Members of the Oneworld alliance, which includes American Airlines, British Airways, and Cathay Pacific, among others, recently announced a plan to start charging bag fees for separate legs of the same flight. In some cases. Not always. Okay, it’s actually somewhat confusing.
In many cases alliance airlines will through-book your bags when you’re traveling on a single PNR, or passenger name record (your reservation). This means your bags end up at your destination regardless of any connections or carrier changes you may have. This new policy doesn’t affect cases like this.
This policy used to apply regardless of your PNR, but no longer. Time magazine reports, “The story is different … should you split the trip into two tickets: Perhaps because, for your trip’s second leg, you found a better fare on another airline, or you use frequent flyer miles. Then get ready to lug your bags around the layover terminal and pay twice.”
Now, to be clear there are no new fees here. Airlines aren’t adding bag fees that weren’t previously charged. Also, the policy is discretionary: Airlines are simply no longer required to accept bags from another Oneworld partner if the passenger isn’t traveling on a single PNR.
Time reports that some carriers are approaching the policy more aggressively than others, which could lead to confusion for travelers trying to adapt to the change. “British Airways appears to be the most restrictive on through check-in. A passenger with BA, the second largest transatlantic carrier, is even out of luck when booking a seat on a second BA flight, or with fellow members of Oneworld. American Airlines … indicates in a memo on its website that it will keep on honoring the customer courtesy for other Oneworld airlines and affiliates, but not for anyone else.”
Star Alliance and SkyTeam implemented similar policies years ago.
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