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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.

  • Peter Taysum says:

    I spoke to BA today to see if they’d link PNRs for reward flights booked on separate tix, as I couldn’t get the website to route me NCL LHR MAD VLC and return. It wanted to route me NCL LHR/LGW VLC and I find the coach between LHR and LGW less attractive than the 1st class lounge… So opted for another flight – I quite like the lounge at MAD after I stopped off AMS GIG in November thanks Rob! 🙂

    No, was their answer but check in has discretion to check through luggage using manual baggage tag input… (As per Andrew above).

    Next time I’ll book via BA Gold for free using up their time… for as long as I keep it…

  • Tony says:

    As other have asked, why have BA/oneworld taking this decision, would be helpful if someone does get a response/explanation so that we can perhaps rationalise? Bill P refers to costs involved, these are incurred anyway as the bags are still processed? In a separate post he refers to United having no record of connecting flights, my understanding is that if you have ticket numbers then the flights can be found?

    We recently travelled to Lima via São Paulo (BA then LATAM), we only had a short connection and we were able to check our bags all the way through (flights booked separately). We would have likely had issues making the connection if we had to go through passport control, collect our bags, and check in again. I can not see what the issue is, at the BA desk in Manchester all the counter staff had to do is find the LATAM flight from the ticket number and print luggage labels and boarding passes for the connecting flight.

    All this seems to be doing is creating extra stress for passengers, passport control, security and check in desks!? It strikes me as insane/irrational or am I missing something?

    • harry says:

      The simple answer is cost savings (various) with the obvious downside of inconveniencing customers.

      There’s no issue that the systems can’t cope with multiple PNRs.

      The less obvious answer might include dissuading people from buying ex-EU fares.

  • Lady London says:

    Let’s be intelligent about this.

    If LAN had agreed to check my bags through AKL-SYD-DOH-MUC-LON, as they should have done in AKL under OneWorld rules three months ago, then if QR had lost my luggage on any of the later legs I believe LAN could have been the airline responsible for any costs even though they were only the first OneWorld flight and the rest were QR. So perhaps OneWorld is seeking a more fair allocation of costs in case of irrops.

    However 3 months ago when the baggage check-through was a OneWorld privilege, LAN contracted staff at AKL simply refused to check my luggage through and refused me access to the lounge even though the rest of my flights that day were on OneWorld in Business. The nastiness of the LAN contracted staff at AKL when I dared to politely challenge them after they refused to check my luggage through mentioning is this not a OneWorld rule, was beyond belief. It was sustained nastiness including making me repack all my bags to suit their lower baggage allowance, including my hand luggage, which took me over 1 hour. and cost me $150 for an extra bag that I then had to pay for as it was over their allowance which was lower than my OneWorld allowance on QR for flights I was taking the same day. Luckily I was checking in at 5am with 3 hours to spare before the flight. Then, as I had suspected from their campaign of nastiness because I had dared to politely question their refusal, they sat me in the back row of a huge airplane right next to the toilet. I knew they would do this from their behaviour, even before I looked at the ticket as I got on to the aircraft. It had me in tears as I had just had to leave my father whom I had not seen for three years who was not very well, and who died 4 days later. Cabin staff were great when they saw me in tears but my treatment by LAN’s contracted staff in AKL, who I think might be Air New Zealand staff contracted to check in for all alliances there, was vicious.

    I will do everything I can not to fly LAN or NZ out of AKL again. I’ve given up the idea of flying LAN to South America this year. The LAN contracted checkin staff in AKL, were disgusting.

    • harry says:

      Sorry to hear about the recent loss of your father. It does strike a slight chord as I remember when I said goodbye to my grandfather – who coincidentally was going to fly to spend his last days with my Aunt in Bay of Islands NZ – I knew I would never see him again but of course his death was not so likely, so soon.

      I am a bit surprised you feel the NZ people were not very pleasant, but I cannot question that. We found everybody pretty friendly when we lived out there. However, they can occasionally be a bit screwy & resentful of Europeans & our comparative wealth, maybe you caught somebody on a bad day.

  • Luke says:

    I’m off to BKK from CDG with QR. Flight from LHR to CDG with BA, then the reverse on the return. An 18 month old and a 3 year old in tow as well as probably 6 cases as its for the Christmas break. I’m BA Gold and therefore loyal so far to One World, but this will change things.
    Does anyone know what to say to get a refund from QR? It was a Promo fare that was running at the start of January.
    I will then look to go with QR from BHX the next time there is a sale on!

    • harry says:

      You mean connection in Paris is impossible given the time available & checking in luggage etc?

    • Majunga says:

      Hi Luke,
      I did a similar trip a month ago:
      LHR-CDG on BA
      CDG-DOH-JNB on QR
      a couple of things to keep in mind:
      – BA arrives at CDG 2 and QR departs from CDG 1: it is a pretty lengthy connection as you need to take a shuttle so I would allow at least 2 hours now that you will need to recheck your luggage in Paris.
      – On the way back, you should use the Cathay lounges at BKK and CDG. Rob wrote a very good review of the Paris one last month

  • Sagereid says:

    My Tweet “@British_Airways discriminating against customers flying from the regions on separate BA tickets by not checking through their bags.”

    @British_Airways Reply
    Jun 11
    …… If you’re connecting on to a BA flight on the same day this should be possible.

    • harry says:

      you think some dope on the tweeter @ BA is senior mgt?

    • Lady London says:

      ‘should be’. Well that’s very reassuring. Thanks BA.

      So it’s not guaranteed. And we are supposed to grovel to BA staff to get an exception, every time?
      Or does BA just wish to discriminate against anyone who is forced to use separate tickets, for whatever reason.

      When I put my previous comment I was not aware that BA is stopping all privileges arranged for passengers across the OneWorld Alliance. I presume the OneWorld allliance is breaking up then. After all, BA is kind of the lead airline in the OneWorld alliance, just as LH is for Star Alliance.

      No possible reason to ever choose a OneWorld flight anymore on a connection then. As I have done many many times consistently around the world. And paid considerably higher fares than I would on non-OneWorld alliance flights that were available. And sat on worse aircraft and taken worse flight timings than I could have, on better airlines. Bye bye OneWorld.

      It occurs to me that now they have secured the relevant governments’ agreement to their price-fixing cartel, sorry correction “route sharing” agreements across the Atlantic (like the BA/AA/IB/AY Transatlantic route-sharing) and they are also securing route sharing agreements from South America on key routes, it looks like the OneWorld alliancenow has permission to operate as a cartel and ***** the customers price-wise as soon as fares start to go up again. S, so they don’t need the OneWorld alliance anymore. Well **** you BA and OW.

      • harry says:

        [simpering honey sweet tone of voice from BA babe]
        I’d like to inform you that customers travelling on separate tickets do not enjoy the same benefits as a customer travelling on a through ticket.

        Benefits of purchasing a through ticket are:

        Single contract covering all the flights on the ticket.
        Through check-in.
        Most significant baggage allowance.
        Disruption handling.
        Customers choosing to travel on separate tickets.

        Separate contracts for each ticket.
        Cannot be accepted for through check-in.
        Different baggage allowance may apply to each ticket.
        Disruption guidelines only apply to the ticket with a disrupted flight.
        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
        I’d further like to take this opportunity to explain the oneworld guidelines for separate tickets are as follows:

        Only customers with separate tickets issued in the same PNR will be accepted for through check-in.
        Customers must be transferring to/from a oneworld partner.
        Separate tickets do not have to be issued on the same carriers tickets as long as the carriers are membrs of oneworld.
        Customers holding separate tickets are only eligible for disruption assistance after they have been accepted for through check-in.
        We want to make sure the service we offer our passengers is consistent and fair. Having policies in place, helps us do this so it’s clear for our customers what they should expect from us and in turn, what we expect from them.

        Thank you for choosing BA.

  • Xavier says:

    I can’t understand why *O carriers are doing that to themselves. While *A announces more integration, *O announces disintegration! What’s the point of an alliance?

  • Tony says:

    I also sent BA a message yesterday:
    @British_Airways Why have you stopped ‘two ticket’ bag transfers, going to upset many customers, myself included?

    @myresponse Not sure what you mean, Antony. If you have BA flights on different bookings, you can still check bags through. If you have 1/2

    @myresponse Not a flight with a different airline it would depend on an interline agreement. This has always been the case. What happened? ^Hel

    @British_Airways Not any longer, BA and oneworld have changed their policy, see this article and comments

    They obviously did not even bother to follow the link… So BA media/communications are not aware of policy change, maybe a few other people should send BA a tweet??

  • jhk says:

    what is going on with BA each time they change and we get less and less service, strange because when you see other airlines we get more and more like CX and KLM they give more service and get more. is it because the new COO our man from Vueling may be he needs to go back to a cheap airline and get the service back at BA.

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