United Puts Customers “First”: Drops Interline Agreement With Five Airlines


Airlines have interline agreements in place with each other even when they are bitter competitors and from different alliances. Interline agreements allow airlines to sell each others tickets, have segments from various airlines on the same ticket, move passengers in case of irregular operations and send bags among other benefits.

United Airlines

Now, United Airlines has decided to end this agreement with five airlines that are based in the Middle East including Emirates with whom they were partners with back in the early 2000’s and had even jointly filed around the world fare (very good value but unfortunately was not able to take advantage of it before it was withdrawn).

Skift was reporting about this development yesterday (access here) of which below is an excerpt:

United Airlines is canceling basic cooperation agreements with five Middle East airlines, including Qatar Airways and Emirates Airline, as the Chicago-based carrier continues to complain that the largest airlines in the region compete unfairly by taking massive government subsidies.

United will no longer maintain interline agreements beginning May 5 with Fly Dubai, Royal Jordanian Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Emirates and Qatar Airways, it told employees.

Customers will not be able to buy tickets with one segment on United, and another on one of the Middle East carriers. Occasionally, with hard-to-reach destinations, agents will issue tickets with one segment on United, and another on a United competitor.


This argument that United Airlines and Continental wouldn’t have benefited from various subsidies is absurd.

How many times these two airlines went through the bankruptcy process in the 1990’s and 2000’s wiping out employee benefits, unsecured debts, pensions and other liabilities? Must have been 6 to 8 times? I went through this two or three with United alone since early 2000’s.

This move will not benefit passengers. It makes it more difficult to get to various destinations when one cannot have United and segments from these five airlines on the same e-ticket. In case of irregular operations, United Airlines can no longer push passengers to these airlines either. Airlines can no longer send bags to final destination when on separate tickets.

United Airlines said that it would be putting customers first. This is negative development proves that it is only giving lip service to the traveling public.

And as a matter of fact this might also backfire. Passengers traveling to/from North America that have preferred United (not sure why?) may now choose other airlines to get to their final destination on one ticket and thus protected in case of delays/cancellations.

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