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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)

  • JamesWag says:

    What’s the postal address I should write my complaint to about this policy change ?
    I’m a customer and a shareholder.

  • harry says:

    Maybe this will make security better. In which case I approve.

    • JamesWag says:

      In what way could this make security better ? If they screened bags again between flights that’d do the same thing and can be completed behind the scenes, although this probably happens anyway.
      It would be easy (as plenty of airports already do) to have transit passengers pass through security with their carry on luggage prior to boarding any subsequent flight.
      This doesn’t and can’t increase security as I see it.
      It just deteriorates the customer experience.

      • harry says:

        Bags must be re-checked, perhaps at an airport where security is taken more seriously than at your first airport.

  • Sussex Bantam says:

    I wonder what happens if they lose my bags on the initial flight ? Do I have to hang around in DUB waiting for them to turn up and hence miss my connecting flight ??

  • Sagereid says:

    Utter madness, it’s discriminating against customers who live in the regions, no wonder BA is called London Airways. I very often have to pay cash for the shuttle, due to the lack of Avios availability, and then use my Avios for my onward flight.
    It’s a total degradation of customer service to force loyal customers (the ones who collect Avios) to collect bags and check them in again in London. I would be better off using Easyjet for the first leg now.
    I cannot see the reasoning behind this change, it will cause more bags to be sent to baggage reclaim and will create more work for check in staff in the Hub Airports.

  • Cheshire Pete says:

    Well I’ve started a Tweet with them on this. So far I have:

    ME: “What is the official line on checked thru baggage from 1st June on separate PNRs MAN>LHR>??? = no longer even BA to BA?!?”

    THEM: “This would be at the discretion of the airport Pete. You would need to speak to the staff. ^Laura”

    ME: “But why do this and inconvenience your customers? Give me 1 good reason why I would want to collect and recheck at LHR?”

    • Cheshire Pete says:

      Update! I sense that this is going the same way as many of my open cases with BA customer services. When does Watchdog return to BBC1!?

      THEM: We apologise for any inconvenience Pete. ^Laura

      ME: Instead of an apology why not pass this back up the chain of command and offer me a proper answer as to BAs logic here. Tnx

    • Pjh981 says:

      How can any traveller plan an itinerary on the basis of the airlines stated position being that checking in your luggage is at the “discretion of the staff”. Absolutely rediculous line to come from BA Customer Services

  • Brian says:

    Star Alliance still offers interlining on separate tickets. I for one, will be sticking to that alliance now. OW is the smallest of the alliances anyway, so you would think they would try to compensate for that by offering superior service to attract customers, but the opposite is true. They are the smallest and least relevant alliance in many parts of the world, and now also the alliance with the worst service level, so why use it if there is a choice?

  • David says:

    I had separate tickets booked with BA (LHR-MAD) and IB (MAD-EZE). With through checked baggage, that’d be a very easy transfer in MAD T4S. Without, it’d be a nightmare – MAD is among the slowest airports for bags to arrive. Seriously considering canceling my trip to Argentina as a result.

    This is all completely unnecessary too – it doesn’t cost BA/IB anything whatsoever to transfer the bags.

    I suggest everyone voice feedback through

    • Bill P says:

      Actually it DOES cost BA/IB – and all airlines – to transfer bags:
      1. labor expense of the people who unload and sort bags
      2. labor to have the bags driven to the connecting flight
      3. fuel cost for the vehicle (“tug”)
      4. labor to load the bags

      • flyforfun says:

        The only extra cost to this is sorting the bags, but this is negated by the fact that you now have to check in again and more than likely interact with someone or at least a machine to get your bags loaded – so still a cost to the airline.

      • Mike says:

        Only cost 1.b (sorting) is really extra – all the rest would still apply, since re-checking still needs bags being unloaded from the previous flight, tugging to the terminal and back onto the connecting flight, and loading onto the connecting flight. Is “sorting” really that big of an expense anyway, when most hubs have automated systems that take care of that? (Yes, that’s why luggage tags have so many large barcodes on them.). Plus, re-checking incurs the additional cost of having to check in at the connecting airport – sounds obvious, but that means more people at the counters and, presumably, a need for more staff.

  • British Airways, Cathay Pacific and oneworld Have Found a New Way to Screw Customers - View from the Wing says:

    […] British Airways won’t even through-check bags when flying on two separate British Airways reservations. […]

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