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What You Don’t Know About Your Airline Ticket.

February 1, 2011

For some people traveling in an airplane can be scary enough, so many of us prefer to fly with a reputable and well-known airline. Which would you prefer, Continental Airlines or Croatian Air? American Airlines or Qatar Airways? Seems simple enough, just purchase the ticket for the airline you are familiar with. Well you may need to look a little harder because the ticket you bought for Continental will get you boarded on a flight with an unknown airline. Since the late 1960’s all major United States airlines have been engaging in a little thing called code-sharing. Flights that are code-shared means a ticket is marketed and sold by one airline, using its own code and flight number, but the flight is operated by another airline. According to many major airlines, code-sharing enables them to span more routes and cities without having to expand their company. While the idea seems innocent enough, the problem is that many travel websites and even agencies don’t inform the passenger that the ticket they think they bought for US Airways is really for a foreign airline carrier.

Sadly, it had to take a tragedy to make code-sharing public knowledge and raise an eyebrow with the U.S. Department of Transportation. Back in 2009 a Colgan Air flight crashed near Buffalo, NY killing 50 people. The tickets for this flight were marketed and sold under Continental Airlines. This crash raised questions about the qualifications of unknown airline pilots versus those of major airline carriers. Now your probably wondering, didn’t the passengers see the plane wasn’t for Continental Airlines when they were boarding? No, because code-sharing allows these unknown airlines to have their aircrafts painted with the logos of the main carriers. Talk about false advertising. Congress, propelled in part by the crash, voted last year to change the disclosure rules for code-sharing. The new rules, which will go into effect March 15th, 2011, require the full name of the carrier operating the flight to be displayed when purchasing a ticket. Travel agencies and website customer service reps must inform the passenger about who is operating the flight if purchasing a ticket on the phone or in person. If you are traveling before the new rules go into effect, ask. If the airline refuses to tell you who is operating the flight, next airline please.

At GAI (www.gunwel.com) we don’t believe in the whole smoke and mirrors routine. What we advertise is exactly what you get, quality service from a reputable company. We like to keep our clients in the loop and informed at all times, so rest assured, your financial travels are in good hands!! Stop by or give us a call at 212-979-6830. We look forward to seeing you soon.

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