U.S. Judge Orders JetBlue, American Airlines to End Codeshare Partnership — What That Means for Travelers

The alliance was first announced in 2020.

JetBlue, American Airlines planes
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JetBlue and American Airlines were ordered by a U.S. judge on Friday to end their alliance — a partnership that granted customers of each airline a larger route selection and reciprocal reward benefits.

“It makes the two airlines partners, each having a substantial interest in the success of their joint and individual efforts, instead of vigorous, arm’s-length rivals regularly challenging each other in the marketplace of competition,” Judge Leo T. Sorokin said in his decision to block the partnership, The New York Times reported.

First announced in July of 2020, and then expanded a year later, the codeshare allowed travelers to book flights on either JetBlue or American, depending on the customer's preference, and fly on the partner airline's routes. Customers of either airline had access to the other's reward perks as well.

Known as the "Northeast Alliance," the partnership specifically covered flights out of New York City-area airports — JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark — and Boston's Logan Airport.

The Department of Justice first sued American Airlines in 2021, claiming the carrier would cost passengers millions of dollars, according to Reuters. Sorokin also noted that JetBlue's claim of being a "low-cost" airline is "diminished" under the alliance.

"We are disappointed in the decision," a spokesperson for JetBlue told Travel + Leisure. "We made it clear at trial that the Northeast Alliance has been a huge win for customers. Through the NEA, JetBlue has been able to significantly grow in constrained northeast airports, bringing the airline’s low fares and great service to more routes than would have been possible otherwise." 

The two airlines have 30 days to end the alliance, Reuters reported.

The decision is the latest move from the Biden administration meant to advocate for airline passengers. Recently, the Department of Transportation has pushed for airlines to be required to compensate passengers for certain cancellations or delays, and to allow families sit together.

American Airlines did not immediately respond to T+L's request for comment.

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