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Southwest’s WestJet Codeshare Means A Lot More Than Just Canada

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After being ditched by ATA for that slutty bankruptcy court (I mean, who hasn’t been with her?), it looks like Southwest has found its next dance partner. The airline announced yesterday that it would begin codesharing with Canada’s WestJet next year. This is good news, but it’s more interesting as a symbol of what’s to come than anything else.

In short, nothing was really announced yesterday except for the intent to partner. In fact, it won’t happen for a long time. The release says that the “airlines plan to announce codeshare flight schedules and additional features regarding the partnership by late 2009.” So it’s a long way off.

When it does happen, you can probably expect a similar partnership as to what we saw with ATA back in the day. 08_07_08 southwestwestjetInterline baggage, frequent flier integration, and codesharing will all be part of this deal. What’s different?

Well, there is an interesting little bit noting that “southwest.com will soon become a distribution channel for WestJet’s existing Canadian and transborder flights, providing Customers the opportunity to purchase WestJet’s existing flights via southwest.com.” That IS interesting. So you’ll be able to book WestJet flights through Southwest’s website even if no Southwest flight is involved.

Not even the AirTran/Frontier partnership allows that. They still send you to the other airline’s site for booking. I suppose this seems closest to the Northwest/KLM arrangement. There is no KLM website in the US and there is no Northwest website in Europe. Then again, I doubt that WestJet will ditch their US site entirely.

This clearly seems like a win-win to me. For WestJet, it offers their flights on the most popular airline site in the US. I’m sure Southwest is getting a sweet commission deal out of this, so it’s good news for them as well. Nice little attempt at ancillary revenue, even if it is a pretty small opportunity. (Yeah Canada, I’m talking aboot you.)

So why is this so important? Well, as they mentioned in their blog post, Southwest’s exec team has spoken for years about how they wanted to be able to fly internationally. Though Canada barely counts, this indicates that Southwest now has (or will soon have) the booking capabilities set up to allow for international travel. I’d expect to see codesharing south of the border come up as well. Caribbean? Mexico? It’s coming. Europe? Maybe someday.

And that’s the really big news here. Southwest is no longer caged in the US. The airline is roaming free and is on the prowl.

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