Why airline codesharing must die

Although Shelley Jones’ complaint is common, I’ve never heard it from someone like her.

Her problem: She’s done with airline “codesharing” — a marketing arrangement in which an airline places its designator code on a flight operated by another airline, and sells tickets for that flight. She’s seen too many passengers pull up to the wrong terminal because they thought they were flying on one carrier when, in fact, they were booked on another.

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Aaaron Amat/Shutterstock
Aaaron Amat/Shutterstock
“Gotcha” fees are everywhere, waiting for the right moment to pounce. Don’t believe me? Just ask Rich Grabowski, who recently tried to book an airline ticket for his Mediterranean cruise — a seemingly simple task.

But not really. The airline he chose, American, didn’t actually fly to Barcelona, but instead offered flights through a deceptive arrangement known as “codesharing.” That’s where an airline gets to pretend its flights are its own, but they actually belong to a different carrier.

And that someone else — the airline’s codesharing “partner” British Airways — had a little surprise for Grabowski and his wife: If they wanted to sit together, they’d have to shell out an extra $98 per ticket for his transatlantic flight. Or he could take his chances, and get a random seat assignment — the choice was entirely his.

“That’s a hidden fee,” he says. “It’s unearned money.”