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Bits: new BA strike dates, Qatar Airways relaxes baggage rules – will BA follow?

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News in brief:

New British Airways strike announced

Another wave of mixed fleet cabin crew strikes have been announced for next week.

Certain cabin crew will walk out from Friday 3rd March to Thursday 9th March.

Disruption will be minimised by merging certain flights and using charter aircraft for others.  BA is promising that everyone will be able to fly on the day they are booked if not on the exact flight.

Services from Gatwick and London City are not affected.

Updates will be announced on this page of ba.com.

British Airways 350 2

Qatar Airways relaxes baggage rules …. will BA follow?

Last year, the oneworld airline alliance – of which British Airways is a core member – relaxed a rule which obliged members to check through baggage when flights were booked on separate tickets but both airlines were oneworld members.

British Airways went a step further.  It now refuses to check through luggage between its own flights when they are on separate tickets.

Let’s assume you book an Avios flight from London to Bangkok but pay cash for a connecting BA flight from Manchester to London.  As these will be on separate tickets, you will need to reclaim your baggage in Heathrow and check it in again.  This creates pointless additional stress for the passenger.

Cathay Pacific recently gave in to passenger pressure and decided that it would check through bags when both flights were operated by Cathay.  Qatar Airways has now gone a step further.  From 1st March, it will reportedly return to checking through bags between itself and other oneworld airlines.

It won’t work in the other direction though.  If you are flying Bangkok to Doha on Qatar and Qatar to London on BA, on separate tickets, Qatar will ensure your bags travel with you on the outbound.  On your return, BA will not do so, forcing you to collect your bags in Doha, clear customs, pay for a Qatari visa (if you did not arrange a free one in advance), head up to departures and check in again.

How long can BA hold out with its ‘customer unfriendly’ policy?


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Comments (83)

  • Alex says:

    Hi Rob – not quite right on the oneworld baggage changes. After the new rule came in Cathay stopped through-checking on separate tickets to alliance flights, but continued to allow through-checking on CX/CX or CX/KA flights. Its recent rule change has been to return to the policy of allowing through-check to all other oneworld alliance flights, i.e. the same policy that QR has now re-adopted. There is zero chance of BA following suit seeing as they were the airline that lobbied Oneworld to scotch the rule in the first place!

    • Anthony Dunn says:

      I have now spent 20 minutes on the BAEC Gold line explaining just how irritated I am at BA’s utterly dogmatic stance over interlining between OW carriers on separate PNRs. As a user of BA’s Amex Platinum card, this is sold on the basis of the 241 vouchers. There is now a question mark over my being potentially being downgraded in favour of a full revenue passenger – at BA’s discretion. Then there is the issue that, when using such redemptions, having to buy another ticket (on a separate PNR) when connecting onto another destination. In my case, this is onto Sri Lanka through India. Owing to the separate issue of the ongoing tit-for-tat approach taken by the Indians towards the UK over visa regimes and costs, I am faced with having to go through the rigmarole of obtaining 2x £60 visas (my wife and me) simply to collect bags, take them through Indian customs and then check them back in again. Probably a “stay” on Indian territory of some 30-45 minutes.

      BAEC Gold line were clearly unaware that QR – one of IAG/BA’s biggest single investors – has resiled from the OW interlining policy, as has, in certain respects, Cathay Pacific.

      I would strongly advise people to ring BAEC to make clear their considerable irritation and annoyance at BA’s hardline over this as part of BA’s perpetual focus on cost reduction first and last.

      • Genghis says:

        Any possibility to save yourself £60 by just getting one visa and you do the heavy lifting while your wife relaxes airside?

        • Anna says:

          That’s a brilliant idea in case my plan re GCM doesn’t work!.

        • AndyR says:

          Can you check in other people’s luggage? I always thought they had to be present?

          • Rob says:

            As long as your own ticket has a big enough allowance, which is likely on a business ticket, it wouldn’t be an issue.

        • Catman says:

          This is 2017….get the wife to do it!!!

          • Genghis says:

            🙂 I refuse to carry my wife’s suitcase when on holiday as it provides her with an incentive to pack less.

      • Anna says:

        I will be in a similar position in August with a 2 hour connection at Heathrow. I rang BA a few weeks ago and they said to ask the ground staff at GCM to check the bags all the way through. It’s a very small, friendly airport (they say “Welcome Home” when you go through passport control because it’s a BOT), so I can imagine them agreeing in principle, but will their computers and whatnot actually allow it?

        • Genghis says:

          Is Cayman Islands any good as a holiday resort? I looked into moving there to work a few years ago (but never did) and IIRC food and drink etc are v expensive.

          Where will you stay? The Ritz Carlton looks like a good aspirational redemption.

  • Pawel says:

    I flew 2 weekend ago to MLE on 2separate tickets
    STN-SAW-DOH on Pegasus (CheapOair ticket 120GBP per PAX)
    At DOHa I went to transfer desk and I Could redirect Bags to MLE (redemtion Flight with Qatar) it took me just 5minutes (I jad 4hours connection) – one bag was late 1day another 3days I and Qatar pay me cash 50+100 dollars on Way back at checkin desk

    Retuurn was little more time consume to redirect bags at Doha You have one line on transfers for another Airlines (BA cathey Pegasus) and I transfer bags from Qatar Airways to Pegasus without clear security visa etc…It took me 1,5h becouse lady at transfer saud that they must be sure first to Find my bags , before give me tickets to SAW-STN

    So at Doha You can transfer bags without pick them and clear security and pay for visa

  • Luke says:

    The baggage rules frustrate me. Before Christmas I flew Phuket-Bangkok with Thai (Star Alliance) and then Bangkok-Doha-Paris on Qatar. Thai checked my bags in all the way to Paris. Makes a mockery of the One World rules in my opinion. I wander if all Star Alliance members can do that?

    • Lady London says:

      Even Qantas was trying not to through check luggage in Sydney last March. The Oneworld rule about they should through check luggage to final destination if all Oneworld tickets held by passenger on route, was still in force. When I politely asked, the Qantas staff checked with supervisor and got an OK. Made it sound like a favour though ‘on this occasion…’

      This was Qantas own staff not subcontracted staff who sometimes would not know all the rules (a risk at outstations and non-hubs these days).

      I’m doing well upwards of 100 flights this year. BA could have had a big chunk of them. But the purpose I interpret behind BA’s various withdrawals of privileges that made them easier to use has meant sadly Easyjet and even the dreaded Ryanair are currently back in my flight plans for short haul. For longhaul BA still gets about 25%. There just wasn’t any reason to focus on booking BA first.

  • Canny Kenny says:

    Going slightly off topic here. As great as QR as, it has a unique & very annoying baggage transfer policy. If connecting at DOH (all QR flights on 1 ticket), QR will NOT allow you to reclaim your baggage and re-check in at DOH irrespective of the transfer time involved – eg if you have an overnight transit stay at Doha city and require your toiletries (>100ml) or wish to cram your luggage with new shopping. When i enquired with QR ground staff the logic behind this policy, they said its to stop their Qatar based passengers buying significantly cheaper ex-DOH tickets eg DXB-DOH-LHR-DOH-DXB and not flying the last leg DOH-DXB (assuming their pax have checked-in luggage). Yet the likes of EK and EY don’t impose this policy.

    • mike says:

      Just like BA with ex-EU tickets then…

      What Doha needs is a second airport so you can do the LHR-LGW transfer trick and pick up your bags…

      Oh I forgot, Qatar has a forward thinking government who build one airport big enough and scalable enough to rule them all – no arguing for 20 years on where to build a new runway there…

      • John says:

        Well it certainly helps when 90% of your population aren’t citizens and don’t have any rights.

      • Eli Gold says:

        what’s the trick you refer to please?

        • Alan says:

          If you change airport they can’t through-check your bags. Personally I prefer to fly the entire ticket but flying from outside London means its only one extra flight anyway.

        • the real harry1 says:

          dropping the last leg of your return flight, ie no need to fly out to the middle of nowhere to collect your bag

    • Tina says:

      I experienced this over the Xmas period with a 23.5 hour layover on a flight to AUH.

      When told this at check-in at HEL i fully intended challenging the rules upon arrival at DOH.

      In the end though I decided to let it go and walked out of the yermi6nal with my hand luggage. It felt very cathartic!

      Toiletries were not a problem as I purloined a toothbrush from the plane and also retained my amenity kit. I did buy a t-shirt and a pair of cheap summer shoes and was set for sightseeing the following day!

      As long as you are aware of this it is not a problem. Certainly less of an inconvenience than BAs refusal to interline bags

      • John says:

        Did you have a Doha transit visa? The fare rules for QR connecting flights, which formed part of the contract between you and Qatar Airways when you purchased your tickets, clearly state:

        IF PASSENGER DOES NOT HOLD TRANSIT VISA
        THEN BAGS WILL ALWAYS BE CHECKED-IN THROUGH TO THE
        FINAL DESTINATION. THE PASSENGERS
        SHOULD CARRY EVERYTHING THEY NEED IN DOHA IN A
        HAND BAG

        IN CASE THE PASSENGER NEEDS THE BAGS IN DOHA
        TWO SEPARATE TICKETS NEED TO BE BOUGHT.

        So if you didn’t have a transit visa printout to show in HEL, thank goodness you didn’t argue against something you already agreed to….

    • John says:

      This is slightly incorrect.

      Qatar now has free-of-charge transit visa as of December 2016, for DOH stopovers lasting 5-96 hours. You can get this only if your tickets are issued by QR, and do not originate from a Middle Eastern airport, and you apply 7 days in advance by scanning your passport on QR’s website.

      You get something to print out (which is not needed in Qatar itself) but if you show this printout at your origin, they are able to check your bags only to DOH. However, this transit visa is only available once per roundtrip. If you want to visit DOH twice, then you have to use this on the outbound (provided you qualify) or buy a visit visa on arrival the first time, then apply for the transit visa later (provided you have at least 7 days to do it). But the visit visa on arrival will not let you short check your bags since there is nothing to show at your origin.

      BUT check the fare rules of your ticket, as short-checking was completely prohibited in the past.

  • Nick says:

    Rob – my recent experiences with the Oneworld baggage fiasco have been different to what you suggest in your penultimate paragraph. In November I flew London to Amsterdam (BA) and Amsterdam to Bangkok with Qatar. On the outbound, BA refused to check bags through to BKK and I had to collect and recheck in at AMS with huge queues at Immigration. On the return Qatar check the bags through to LHR with no problem. In December I flew to Colombo with BA from LHR to Chennai and then connecting flight on separate ticket from Chennai to London on Sri Lankan (also Oneworld). On the outbound BA refused to check bags further than Chennai (fortunately I had Indian transit visa to deal with this eventuality). On the return Sri Lanka checked the bags straight through to London although we had to reidentify bags in Chenna for security reasons as we had left the airport to tho to nearby Hilton as long overnight transit time.

    • Jonathan Hannah says:

      Was this one of the original reasons for the (punitive) change? Perhaps BA are growing tired of shuttling RFS passengers to European Qatar pick-up points. That wouldn’t explain the insistence on not interlining between their own flights though.

    • laineyling says:

      Hi Nick

      My husband and I are planning to do the same trip (lhr to chennai with BA, separate ticket with Sri Lanka airways to Colombo). Is there any way to avoid getting a visa? Eg Is there a service for transferring luggage as described in Doha? If not is there the possibility to check in airside to the SL flight? My husband is German so it’s significantly cheaper for him to get an Indian transit and thought he could exit and recheck bags and I will stay airside.

      How was chennai airport? Did any of the one world business class lounges have showers?

      Thanks!

      • Anthony Dunn says:

        Same here: BA 241 LHR-MAA and then onto UL MAA-CMB in June. As things stand, I now need to obtain two (very expensive) Indian visas simply so that I can collect our ex-BA bags and then check them in for our UL flight. Or could I get away with just obtaining one visa and leaving the missus in the OW/UL airside lounge whilst I do the bags?

        Whatever, this is a serious inconvenience and a considerable necessary annoyance courtesy of BA’s hardline stance over interlining baggage.

  • Gareth Jones says:

    Having just flown with Cathay, and found out that they have started to check through baggage was a relief, as I once almost miss my flight via BKK. That gave me an extra 1 hour to relax in the Peir First Class Lounge in HK, so much nicer than the BA/Qantas lounge before I boarded my flight back to London with BA. So I had no problem with BA excepting my bags as they arrived slowly in LHR.
    I do have to say that service is going down hill fast at BA, as a BA gold member I seem to get better treated on other airlines.

    • Canny Kenny says:

      Indeed, until end of 2016 I was a BA Gold member and once when travelling from DOH to LHR on QR cattle class, i was personally greeted by the flight purser shortly after take off with the customary “we”ll treat you a like a king” chit chat. Had great service in-flight service until 7 hrs later at LHR when Special Branch officers boarded the plane and took me in for questioning….LOL. [I was coming back from Basra (Iraq) on a Shell business trip]

      • Ro says:

        The flight purser on qatar does that introduction chit chat to me whenever i fly QR economy and i’m only QR silver (OW ruby). Even takes my meal order.

        It’s only a small thing but it’s a nice personal touch that I appreciate!

    • John says:

      Well in HKG you can just ask the transit desks to retrieve your bags for you, even if they weren’t checked through. You may have to wait a while but at least you don’t have to do it yourself.

  • Alan says:

    BA going even more LCC at EDI this AM – no jetbridge and long queue on the stairs! Lots of passengers grumbling they should have gone easyJet!

  • Andrew C says:

    MH also allow through checked baggage on multiple OW airlines:
    https://www.malaysiaairlines.com/my/en/plan/check-in/counter.html

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