In a move some are seeing as customer unfriendly, airlines belonging to the Oneworld alliance will no longer required to through-check passengers and their baggage through to their final destinations when they have made separate bookings. Separate bookings are sometimes required when micing and matching fares and airlines into a travel plan.
The first sign of a change came, as posts on Flyertalk reporting issues with through-check of luggage on separate bookings involving oneWorld carriers. One of the UK bloggers posted that they understood the policy had changed on 1 June, 2016. This was subsequently confirmed by other reports, with various airlines publishing updated notes to their agents.
While there has been a focus on the luggage aspect, there is also possible a more significant change. Where the airlines had been willing to through-check passengers and luggage, you were afforded a degree of protection should their be a delay with the first carrier. If you missed a connection, the oneWorld airlines would work together to get you to your destination, even if you had booked separate tickets. One of the effects of the change is to remove this protection – if you book separate tickets, you could find yourself on your own.
Note that the changes do not apply to situations where a single booking has been made. So, if the two carriers are on the one ticket, or as separate tickets but on the same booking record (PNR), the through check will still occur.
While we may never know what drove the change, the change itself just sets a minimum service standard. So, while oneWorld airlines are no longer compelled to through check onto other carriers, where there are separate bookings, they may choose to.
The question the becomes, which carriers will and which will not perform a through-check onto other oneWorld carriers. In the following table, I will try to capture the information that is available regarding which carriers have changed their policies, and which have chosen to continue with the policy of through check onto other oneWorld carriers.
|Carrier||Through check policy|
(as at 19 August 2016)
|While American Airlines had originally said that there was no policy change, it seems they have changed their mind. View From The Wing is reporting that American will have a policy of not checking through when on separate bookings. This policy is said to be coming into effect on 1 September.|
|British Airways|| Some of the earliest concerns on the matter were raised by people trying to check in on British Airways, and it seems they have indeed changed policy.
Summary of Changes
How to handle customers with separate tickets in different PNRs
|Cathay Pacific||Starting from 1 January 2017, Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon as a courtesy will once again through-check you and your baggage to your final destination if you are travelling on separate tickets. This means you no longer have to collect at arrival and check in your baggage again with your connecting carrier, thus allowing you to enjoy a smoother travel connection with our airline partners. You will still be subject to local passenger security or customs policies.
[Source: Marco Polo Newsletter, December 2016)
With effect from 01 Jun 2016, all oneworld carriers have agreed that through* check-in will apply ONLY to passengers travelling on an oneworld itinerary ticketed on a single ticket or where segments are ticketed separately but in the same PNR record.
Cathay Pacific will still through check separate tickets where they are to other Cathay Pacific group airlines. This includes flights on Cathay Pacific and Drogonair.
*=Through services are defined as the customer and their baggage being through checked to their final destinations.To align with the change, disruption policy will also be revised to exclude protection for passengers holding separate tickets that is not booked under the same PNR.
(As at 15 June 2016)
|Qantas has confirmed that it will be implementing the new policy as from 1 September, 2016. In a post on Australian Frequent Flyer, a company representative wrote:
(As at 3 October 2016)
|Japan Airlines will continue to honor all tickets, including those with different PNR/booking codes, and make best efforts to provide through check-in service in compliance with the industry rules/procedures to the final destination.
However, if your first flight is not a Japan Airlines flight (including codeshare flights operated by other airlines) in a connecting itinerary, and you are holding separate tickets with different PNR/booking codes, you may encounter situations in which through check-in service may not be offered for your seat assignment and baggage to the final destination.
|Qatar||From Macrh 1, 2017 Qatar revised its policy to allow through check on separate tickets, when the services were on oneWorld arilines
It appears that Cathay Pacific has come under a bit of pressure from its customers over the issue of baggage through check. From the December Marco Polo newsletter, they write:
We listened to your feedback and we are pleased that we are revising our previous through-check policy.
Starting from 1 January 2017, Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon as a courtesy will once again through-check you and your baggage to your final destination if you are travelling on separate tickets. This means you no longer have to collect at arrival and check in your baggage again with your connecting carrier, thus allowing you to enjoy a smoother travel connection with our airline partners. You will still be subject to local passenger security or customs policies.
However, through-check may not be possible if your travel begins with an airline that does not provide a separate ticket through-check service. Please contact your originating airline directly for more details.
Passengers with connecting itineraries booked on a single ticket or connecting between Cathay Pacific Group-operated flights will be through-checked to their final destination.
With this backdown by Cathay Pacific, they join a small number of oneWorld airlines that continue to through check on separate tickets. Notably, the other oneWorld airlines that offer the service include Malaysia Airlines and Japan Airlines, both of which offer within the same region as Cathay Pacific.