What is code-sharing and what does it mean for passengers?
On some tickets, there is a note next to the flight number that does not catch the eye of many passengers: operated by. What exactly does that mean? Is another airline operating the flight than the one on which the ticket was booked? Yes. Two airlines share a scheduled flight here: they are operating a codeshare flight.
Let us explain how codesharing works and what it means for you as a passenger
This is what codesharing means
Code sharing makes it possible to take the guests of various airlines to their destination by the same plane. For example, an aircraft is shared between several airlines, all of which are authorized to travel on this route but since individual flights would not be worthwhile, they are combined into one machine.
Put in different words, codesharing means that two airlines share one plane to carry out a scheduled flight on a specific flight route. Let’s have a look at the details.
A flight of a specific route is offered with two flight numbers, if two airlines offer the same route. The intention of the airline is to expand its route network and to offer a better service. This might imply however, that when you book a flight with airline A, it might be operated with airline B. These codeshared flights are common use with airlines that have alliances/partnerships with other airlines.
Example for a codeshared flight
Lufthansa flight LH404 runs from Frankfurt to John F. Kennedy International Airport and is operated by Lufthansa. United Airlines operates the same flight on flight number UA8843. In the United Airlines flight plan, the reference to “operating carrier: Lufthansa” appears after the flight number, so here two airlines share a scheduled flight.
The example shows that the flight numbers differ, even if the flight is the same. For many guests, this leads to uncertainties that can only be resolved upon closer inspection. The note “operated by” usually indicates exactly that it is a code-sharing flight. This makes it possible to see in detail which airline is responsible for the implementation and which services you can expect accordingly.
Advantages and disadvantages of codesharing
At first glance, the code-sharing flight makes perfect sense, since flights with a smaller load can still take place. By dividing the costs between the providers, the prices for the flight can even be reduced even further, which means that individual connections can be offered at significantly cheaper prices. The service does not differ on board as it is the same aircraft and a uniform on-board crew.
The biggest disadvantage from the passenger’s point of view is the connection of several airlines. Because of this, the quality of the offer may well deviate from your booked services. The services do not always correspond to the claims for which you paid in advance of the booking.
Before and after check-in
The airline that is responsible for operating the flight usually also takes care of the check-in. Don’t get confused by your ticket, which may show the other provider.
Online check-in works in a similar way to on-site. Here too, the activation is carried out directly by the responsible airline. If there are any difficulties when registering with the app, you will usually be redirected to the airline’s website. So you do not have to search for the offers in detail, but receive the help directly online.
Cancellations and rebookings – how to react
If you want to cancel or rebook your flight using code sharing, the airlines are legally independent. This means you can make changes to your booking even without the operating airline. Since the operating airline can also change at short notice, it would hardly be possible for the corresponding operators to organize, which is why the independence applies here.
According to the Passenger Rights Regulation, the airline that really organized the flight is nevertheless always responsible for flight delays or cancellations. The airline for your complaint and the airline noted on the ticket can be two different airlines. However, this only applies if the flight has started in the EU.
However, if the flight is operated outside the EU, your eligibility depends on the airline itself. Claims can only be raised and then legally enforced if the latter has a seat within the EU.
The airline is obliged to provide clear information
This legal independence also determines that the booked airline must provide all information. It is required to provide the necessary information and to point out the code-sharing.
This is why codesharing makes sense
The advantages of code-sharing for the airlines are quite obvious. It avoids half-full planes and losses resulting from such. However, if the flights are merged, the economics of the scheduled flights is no longer a problem, which is why more and more routes can be offered in combination.
This makes the numerous codeshare services a good choice for comfortable flights both for the airlines and for the passengers. This means that these can also be carried out with less workload, which gives you many new options. Even in the event of a flight delay, you benefit from full services and can rely on fast help. Simply check your entitlement to compensation in just a few minutes and find out whether you are entitled – and how high the compensation is.