Codeshare Flight. What Does it Mean?

In many businesses, competition does not always mean trying to stay ahead of others. Rather, it is also about forming partnerships and entering into arrangements for mutual growth and benefit.

In the airline industry as well, many airlines tend to enter into such arrangements called code sharing. By offering codeshare flight tickets, airlines can offer more traveling possibilities to their customers without having to invest themselves into operating new flight routes.

This article explains exactly what a codeshare flight is and what it means.

What is a codeshare flight?

A codeshare flight is one in which seats on one airline’s flight (operating airline) are also sold by another airline as if the other airline itself was running the same flight.

How this becomes possible is because of an agreement between different airlines to market each other’s flights in order to offer more traveling destinations to their passengers.

Practically, adding and operating new flight routes is an expensive endeavor for any airline. Moreover, marketing and building a client base for a particular flight route requires a considerable amount of time. Hence, airlines prefer having codeshare arrangements with each other to be more effective with what routes they operate best.

Example of a codeshare flight

Suppose you buy an Etihad Airways ticket for traveling between Abu Dhabi and Bahrain. So, how do you know if you have a codeshare flight ticket or not?

Firstly, airlines are legally required to disclose this fact to passengers booking a flight that is operated by another airline as a codeshare. Consequently, the flight number on your ticket in our example should be EY4321 instead of EY123.

And secondly, instead of you boarding on Etihad Airways flight, you board on a Gulf Air flight. Remember that despite which airline you bought a ticket from, everything from checking-in to taking the plane will be of the operating airline.

In other words, both Etihad Airways and Gulf Air have a codeshare flight agreement to offer flights to the same destination. This also means that the seat you booked from Etihad Airways, was originally operated by Gulf Air.

Another example of knowing whether a flight is a codeshare flight or not is to check the departure boards at an airport. Notice how airline codes and flight numbers for some airlines keep on changing back and forth. This is a clear indication of a codeshare flight.

Codeshare flight ticket explained

You will agree that it is sometimes hard to check-in to a flight during rush hours or busy season. For example, because of a large number of passengers that have showed up first before you. It can be also be because of the airlines which often oversell plane tickets than the number of seats available. However, none of it means that an airline business is booming, and the airline has the potential to introduce new flight routes and add more aircraft to its fleet.

This is because just like any other form of business, the air travel industry, or the airline business in particular also has certain limitations.

One limitation, for instance, is that not all airlines can fly to every end of the world. For example, you might have noticed that a few airlines mostly offer flights to international destinations while others operate domestic flights only.

But this doesn’t mean that airlines aren’t aware of the demand and profit potential of the routes they aren’t flying. Simply put, the cost versus benefit ratio or return on investment percentage for certain routes isn’t worth a try.

So, what do these airlines do then?

In situations like these, airlines offer codeshare flights. By entering into codeshare flight agreements, airlines can simply sell each other’s flight seats to their customers. By selling codeshare flight tickets, airlines enable themselves to offer more to their customers and grow in revenue without having to take the risks associated with launching a new flight route, hiring more staff, or expanding its aircraft fleet.

Pros and Cons of a Codeshare Flight Ticket for Passengers

While it may not be wrong to say that airlines are the primary beneficiary of codeshare flight agreements, passengers too benefit from booking codeshare flight tickets.

Here are a few pros and cons of booking a plane seat with a codeshare flight ticket.

Pros of a Codeshare Flight Ticket for Passengers

  • Codeshare flight tickets can be helpful during rush seasons. In case a passenger isn’t able to check-in on the airline flight that has sold them the ticket, they can definitely find a seat on the partner airline for the same destination.
  • In certain cases, codeshare flight tickets may cost less than booking a seat on the original airline’s flight.

Cons of a Codeshare Flight Ticket for Passengers

  • Seats during peak seasons can be challenging to obtain on a codeshare flight operated by a partner airline. This is because despite having a codeshare flight agreement, operating airlines always have control over selling the majority number of seats themselves. In other words, operating airlines prefer to sell more tickets themselves than through a partner airline.
  • Another disadvantage of having a codeshare flight ticket is that passengers may face difficulty while requesting certain services or benefits. For instance, seat assignment requests and setting meal preferences. Passengers may have to contact the airline that they have bought a ticket from rather than directly requesting the operating airline.


Whether you should or shouldn’t buy a codeshare flight ticket is a matter of choice and definitely what you need. For instance, a disadvantage of a codeshare flight is that the operating airline won’t assist your requests for upgrades. This is because you didn’t buy a ticket from them directly and instead used your preferred airline. However, the good thing would be that you might be able to reach your destination quickly or are getting a cheaper flight ticket.

Hence, before choosing a codeshare flight, always inquire about how a codeshare flight ticket may impact your journey.


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