Towards a better VA experience, PT2

The previous post gathered some good interest so I thought I make a follow up.

To clarify, I am a in the process of ideating a new system for an upcoming VA, which shall remain nameless until our approval.

In that context, what follows is a collection of thoughts and observations, each airline is different and I don’t want anyone to perceive what follows as criticism or indication that their way is wrong.

Today I want to cover the topic of codeshares.

Nearly every airline I have seen has them, and they are somewhat puzzling.

What is a codeshare?

In the real world a codeshare, as the world implies, re labels a flight flown by a partner airline, with an internal code from your airline. So for example, an AA flight going from klax to kbos will also have an internal QF code.

Why is this done? It was introduced to aid Frequent Flyer rewards programs, to create the illusion the airline you are booking with has far greater reach than it actually does and to enable partnerships with non alliance members.

Do you see anything missing there? That’s right, it has nothing to do with pilots.

In IF, codeshares morph into the idea that a pilot may fly on any codeshare route as long as there’s a real world codeshare between the airlines.

This is often used for a couple of important reasons:

  1. Not all Airlines are AA or Lufthansa, some are far smaller and boast far fewer destinations. More on this later. Codeshares Enable pilots in even tiny real world airlines to fly to places they otherwise never could.
  2. Many airlines are seriously small in fleet variety. How can an airline with just a 3-4 types compete against the behemoths that have seemingly every aircraft in the roster?

Basically, for airlines codeshares have become a way to bypass perceived inadequacies of their airline and offer pilots seemingly endless freedom to fly where they chose.

While that may appear like a case closed, I’d like to observe a few problems with it.

First of all for anyone aiming for realistically representing an airline, this is not.

While a passenger may chose to make a connecting flight or even a full on flight with a partner airline, pilots in the real world do not get to just hop in the cockpit of any partner plane they chose.

Secondly, this renders too many airlines very similar in their offerings, while this helps your airline it may actually hurt other airlines. For example, if I can get almost every EK flight from a codeshare while flying Qantas, why would I chose to fly EK?

Third and most importantly, I think this leads to the airline losing their brand and character. Am I really a Qantas pilot if I spend lots of my time flying EK metal?

Again, I can’t blame VAs for using codeshares this way, I would do the same and in fact will likely have to do the same in my airline, but to those reading this that are staff in VAs, perhaps you’d share the feeling that it would be with a hint of sadness.

We want pilots to fly our colors, to see our brand in the skies and to have that be the norm.

So is there a better way?

I gave this a lot of thought, and would like to propose 2 broad topics that I am considering for my implementation.

First

Evolve your VA your way.

If we are prepared to break with realism to introduce the idea of a pilot flying another airlines metal, why not just direct your airline the way you see it would grow or expand to be a better airline.

For example, if you rely on EK codeshares to make Europe more accessible, why not test adding some more routes to your airline that don’t exist in the real world?

We are all trying to replicate our airlines as much as possible, but I don’t see anything wrong with expanding on that.

Many VAs have introduced things like historical routes (route their airline used to fly but no longer does).

IF itself has many obsolete aircraft we would never otherwise use and are a ton of fun to fly, MD-11 for example, or the soon to be extinct 757.

So why not take the step towards doing what Qantas is doing in the real world and exploring new routes?

Second

Make codeshares interesting again. Codeshares should never be something a pilot grinds out because it has the best hours or just so happens she prefers to fly on an A380 which your airline doesn’t have.

I’d like for us to acknowledge the fact this is another airlines route, so if we are flying someone else’s colors let’s at least work for it.

For example, why not make it so pilots should attend some events or group flights with some actual EKVA pilots (if such airline exists in IF) before they can access that codeshare?

Why not take the time to reach out to that CEO and make sure when your pilots fly their metal, they at least give a hat tip to that other VAs procedures?

Maybe in the future, we can even have a system where that airline will be informed on their database when a partner va pilot flies one of their routes, maybe even have those two VAs share their databases so there is a dynamic update of codeshare flights between the two.

I’d like to see such things play out, I’d like to give my pilots a voice in shaping where and how our airline grows. But that is a topic for another time.

15 Likes

strokes nonexistent beard

A very interesting topic. I know you are keeping it nameless, but what are the roles/purposes of the system?

1 Like