Bits: you may get £400 from MasterCard!, BA’s refusal to check through bags begins to bite

News in brief:

MasterCard may owe you £400!

The Daily Telegraph reported yesterday that a class action lawsuit is being prepared against MasterCard in the UK.  This will be one of the first cases to be brought following changes to the law via the Consumer Rights Act 2015 which made them possible.

The case comes after the EU found that MasterCard had broken the law by charging ‘excessive’ interchange fees to retailers between 1992 and 2008.

The crux of the case is this:

“Mr Merricks argues that because MasterCard’s fees have already been found to be illegal by the European Commission, this ‘follow-on’ claim need only prove the damage consumers suffered as a result of MasterCard’s anti-competitive behaviour.”

As retailers were forced to pay MasterCard more than necessary for accepting their cards, you may think that it should not be difficult to prove that consumers suffered ‘damage’.  The total overcharging is believed to total £19 billion which would result in a £400 payment to anyone who had a MasterCard during that period.

There is no need to ‘opt in’ to the case.  The case will proceed and, if MasterCard loses, you will be able to apply for a share of whatever money MasterCard is forced to make available.  Based on what I have seen from similar US cases, I would imagine this to be a flat sum and not based on your actual MasterCard spending between 1992 and 2008.

You can read more on The Daily Telegraph site here.  Thanks to Tony.

Avios Suitcase

The new oneworld policy on through-checked bags begins to bite

Last month I wrote about a new policy adopted by the oneworld alliance airlines, including British Airways.

Historically, it was alliance policy to check through bags to separate flights on separate tickets when both airlines were members of the alliance.   From 1st June, this is no longer the case.

BA has taken it a step further.  It will no longer check through bags TO ANOTHER BA FLIGHT if it is on a separate ticket.  This policy hits Avios redemptions hard because many regional customers will buy a cash domestic flight to connect to a long haul redemption.

This story was on Flyertalk yesterday and shows how it works in practice:

I had my first terrible experience under this new system with exactly this trip today. [I booked a BA Club Europe flight to Madrid on Avios to connect to a cash business class Madrid to Miami flight on American.]  When I checked in at First desk in LHR I was firmly told they wouldn’t route the bags through. Connection time was 3.05hrs (2.05hrs before Madrid checkin closed) which I thought wouldn’t be too much of a problem.

However, we landed 45min late due to French ATC strikes, and I had naively thought Terminal 4S was a separate terminal rather than just an outstation of Terminal 4. To collect and recheck my bag I therefore had to run all the way through 4S, clear immigration, wait for the little train and then run to the baggage carousel in Terminal 4. I got there with 15 minutes to go before check in closed (yes it took a full hour from plane landing to do this!)

Unfortunately though, Madrid baggage handlers are even slower than I am, and the bag didn’t appear until T – 3 minutes!  Queue a mad sprint up to departures and I arrived at the desk at T + 1 minute. 

AA agents initially refused to check in my bag, until I literally got down on my knees and begged. I think had it not been for flying J, as OW Emerald, and having clearly been running for far longer than my doctor would recommend, they wouldn’t have let me on.

Obviously I then had to rush all the way back again to 4S and got on the flight with 10 minutes to spare. However rather than departing relaxed, having spent the past hour in the lounge, I arrived hot, tired and stressed – having almost not made the flight at all. All because of this ridiculous new policy.

Not good at all ….

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My review of the British Airways arrivals lounge in Heathrow Terminal 5
How to use Avios points to get to Tallinn, Estonia
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  1. BillyBoy says:

    While the abandonment of interline agreements with other carriers (OW or not) clearly could have chunky commercial benefits, I’m really struggling to see any financial upside in attacking BA-BA itineraries as well.

    I would really love to read the Assumptions section of the business case for this – I suspect there are some heroic ones in there…!

    • First BA flight is delayed meaning that passenger no longer has time to collect their bags and check them in for the second so they miss that flight. They now have to pay BA for another flight and BA also potentially cancel their return flight meaning that that can be resold.

      Large financial upsides to BA at the expense of a terrible customer experience.

  2. James6u says:

    The new interline rules do not affect me as I generally carry cabin bags only. Neverthepess, this makes me mad and I hope the losses to BA from loss of passenger custom and goodwill exceeds their estimation. At the very least, one years notice of this change should have been given if BA had any respect for their customers at all.

    • zsalya says:

      It will affect you if the first flight is too late for you to make the second one – BA will not reroute you so you will have to pay top price for an instant ticket on the next flight (and if the flight you have missed is a return, you will probably have lost that too by being a no-show)

      • Indeed – Raffles you might care to look into insurance providers? Would Amex Plat cover disruption? Which other insurance providers would give peace of mind to the worried 2x PNR traveller?

        I look forward to the article :)

  3. Wanderwide says:

    All this is really appalling. My job always requires me to travel with a good deal of checked baggage. If I can no longer check it through, I won’t be able to risk making connecting flights on the same day, and shall have to waste time and money on a hotel overnight. Are any other alliances developing a different model, with a selling point of making transfers between its members’ flights – and, of course, between the flights of each individual airline – as seamless as possible? Is there any hope of political pressure being applied, with the threat of legislation to oblige airlines to check baggage through? Short of cutting up my BA Gold card, what would be the most effective way for a frequent flyer in my position to make BA aware of my disgust?

    • If your job requires you to travel with checked baggage, then your employer should book you on a connecting ticket where baggage is checked through, otherwise your employer will be wasting time and money paying for your hotel.

  4. Cheshire Pete says:

    I’ve already implemented a policy , when flying from Manchester , that if I need to Interline as I’m unable to book a thru ticket , then I won’t be using BA anymore. Manchester does have many carriers offering more direct connections than I can count, so my love for BA is well and truely over.

  5. Clive J says:

    Logically it won’t just be Mastercard holders entitled to compensation. Retailers would have built these costs into their general pricing, so even those paying cash will have lost out. If it is restricted only to cases where retailers added a premium for Mastercard payments (and I cannot remember this being widespread) it will be a more difficult case to prove and almost impossible to quantify each loss.

    • The difference is: MC lost their case in law whereas there was no case upheld against Visa.

    • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

      Or, at least, Visa cardholders should also be eligible. There are plenty of merchants who charged more when paying by card (whether a corner shop or an airline) but I can’t ever recall variable pricing between Visa and MasterCard.
      The reason for this most likely is that the acquiring banks were charging the same fee whether it was Visa or MasterCard. Perhaps the banks should be suing MasterCard instead since one could argue that it was hitting their profits!

    • Tina Hammond says:

      Wrong thread ! This is ow not checking baggage if sepatate bkg regs

      • AndyGWP says:

        haha – no, it’s definitely about Mastercard Class Action Lawsuit AND bags not being throughchecked with BA

  6. But the ex MAD flight was not on BA, was it?

  7. I have a flight in August on Alaska Airlines from Anchorage to Seattle. I’m then flying On BA to Heathrow. Before I booked I asked Alaska whether they would honour BAs baggage allowance and check the bags through and they confirmed that if I showed my BA itinerary they would. Does this mean they won’t do this now? Thanks.

    • Alaska is not a member of oneworld. They may still do it but you shouldn’t have relied on it even before this policy change.

  8. When BA took over the BMI LHR slots, they made a binding commitment to improve interlining.

    Anybody care to look it up?

    • The_Real_A says:

      Interlining does not equate to separate tickets however. Its the ability to buy a single ticket from A to C (passing through B)

  9. Tracy – no, they probably won’t. If you’re a Gold card holder they may relent. If they’re feeling kind, they may. I am in the same situation, flying on Iberia from Madrid to Medellin (Colombia) in November. Two of us, business class, return flight booked on points through BA’s website.
    Separate flight (also booked on points) to Madrid.
    Why a separate flight? Because the extra charges if booked direct from London to Medellin via Madrid were £1,330. But the charges for Madrid-Medellin were just £150.
    Thoughtfully, I booked the London-Madrid flight the day before, to give us a decent night in a hotel and a leisurely breakfast, as the Madrid flight leaves at about noon, so I won’t be affected. But I have booked separate flights like this for years and now have to rethink all my travel arrangements.
    One massive problem, besides the delays, is if you are transiting in a country that requires a visa, you won’t be allowed landside to collect your bags. If you have a premium ticket or card, you can ask the lounge staff to sort that, though – they have for me, in the past.

    • blackberryaddict says:

      “Why a separate flight? Because the extra charges if booked direct from London to Medellin via Madrid were £1,330. ”

      I think this is exactly the reason why oneworld are stopping through checking of bags on separate tickets (although there is also a cost issue). But they simply do not want you to take advantage from cheaper flights elsewhere, and still rely on the through checking and protection when booking a cheap positioning flight. They may not have thought through all the consequences, but that is why they are doing this.

  10. Darren says:

    British Airways and indeed One World Alliance need to seriously consider the implications of this policy. My partner and I are both Gold BA Exec members and have been actively exploring options for changing to Star Alliance because of the poor value for money associated with the allegedly premier BA product. From the consumer perspective, being able to check through luggage on long distance multi-leg trips is very valuable. Even the opportunity to earn tier and avois points is restricted for some partners within One World. For example we recently flew BA to Sao Paolo and onwards with an itinerary around South America with LAN and TAM but got virtually no tier and avois points because LAN and TAM don’t offer points on many of their flights to One World partners, so we wondered why we bothered. We live in Leeds and so rather than fly BA to Heathrow and connect onwards with BA from there, we are considering travelling from Manchester instead and flying out with Star Alliance carriers. Of course thus assumes that Star Alliance is any better in terms of being able to check through baggage, although individual partner airlines may well provide a better quality product than BA for the price.

    • Earning miles on Star Alliance is just as bad. At least on oneworld, basically all business class fares earn something. On Star the cheapest business fares generally no longer earn anything on other airlines’ programmes.

      If you book flights on the same ticket your bags will still be checked through.

    • “British Airways and indeed One World Alliance need to seriously consider the implications of this policy. ”

      Maybe they have. It reminds me of where my partner worked a few jobs ago where they went through a big reorganisation. A lot of people got disgruntled by it as they got moved onto things they didn’t want to work on, and had lost autonomy and control of what they did as they changed the management structure. Obviously a lot of people didn’t like this so they left in droves. The company therefore replaced the moany disgruntled work force with new ppl who didn’t know how it was better before.

      Perhaps BA are doing the same. Have a cull of the moany disgruntled members who play the system and bring in fresh new ones who like it for how it is now, not pining for how it was before.

  11. MAS to QR worked fine a couple of weeks ago – so i think it’s mainly BA enforcing this :/

  12. People worried about missing a connection because of 2 PNRs & not enough time might consider forwarding their suitcase direct from UK to hotel.

    Not as expensive as you might think – if you shop around maybe £40-60 for a 20kg suitcase UK —> USA

    • Sussex Bantam says:

      Wow Harry – where do you see that price ? I was looking to do exactly that and best I can see is $149…

      • parcel2go, parcelmonkey etc

        • Sussex Bantam says:

          Ah I see – those are parcels though rather than luggage. Would work for small suitcases though !

          • Fraser says:

            I have to take product samples to a lot of trade events and have found that shipping a hard sided suitcase instead of boxes is much easier (and resealable!). Only where customs clearance is a risk, eg India or Morocco, would I actually check a bag.

            Is it possible to buy cash EDI-LHR and Avios LHR-onward as one ticket by phone with BAEC?

            • Sure (in same class only?) – not exactly what you asked but you can do a cash + Avios option on a single PNR/ booking, online if you like. I’m guessing you are short of Avios for the LHR-onward bit – so get round this with cash + Avios, currently 1p/ Avios.

              Checked EDI-LHR-BCN & works fine

            • No

            • No unfortunately there’s no way to combine cash and reward tickets, even via BA call centre.

            • If the LHR-onward Avios flight was long haul, the connecting flight from EDI would be free of charge (plus handling fees). And would result in a new ticket ie 1 PNR to include both flights.

              Therefore I assume the OP meant EDI->LHR->short haul destination in Europe.

            • Not necessarily, Harry – remember that domestic Avios availability for non-Golds can be pretty atrocious, I know my parents could find multiple seats on multiple dates for their long-haul flights when booking about ten months out, but only a handful of domestic connections with rubbish times or forced overnight stays. BA’s own advice when they phoned was to book the long-haul redemption then buy a separate cash ticket (which nowadays would have been no checked-through luggage!). Given they were meant to get the connections for free anyway I got them to write to BAEC formally to raise the issue (with me booking backup redemption seats as a Gold) – thankfully BA eventually saw sense and released some seats and they got it all booked as a redemption but it was quite a fight. They really need to sort out domestic connections – we’re now stuck paying twice over for them on short-haul and then many can’t make their long-haul connection due to lack of domestics – they should automatically open them up in this situation (a bit like how when you book a WTP or higher long-haul flight your domestic connection automatically books into a higher class to avoid lack of availability there preventing you booking)

    • That’s interesting as I just booked ARN-LHR-SIN-SYD routing for ~£360 return & won’t need my case til Oz. Although we’re not tight for time on either of our positioning flights to/from ARN (in fact collecting bag & checking in again would help to kill some of the time built in) it would also help to make life so much easier. I will investigate!

  13. The new bag policy could deter ex EU departures for UK flyers unless cabin luggage only. A same day connection will become more risky and an overnight stay increases cost. I guess BA hopes this makes fliers think twice before booking the cheaper ex EU over going straight from london to final destination.
    I am heading to Bcn to catch AA flight to Mia and i’ve learnt to travel with less so hand baggage only.

    • Agreed it may for some although many of us already fly non-BA options for the positioning flight (eg KLM, Aer Lingus, Brussels Airlines) as going BA to position would require an LHR transit plus cost minimum 9k Avios plus £35 each way.

  14. Mikeact says:

    £400 for each Mastercard card ? Yes please !

  15. On the £400, if it’s per Mastercard this could be very nice! (thanks to lots of card churning over the years!)

    • Good point, Head for Points readers could do well out of this if it really happens!

  16. JamesWag says:

    I completely forgot about this ridiculous baggage policy when looking to get an Avios redemption to ARN (Stockholm) on a very specific day. No direct flight was available so I booked flights LHR-TXL, TXL-ARN. I’m gunna get screwed over for sure :-(

    • Not if it was booked on one ticket. If you have two booking references then, yes, you’re stuck.

      It’s a good job the outlook for travel and flying is so positive at the moment so BA can afford to alienate passengers like this …….

    • You’ll probably be fine at TXL James – it’s very small and one hour between flights will probably be sufficient for a re-check, particularly if the TXL-ARN flight departs from terminal A. If it is terminal C or D you have a 10 minute walk but provided you get your skates on it should be ok.

  17. Please can someone tell me what the reason for this policy is? I don’t understand it on any level.

    It is clearly bad for passengers- I can’t see how ba would even try to pretend otherwise. Although this is hardly a reason for them not to do it. I can only assume that it is therefore to save costs, or discourage complex bookings. If the former, then how are they saving costs? Seems to me that the new policy involves more work, not less. If the latter, then why?

    • It seems that BA is deemed ‘responsible’ for the bag and so has to pay to forward it if your bag fails to make your connnecting flight. It is now free of that responsibility (when travelling on separate tickets).

      Why it doesn’t make an exception for BA to BA is unknown. Cathay, for example, is specifically still allowing Cathay to Cathay although they will refuse Cathay to anyone else.

      • BA’s argument is that a separate PNR/ booking means a different contract – this is naturally obvious & correct. Any previous help with interlining/ disruption costs etc was voluntary & was simply a matter of goodwill.

        Legally correct, yes – but an extremely poor decision to end interlining of luggage – I can’t see why BA could not have continued with interlining whilst making it clear to passengers that in the case of disruption there would be no free re-ticketing or disruption assistance (between different PNRs).

        • The next logical step, though, is to refuse to re-route people on BA-BA tickets when the first flight is late and telling them to buy a new ticket …..

          Fundamentally, flying and running an airline are unpredictable. The industry works because each side of the contract accepts that flexibility is often required. When this ‘bargain’ breaks down you have problems.

    • Singing Dwarf says:

      The stock answer from most organisations is usally “We’ve listened to what our customers want and heard that the system needs to be simpler to understand and easier to use. Ending xxxx means that we can focus on a simpler approach that’s appealing to everyone and from which customers can benefit”

  18. Matthew says:

    BA, like every other airline, have an objective to get you from A to B. If you choose to create two contracts with them: to get from A to B, and B to C, you cannot legally imply that that is one contract to get from A to C. If you choose to split the route, then that’s your choice. But it doesn’t mean that you can pay less by buying two tickets AND expect BETTER service by virtue of changing the terms of both the contracts to appear to be one.

    If you are playing the mileage/status game, then two options really stand out, one from the comments above. Firstly, travel with hand baggage. Secondly, ship your baggage.

    If you’re travelling for work, then work should get you from A to B. Full stop. I travelled for work with materials and we always freighted contents, carrying only what we needed. There was never any question about having to break my journey onto two tickets because it was cheaper.

    • Anthony Dunn says:

      Or, a third option, you just allow plenty of time between your initial flight and the connecting flight. Now, if you are a BAEC Silver or Gold, presumably this will entail your working your way through very considerably more food and beverages than you would previously have done.

      I just cannot see how this is going to save BA a penny and I can see that it is going to cost them a packet in previously loyal customers telling them where to stick their new T&Cs.

  19. OT but there’s a sale on AAdvantage miles right now.

    You can get up to 250,000 for under $4000.

    That’s enough for a first class return on AA’s epic 16-hour flight from DFW-HKG, which costs $18,000+ for a random date in July I picked out.

    I think it finishes today or tomorrow.

    • £3000 (unless you have a USD payment card) for 16 hours on AA F doesn’t seem a good deal to me… considering that most people here are based in Europe

  20. Anyone having difficulty updating Tesco CC accounts using Awardwallet?

  21. OT and admittedly it is to do with Economy flights but may be of use for some

    I have been looking for a chance to visit my Fiancee in Cyprus for the weekend but flight costs are crazy due to the summer peak. Avios availability also limited and I can’t see any being released 24 hrs before. BA wanted nearly 700 in economy to fly out Sat Am and back Sun night.

    I did a search on (the Australian variant of Momondo) and got a ticket for 387 AUD, approx 220 GBP. It has ticketed fine and could even via the App preselect an exit row despite being HBO which must be another BA IT mistake!

    Hope it’s of use for someone, it was showing a lot of flights far cheaper than I saw on, maybe due to Australian point of sale?

    • Which app is that pls?

      • BA App for seat selection .

        I am silver and it let me pick an exit row less than 48 hrs in advance for free. This was within 1 minute of me adding the booking ref into the App. I don’t think I should be able to select a seat for free on a HBO ticket but I’m not complaining!

        • Thanks. First I’ve heard of that one! Would be good to know if it works for non-status people @ T-24 hrs.

          [ btw Non-status HBO/ Avios redemption ticketholders can select exit seat (or any seat) for free during T-24 hrs by using the self check-in machines @ airport.]

    • pauldb says:

      Yes that’s very stark. If you’re talking about this coming weekend, it appears that even USA POS will sell you a much lower bucket S than UK.

  22. BA have changed their policy, it’s now agent discretion for BA-BA through checking.

    • What is ‘agent discretion’ meant to mean?! If you look fit enough to lug your case through immigration and back to check-in?!

      • Radiata says:

        The contempt inherent in substance and the manner of this change with nil but tinkering on being confronted with aghast passengers is staggering.

        But that a tangible decline in booking results, one doubts change will result. Genuine interest in improving (nay, maintaining) customer experience seemingly a foreign concept.

        It is just not cricket.

  23. Kinkell says:

    Shocking that BA are putting their customers to all this extra hassle and inconvenience. It’s a really ‘prized’ service and one of the reasons we tend to fly with the national airline. Recent case (March) we flew SCL – GIG – LHR- EDI. We had 3 different tickets, 2 airlines, and our luggage (lots of it as per F allowances and we were away for a month) was ticketed all the way to EDI and arrived safely. I dread to think of the time we might have had if we’d had to manhandle it all at each airport. Doesn’t bear thinking about, really. In future, more careful route planning……or HBO….(.only to create more of problem trying to get overhead/ under seat luggage space.!)