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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 (199)

  • Trent says:

    I choose oneworld for the convenience of things such as baggage interlining and the protection the alliance offers. I choose oneworld even when it’s more expensive because I know oneworld and I know oneworld takes care of me. This makes me feel like I’m not valued as a customer any longer. it’s really quite sad.

  • Pb says:

    Jun 7th we were through checked in, different tickets, different PNRs with Cathay, next PNR was from AA. Smooth and no hassle from the Cathay agent.

  • harry says:

    On my 5 mile walk, I got thinking: why didn’t BA just introduce a charge rather like insurance? Ie you pay £20-30 for luggage to get checked through in the scenario above.

    You’re covered (flight/ food/ hotel) for missing the connection & the bags go all the way to destination.

    • zsalya says:

      Yes, that seems fair to both provider and customer.
      MCTs will need to be more obviously displayed.
      BA even have most of the system requirements there – all they need to do is allow one to move a ticket to an existing PNR.

  • Nic says:

    Not being able to do BA to BA is disgraceful. Two weeks ago, I just flew JFK – LHR, LHR – DXB in F. Separate tickets, as booked at different times, and one leg I had my daughter with me.

    I speak as a BA Gold Guest List member – if I couldn’t check through luggage in that context, I would fly another airline.

  • Great! I have a flight coming up in July to KL. I was going to use Avios from Leeds and avoid the hassle of train travel and checking bags and make it smooth. Now that is out of the window! Ridiculous to say the least and I can’t see the point of it either. I guess it will be driving down for us.

    • Radiata says:

      Worthy of ridicule indeed.

      On track thus far for BA Gold this year but this sorely tempts to consider Star Alliance thereafter as oft have multiple sectors across two PNRs.

      I wonder if some OW carriers will continue to interline even if not mandated.. Looking at you, QR..

  • Alan says:

    This happened to me last week in San Diego. AA refused to check through my luggage on the return of an ex-OSL. What is the point of them doing this? Initially I thought they started making changes to save money. Now, I just think they’re trying to upset all their frequent flyers.

  • JamesWag says:

    With every press release from BA I dislike them more and more.
    I often end up with seperate tickets. This is going to be a genuine ballache for me and will see me looking at different options in the future. If I have to collect my bags , go out and check back in I will have less time to relax in the lounge or shop in the airport AND have to leave myself more transfer time in case there are long security queus etc….
    That is all stressful for the first flight but to have to do it over and over again after each flight is incredibly disruptive to the quality of my journey & experience as a customer.

    If I have to collect my bags, go to a check in area, queue to check in then I might as well do it with a cheaper non-oneworld partner.

    BA you are continuing your determined race to the bottom of the list of desirable carriers.

    In November I and my two elderly parents fly Qatar to Thailand from Oslo. We have been keeping an eye on prices to&from Oslo from the UK and with 99% certainty were going to use BA for convenience and a seamless transition through flights. Now we can simply look at all of the potential airlines given we’ll be treated the same.
    Unlucky BA, that’s already three Club Europe (happy in economy though for 2hrs) return tickets you’ve lost with the introduction of this policy. Tiny number but multiply it out and it gets pretty huge. My elderly parents don’t want to be traipsing around an unfamiliar airport after a 10hr journey collecting bags, finding their way to check in, queing up again, checking in again and going through security again when tired from a flight.

    Same with my upcoming flight to South Africa. There is absolutely no benefit to me of ensuring the positioning flights at start & end are with BA or a one world member. BA will have missed out on two more purchases there.

    I really hope they end up losing far more than whatever it is the can gain from this.
    Really crappy way to make customers lives more stressful & unpleasant.

    Making things more expensive or devaluing Avios is one thing but making customer experience so much worse is just stupid and hateful.

    Truly f**k you BA.
    Not at all happy for my poor elderly parents who will now have added stress and discomfort in their journeys.

    • JamesWag says:

      Which other alliances still offer ‘two ticket’ bag transfers ?
      All the other ones I presume as its one of the main benefits.

      Time for me to pick another alliance to switch all my business to for the next thirty-to-fifty years of air travel; which is a substantial amount of money BA & one world won’t be seeing.

  • Matthew says:

    Any thoughts on gate checking as an alternative, assuming you can carry your case through (I generally only bag check on long haul for convenience).