Purportedly citing a new mandate by the United States Department of Transportation requiring that airline passengers must pay the same published baggage fees and have the same allowances for the entire itinerary, US Airways has announced a policy change to the interline baggage check procedures as of August 1, 2012 that “US Airways will no longer be through checking passengers’ bags when they have been ticketed on separate tickets.”
For interline itineraries where the entire journey of the passenger is on one ticket, US Airways will continue the practice as it is done today. However, when the itinerary is split into two or more tickets on two or more airlines, US Airways will only check the bag to the destination on the US Airways portion of the ticket.
For example, if you have an itinerary from Phoenix to Lihue on the Kauai island of Hawaii, where the first portion of the ticket is on a flight operated by US Airways from Phoenix to Honolulu, but the second portion of the ticket is on Hawaiian Airlines from Honolulu to Lihue, you must have your baggage re-checked on Hawaiian Airlines once you arrive in Honolulu.
Also, carriers are not required to recognize exemptions to the baggage policies of other carriers, such as free first or second bags due to frequent flier loyalty program elite status or credit card membership loyalty. The baggage fees of US Airways or of the other carrier must be charged, whichever is less.
So what does all of this mean if you find yourself in the somewhat rare occasion where you have a split itinerary? Will this new policy by US Airways cause more inconvenience for you? Will you be required to ultimately pay more in baggage fees, or will you actually save on baggage fees with itineraries consisting of two or more carriers, one of which is US Airways? Is this new policy announced by US Airways a result of what the Department of Transportation intended with its mandate, or is this a clever workaround for US Airways to increase revenue? Will other airlines follow suit?