as of 1st June, oneworld airlines do not need to interline bags or even check you in for connecting flights on separate tickets. Not surprisingly you will not find any announcements or press releases.
Australian Business Traveller gets confirmation of the change from oneworld.
In a move which could cause connection chaos for many travellers, airlines belonging to the Oneworld alliance – among them Qantas, British Airways and Cathay Pacific – are no longer required to check passengers and their baggage through to their final destination on some connecting flights.
The new scheme, which came into effect from June 1st, impacts passengers whose journey involves flights on more than one airline where their travel encompasses more than one booking, rather than all flights being listed under a single booking reference.
A spokesman for Oneworld has confirmed the unpublicised changes to the ‘interline’ accord between each of the group’s 15 member airlines, which also includes American Airlines, Finnair, LAN/TAM, JAL, Malaysia Airlines and Qatar Airways.
I book travel on separate reservations all the time. There are several reasons to this this. For instance,
- You have an award ticket, but award space wasn’t available starting in your home city or all the way to your final destination. So you book an award but buy a flight segment.
- You buy a ticket out of Boston for a fare sale. If the reservation started in New York you wouldn’t get the great price. It’s still a fabulous deal even when you buy your New York – Boston shuttle flight.
- You don’t know where you’ll be starting your trip from! You know you’re going to Asia but need a positioning flight once your plans firm.
- Plans change, you’re ticketed to Hong Kong but while there need a sidetrip to somewhere in Southeast Asia, and buy a ticket that connects up to your existing return flight.
US Airways was the first US airline to stop interlining bags on separate tickets. This was in response to Department of Transportation rules on checked bag fees. If they’re through-checking the bags they have to charge only the first carrier’s bag fee (and in practice, then, split it) rather than charging you fees for both carriers.
American announced their policy to only through check on separate tickets within the oneworld alliance. They were, at the time, required to still through-check onto oneworld airlines. This was after the US Airways merger was complete and former US Airways management in place at the airlines.
Two months after American announced its policy, United followed suit.
In general just because the policy is in place doesn’t mean that agents won’t ever do it, especially at outstations. I had no problem last year getting a Delta agent in Sydney to through-check my bags onto a separate American Airlines ticket (not that it matters a ton on most international-to-domestic connections in the U.S.).
Nonetheless, doing less here is highly customer-unfriendly. On the other hand from the airline’s perspective they don’t want customers booking separate tickets because it lets customers take advantage of sales. They’d rather passengers wait to book travel until everything is certain (and perhaps more expensive) or buy refundable tickets (which are definitely more expensive).
American still has a policy where they’ll even treat two oneworld tickets as a single ticket in the event of irregular operations. That policy is still published internally. I have to imagine it won’t last, however.
Key takeaways of this new change.
- Airlines in the oneworld alliance can continue to check bags to your final destination on another reservation, but won’t have to.
- As long as all your travel is on a single reservation they’ll still through-check bags, even if more than one ticket is part of the reservation.
- It’s unclear which airlines will stop forwarding your bags on separate tickets. Already some like British Airways and American won’t forward your bags on separate tickets when onward travel is outside the alliance. I’m not aware of any oneworld airlines updating their baggage policies further in light of this June 1 change.
Here’s the singer from Puddle of Mudd riding the baggage carousel in Denver.
And here’s a sleeping man riding a carousel.
It’s striking for airlines to offer even less accommodation for checked bags when their employees do things like this: