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British Airways stops ‘two ticket’ bag transfers and disruption protection – even to other BA flights

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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 will not even check baggage to other British Airways flights

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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Comments (198)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Waribai says:

    We often do JAL-BA baggage transfers on two separate PNRs which is a godsend at Haneda since the domestic and international terminals are a bus ride apart. Presumably this would still be ok?

    • John says:

      No, unless JL wants to go beyond the oneworld requirements, which it has no obligation to do.

    • James A says:

      No of course not, that is what they are specifically refusing to do now.

      I’m not sure BA will be able to get out of EC261 compensation as they are obviously trying to do at the end though, I suspect a court appearance will be required to get your cash however.

      • Waribai says:

        I just made some enquiries and it seems that they are still doing these thru check ins on domestic routes but it’s not guaranteed. “Case by case!”

    • James67 says:

      No, it wouldn’t if JAL and BA enforce these new practices.

  • Brendan says:

    If HfP is anti-BA, it’s no moreso than BA are anti-passenger. Another day, another ‘enhancement’.

  • Godfrey says:

    Another kick in the teeth from BA, I’m looking forward to my flight to Sydney this week.. On Qatar, £1650 in business, this is my third Oz trip with them in the last 6 months, no more BA. Wake up Willie !

    • John says:

      I presume you aren’t departing from the UK… best not check any bags unless you’ve built in an overnight stay at the EU origin

    • Vistaro says:

      BA could have helped their own customer and gone above and beyond the OneWorld requirement but “No” they’d rather cause the customer hassle.

      I used to fly BA long haul every week but they’re simply out classed by the competition. Being Manchester based it’s always two flights for me and using QR or EK may add a couple of hours but at often half the price and no comparison in quality it’s an easy choice – take this week as an example JNB DOH MAN // MIA DOH JNB in Business, £1,250 on QR, £5,680 on BA!

    • peter says:

      Wake up Godfrey….Qatar are part of OW and these rules will apply across the alliance

  • PGW says:

    This is very bad news for those like me who frequently make use of ex EU fares to Asia and then addd on short haul Avios redemptions to my final destination. Not much of an ‘alliance’ evident here.

  • davef says:

    Yet another reason for me to avoid BA and Heathrow wherever possible. If I never fly BA again it’ll be too soon.

    Thankfully Virgin and Delta realise that the regions exist, and connecting via European airports is far less hassle.

  • Cheshire Pete says:

    Surely this is an April Fool joke? At Easter we did a Dublin via Heathrow to Miami run, from Manchester and on the way back they even checked our baggage from Miami back to Machester on the final Aer Lingus leg from Dublin to Manchester on a separate PNR without a problem, and they are not even in the Alliance yet! But as Rob suggested we’ve often done BA Holiday deals from Heathrow and separately joined the Manchester hop via Avios. No, this is a joke really, sod off BA even more reason to start flying again more directly from Manchester with other carriers. Just the final straw really.

  • Mec says:

    New enhancement every day. I used to almost exclusively fly BA, now I use a mix of carriers – ME3 for long haul; for short haul I no longer care and fly Lufthansa, Austrian, SAS, Alitalia, easyjet – whatever is convenient… Not even sure where a lot of these enhancements are coming from – eg removing flowers from first class – really? Race to the bottom. From reading the FT it seems that a lot of other people are voting with their feet too.

  • James67 says:

    Just the latest in a long list of reasons why I think the EU should be taking a long hard look at airline practices and introducing regulations to protect passenger interests. If airlines want the benefits of alliances then the passenger benefits of alliances should be protected too.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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