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BA 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.

Luggage label

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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  1. Kiran says:

    Admittedly, not many of BA customers actually know about through baggage checkin. But I know about it and have made use of it in the past especially when combining an Avios ticket and a cash ticket. LHR-PNH for example. I had to do LHR-HKG on BA and HKG-PNH on KA. There is no way I could have done that on 1 booking. Anyway, time for me to choose other airlines especially since I will be moving from London to San Francisco. I like the fact that BA flies direct to most destinations from London. That won’t be the case from San Fran. So whoever is offering the best deal I guess. Also glad my employer has no special deal with BA or any other airline offering special fares.

    • Of course you can do LHR-PNH on one booking, it may just cost a lot more and perhaps not possible on BA’s website.

  2. Oyster says:

    Pure short termism.

    Willie and Cruz will get the company to £2bn of profit then walk away into the sunset with tens of millions of those whilst the customers come to their senses and the airline will shrink back again.


  3. vindaloo says:

    The obvious anti-BA bias in this article is shocking. How can you spin this as a downgrade when it is clearly an enhancement? Passengers who miss their connections will now get to explore a new city that they might not otherwise have visited, and those who make their connections will now be able to get some exercise by dragging their bags round the airport rather than having to sit around in the lounge drinking champagne.

  4. Simon says:

    This is shockingly bad. Are BA intentionally trying to lose all of their members to other airlines?

  5. In reality how many people will this affect? Not many!

    It will affect those people flying ex-eu – which is just the people BA will be more than happy to disrupt.

    I suspect therefore the new policy is there for that reason – to disrupt ex-eu passengers.

    I reckon that BA will continue to check bags through on BA connections , but will simply not announce the fact. Those it helps that way will think what a great service I have had and fly more with BA.

    • Gavin says:

      It will affect me. Using Lloyds voucher to Hong Kong and was then going to jump on a Cathay redemption to Seoul. I am now sweating how long I need to collect bags! Hand baggage only is not possible in this case

      Makes you wonder what the point of an alliance is.

  6. Fenny says:

    Doesn’t this just cause additional work for the baggage handlers and mean a need for more carousels?

    • No, probably the same amount of work or less, if fewer people check bags.

      More work for check-in agents.

  7. I actually want to thank BA for this. I’ve been dithering for too long on whether to continue to bother with all the faff of connecting from MAN to LHR and back when I fly internationally. This has now made that decision very simple.

    • Cheshire Pete says:

      Yeah they might as well start recycling those “LHR Short Transit” tags now……. I guess a BA penny pincher already realised they were costing 0.1p to make anyhow…..

  8. Yet another reason not to fly BA

  9. Chris jones says:

    OT sorry about posting here but curve thread is old.

    still considering returning my curve but did you know you can send paypal payments at no cost via curve. credit cards normally charge.

    I normally transfer money from my hsbc to my wife’s tsb via bank transfer each month. however I could use PayPal and curve to send it via my tesco. this would be lots of money each month.

    would this be classed a recycling?

    • harry says:

      Recycling isn’t illegal – but PayPal are said to jump on anything that looks like possible money-laundering & suspend a/cs with not much chance of appeal. If you are just sending money to bank a/cs, they will maybe get suspicious.

      • Chris jones says:

        they keep referring to paypal as new money. it’s what I currently do with old money. fingers crossed.

    • Sideysid says:

      I wouldn’t if I was you. Paypal are known to jump on any suspicious activity and lock accounts down and then its very hard if nigh on impossible to get them unlocked again.

  10. Ludicrous. It affects all regional LHR connections – you may have paid a long haul Avios 241 a year earlier, and added the regional connection closer to the time, often paying cash. They are seriously going to give themselves work by rechecking bags between two BA flights at T5? Really?
    No wonder MAN, GLA and EDI direct flights on other carriers are increasing…to hubs which actually act as seamless hubs. Seriously devalues the entire BA service…

    • The problem with doing this at T5 is that you potentially have a long wait at immigration before you can get to the luggage carousel, get your case, go back up the lifts and check back in.

      Imagine this scenario. Parents and 2 young kids, long queue at the desks. Kids cannot use the egates. However, because you MUST check in your baggage in person, enough people have to go landside to keep you inside your free luggage allowance. (If you have 4 cases, Dad cannot say ‘put two against me and 2 against Mum’). In order to get landside quickly, you need to abandon the kids and then use the e-gates. Alternatively, do the long wait in the queue which means you risk your connection.

      There is also the 35 minute security clearance at T5 to consider. Realistically you now need at least a 2 hour gap at Heathrow to ensure you can get landside, wait for your bags (can take a while), head back upstairs to check in and then clear security before the 35 minutes deadline.

      • Polly says:

        And no pesky families clogging up their prices lounges. It’s unreal That scenario, esp if that family has used 2 X 241 in J for a big trip somewhere… Think of all the extra security and baggage and check in staff they will now need. Surely their comps costs can’t have ben that huge, nowntheybhave to lay many more staff..

        • I can see the airport getting fed up with the extra work and charging for it. I know I would if I owned heathrow

    • RIccati says:

      Has anyone (who writes these rules) seen the queues to check in a bag at T5?

      They are astonishing.

      Plus, of course, on check in every customer with such issue will require a supervisor and resolution, holding up the check in staff even longer.

      • RIccati says:

        P.S. I also see that the policy is tilted towards the US procedure where you have to pick bag and re-check at the point of entry — but there are special facilities right after the customs in JFK, MIA, etc helping you to drop the bag for the next destination.

        Overall, this is an airline industry lashing out at changing consumer patterns who became smart en mass and mix and match, short-haul redemptions with long-haul cash etc.

  11. Are BA determined to make life as miserable as possible for us to tempt us to pay their extortionate fares?

    You raised the clear benefit of the interlining with Air Berlin. Fair enough – it is a cunning strategy.

    But surely there are plenty of other legitimate reasons for using separate PNR’s as highlighted with the Haneda point. And as a consumer surely we should be given a certain freedom to shop around for the best deal and if that means separate PNRs then we weigh up the disadvantages.

    What I don’t get is the OneWorld partnership is an alliance to do just that – assist travel between different OneWorld airlines?

    So is it a revenue, to put it in my old student parlance, c&@k block? I.e. BA hope to bring back some revenue from people choosing to favour convenience?

    Either way it just makes the BA booking experience more misserable.

    Extra fees to choose your seat in all classes
    All soughts of clauses for gaining mileage on flights
    Some terrible lounges away from Heathrow.
    What looks like a pitiful Club Europe experience.

    So this one feels like a kick in the teeth. Others make perfect sense to me more dodgy in flight meal for short haul.

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