Why are the nation's top airlines coming together via alliances rather than full mergers? "Alliances create effective mergers, but they avoid the stronger regulatory practices that apply to full mergers," says TIME correspondent Daniel Kadlec.
So does the romance of shared routes, ticketing and frequent flyer miles lead to the pitter-patter of lower fares? Well, not exactly: "The alliances may simplify travel, but reducing competition always carries the risk of raising prices," says Kadlec. The market, after all, has a heart of stone.