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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.

  • Bill P says:

    BA approach is unusual for not checking bags to their own connecting flights when the passenger has two separate tickets (process is called an “ONLINE” transfer).

    What is becoming common is for carriers not to check bags to another airline, when the tickets are booked separately. Example: I buy a ticket on United LAXLHR, and then from Air France I buy a ticket for my connecting flight from LHR to my destination.

    This has to do with automation. The computer will print a bag tag for whatever routing is shown in United’s computer. Because the passenger booked the connecting flight separately, United’s system has no record of the connecting flight. And without that info. a bag cannot be checked in for the unknown flight.

  • Gavin says:

    I’ve had a thought. I have a Lloyds voucher booking made online with Avios.com into HKG

    I want to add on an inward flight (also a redemption) with Cathay from HKG to ICN

    I wonder if I can call Avios and book the redemption over the phone and get them to add it to the same PNR?

    It’s certainly worth a phone call to see if it’s possible even if it means paying an extra £15 or so and it would make my trip a lot easier not having to collect and recheck bags as well as clearing immigration and security. I could easily drink back the cost in the lounge as well

  • Nick says:

    Why are they doing this? Seems that they are taking on extra work to downgrade the service

  • philipb says:

    Raffles – do you know if this also applies to First/Business Class passengers flying longhaul via Middle East (Doha)?

    • Rob says:

      You would be one ticket on, say, Amsterdam-Doha-Bangkok so you’re fine.

  • CV3V says:

    Wonder how this affects Ryanairs ‘talks’ with IAG and Virgin over linking up to provide feeder traffic (news reports last year). Would be bizarre to see Ryanair doing a deal with Virgin when BA can’t even organise itself short haul flights connecting onto long haul.

    Every announcement from BA seems to result in another reduction in service.

    • Robman says:

      O/T, did anyone get status matches on Carlson yesterday. I got matched to Gold until Feb 2017. Just wondered if everyone got same expiry as Feb seemed pretty stingy.

    • flyforfun says:

      Yes, the feeder traffic from the no frills carriers could be part of the problem here. A race to the bottom as the legacy carriers emulate the point to point model.

  • Andrew says:

    For interest I have just managed to check a bag through two unique PNRs (IB to LHR then onwards with BA). I had all boarding passes available via apps. I strongly suspect the computer tried to prevent this as the gate agent couldn’t issue an electronic bag tag and had to handwrite one. Assuming my bag is not lost forever – it might just be worth a shot.

  • Zild says:

    Surely this will have severe implications for check-in queues at LHR T5, either delaying other passengers as well or requiring additional staffing at check-in?

  • Archie says:

    Just flown (11 June) from SGN (Ho Chi Minh City) to HKG on Cathay and then BA from HKG to LHR. Both tickets were separate PNR’s as the BA flight was part of an Amex 241 redemption. The Cathay staff at SGN were very helpful, checking my bags straight through to London and issuing my BA boarding cards. Really handy as allowed for to be free of the bags and go through to the lounge hours before the BA check in desks opened at HKG. No mention of policy change or any reluctance from the Cathay staff anyway.

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

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