Have you ever bought a ticket for an airline, only to step onto a different airline and wonder what's going on? An airline selling other flights by partner airlines as their own is apparently a common occurrence these days and it's called codesharing. Although the disclosure is required, it's often stated in a way that makes it hard to notice. CNN says:
In fact, if you book a ticket on one airline, say United, it's possible you'll never set foot on a United plane. Let's say you want to fly from Philadelphia to Krakow, Poland. You can book United flight 2216 connecting to United 9254 in Newark before finally getting on United 8756 in Munich. But you're never stepping foot on United.
The first flight is actually operated by Piedmont Airlines. Piedmont is a regional affiliate of US Airways, so it will say US Airways Express on the side of the airplane, but it's operated by Piedmont. Since US Airways and United are partners, United sells it with its own flight number. The second flight is operated by United partner Lufthansa. And the last flight is operated by Lufthansa CityLine, a regional subsidiary of Lufthansa. Confused yet?
For those who care about what airline they actually get on, there are several things you can do. Take notice of the flight number, and if it's a "high flight number (like United 9254), it's probably operated by another airline." Codesharing will be revealed before you purchase the ticket, so be sure to keep an eye out for it. If you are concerned about the safety of the partner airline, check out aviation-safety.net to see what accidents have occurred and the reasons behind them. Does it matter what airline you fly on or are you OK with codesharing?