Walking onto the plane knowing that you paid much less for your seat than everybody else on board is a great feeling. This is what smart travel is all about. By being a little crafter with your bookings you can stretch your travel dollars further.
Booking code share flights is a clever way to save cash. Here’s how it works:
You have a flight in mind that you want to take on Airline A but the fare is a little more than you’d like to pay. Airline B has a code share arrangement with Airline A but by booking the same flight with Airline B you save a couple hundred bucks.
It doesn’t work for every fare and you have to seek it out but, when you do find them, they’re a great money saver.
Here’s a Real World Example:
We wanted to fly from Koh Samui to Kuala Lumpur. We had a couple of options. Heading back to the mainland and flying on Air Asia from Surat Thani, would have had to take a one hour ferry and a two hour bus ride plus overnight at a hotel because of the early flight time. This would have been the cheapest option as the flights were only $65 AUD per person but once you add in the cost of bags, the ferry, the bus and an overnight in a crappy hotel it didn’t seem to be worth the hassle. So, I started searching for flights that went directly from Koh Samui instead.
Booking Direct Through Bangkok Airways
Bangkok Airways is one of two airlines that flies direct between Koh Samui and Kuala Lumpur. The other airline, Firefly, has fares for almost the exact same price as Bangkok Airways but uses propellor planes on this route which adds an extra 30 minutes to the journey and slightly freaks me out!
Here’s what it would cost to book the direct flight on Bangkok Airways between Koh Samui and Kuala Lumpur:
Total Cost: 24875 THB at today’s exchange rate is $853 AUD for a one way flight for two adults and one child.
To me, that seems a lot to pay for a 90 minute flight, so I tried to find a better option.
Booking Through a Third Party Website
By using a third party booking website, I found the exact same flight coded as Malaysia Airlines instead of Bangkok Airways. I used BYOJet.com in this instance which is an Australian-based website.
Total Cost: $513.50 AUD for a one way flight for two adults and one child.
We saved a total $340 AUD by booking this flight coded as Malaysia Airlines instead of Bangkok Airways. Exact same flight. This is the beauty about booking code share flights! There are often big discrepancies between the airlines in terms of what price you’ll pay. Malaysia Airlines might have had a promotion going but Bangkok Airways didn’t meaning we could snag the seats through Malaysia Airlines for a 40% discount!
Tips for Booking Code Share Flights:
- Understand which airlines have code share arrangements with one another. There are two big airline networks – Star Alliance and One World but there are many smaller partnerships direct between airlines. If I want to book a flight on Qantas, a One World alliance airline, I always check for the same flight on British Airways. We saved $300 per person last year by buying a Qantas flight from Singapore to Christchurch on British Airways!
- Look at third party booking websites. Some booking site has a preference to show one airline over another meaning they’re more likely to display the code share flight.
- Code share flights often come up when booking connecting airfares.
- You can spot a code share flight by it’s longer flight code, usually four digits. For example, on the route New York JFK to Paris the Air France flight number is AF23 and the Delta code share flight number is DL 8601.
- Sometimes the case is reversed and it might be cheaper to book with the operator airline than the code share partner. You might find a flight on a booking website operated through ticketed through Airline B but operated by Airline A. Check on Airline A’s website to see if their flight is cheaper.