Mainline (aeronautics)

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Unlike many other airlines, JetBlue's mainline equipment includes both the Emb-190 and A320. Flight attendant aircrew members are trained to operate on both types of equipment, while at the traditional legacy carriers, such operations on the smaller aircraft are mostly outsourced to smaller, usually independently owned regional airlines.
Embraer E-190. Similarly to JetBlue, US Airways operates the Embraer 190 as part of their mainline fleet.

A mainline flight is a flight operated by an airline's main operating unit, rather than by regional alliances, regional code-shares or regional subsidiaries. In the USA, examples of mainline passenger airline flights include those operated by American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, and US Airways but it would not include flights operated by regional airlines Envoy Air, Executive Airlines, Piedmont Airlines, or PSA Airlines with regional jets or the services of mainline "non-airline" regional airline marketing brands such as AmericanConnection, Delta Connection, United Express, or US Airways Express aboard lower-capacity narrowbody jets and turboprop aircraft, such as those produced by Embraer or Bombardier, that do not have transcontinental range.

Often US mainline airline carriers operate in-house brands such as United p.s. to cater to business segments such as the short-range air shuttle, low-cost, or premium-service flights which normally would not support the traffic or revenue yield needed for the traditional operation of larger mainline aircraft with over 100 passenger seats between selected city pairs.

All of the - mainline legacy - airlines listed below operate international, intercontinental, or transoceanic airline services using jet airliners[citation needed]. Additionally, all the - mainline legacy - carriers listed happen to be within the group of United States airline carriers known to statistically be major carriers.

All of the following legacy airlines and their holding companies operate using secondary regional carriers via airline marketing sub-brands commonly marketed as "Express" or "Connection" services.

All of the following airlines in some form operate in association with a regional component. All legacy carriers are among the group of US airlines known as "mainline" carriers.

Major U.S. Mainline Carriers
Major Mainline "Low-Cost" and
Reorganized "Legacy" Carriers
Non-Mainline but "owned"
Regional Affiliate Carriers
Non-Mainline Regional Brands Non-Branded
Codeshare Regional
American Airlines
Envoy Air American Eagle
(airline brand)
Cape Air
Horizon Air
US Airways
PSA Airlines
Piedmont Airlines
US Airways Express Winair
Delta Air Lines
Endeavor Air Delta Connection Horizon Air
Southwest Airlines
(No Airline Alliance)
No regional affiliates No regional brands
United Airlines
(Star Alliance)
No regional affiliates United Express Great Lakes Aviation
Island Air
"Non-Legacy Majors" using "mainline" equipment
Alaska Airlines Horizon Air Alaska Horizon
Alaska SkyWest
Era Alaska
Allegiant Airlines* No regional affiliates No regional brands
Frontier Airlines No regional affiliates No regional brands Great Lakes Aviation
Hawaiian Airlines No regional affiliates Ohana by Hawaiian operated by Empire Airlines Island Air
JetBlue Airways* No regional affiliates No regional brands Cape Air
Spirit Airlines* No regional affiliates No regional brands
Sun Country Airlines No regional affiliates No regional brands
Virgin America No regional affiliates No regional brands

(*) These airlines operate mainline equipment but do not wholly "own" regional airlines or have "non-owned" regional affiliates.

See also[edit]

Flag Carrier



  • [1], AA and early references to mainline, regional and B-scale