How Airlines Work

By: Kevin Bonsor
Airline alliances allow airlines to share frequent flyer programs. Learn about airline alliances, code share and what elite status is. See more flight pictures.
Photo courtesy British Airways


If you are planning a long trip somewhere, you could drive your car, ride a train or take a boat, but the odds are you'll be flying. Airplanes give us the ability to travel long distances in only a fraction of the time it would take by other forms of tran­sportation. If you are travelling by air, you will almost certainly have to fly on one of the commercial airlines that has flights to your chosen destination.


­Americans love to travel, as is witnessed by the hordes of travelers at the airport nowadays. In the United States, 665-million people traveled on at least one U.S. airline in 2000. Twenty-five-thousand (25,000) flights depart every day from American airports, and Americans are expected to travel even more in 2001.

An airline's basic function is to transport passengers and their luggage from one point to another. Just like any other service industry, the airline industry provides a service for a set price. In this edition of HowStuffWorks, you will learn about the different types of airlines, how they're structured and how they determine ticket prices. ­