Is My Flight a Codeshare?
Somewhere, in what I’m sure is a smoky boardroom, some airline executive decided it would be a great idea if two airlines could both sell seats on the same flight. This is called a CODESHARE FLIGHT. This can be quite confusing if your itinerary says you are on “Airline A flight 1234″ and you go to the ticket counter of “Airline A” and they tell you that you’re actually traveling on “Airline B”. All of the sudden you’re running late (because “Airline B” operates from a different terminal completely), you’re confused and you’re upset.
There’s a whole long story about why codeshares exist and why. At the point you’re running breathlessly between terminals though, the long story doesn’t matter. The part that matters to you, and to me, is how to make your flight and get where you’re going.
How can you know in advance if yours is a codeshare flight? How can you tell which counter at which to show up to check in for your flight? Generally, you do need to check in at the counter of the airline who is actually operating the flight.
How do you figure that out?
Well, it is supposed to be on the itinerary. In my experience, it generally does appear on the itinerary but to someone who doesn’t travel often it isn’t obvious why the other airline name is there. I think it should appear in bold letters “THIS FLIGHT IS OPERATED BY CONTINENTAL AIRLINES”. So far no one has asked me to come run an airline though, so that usually doesn’t happen.
As a travel professional I can generally spot a codeshare flight because of the flight number. Usually, but not always, if the flight number is a four digit number starting with a number higher than one. (like…3200 – 4799 for instance) that is a pretty good tip off that that might be a codeshare flight.
A more reliable idea is to, when you call the airline the night before the flight to reconfirm everything (you do call the airline the night before your flight…right?) Just ask. Ask the airline agent, “Is this a codeshare flight?” “At which counter do I need to check in for this flight?”
Have you ever traveled on a codeshare flight? Was it clear at which counter you were to check in? What do you think should be done to make the situation more transparent?