipedia article gives both sides in painstaking detail. – chx Oct 10 '16 at 5:34
  • Beyond optics, the most obvious difference between a codeshare flight and some interlining/resale agreement is that different rules apply, especially for rewards programs. – Relaxed Oct 10 '16 at 9:51
  • Codeshares exist because the airlines find them to be comercially advantageous. Are you asking that, or why a codeshare flight has more than one flight number? – David Richerby Oct 10 '16 at 11:28
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Put quite simply it allows an airline to offer more destinations to its customers.

It is marketing bragging rights, saying JR Air flies to 1200 destinations, rather than JR Air flies to 500 destinations but we can book you with our buddies to another 700.

JR Air frequent flyers can get standardized points all the way to their destination without trying to figure out cross airline point schemes.

JR Air can set fares between city pairs, as they have contracted for seats at a set fare(s), rather than looking at prices that are available when you book.

JR Air can instantly confirm seats because they have contracted for XX seats on each code share flight and sell from their contracted allotment rather than querying what is currently available each time.

  • A short note regarding the frequent flyer points: whether your argument holds depends on the airline alliance. Star alliance awards points based on the operating carrier, not the marketing carrier. And even worse: the number of miles credited depends on the mapping between the fare classes of the airlines as well, so it's incredibly complicated to figure that out in that case. So for the Star Alliance, it's quite the opposite. – DCTLib Oct 10 '16 at 8:37
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    @DCTLib - When dealing with airlines there are exceptions to EVERYTHING. Even your statement, as United awards points the same for their flights as well as UA ticketed code share flights. – user13044 Oct 10 '16 at 9:21
  • @Tom -- I suspect that's because many UA code shares are flown by regional carriers which don't run off their own ticket stock, so to speak, so they don't have "native" frequent flyer programs either. – UnrecognizedFallingObject Oct 10 '16 at 11:45
  • @UnrecognizedFallingObject - Those flights aren't "code share", they are UA flights operated by a sub-contractor. "Code Share" is when UA sells some seats on a UA flight to other airlines, who then resell those seats under their name. – user13044 Oct 10 '16 at 11:58
  • The marketing part makes sense. Otherwise it can all work in the very same way without having a second visible "partner" code. – JonathanReez Oct 10 '16 at 12:52

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