Alaska Airlines Eliminates Interlining of Baggage, Introduces Linking of Reservations

Just like Delta and US Airways, Alaska Airlines will no longer interline baggage on separate tickets (HT: Lucky).

That’s an exceptionally consumer-unfriendly policy change.

If you use Alaska Airlines miles to book a Cathay Pacific award ticket from San Francisco to Hong Kong, but you’re actually starting in Seattle and there’s award space from Seattle to San Francisco so you have to buy that ticket from Alaska, then when you check in at Seattle they will no longer check your bags all the way through — you’ll have to collect the bags in San Francisco and re-check them. All because Alaska Airlines had no award space on the domestic flight and you had to pay them more money to start your international award. Shame, shame.

But against the backdrop of that news yesterday it seems that they have added one feature that’s actually quite consumer friendly.

Alaska will allow you to link reservations that have been made separately.

This is something people ask for a lot, but that in most computer systems has been impossible.

It’s not something I’ve ever worried about, but when I work with award booking clients and find that I have to book award tickets separately out of two different mileage accounts, and as a result clients will have two different reservations, this sometimes raises concerns. People fear that their flights will be cancelled and when an airline automatically rebooks them they’ll be sent on different flights to their destination, or re-accommodated together but not automatically seated together, because the airline doesn’t know they’re flying together.

Here’s how Alaska describes the advantage of ‘linking’ reservations:

Linking reservations can help your trip go more smoothly.

It may help with:

  • seating your party together
  • reaccommodation in the event you miss your flight or it is canceled
  • children traveling with adult companions in a separate reservation

Interestingly it appears that he reservations don’t have to completely match — having some but not all segments in common is sufficient, and passengers can be in separate cabins and still be linked.

This will be of use only to a limited set of folks since it’s linking in Alaska’s systems only, but if Alaska can do it then it’s reasonable to expect and demand that other airlines develop this functionality as well. Of course what’s reasonable and demanded isn’t always what’s developed in this industry, but it’s one more windmill to tilt at, at least!

(HT: Julie)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. It’s incredibly sad that the industry is shooting itself in the foot going backwards rather than forward
    I’d avoid any revenue or award with these folks
    And I have been Alaska friendly up till now though it hasn’t been my primary carrier

  2. I haven’t asked to link two reservations in years (since I never had success making it happen). Are there any other airlines that support the functionality?

  3. “Linking” reservations is incredibly deceptive. It means airlines put an “OSI” remark in each reservation that references the other one. But in reality it is absolutely no guarantee of the benefits that Gary (and Alaska Air) describe. Agents don’t see the OSI/link information unless they look for it. My experience is that in reality it has very little value.

  4. It’s all because o the govt regulations! US Dept of trans now requires airlines to charge same for bags on return as outbound even if different carriers and fees. All airlines had to pay for programming to develop and it’s impossible now for airlines to keep up with all carriers in the world bag rules. Blame our govt for this one

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