"Code Share": When Your Airline Isn't Your Airline

Ever go to check in for the next leg of your flight, only to find that there is no check-in for the airline you’re supposed to be on? That’s what happened to Michael and Joyce Ludmer.

“We spent a frenzied half-hour in search of Lufthansa’s check-in counter until discovering that the actual carrier was Air One,” Michael wrote in an e-mail [to the Chicago Tribune.]

Nowhere on their printed ticket was Air One mentioned, nor was it on the itinerary their travel agent provided them. The Ludmers had very nearly been tripped up by what might best be called “code-share confusion.”

“Code share” means that tickets are sold by one airline for a seat on a code-share partner’s airplane, a growing trend in the industry.

According to the Trib, code sharing can have benefits, including lower fares and the ability to book flights and acquire frequent flier points with a familiar airline, but there’s also the risk of confusion, especially with paper tickets. “Department of Transportation regulations require carriers to “tell consumers clearly when the air transportation they are buying or considering buying involves a code-sharing arrangement.” It seems that airlines aren’t doing a very good job.

If you have an electronic ticket: Look for the words “operated by” to find your code share airline, if any.
If you have a paper ticker: “Check the departure screen at the airport. Even if your airline is not listed there, your destination and time of departure should be. Then go to the gate that matches that information, even if it is a different airline from the one on your ticket.” —MEGHANN MARCO

The code share: When your airline’s not your airline [Chicago Tribune]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.