There are a number of aviation terms that really get over my head.
It’s bad to admit, but I’m the girl who won’t remember which plane I flew. As long as it gets me from A to B comfortably, I don’t really care what kind of plane it is.
But there’s one geeky airplane thing that I usually remember and get excited along with all the other aviation idiots, and that’s when an airline announces a new codeshare partnership.
What is a code share
Airlines typically form alliances with other airlines. This allows them to offer customers more connections worldwide where they do not offer routes.
You’ve probably heard of the Oneworld alliance (which includes Qantas and British Airways) and the Star Alliance (Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways) – codeshare may be separate from these.
Codeshare is an agreement between two airlines that allows one airline to put its two-letter identification code on another airline’s flights.
If you’ve ever arrived at the airport and seen the correct destination and flight time on the departures screen, but a different airline code before the flight number, you were probably on a codeshare flight.
Why it pays to know about codeshares
It’s worth knowing about codeshares as they offer a great way to use points.
With Covid, airlines are dialing back the frequency of their flights, meaning they need more partnerships to fly to all the destinations they market.
For example, there are obscure codeshare deals like Emirates and Qantas.
While Virgin is on a temporary hiatus on codeshare partners, it has reached an agreement with Singapore Airlines that’s also good for Australian travelers.
The best way to use codeshares
Let’s say you’re planning a holiday in Europe and have Qantas points to burn. You sign up and – surprise, surprise, all the award seats are booked. If you’d like to land somewhere other than London, you can redeem your Qantas points and fly Emirates to Dubai and then on to many destinations across Europe.
Using Qantas points on Emirates can actually save you money as you’re likely to pay less airport taxes.
How do I know if it’s a codeshare flight?
This is the hard part. Since airlines want to give passengers a smooth journey and save them the hassle of booking multiple times to get to their destination, it will seem like you’re flying the same airline all the way.
But somewhere on the website you’ll usually see the phrase “operate by” telling you which airline is taking you there.
The downside of codeshares
Unfortunately, there are downsides too, just because some airlines operate codeshares doesn’t always mean using your points will be smooth. Suppose you have booked an economy class flight with Emirates from Sydney to Athens via Dubai.
They have plenty of Qantas points so assume using those points to upgrade is a breeze as they are codeshare partners. Unfortunately, you can only upgrade on Emirates flights with Emirates points.
Wait a minute, I hear you say! You just told me I can use Qantas points to redeem for Emirates business flights. So why can’t I use my points to upgrade?
Unfortunately, as with all things terms and conditions come into play and there will be nuances. You may be flying part of the trip on an airline that is not of the same standard as the airline you originally booked with.
Occasionally they may not recognize your status or allow you to upgrade. For example, Qantas has a codeshare with Cathay Pacific.
If you booked through Qantas and are flying to Vietnam on a Cathay Pacific-operated flight, you will not be able to select your seat (whether paid or complimentary), check in online or select your meal.
If you have Qantas or Virgin status and are flying on an airline with codeshares, these generally reflect elite status program benefits.
Let’s say you have status with Qantas that gets you in the lounge and you’re flying a codeshare flight with Air New Zealand.
On my honeymoon, I was able to use my Gold status in Singapore to gain access to airline lounges across Europe. It also allowed me business class check-ins as well as priority boarding. It literally saved me hours of my time during a packed summer season in Europe.
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