Interline Baggage Check to be Discontinued on Split Tickets by Alaska Airlines in January

Alaska Airlines is the latest airline to join the bandwagon of implementing a policy of no longer “through-checking” passengers’ baggage when they have been ticketed on separate tickets on separate airlines, effective as of January 15, 2013.

As reported here at The Gate, both US Airways and Delta Air Lines — as well as Hawaiian Airlines back in April — have either already implemented similar policies or have plans to do so.

As has been the case, some FlyerTalk members are disappointed, frustrated and upset about this policy — and it may be inevitable that other airlines will follow. In the meantime, some FlyerTalk members have resorted to writing to their elected representatives about the impact that the Enhanced Passenger Protection provisions by the United States Department of Transportation — which was adopted in August of 2011 and is the source of this issue to some FlyerTalk members — is having on airlines and its passengers. However, other FlyerTalk members believe that policies such as this one announced by Alaska Airlines is nothing more than a “cash grab” by the airlines.

At issue is the following provision — part of the enhanced protection for airline passengers by the United States Department of Transportation — which is reportedly prompting the interline baggage policy changes of airlines, one by one:

“If your bag is lost, you are entitled to a refund of any fee for carrying that bag. Airlines are already required to compensate passengers for reasonable expenses for loss, damage or delay in the carriage of passenger baggage.”

Airlines do not want to be responsible for compensating passengers for lost baggage — especially if they did not lose the baggage themselves.

At least in the case of airlines which are members of the same alliance, airlines which belong to any of the three major alliances boast about the travel experience becoming more seamless when you travel on airlines which all belong to the same alliance on your itinerary. Policies such as this one seem to indicate just the opposite effect, as it applies to airlines within the same alliance as those not part of the same alliance. Is it too much trouble for airlines which belong to the same alliance assist the affected passenger — and each other — if baggage is lost?

Although I do not defend the new policy in any way — as it will be an inconvenience to some passengers — I do not believe that a substantial number of FlyerTalk members will actually be affected by it. However — for those whom this policy does affect — it will matter in a significant way.

As documented many times here at The Gate, I reiterate that I do not check luggage, nor do I remember the last time I actually did check luggage. While I prefer to carry my bag aboard the aircraft and I rarely have more than one bag to carry with me — saving me both time and money where I do not have to wait for my luggage once I arrive at my final destination and do not have to pay baggage fees besides — there are some FlyerTalk members who cannot adapt a similar habit of carrying as little baggage as possible for various reasons and therefore cannot circumnavigate this policy, to their detriment.

Regardless, there are times where luggage does have to be checked, even if the weight and number of pieces of luggage do not exceed any limits — such as when carrying bottles of wine or other liquids exceeding the limits imposed by the policies of the Transportation Security Administration, for example. This new policy being implemented by Delta Air Lines still would not affect you if you have multiple tickets on the same itinerary, all on Delta Air Lines. The policy will affect you if you have multiple tickets on different airlines in order to arrive at your destination, but again — because I do not check luggage, this policy does not affect me.

This new policy could mean leaving the secure area of the airport to retrieve your baggage just to check them on the next flight on a different airline and then having to be screened through the airport security checkpoint on your stopover. As with the other airlines who adapted a similar baggage policy, could it mean additional costs with extra baggage fees — and would you be required to apply for a visa in certain countries?

Are you one of those FlyerTalk members who travel regularly on different airlines on separate tickets within the same itinerary? If so, how will you be inconvenienced by this policy, and how else will it affect you? Do you think the the growing number of airlines adopting this policy should re-think it — and, if so, how would you suggest would be the best way to do that?

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Comments (Showing 5 of 5)

  • bludevil at 11:54am December 05, 2012

    I’m a little confused. Say I’m flying from Tampa to Seoul via Atlanta. TPA to ATL is on Delta, ATL to ICN is on Korean Air. The there is one ticket and one itinerary since both are Sky Team airlines and they were ticketed and purchased at the same time as one itinerary. Does this mean I’d have to claim my bag in Atlanta and re-check it for the next leg?

  • Brian Cohen at 12:25pm December 05, 2012

    Unfortunately, that is my understanding of this new policy.

  • bludevil at 12:45pm December 05, 2012

    That basically means you need at least three hours between flights. YIKES!

  • valencia at 2:58pm December 05, 2012

    Is the previous example a “split ticket”? I must then misunderstand that term.

  • hindukid at 3:02pm December 05, 2012

    That’s not the way I would read this at all. Bluedevil’s example specifcally states one ticket. This polciy is referring to multiple tickets. If Bluedevil went to and purchased TPA-ATL and then went to Korean air’s site and purchased ATL-ICN, then he would have a problem. If bluedevil just buys a ticket from TPA-ICN connecting in ATL from Delta, Korean, Orbitz or anyone else he will not have a problem.

    The only times this will effect anybody are when the airfare is actually cheaper as two separate tickets and the traveler is savvy enough to find it. I find that two tickets is rarely cheaper and something you want to avoid in general because you risk forfeiting your second flight if the first flight is late.

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