Air Canada, United expand partnership with more codeshares, loyalty perks
Two of the largest airlines in North America are expanding their relationship.
United Airlines, one of the largest carriers in the U.S., announced Friday that it's deepening its ties with Air Canada, the flag carrier of Canada. Under an existing antitrust immunity, the two airlines have been close partners for years in the transborder market.
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Now, the airlines are growing their tie-up to include additional coordination, subject to necessary regulatory requirements.
This includes coordinating networks and schedules, expanding codeshares on transborder flights, sharing revenue in certain hub markets and aligning policies for greater consistency, the two airlines said in a joint press release.
These "aligned policies" could possibly include complimentary same-day standby and additional same-day confirmed change perks on transborder routes with multiple United or Air Canada frequencies.
In terms of codeshares, United and Air Canada promise that the expanded tie-up will unlock 46 transborder codeshare destinations on more than 400 daily frequencies in 2022, with more to come.
Other passenger-facing changes include United and Air Canada co-locating in certain major airports, offering a more unified onboard product and providing additional frequent flyer benefits.
Though details of the proposed benefits weren't announced, it's possible the airlines will team up to offer additional perks to top-tier elites, such as access to upgrades and extra-legroom seats. Both airlines are founding members of the Star Alliance and already offer members the ability to earn and redeem miles on either carrier.
Of course, the carriers could offer expanded award availability as part of the joint business agreement; only time will tell which benefits will be made available to members of the Aeroplan and MileagePlus programs.
"With this new agreement, we are further strengthening our long-standing partnership with Air Canada," Patrick Quayle, senior vice president of global network planning and alliance at United, said in a statement. "As international travel continues to recover, this expanded partnership will provide an enhanced experience for all transborder travel."
The airlines didn't announce a timeline for when they expect the expanded partnership to gain the necessary approvals and officially be implemented.
On the surface, the tie-up seems similar to the one that Atlanta-based Delta and Calgary-based WestJet already have. The two carriers have a transborder partnership that includes schedule coordination and elite benefits, among other perks.
Air Canada and United tried implementing a similar partnership back in 2010 but didn't move forward with the implementation after facing regulatory hurdles.