Delta Will No Longer Transfer Your Bags to Other Airlines When You’re Traveling on Separate Tickets

Effective January 15, Delta will no longer interline baggage when traveling on separate tickets.

Effective for travel on or after January 15, 2013, Delta Air Lines policy will be to check a passenger’s baggage between the origin and destination points that are indicated on a single or conjuncted ticket exclusively. If a second ticket is presented for travel on another airline beyond the destination of the first ticket, the passenger will be advised that Delta will only check the bag to the destination on the first ticket(s). The passenger must collect the baggage at baggage claim for their first ticketed destination, and then re-check their baggage with the down-line carrier for the next flight.

Rather surreal is the claim,

This clarification of policy helps Delta ensure that checked baggage service is consistent for all customers.

US Airways adopted a similar policy a few months ago although they didn’t claim it was to ensure ‘consistency’. They simply attributed it to new Department of Transportation rules that restrict baggage fees in these circumstances.

For customers, this is a huge inconvenience.

Say you use Delta miles to fly Korean Air to Seoul and then on to Sydney. But you can’t get award space on the Delta flight to connect to your international itinerary. Delta will no longer through-check your bags onto Korean. They will check them only to your Delta destination, you have to go to baggage claim, pick them up, and check them back in with Korean.

And it’s hardly your fault you’re on separate tickets, it’s just because Delta wasn’t offering any award inventory.

In fact, say you were flying out of Atlanta and connecting to Korean from Chicago. Delta won’t through-check your bags if you decide to buy the domestic segment from them. Buy the domestic fight on United, and you’ll be able to interline your bag — even though Korean is a Skyteam partner of Delta’s, and not of United’s.

It’s increasingly the case, as flights are full, that you need to buy a short domestic segment when booking an award ticket rather than finding every segment you want available. It’s usually worth doing so — you get business class long-haul for your miles and may have to come out of pocket a couple hundred bucks, but far less than the cost of a paid coach ticket, while flying in a forward cabin.

Truly obnoxious, Delta.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. PITA is right. I live in a location that does not have service from Delta or US Air. My daughter and family live in a location that only has service from Delta and US Air. I am constantly piecing together itineraries that price out separately much cheaper than one ticket. What an inconvenience this baggage rule will be. It is already a gamble to fly on separate tickets and I have been burned a few times.

    Fortunately, I can usually get by with a carry-on. Better yet, my daughter is moving in a few months.

    I feel for people who will not know about this change until they arrive at the airport, and will not have allowed enough time to claim their bags, recheck them, and go through security again. And even if one allows enough time, their Delta flight might be delayed.

  2. Will Delta allow you to include paid AND award segments on the same ticket? American allows this. This would certainly help with the situation you describe.

  3. Not shocking from a company that hates customers and will do anything for self gain at everyone’s expense

  4. BAD BAD BAD – I need to burn my miles with them (just over 80,000) and stop flying them. I know there was a reason I didn’t renew both my personal and business Delta Amex. Plat. cards this year! Hope your listening Delta, this is BS! %$@!%$#!

  5. Is this change brought to us by American Airlines? DL pushes us a little at a time; when revenue-based comes I am jumping ship (airline).

  6. Thank u for this post. Now I must book the earlier flt to JFK from tpa on my onward flight on AF on a separate ticket. What a stupid rule. I’m PM on delta and its really irritating me.

  7. I am surprised that they will not offer this service for an additional fee. Is that likely to happen in the future?

  8. AA offers free interlining of checked bags on separate tickets when the other ticket and flights are Oneworld partners.

  9. I think Hawaiian pulled this mess awhile back as well.

    I think we know this is a shortsighted attempt at a cash grab (it will make them very little $). What I KNOW DL management doesn’t know is that we the people are pretty savvy to these shenanigans.

    It will also cause at least a chink in the “armour of goodwill” that we may have for DL, US, HA, etc.

    This WILL change my travel habits when I need to be on 2 tickets as my biggest issue is the going through security twice bit. Elite status eliminates the fees, but corporate stupidity makes our travel a larger pain in the a** than is already the case.

    Why should I fly DL instead of an admitted LCC? I surely won’t receive anything less.

  10. Hello,
    thats how i read this .
    for example Klm Award ticket with Delta Domestic like atl-sfo-AMS won’t work but i guess AMS-lax-atl should work (klm rules)….
    Jr

  11. We recently flew CX in C out of SFO though had a positioning flight on UA first. As we have no status I paid the bag fees and then claimed/checked in again with CX. On the return I checked only to SFO then checking in with UA agent she inquired why CX hadn’t checked all the way through. It was my assumption that as they were in differing alliances this was not possible except in the case of irrops. She didn’t charge the bag fees again as she had some ‘computer pricing error’ though may have notated our res of incoming flight on Cathay in First as the United Club agent made mention of this.

    So, should I have had United check bag through on CX (or could they) and should the fees have been waived? Same with checking in on Cathay should I have had them check bag all they way though to final including United segment? No harm no foul just curious if I should have done something different in this situation.

  12. We all know Delta are the developed world’s worst for customer service but the most ridiculous thing about this is how it spits on the Skyteam alliance partners. “As you make your way from country to country and city to city, our 18 member airlines are dedicated to help make your journey smoother and more simplified.” That’s what Skyteam advertises.

  13. It has to be said. This is an unintended consequence of the DOT regulations and should have been predictable. Should they have done it? Well, it’s obviously ticking off a lot of people, so we’ll see whether it works or backfires for them.

  14. Just another reason to complain about the FAA and Congress continuing to pass “customer-friendly” rules that have harmful unintended–but ridiculously predictable–side effects. I’m looking right at you too, Dodd-Frank!

  15. Simple routing like DTW-FLL-MHH will invoke this problem. DL doesn’t service Abaco, and you can’t ticket UA and DL from the DL website (or any other carrier for that matter).

    If you’re able to carry-on, its not an issue. But if not, what a nightmare. Worst of all, it makes reasonable connections times almost impossible. How much time do you need to add on to 1. deplane. 2. wait and claim your luggage 3. stand in line to re-check your luggage 4. get back thru security.

  16. Yes, the first PITA example that came to mind was SIN where I would often connect to another ticket. Now will have to go thru immigration and then exit the country.

  17. I had asked this question to delta’s twitter account and heres how it went:

    Delta: Okay. When you arrive to check your bags tell the agent and show them both tickets. Be sure to tell them your final destination is CUR. ^CB

    Me: Does your baggage agreement end Jan 15?

    Delta: Was that told by you? I don’t acknowledge that under the interline tktng agreement with America. Thank you.  ^EC

  18. Agree with DaveS. Gary is right when he says the cost of carrying the bags is close to zero once set up.

    The unfortunate truth is the cost of implementing the DOT regulations when checking the bags through is not even remotely close to zero.

    Should Delta pay for it anyway? Maybe. Should DOT be causing this problem in the first place? I say no.

  19. I arrived at Indianapolis airport with luggage and two tickets: DL for IND-BOM and Jet Airways (DL partner) for BOM-CMB, as DL website would not sell me a ticket to CMB. No one airline flies this route, anyway.

    DL agent said this rule already was in place, making it impossible for me to make the two-hr BOM connection. I argued, and she then learned that it was not yet implemented, so I got the luggage tagged to CMB. India required a visa for US citizens. So unless I had a visa, I would not be able to get thru immigration and pick up my luggage, even if I had time.

    Now I have to get a visa for some intermediate country just for this??? Or fly another airline, or pay more for a single ticket.

  20. The good news is that I can get to my destination with another airline and I will. Sorry Delta. We just moved to Minneapolis, a hub that is desperate to keep you and I was so looking forward to doing business with you. Ciao!

  21. ..see? …this is exactly why I drive for all trips 600 miles and under .. and on international travel, I would never consider a US carrier… TG, SQ, JL all the way

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