IAPA, the International Airline Passengers Association, reports that some airlines are discontinuing interline baggage if the itinerary involves separate tickets as a result of new rules on disclosure of checked baggage fees.
In its latest bulletin, IAPA says: “Airlines often enter into agreements that allow them to check bags all the way to a destination, even if it involves another airline on a separate ticket. These accords are called interline baggage agreements, but with new US rules on baggage fee disclosures, some airlines are discontinuing the practice of tagging bags to a destination if it’s on a separate ticket.
“US Airways has announced that it will no longer check passenger luggage to a destination that is not part of a single ticketed itinerary. In other words, if a passenger splits his or her journey on the same day into separate tickets, the airline will only check the luggage to the destination shown on the single itinerary the airline is part of. The practice of checking bags through to another carrier is known as interlining and is very common.
“Passengers book their itineraries on separate tickets for various reasons, often to obtain the most advantageous fare. Since most major carriers in the USA have ticketing and baggage agreements with each other, they can accept each other’s tickets and bags without difficulty, subject to fare and other restrictions. However, the practice is being put to the test by a new rule that involves the collection of checked baggage fees, how they need to be disclosed, and which airline’s rules apply to a single itinerary.
“The US Department of Transportation (DOT) now mandates that applicable baggage policies and fees be the same for an entire itinerary. For travel on a single ticket, it isn’t too difficult for an airline to comply. The first airline on the ticketed itinerary typically dictates the baggage rules for that itinerary. However, if the journey continues on a separate ticket on another airline, US Airways states that: ‘You will need to pick up your bag and re-check it with the next airline.’
“Of course, checking a bag separately with another airline poses some challenges if the time between flights is uncomfortably short. In addition to the added stress about the connecting times, you are a brand new passenger to the next airline and may not be able to carry over any baggage fee exemptions, such as being an elite member or holding an airline’s brand of credit card. In other words, if the next airline charges a fee, you will have to pay again, even if you already paid for the first time your bag was checked. Of course if you also have elite privileges with the new carrier, all you’ve really lost is time, and perhaps a bit of patience.
“The bottom line is that the baggage rules and policies of the first carrier on a ticketed itinerary are the ones that prevail. If a journey continues on a separate ticket involving other carriers, you will likely need to consider it a separate contract with its own set of baggage rules.”