Three of the nation’s biggest airlines announced a “code-share” agreement this week that had been in the works for a long time. Northwest, Continental, and Delta airlines say they’re not merging, just forging an alliance that will make it easier for them to sell each other’s tickets. It could be good for travelers, but the airlines also sought the alliance because it’ll mean they could reach more destinations without flying more planes. Kay King of West Des Moines is a travel agent. She says it might open some routes and connection times that between the three airlines that could help travelers get from here to there, without long waits or double connections. King says there probably isn’t much downside to the new arrangement. There could be some re-juggling of some flight times and schedules so the airlines don’t compete head-to-head in some markets, though in a similar pact between TWA and American, King says it worked smoothly. The plan would let passengers share some benefits like frequent flier miles. Though the Justice and Transportation departments have approved the plan, they’re jousting about whether they’ll make the airlines give up some airport boarding gates, so they don’t unfairly dominate some markets. King says it does NOT look like any of the three airlines will cut service to Iowa when they finalize their arrangement. She says in the Midwest we worry about loss of service, but it doesn’t seem to be a prospect. Des Moines International airport is served by all three of the airlines that will enter the code-sharing agreement. Northwest serves Mason City, Fort Dodge, Sioux City and Waterloo (which also has others) but none of the three lands in Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, or the Burlington airport, which are all served by airlink carriers for American. .
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