One-Way Codeshares and Why JetBlue Likes Them


Yesterday I wrote about the possibilities for JetBlue to bring partners into Terminal 5 at JFK, but there was one other nugget in the earnings call that caught my eye. This one comes from Robin Hayes, JetBlue’s EVP and Chief Commercial Officer. He talked about why the airline likes one-way codesharing.

JetBlue and the One Way Codeshare

What is one-way codesharing, you ask? It’s where Airline A places its code on the flights of Airline B, but Airline B doesn’t place it’s code on the flights of Airline A. Anyway, here’s what Robin had to say.

…if you look at what a lot of the costs really come with code-share, it really comes around when you are placing your code on another carrier, because you now get into an exhaustive list of disclosure requirements. You are providing a lot of training for your staff or crew members at JetBlue, whether that is in the call centers or ticket desks, and we have been careful to avoid two-way code. We have started doing it in interline where we have sizable interline partnerships and we see benefits that take that to the next level, which has been one-way code, which puts the onus on our partner to manage that complexity.

JetBlue is an increasingly popular participant in this kind of arrangement. The airline recently announced codeshares with both Japan Air Lines (JAL) and Emirates. In these codeshares, you can buy a ticket on, say, JAL from Tokyo to Buffalo, but you can’t do the same on JetBlue. Why not? Because it’s a real pain.

JAL, as a longtime flag carrier and member of oneworld, is used to dealing with complex relationships like this. In fact, most global carriers deal with these types of situations every day. For JetBlue, it’s easier to sit on the sidelines and take advantage of the opportunity without having to add the complexity.

That means JAL needs to train its people on knowing JetBlue’s rules while JetBlue just has to carry passengers and bags that JAL delivers to JetBlue’s door.

I still don’t like codeshares, but I get why JetBlue does this. It means more traffic for JetBlue because of the way tickets are sold today. But it’s not enough of a benefit for JetBlue to want to put its code on the other airlines.

That makes some sense to me. I mean, nobody is thinking about flying JetBlue to far flung destinations, so if people saw flights on JetBlue to Japan, they’d probably be scratching their heads anyway. But for people in Japan, they certainly expect to be able to fly JAL to the US and that could very well include Buffalo.

The funny thing is that JAL already offers that with a codeshare with American, but now it can offer even more options with JetBlue as well. I’m not surprised to see this is how JetBlue views the world of codesharing and I bet we’ll see more of it down the road.

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18 comments on “One-Way Codeshares and Why JetBlue Likes Them

  1. What you said at the end, is a good question. JL code sharing with AA makes sense, but why would one alliance carrier partner with a non-partner in one partners home country?

    I could see if JL partnered with say a domestic carrier in South Korea where there is no Oneworld partner, but not in the USA.

    While this can benefit Jetblue, they do have to deal with things they may not have thought of. People in Japan go on vacation for a longer period then Americans do and tend to travel in groups, and when they travel they bring very (very) large suitcases and lots of them. Jetblue baggage handlers are in for a surprise when a group arrives with lots of large heavy baggage which will require more fuel to carry.

    1. Jetblue deals with more Dominican Republic traffic than any other carrier. Trust me, they are used to ridiculous baggage. At least many Japanese don’t complain and cry when they break the rules, or try to bring live chickens on international flights!

    2. As far as OW vs other carriers, its all about the money! Alliances are hurting due to the ease of making these types of arrangements. Even within alliances, there are now variations in the agreements between carriers.

      Also, Jetblue offers destinations that AA may not be able to easily accommodate. As AA shrinks in the Northeast, (read: BOS / JFK) JAL can offer customers more choices, more flexibility, more flights without going from JFK to LGA to connect. Looking at a random BUF-Tokyo route, I see 1 option on AA, but 3 on B6. JAL can now offer customers 4 choices instead of 1. All of this helps fill planes which turns into $$$.

  2. Brett,

    You wrote:

    “That makes some sense to me. I mean, nobody is thinking about flying JetBlue to far flung destinations, so if people saw flights on JetBlue to Japan, they?d probably be scratching their heads anyway. But for people in Japan, they certainly expect to be able to fly JAL to the US and that could very well include Buffalo.”

    I was thinking the same thing, but wasn’t sure it would actually make sense when I put it in the comments.

    I’ve been thinking about the difference between interline agreements and code-sharing. Maybe I’m in the minority, but when I search a place like Kayak, I exclude all “multiple carriers” selections if at all possible. But, I still see codeshares, which I try to avoid if there is a change of major operating carriers. (Regionals/express flights are different.)

  3. I love alliances and code shares. That includes code shares between airlines in different alliances. Some of our trips using miles would not have been possible without the code shares.

    1. Just curious, code shares are regularly criticized, (especially on another board I frequent), but usually by more casual travelers who find them confusing. (Imagine: “I can’t find the JAL ticket counter in BUF!”)

      From a customer perspective, other than using or earning miles (which is big), are there any other advantages? Many of the same advantages can be accomplished by interlining: joint fares…baggage transfers…through check in..etc.

    2. You don’t necessarily need a codeshare to redeem or earn miles on other carriers. It may just so happen that the routes you want have codeshares anyway.

      1. I think that’s the point. There are many benefits to the consumer from airline partnerships of different varieties. None of those benefits require code-sharing.

  4. If it more simple, one-way code share works for JB, more power to them. CF’s details make good sense and the p r ogram has to be easier for JB to manage. That said, I still don’t like Code Shares, especially when ownership of the Operating Metal is so deeply buried. Especially for international flights (in any class) I often select the ticketing carrier based on whose metal actually does the long-leg flying. Many carriers are getting more and more crafy (sneeky?)about hiding this important detail. Since I do most of my own booking, I always look for this little detail. If I cannot find it – and be certain that it is accurate, I move on to other options. The code share ticketing options are often nice, but I still select my physical carriers based on the brand of the metal and the logo on t he tail. And for long-let international travel, we all know why; I don’t need to repeat those reasons again. -CG

    1. “Many carriers are getting more and more crafy (sneeky?)about hiding this important detail. ”

      I’ve never had too much trouble figuring out who the operating carrier was.

      “especially when ownership of the Operating Metal is so deeply buried. ”

      Well, actually it’s usually a bank or leasing company of some sort, and yeah, that could be hard to figure out ahead of time. (just teasing)

  5. I don’t know if it’s a consideration for B6, but you also avoid diluting or confusing your brand image. If I buy a B6 ticket, then I know I’m getting live TV.

    1. Well most of the carriers that are partnering with B6 are long-haul international ones like EK, QR, JL. The market is to feed these people coming into BOS and JFK onward to inland US destinations. So B6 is just the 2 hour feeder after a 15 hour long haul. And to be honest B6’s current product is more than satisfactory for that 2 hours.

  6. There seems to be an aspect here, of JetBlue taking a free ride on the systems and infrastructure built by JAL
    Given that JAL already codeshares with AA, I’m not sure I see what’s in it for JAL

    1. AA’s coverage in the northeast is shrinking while B6’s is quite healthy. That’s why it works for JL. Also keep in mind that AA now needs to compete with UA & DL in the northeast as well. Now if US takes out AA, it would be interesting if the JFK hub moves down to PHL despite all the time & money that went into the new terminal 8.

    2. David Johnson – This is about JAL having a brand new nonstop from Tokyo to Boston that it’s worried it can’t fill on its own. That JetBlue feed will help tremendously.

  7. AA only serves: ORD, DFW, LAX, MIA, JFK from BOS according to Wikipedia (in the USA, non-stop). JAL already flies nonstop to all but MIA. So the additional Northeast feed from Jetblue can help fill the 787, without cannibalizing other flights.

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