Help! Code-sharing confusion grounded my vacation

Maybe it's not better in the Bahamas. / Photo by H Butler
Question: We booked a ticket from Washington to the Bahamas recently through Expedia. It was a code-share flight Bahamasair operated by US Airways.

At the US Airways check-in counter we, and about 50 other travelers, were told by US Airways ticket agents that Bahamasair had not transferred the ticket information to the US Airways system and so none of us could board.

After four hours of pleading, arguing and begging with US Airways and Expedia, we gave up and went home. By that time we couldn’t book any reasonably priced flights to our destination in the Bahamas.

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At a minimum we will lose the rental fee for the place in the Bahamas and we’re worried that we’ll also lose the $1,400 we paid Bahamasair. Multiple phone calls to Bahamasair have been unsatisfactory.

This was a genuine travel nightmare. Can you help us? — Jay Middour, Alexandria, Va.

Answer: You’re right — that’s some travel nightmare! Bahamasair should have gotten your tickets right with US Airways and when it couldn’t, either the airline or your travel agent should have fixed it for you.

Codesharing, which is an airline industry term for lying, allows an airline to sell seats on another airline’s flights while at the same time claiming it’s the airline’s own flight. In your case, you purchased tickets through Bahamasair, but the flight was actually on US Airways. When something went wrong, it seems no one took responsibility for the problem.

I’m a little surprised that Expedia couldn’t come up with a better solution than to cancel your flight. The online travel agency’s well-promoted “Expedia Promise” guarantees that the trip you booked “will meet the descriptions on its site and in your itinerary.” If a mistake is made, it says, “We’ll take responsibility — at no additional cost to you.”

The way I see it, Expedia should have either imposed on Bahamasair or US Airways to fix their little code-sharing glitch or bought a new flight to the Bahamas the same day. You certainly shouldn’t have had to spend hours pleading with anyone.

How could you have avoided this? I would tell you to avoid code-sharing flights, but in this day and age of airline partnerships and alliances, it’s practically impossible to do that. But the code-sharing arrangement should raise a red flag. (When you’re booking one, it will say, “Operated by US Airways,” for example.)

When you’re on a code-sharing flight, it means you need to be extra careful. Don’t just call your airline to confirm the flight — call the airline operating the flight. A system error like this, while rare, might be caught with a simple call.

If you’re stuck in a situation like this again, politely ask the Expedia representative to escalate the call. You can do that by calmly asking to speak with that person’s direct supervisor — not “a supervisor” or “someone in charge” since that can be interpreted in many ways and could land you with an agent’s colleague who will proceed to tell you it can’t be done.

Also, it helps to be aware of the “Expedia Promise,” which is the online agency’s guarantee that it will take care of you.

I contacted Expedia on your behalf. A representative apologized for not being able to assist you on the day you traveled and helped you secure a refund from Bahamasair. Expedia also sent you a $200 check and a $200 credit to make up for the trouble.

73 thoughts on “Help! Code-sharing confusion grounded my vacation

  1.  “Codesharing, which is an airline industry term for lying” – Seriously??
    Although there can be problems with codesharing, they are with the individual airlines, not codesharing itself. And codeshares are fully disclosed by law, if you take the time to read the flight information (they will say US 9999 operated by XXXX). No lying there.
    This here is an instance of codesharing gone bad, but it could just as easily happen with an interline ticket (which is the only practical alternative to a codeshare).

      1. It is the first airline’s product, because the airline entered into a code-sharing agreement with the second airline, usually providing a lower through fare (although some constructions could be lower), frequent flyer points, one baggage fee, one check-in, interairline communications on connections (ideally), one automatically linked reservation and so forth. Rather than carrying two reservations in two airline computer systems which probably are incompatible with each other, you have one.  

        We all can cite in the past year when a “computer error” caused us problems in general commerce.  This specific example is an aberration of course. Most common problem with a code-share is that the passenger is confused as to the terminal, check-in counter and gate info, although it is plainly disclosed.  The fact that people cannot read normal-sized type on an e-ticket is not the airline’s fault.The code-share is a contractual agreement which provides some real benefits to the traveler compared to the usual interline transfer.  The vast majority of the time, the computer systems work together.  How many people are going to write you with, “Thank God for the code-share!”  No one of course, as a seamless code-share is nothing extraordinary.  Compare it to the common nightmares of the interline transfer. 

        1. Unfortunately, I don’t think this is a computer error. This looks like a human error and very lousy management. Even if, let’s say BahamasAir failed to upload their passenger list to USAir 24 hours before the flight, the fact that USAir could not reach anyone to get that same information was quite unbelievable. The flight was scheduled at 845AM East Coast Time (same as Bahamas time). What time do they wake up there, 10AM? They weren’t lying, they were sleeping and snoring. Disgusting.

          1. Sorry, it was implicit in my statement that a “computer error” is an operator error.  Garbage in, garbage out.  A computer only does what it is programmed to do.  Thus, all computer errors are human errors in the end.  

          2.  I really think the DOT should suspend the ability of BahamasAir to sell codeshare flights if they cannot get their act together.

            Many of the airline systems are actually run by GDS companies for the airlines. These are quite robust systems. But airline employees still have to tell these systems what they want to do. Also there is always a backup for glitches. USAir should been able to call BahasmasAir to check e-ticket status and key in the e-ticket so the pax can depart. But if BahasmasAir does not answer the phone, then they should not be allowed to sell tickets here in America. Shame on them.

      2.  I don’t see it as “lying” at all, as long as the fact that somebody else is running the flight is made explicit.  And I have yet to see an instance where it was not if you are paying the least bit of attention.  Even in this case, the traveler knew which airline was operating which flight.  They certainly bungled the job, and did so horribly, but I don’t see any lies going on here.

        A code-shared flight is no different from a licensed manufactured product.  I’m under no illusions that, say, the NCC-1701 model on my desk came from the prop room of Paramount Studios.  The Lion King stuffed animal I gave my niece did not come from a Disney-run factory.  The Wolfpack sweatshirt I wore this past weekend did not, in fact, originate from some textile mill somewhere on the NC State campus.

        I don’t expect flight 4926 from Podunk to Megalopolis is operated by Bigplane Airlines when my itinerary, receipt, and ticket all clearly say: “Operated by Tinyprop”.

        1. I wouldn’t raise it to the level of lying but it does seem somewhat devious.  If this wasn’t a codeshare, this seems like it would be a clear case of involuntarily denied boarding and mandatory penalty compensation offered by us air.  However the codeshare now allows us air to blame bahamaair, and vice versa resulting in no compensation from the airline.  

          1. It wasn’t “devious”  USAir needs ticket numbers from Bahamasair to know it WAS actually ticketed.  If they just accepted these clients, and Bahamasair came back and said “no, their credit cards were declined, so they never HAD tickets” who do you think should bear the cost of that?  This does NOT happen often, and it is a shame it did in this case, as some see it as a plot, when it is just an error.

          2. Yes, BahamasAir should compensate pax for denied boarding. There is no excuse for their error and behavior.

        2. Dang it, just checked MY NCC-1701 model.  Says “Made in China”.  You’ve just stripped away my illusions.

      3. As you point out, codeshare legs always say, “Operated by XYZ Airlines.” If anybody was lying in this story it was Expedia and their exceptionally empty “Expedia Promise”.

      4. I am not sure I understand you comment.  Codesharing isn’t lying and for a travel journalist to make this statement is not very professional IMHO.  Codeharing is confusing at first, but the operating carrier does get mentioned in the booking process and on the printed itinerary.   

      5. But they don’t LIE about it – it must be clearly disclosed (operated by…).  It gives an airline far more options for their clients.  If you could only book DL from Detroit – Atlanta, and then UA from Atlanta – Houston, say, you’d have 2 ticket prices (generally higher), 2 CHECKINS, and 2 sets of ancillary fares – bags for both would really tick some folks off.  This just makes things easier for the traveller – unfortunately, not in this case. 

      6. Hey Chris, why isn’t this INVOLUNTARY Denied Boarding? I presume all the 50 people like the OP had valid tickets and could not board.

        Why shouldn’t BahamasAir pay the IDB compensation required by the DOT Rules?

    1. I agree – and I think Chris really went off on a tangent here – it is NOT lying, as the operating carrier MUST be disclosed by law.  And it allows an ailrine with a limited system to offer far more options to its clients.  Otherwise the costs would be even worse! Not to mention the ancillary fees if everything was point-to-point!  Its just terrible when you hear such stories, when yes, a simple call to the operating carrier would have insured a smooth trip. 

  2. I have no problem with code sharing.  But in this case, I hope Bahamasair not only refunded the tickets, but the price of the vacation rental and all expenses incurred by the OP.

    Chris, I think your advice is off here.  It’s not the customer’s responsibility to check in with two different airlines to make sure they have their crap together.  That’s their job and if they fail to do it then it’s their liability – not the customer’s.  I have enough to do in my life without checking to make sure airlines have dotted every i and crossed every t on their part.

    1. Yeah, this is a case where I’m glad the consumer at least got a refund and a little extra compensation that wasn’t in the form of a worthless voucher, but I still think they got screwed. Forget the frustration of missing their vacation – they are probably out several hundred dollars or more after paying for a vacation rental they never got to use. I think that’s awful.

      I know someone is going to say “that’s what travel insurance is for,” but I disagree that one should have to buy insurance to protect against an airline’s internal screw-up. It’s not like they cut a connection too close and missed their flight, or ran into a weather issue. They did everything right and there was a complete and total failure on the part of the travel providers they gave their hard-earned money to – Bahamasair and US Airways for the internal glitch, and Expedia for not being able to get them on a different flight.

      1.  It’s 745AM in Washington, DC, 1 hour from the scheduled departure of flight UP617 a codeshare of US Air flight US1671. If USAir check in agents cannot get BahamasAir Operations on the phone, how do you think Expedia can help? Who can Expedia talk to at this time of the day?

        The best Expedia can do is relay the e-ticket numbers but the OP already had those printed in his e-ticket receipt. Apparently that did not do any good because presumably USAir maybe wanted airport control of BahamasAir’s etickets for its passengers.

  3. Glad you brought up “asking to speak with a direct supervisor” thought this will often yield the same result. The CSR will just pass the call to their buddy in the next cubicle and ignore the customer’s issue. 

    Anyway, shame on Expedia and Bahamair. I’m glad this one was resolved and I hope the travelers also got their money back from USAir.

  4. It’s lying if the originating airline doesn’t take full and complete responsibility for the completion of the trip.  I’ve had this problem with Delta on several occasions, as I book with them and fly out of a tiny town in SC.  When their little “partner” cancels a flight, they just say “oopsie” and think I’m going to be happy with being left several hundred miles away for a day or two.

    Luckily, I can be a pretty annoying little bastard when the occasion calls for it.  But like any dark force, I only use it for good.

    1.  Actually, it should be the responsibility of the company who sold you the ticket to get you there. If the ticket was bought through US Airways, then yes, they should get you there. But Expedia should be the responsible one here.

  5. I have no problem with Codesharing, It allows you to fly a multiple leg journey on one ticket and it allows you to use credits or miles you have with one airline on a different airline (the original airline may not fly your route).  Having said that, I do try to book with the airline that is flying the flight to avoid any possible issues.  But then I also try to book directly with the airline and not through consolidator websites too.

    Are there issues, yes, but that doesn’t mean illegal.  I’m not quite sure the best way to deal with it, govt regulations may not impact international connections.  Airline alliances could regulate them a little better, but a lot of airlines partnerships aren’t part of alliances either.  But in the end, I don’t think the airlines are screwing it up on purpose, if a person doesn’t fly for a screw up like this then someone lost money on a seat.

    I’m now wondering if it should be illegal for Amazon or anyone else to sell items from other retailers, yea, it says it’s being shipped form “XYZ Electronics.” It seems that Amazon is lying to me about selling an item that isn’t theirs to sell, even though they are clearly saying on the website that it’s coming from XYZ Electronics and not them.

  6. People fly on codeshares all the time without issue… For example, about the only flights you can get out of two local airports are on RJs. Every single one of those is a codeshare. Codeshares, as a whole, work fine until they don’t. When they don’t, its a big mess with two organizations blaming the other but without them, things would be uglier and it would be a whole lot harder to get places. Codeshares are also nice in the case of weather since the originating carrier still has to reroute you. This wouldn’t be true with back to back ticketing and a whole lot harder with interline agreements.

    Chris… you should try flying out of an airport that isn’t a hub or named Orlando. I think you might revise your codeshare thinking.

    1. I don’t see how any of the justifications you cite preclude a more transparent presentation to the customer.

      Instead of advertising it as “Bahamasair flight xyz” and putting “operated by US Airways” in small print, why not reverse that?  Advertise it as “US Airways flight abc” and put the “Bahamasair codeshare” in small print.  Don’t change anything else…

      1. The reason is that this is Bahamasair’s fare, which is a codeshare on USAIR.

        As for the regional carriers.  Yes, they are like the nasty little step sister to the major carrier and they treat you like such when something goes wrong with your flight.  I try not to sell connecting flights on regional carriers but sometimes there is no other option.  If there is, I will sell around it.

        1. The reason is that this is Bahamasair’s fare, which is a codeshare on USAIR.

          Which is a circular reason.  If Bahamasair and USAirways agreed to it (and possibly revised underlying systems accordingly) they could present it any way they want.

        2. And sometimes-based on where you live-there really isn’t.

          For example, my sister is flying out to Vegas in September to join me on vacation. I have the luxury of flying out of SEA when I fly. She lives in Lake Placid NY. The nearest hub is either BTV or ALB. When I booked her flight for her (since she has only flown once in her life before and really hates to use her credit card on the internet-don’t ask), I booked her flight. Cheapest flight out of either airport was out of BTV for $515. That was leaving at 6am getting into LAS at 2pm. RT was leaving at 6am getting back into BTV at (apprx) 6pm. Add in the cost of the RT ferry ($23) to get over to VT, gas and a hotel and possibly parking if the hotel didn’t offer free parking, you are looking at about $600.

           I booked her trip from SLK leaving at 6:30am and arriving in LAS at 1:46pm. The RJ stops in BOS and routes through ORD. (Only other choice was IAH). RT is leaving LAS at 6:20am and getting into SLK at 7:15pm.

          The benefits-with such a small airport, you can arrive about 45 minutes before departure. Her husband will drop her off and pick her up. They live ten miles from the airport. The cost? $595. It was the same or cheaper than flying from a hub 2 hours away and no wear and tear on the car-and no two hour drive home after a long day of flying.

          1. You make the decision that works for you.  I know ALB well.  I try and avoid the commuters out of ALB and you can do that with some carriers, not all.  Southwest is all jet service from ALB.

            Hard to comment on the fares you were seeing as there are too many parameters that can cause you to find  a regional airport vs an international or larger airport to be less expensive.  Most likely it was because you were dealing with what was available.

            I have a client driving 5 1/2 hours for her flight as the regional carrier in the summer usually is delayed due to fog.  The connection flights via SFO only allow 45-50 for connection and when you have to go from the commuter terminal to the international terminal by bus, can’t walk it, this is a guaranteed missed connection.  Yes, the convenience of the regional airport is great, but not when your day is screwed up do to cancelation and delays.  In your area, thunderstorms are a huge issue for regional carriers in the summer.  I have yet been on a regional carrier out of ALB that has not been delayed which is why I try not to sell them especially for connecting flights.

          2. There hasn’t been a separate commuter terminal in SFO for years now.  You can walk to the international terminal from anywhere.  You are almost never “forced” for 45-50 minute connection times.  You can simply book the earlier commuter flight.  Most people don’t want to plan for a three-plus hour layover so they book the minimum connection time, which is often really just poor decision-making.

  7. This sounds AWFUL!  I know I always check our seat assignments and confirm a flight the evening before we leave…sometimes if I know one of those European strikes is on the horizon (which is happening more and more lately), I will follow up in the morning too.  It is only a few minutes of my time versus potential BIG headaches later.  You don’t mention whether she called the airline she was to fly on to reconfirm?  Either way, I think Expedia owes them the money for the entire vacation since they were tied together.  I once had a problem where a strike cancelled our flight to our destination and there was no way to get to that destination that day as the other airlines’ flights had already left…it was a hotel/flight package.  I had to fight for it, but the agency I booked thru (DerTour, a large German tour company) finally reimbursed me for the entire amount…the weird thing was, they only reimbursed me at the dollar conversion rate, because they knew I had booked the trip on an American credit card (or else I would’ve made money as the euro had dropped in value by the time we took the trip).  Strange huh?

  8. I’m so tired of airlines and such offering @twitter-5606492:disqus 200 credits (that usually expire within a year) for ruining a vacation. When I take a vacation I have to arrange to take time off from work (limited # of days), bring my dog to a sitter, stop mail delivery, pay for someone to watch my house, arrange transportation to/from the airport, arrange transportation on the arrival end. This is without hotel costs and fees and without kids. $200 doesn’t even come close to covering the “inconvenience.”  I used to go on vacation to relax; now it stresses me out even more than the job.

  9. “How could you have avoided this? I would tell you to avoid code-sharing flights, but in this day and age of airline partnerships and alliances, it’s practically impossible to do that. But the code-sharing arrangement should raise a red flag. (When you’re booking one, it will say, “Operated by US Airways,” for example.)”

    I don’t know that it raises a flag, per se, but you would be smart to check with the operating airline.  Doing a straight search (at least for us mere consumers, waiting for TonyA to copy one of his cool screens 🙂 ) on the US Air and Bahamas Air websites for the same flight from DCA to NAS showed that the same flight was actually more expensive on Bahamas Air than US Air.  If it’s cheaper on Expedia, I have to wonder what type of fare is being sold.

    I don’t want to overpay, but I don’t want to purchase a fare that puts me in a situation like this, you know?  If the flight is operated by USAir and the price is comparable, I would just book on USAir instead.

    1. I recently ended up on a codeshare flight booked through United with 2 stops, but on 1/2 United metal, 1/2 US Airways metal.  Looking at all US Airways, it was $300 per person more for the roundtrip.  United didn’t offer flights to one of my airports.  Codesharing worked for me, pricewise.  Had to keep track of 2 different confirmation codes,though.  Confusing for my husband, but I had it figured out, thanks to this blog.

      1. I said comparable – so no more than $50-$100 per ticket (and the $100 per ticket is pushing it).  $300 per ticket isn’t comparable – that would make me look for alternatives.

        You’re brave though – I don’t know if I would have trusted a code-share between two large domestic airlines.  When I do do code shares, there’s usually a smaller airline involved to a smaller airport.

      2. I am a very frequent USAir flyer and while I prefer to book direct with them I also always check and look at the prices.  It is not unusual to find the identical trip on their code share partners (United domestically for example and Lufthansa and several others internationally) at several hundred dollars less on the identical USAir flights.  I always call USAir platinum and inquire and while they are very apologetic they will not match the fare even though they are paying a commission to their code share partner who actually books the flight for me and who also has the float on my money.  My home base is Charlotte NC.

        1. Airlines do not ‘price match’.  They often have the same published fare but sometimes we will find code share carrier’s published fare lower as they are trying to promote it.  You have to look at all the published fares in that one market for the departure date to see this and sadly, there isn’t a place on the internet that provides this.  Only the GDS’ have this which is a huge advantage for us.

      3. Jeanne, one of the “go signals” for me to take a codeshare is that the MARKETING airlines also has counter operations at the airport I am flying from. If something goes haywire, at the least the operating airline has someone to call or “shout across the hall at”.

        That said I don’t expect BahamasAir to have counter operations at Reagan National so that’s a no-no for me.

        But lets take for example USAir and United at Baltimore BWI airport. They are both (near each other) at Concourse D. So even if I bought a cheaper USAir ticket which is a codeshare on United, then I wouldn’t mind. I’ll rather save the money (buying on USAir) since I know I will be on the same airplane.
        Here’s sample of BWI-SFO on the same exact flight.
        See how USAir’s fare is $10 less than United’s

        1*US6307G 13JUN WE BWISFO SS1   656P  952P/O $ E
        TICKET     BASE       TX/FEE      TKT TTL 
         ADT01       240.93      28.87          269.80

         1 UA 946S 13JUN WE BWISFO SS1   656P  952P/O $ E
        TICKET     BASE        TX/FEE     TKT TTL 
         ADT01       250.23       29.57         279.80

        I would also be very careful taking a codeshare of airlines NOT ON THE SAME ALLIANCE especially when flying out of the USA.

    2. I am not sure why the OP bought a DCA-NAS ticket from BahamasAir (UP). I cannot see any advantage.

      USAir base fares are cheaper than BahamasAir’s:

      LN A/L F.B.C. USD OW RT
      1 US #GBWA7SSX 106.00 212.00
      2 US #UBWA7SSX 106.00 212.00
      3 US GBWA4NSX 108.00 216.00
      4 US UBWA4NSX 108.00 216.00
      5 US KBWA7NSX 129.00 258.00
      6 US TBWA7NSX 129.00 258.00
      7 US GBWA3NSY 149.00 298.00
      8 US SBWA3NSY 149.00 298.00
      9 US LBWA3NSY 184.00 368.00
      10 US TBWA3NSY 184.00 368.00
      11 US LBWA0NSY 199.00 398.00
      12 US SBWA0NSY 199.00 398.00
      13 UP VKSP7AP 209.00 418.00 <–
      14 US LBWA0NSY 239.00 478.00
      15 US WBWA0NSY 239.00 478.00
      16 UP QTSPNR 289.00 578.00 <–

      BahamasAir’s cheapest fare is $209 each way before tax. That’s almost double the cheapest fare from USAir. It’s hard to believe that  the OP bought a cheaper ticket from BahamasAir.

      Please take a closer look at line #11 USAir fare basis code LBWA0NSY – that fare does not need any advance purchase. So for as long as there is a class L seat available, one can walk up to the USAir counter and pay $199 plus tax to fly to Nassau.

      I wonder why the bought a BahamasAir ticket from Expedia?

      1. Thanks for one of your cool screens 🙂

        I will point out, though, that we don’t know the actual configuration.  “Washington, DC” could be DCA or BWI (IAD seems to be out of the picture).  I picked Nassau out of the hat of several airports, and DCA as a 50/50 chance.

        1. You are correct, though. That’s the airport that has the codeshare to NAS.

          1*A#US1671   DCANAS- 844A1124A     319 0E
          2  $UP 617   DCANAS- 844A1124A     319 0E
              UP 617 OPERATED BY US AIRWAYS

          The weirdest thing is that the OP paid ~$1400 for the ticket. He must have bought in the last minute.
          The Y ticket for USAir  costs $1799 so I reckon the OP tried to save a few bucks by buying the UP codeshare (M class) ticket for $1449. Note an M class ticket for USAir costs $1459 and B class $1659. The difference is you get 1 free bag with BahamasAir.

          The other weird thing is he said 50 other folks had missing ticket records. BahamasAir must have really screwed a lot of peoples’ vacation to (where else, their own country) the Bahamas.

          It’s hard for a passenger to prevent this nasty problem. Even if Expedia’s GDS sends the ticket numbers (known as TKNE messages) to the responsible airline – BahamasAir; for a codeshare situation, BahamasAir must forward the ticket info to the operating carrier – USAir. In addition, at least about 24 hours before departure, BahamasAir must make sure all the reservations and ticket numbers they sold on that USAir flight are uploaded to USAir’s system so those passengers can check in.

          I feel really sorry for these passengers.

  10. Actually, asking for someone’s direct supervisor won’t always work. I worked in a call center for 6 years, and I often worked at times when my “direct” supervisor was not in. I spent 6 months on a team at one point where my ENTIRE team had Tuesday and Wednesday off and I had Wednesday and Thursday off. I worked on Tuesday and my “direct” supervisor was not in. That’s not to say that there weren’t other supervisors nearby that I could go to and ask for assistance, but if you had been insistent on speaking with my direct supervisor on that day, you’d either be getting someone who was lying to you about being my direct supervisor to placate you, or I would have to have them call you back when they were next in the office.

    Now, I didn’t work in the travel industry, so some of what I was dealing with was less urgent than incorrect reservations for a flight/hotel etc. But most call centers will have employees in similar situations. Either because their schedule is not the same as their direct supervisors for some reason, or because they are making up time, working OT etc.

  11.  that’s some travel nightmare! Bahamasair should have gotten your tickets right with US Airways and when it couldn’t, either the airline or your travel agent should have fixed it for you.
    First and foremost, Expedia dropped the ball on the call.

    So you understand from the ticketing side of this.  When a PNR is ticketed, a message is sent to the carrier with the ticket numbers.  There are a few carriers that don’t automatically receive the ticket numbers and the ticketing agent has to hand enter them in an SSR message.  Usually the carrier will send a message to the PNR stating the need for the hand entry.  As an online purchaser, you can check on your ticket number by going to the carrier’s website as the ticket number will show.  If you don’t see it, call immediately as the fare you paid could be compromised if the carrier doesn’t receive the ticket number in the time needed to protect the fare. 

    1. The OP’s case is not that easy.

      He buys this ticket from Expedia.

      1*UP 617M 02JUN SA DCANAS SS1   844A 1124A/O $ E
      2*UP 698M 09JUN SA NASDCA SS1  1209P  244P/O $ E
      TICKET     BASE USD                TX/FEE USD       TKT TTL USD
       ADT01      1332.00                    117.40           1449.40
       UP DCANAS  1PC
       UP NASDCA  1PC

      Both of these flight are actually on USAir metal:

       $UP 617    DCA NAS   SA   844A  C 1124A    C      319
                                     MILES      GROUND ELAPSED  ACCUM
                                       958                2.40   2.40
                 *OPERATED BY US AIRWAYS — US1671
       $UP 698    NAS DCA   SA  1209P  C  244P    C      319
                                     MILES      GROUND ELAPSED  ACCUM
                                       958                2.35   2.35
                 *OPERATED BY US AIRWAYS — US1672

      Right after he pays Expedia he is given the ff info:
      (1) E-ticket # validated by BahamasAir 111xxxxxxxxxx
      (2) A six alphanumeric Booking Confirmation # on BahamasAir’s reservation system

      At the same time, Expedia’s GDS will send BahamasAir 2 SSR messages containing the ticket number issued.
      Note that 111 is BahamasAir’s IATA accounting code.
      Also please note that it is the responsibility of BahamasAir to forward any reservation and eticket information to USAir.

      At this point the pax has NO CLUE what his Reservation Number is in USAir’s own system. He can attempt to call USAir and give his flight number and date plus last name and maybe they can search him out.
      [If this was a simple interlined ticket, the pax will actually know his reservation number on USAir since his itinerary will have a USAir flight number.]

      Ok, so let’s say the OP is able to confirm with USAir that he has a reservation on their flight and that USAir got the e-ticket # from BahamasAir. Fastforward to the day of departure.

      USAir at  checkin wants to confirm that the BahamasAir e-ticket is still good – meaning it is still open and available for use. If BahamasAir eticket system is down, then USAir may try to call them to confirm. If BahamasAir does not answer the phone, then how will USAir be sure the ticket is good? Sorry they won’t board the pax since there is no guarantee USAir can collect any money from BahamasAir.

      Am I being too pessimistic? 🙂

  12. I don’t see any problem with an airlines selling other airlines tickets. It’s a normal practice going on for more than 50 years. The problem is they label it like their own seats and Computer Programming fail to distribute data. In the  60’s and 70’s, travel agents and airlines sell other airlines seats and  use the telephone to make sure the reservation are made on the other airlines. The real problem lies on the Customer Service who don’t help and don’t compensate adequately the traveler in case of error/problem.

  13. I feel like it’s lying. My partner and I recently flew from MSP to PSP via Delta, using Skymiles for the trip. However, we were routed to SEA and switched to Alaska for the SEA PSP portion. That’s all fine until we checked in to come home, which was Alaska PSP to SEA. We had to pay for checked bags even though I have a AMEX PLAT Skymiles card. Delta wouldn’t budge even after a twitter and Alaska said we had to pay. So I was lied to by Delta that I was flying using Skymiles on a Delta flight and have their AMEX branded card for fee bags. Delta, yet another reason not to fly, they suck.

    1. This is the one area that I’m not happy about codeshares… If I buy a US Air tix, US Air rules should apply not the airline they decided would fly the plane. Logistically a nightmare for the airlines.. Yep but they created the system.

  14. No its not lying.  I would like to know if the traveler also got his rental fee back?  This becomes more complicated  as I’m sure they took time off work and also lost their vacation time that was saved for this trip.  This is truly outrageous!

  15. Why USAIR?  They didn’t issue the tickets, and could not even know if the tickets had been paid for if they didn’t have ticket numbers.  The screw-up is all on Bahamasair.  Too bad, too, as it is a nice little airline.  But computer glitches do happen – they just should have stepped up to the plate on this one!

  16. Actually, USAir didn’t get the ticket numbers from Bahamasair, who issued the tickets (supposedly), so they would have no way to know if these were in fact ticketed at all.  But yes, Expedia is at fault for not coming to the customer’s aid.  I am a travel agent, and if this scenario happened here, I would have to work until it was fixed properly.  Just calling yourself an online “Travel Agency” is bogus, if you do not deliver the service a real travel agency would be expected to.

  17. Goes to who’s fare it really is, and it is Bahamasair, as will be the ticket issued for you.  So then they need to specify that it is a codeshare by letting you know who the actual operator is.  (By the way, that is a federal law, and why it must be stated as such)

  18. But it all comes down to who is issuing the ticket – that makes it THEIR fare according to the government. 

  19. He just doesn’t get it, and never seems to WANT to understand when those of us in the industry try to explain it to him.  Heck, I remember when I worked for UA, if someone called about a schedule change, and we did not specify the codesahare flights, we could find out shortly it was the FAA, and failure to specify got us fined (and eventually fired, if that was the case!)

  20. Good point – but sometimes they commit to a certain number of seats, and the actual carrier is sold out to a higher fare rate, which is why they get it less expensive on the secondary carrier.  This happened a lot with US/UA when they had many more codeshares a few years ago.

  21. No – its not lying when you know the flight is operated by another carrier, which this was.  But if you looked online – since the first flight back was on Alaska, you are at th 2nd airlines’ mercy.  In some cases, I’ve seen through fares offered, but no baggage agreements – now that is a real nightmare.  Too bad they couldn’t just give you the free ticket to their end point, and you just BUY the other roundtrip – oops!  That would have meant more money, more checkins and STILL the pesky bag fee.  This was done to maximize the option for you, but nothing is going to be able to give you everything.

  22. Luckily for me, I’ve never been caught in “code-share Hell.”  You’ve given your readers sound advice about confirming reservations with the airline that is actually flying you to your destination, rather than the airline (or in this case, third-party site like Expedia) that handled the original booking.

    I voted “No” on allowing airlines to use codesharing simply because it can result in the sort of “Not My Job” approach to resolving the sort of problem that this traveler encountered.  

  23. Codeshare has absolutely nothing to do with this problem

    Airline systems are designed and built so they can talk to each other. It is a process known as Interlining and Inter Airline Through Check-in (IATCI). What happened to the OP was caused by a failure in eticketing.

    When you go to the airport to check in for a flight and your eticket (coupons) were issued (validated) by another airline (called the marketing airline), the Departure Control System (DCS) of the operating airline must be able to get a hold (gain access and control) of the eticket which resides on the other airline’s eticket database.

    The operating airline WANTS TO GET PAID! So, it must check the status of the eticket coupon that will be used for that flight. It must first check if your eticket is open or available for use. Then as you board and fly, it must update the status of your eticket, in order to be able to present it for payment by the validating carrier.

    Generally speaking, there are 2 kinds of method – interactive or control – that is used to manage etickets during check in. Regardless of the method, if the operating carrier cannot gain access of your eticket, then you won’t fly (since the carrier may not get paid).

    I suspect something went wrong with the BahamasAir systems so it was not able to transmit an e-ticket list or provide access to USAir to get their eticket information for check in.

    The advantage of a paper ticket is that the coupon can be lifted by hand. So for as long as your name (reservation data) was transferred earlier and you are in the passenger list, then the agent can always lift your unused paper coupon.

    Too bad, modern technology never gets blamed for lying. Only airlines do. 🙂

  24. I don’t have a problem with codeshares, but in this situation I think the US Airways agent could have been more proactive in solving this. Perhaps a phone call to Bahamasair, but this unfortunately happens less and less.

    Some years ago we had to book tickets on AA through Travelocity with 18 hours before departure due to a death in the family. We had all the information for an e-ticket but whe we got to check in the tickets didn’t show on the AA system. The ticket agent then phoned Travelocity and discovered that the tickets were waiting to be mailed! So he arranged with Travelocity to cancel the originals and re-sell at the original fare codings. And the second leg of the trip was a codeshare, but it all worked thanks to the AA ticket agent and we got to the other end on time.

    When we expressed grateful thanks for all his efforts, he shrugged it off and said “just doing my job”. Plus of course it took co-operation from Travelocity to make it all come together at no extra cost.

    So problems like this should be resolvable at the time if someone would make the extra effort, perhaps if the OP had asked the US Airways agent to phone Bahamasair it might have been resolved. Too many people will say if it’s not in the computer that’s it! But it isn’t always.

  25. without codesharing you’d have less services to choose from & therefore less competition & therefore higher fares.

    A simple example, if you have a route which can’t support 2 airlines.

    Either one drops out completely, or they codeshare, ie they both sell tickets on same flights, often at different prices.

    This complaint, seems to have more to do with Expedia problems than the airlines.

  26. I was hit with a codeshare issue last Christmas, having booked a flight and used miles to upgrade to first class for the whole trip, Seattle to Philadelphia through Minneapolis.

    The way home had an issue where, after I booked, Delta made a change and moved me to a codeshare flight with Alaska… who did not recognize my first-class upgrade.  Delta’s attitude was that I managed to get home, and part of my trip was in first class, and the fact that Alaska didn’t accept the upgrade as requested was really not their problem.

    Not as bad as these poor people, but very unpleasant. (and I am one of those ‘obese travelers’ some of you feel obligated to whine about, thus my attempts to upgrade and not bother the rest of you.)

    What happened to their rental?  If that was completely lost, Expedia owes them for that as well.

    1. That has exactly nothing to do with codesharing.  

      You got reaccommodated on another airline due to Delta no longer operating the original flight (for whatever reason).  You had the option to decline the alternate itinerary for when you could get an upgrade on your original carrier, but that could have taken hours or days.  Upgrades do not transfer from one carrier to another, or even from one flight to another on the same carrier.  This isn’t codesharing.  This is whining.

      1. At no point in time was I given the option to decline the alternate itinerary; I was sent an email with “Your itinerary has changed”, and with ‘seat assignment pending’ for the second part of the flight, which was shown as a DL (operated by Alaska) flight, not an actual Alaska flight.

        It’s ridiculous for me to have to fight for what I had specifically contacted them, by telephone, in mid-December for something I had arranged by telephone in early September.  If I had a confirmed upgrade, removing it is a failure of their systems.

        1. 1) Your complaints have zero to do with this topic.

          2) You always have options.  You apparently chose not to contact the carrier.

          3) Your upgrade was not “removed”.  Your flight no longer existed. There is no failure.  You got an alternate itinerary to get home.

  27. Nope – just a perfect explanation – shame on Bahamasair for dropping the ball and not being available for contact in the AM.

  28. Wouldn’t USAir have 50 open seats on that flight that day to the Bahamas? Would they not want to sell those 50 seats – or at least get the revenue that they have contracted for with the 50 open seats?  

    What am I missing here?  If USAir has 50 booked seats on a code share and the airplane wil depart with 50 open seats then should they not provide the transport and then force Bahamasair to honor the code share?  

    What happened to Expedias much advertised guarantee?  We’ll make it right?  They didn’t .  I would have booked a ticket at ANY price to save my vacation and then simply sued Expedia for the error – let them implead Bahamasair and USair – or maybe I’ll just sue them all.  

    1.  I was thinking about that last night but I ended up assuming the OP overestimated. The Y section of the aircraft had only 112 seats. I doubt BahamasAir sold almost of half of the flight and would strand 50 folks for a very stupid reason.

  29. I have had my own problems with this – I fly with a powerchair, and have KAFOs (long-leg braces) which affect my comfort in a flight.
    I also travel with medical equipment.
    I have found that (ignoring cost) SouthWest is by far the easiest to deal with, both in terms of safely accommodating my belongings, and owning responsibility if something goes wrong.
    Also, their planes and policies allow me to remain in my chair right up to the doorway of the plane, and to transfer easily to one of their front bulkhead seats safely and comfortably.
    They have also shown unfailing courtesy, never making me feel like a burden or inconvenience.

    I am loyal, and book them exclusively.
    On a cross-country flight, they once had a code-share, with either Delta or United I think? I honestly can’t remember; it’s been many years.
    A friend and I were flying from NorCal to New York and back, could’ve been OAK, SFO or San Jose (I fly from any, based on schedule, rate, and layovers).

    Anyhow, the codeshare flight on the way out had a different kind of seat, with metal walls that my braces barely fit into, and very rude/indifferent personnel (basically, flight had two legs, and the second was on the codeshare as was the first on the return flight).
    On the way out, they lost pieces of my wheelchair (armrests and positioning padding), which were secured to the chair when I gave it to them, which affected my comfort and enjoyment of the trip.
    They found them eventually, damaged but still functional, but not in time for my visit.
    On the return trip, they said that because of my chair, I would have had to arrive at their desk two hours before my flight (no mention of this on their website or in person during the previous leg of my trip), so despite clearing security more than an hour before my departure time, I was denied boarding (my companion was able to fly) as it was the last flight of the night for them and they couldn’t guarantee my chair would make it onboard.

    I was provided with a ticket on an outbound flight the following morning, and turned loose in the terminal to wait ten or fourteen hours.
    I found a place to park my powerchair next to a power outlet, and settled in for the night but after about four hours, airport security asked me why I was there.
    After I explained, the airport checked with some supervisor somewhere, and managed to obtain a motel voucher for me nearby, and a shuttle to get there and back (I didn’t request this, and I wasn’t being disruptive or confrontational with anyone – I was sad/scared, not angry, at the time; I didn’t know to expect any better).
    So I was able to get a few hours’ rest before my return flight, though nothing to eat was open within “walking” distance of the motel, so I had a granola bar for dinner and breakfast.

    It worked out, I got home safely, and no actual harm was done, but — it really did highlight for me that a code share means you can’t expect the amenities or level of service that you would receive on your intended carrier.

    (I’ve detailed in a separate thread about my experiences the only other time I flew with anyone but SouthWest.)

    SouthWest may be a “discount ” airline, but for someone with disabilities, they are miles above their competitors!

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