American Airlines & WestJet join forces

For the past couple years American Airlines has been the dark horse amongst the major carriers in the United States. They’ve been trailing the others in profitability (though they did report a profit in Q3 ‘10) and they’ve been struggling to keep their route network competitive with the other programs that are growing alliances. Things are starting to look up a bit, however, with the ATI deal for OneWorld partners British Airways and Iberia, the interline agreement with JetBlue and most recently the announcement earlier this week on an interline agreement with Canadian carrier WestJet.

The new agreement opens up the opportunity for American’s passengers to connect to flights on WestJet’s network throughout Canada. A total of 25 new cities will be available via connections in six Canadian gateways served by American or American Eagle: Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Vancouver, Halifax and Ottawa. The two carriers expect a phase two of the agreement to eventually include connections at WestJet’s US gateways.

The current iteration of the interline agreement covers through ticketing and checked baggage but does not include things like frequent flyer program reciprocity. American and JetBlue have reportedly come to an agreement on the FF front so it is likely that similar negotiations will follow on the WestJet side.

The move is also a big win for WestJet. They have announced intentions to arrange a similar interline agreement with Southwest over two years ago. That agreement proved fruitless, however, and the deal was never actually implemented. The very quick start-up time on this deal – bookings on will be available starting on November 9, 2010 – should help avoid that this time around.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.