Back in mid May, a HFP reader sent me some gossip which I found a little hard to believe and which I couldn’t verify. oneworld alliance airlines would no longer be required to check baggage through to other oneworld airlines from 1st June when travelling on separate tickets.
This means that if you were flying from London to Berlin on British Airways for cash and then onwards on an Avios redemption on airberlin to Abu Dhabi (which is an amazing value redemption) British Airways is no longer required to check your bags through. You would need to collect them in Berlin and recheck them.
1st June came and there was no announcement – not surprisingly, as I was told that this would be done very quietly in the hope that no-one noticed. Slowly but surely examples started to emerge. Not from British Airways but from Cathay Pacific.
British Airways has, finally, now made an announcement and it isn’t good news:
From 1 June 2016, the oneworld policy on accepting customers travelling on separate tickets was changed. BA, along with our oneworld partners, has implemented this change in policy which is as follows:
Only those customers that have separate tickets issued in the same PNR/booking for flights operated by a oneworld partner, will be accepted for through check-in.
If you are changing between oneworld airlines on the SAME ticket you do not have a problem.
It will only apply when you are connecting to another oneworld flight on a separately booked ticket, which is likely to be the case if you are mixing an Avios ticket with a paid connection.
This is, to be honest, a bit of a kick in the teeth for customers who thought that by booking flights with members of the same alliance they could have an easier time. There could be real issues here, especially if you need to exit the airport in order to check in your baggage before clearing security again.
You may even need to obtain a visa pre-travel for the country where you are transiting in case you are required to go landside to re-check your bag. This is not scaremongering from me, this is what Cathay Pacific has written in their own guidelines:
Please remind passengers opting to travel on two tickets that additional connecting time at their transfer point might be required as they will be required to re-check in either after landing or at the transfer point depends on each airport’s set up and facilities. Landing visa for transfer point might also be required.
BA takes it one step further though!
In a separate document issued to the travel trade, BA has said that it will not even check baggage through to other British Airways flights now if each flight is on a separately booked ticket.
This is slightly crazy because BA is creating extra work for itself by having to check your bag in twice. It is VERY possible that you might be mixing two British Airways flights on separate tickets. If you live in Manchester and cannot get an Avios redemption on short-haul to match your long-haul redemption, you may well decide to pay cash. That will now cause you serious difficulties.
You will have another snag. You will no longer benefit from the rule that says you get the highest luggage allowance carried across to other flights. This means that if you paid cash for a Manchester to Heathrow to connect to a Heathrow to Miami on Avios, you may end up paying for additional luggage on the short haul flight – even if you are inside your allowance on the long haul flight.
Whether going BA to BA or BA to oneworld, it is possible that you may have existing flight bookings where it will now be impossible for you to make your connection due to the time required to do this.
It might reduce overcrowding in airport lounges though – by the time you’ve got your bag and queued up to check it in again, it will be time for your next flight.
For the record it is worth noting that Cathay Pacific, in a similar document to travel agents, has specifically said that it WILL continue to transfer baggage to other Cathay or Dragonair flights on separate tickets.
Disruption protection has also been removed
There was also an unwritten rule in the past that oneworld partners would protect passengers who missed their flights due to a late connection from another oneworld partner. This has also been removed, when the flights are on separate tickets.
BA has also removed this protection from its own connections. If you miss your flight to Miami on BA because your BA flight from Manchester to Heathrow was late – and you booked on separate tickets because you couldn’t get an Avios redemption for the connection – BA is no longer obliged to reroute you.
Here is the official wording:
What it means for customers if they are not accepted for through check-in
- Do not use Minimum Connecting Times
- They will have to collect their bags on arrival at the destination on the ticket
- They will have to re check-in at the departure airport of their onward travel
- Different baggage allowance may apply to for each flight
- If the arrival flight is delayed they are eligible for normal compensation (i.e. EU Legislation) for the delayed flight only
- They cannot claim any costs associated to their onward flight if the arrival flight is delayed
In reality, I am sure that BA would still help you out – but it would probably tell you to come back in two days when the next spare BA seat was available, rather than paying to reroute you on another airline.
So, to clarify …..
If you have connecting flights on the same ticket, nothing changes.
If you have connecting flights but on two tickets with two ticket reference numbers, your luggage will no longer be checked through. It must be collected and rechecked at each airport. You will need to pay additional baggage fees if your long haul allowance is larger than your short haul allowance. If you miss the next flight in your schedule due to a late incoming aircraft, there is no obligation to reroute or rebook you. This applies even if connecting from BA to BA.
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