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What is the significance of an airline alliance?

Airline alliances are essentially groups of cooperating airlines. The form such cooperation takes may include code-sharing, where a single flight is "shared" by multiple airlines, flight connections and the sharing of business-related facilities. For travelers, the significance of an airline alliance is generally tied to the traveler's ability to redeem frequent flyer program rewards for flights provided by other alliance members. For example, we were able to redeem U.S. Airways frequent flyer points to obtain a flight between Hong Kong and Phuket on Thai Airways, even though neither airport is a U.S. Airways destination. Likewise, had we purchased tickets on the flight ourselves, we would have been able to earn points for U.S. Airways' frequent flyer program. Airline alliances also have significance in cases where airline cooperation limits airline competition, thus keeping prices higher than they might be otherwise, and in cases where connecting flights are offered at a reduced rate on alliance member flights.

last updated 2008.06.30
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