On June 1 the oneworld alliance (which includes airlines like American, British Airways, Iberia, Cathay Pacific, Qantas, and more) changed its policies so that member airlines no longer had to check bags to their final destination for passengers traveling on more than one reservation on a oneworld airline.
Member airlines also wouldn’t be required to check customers in to their final destination on the second reservation, either.
Airlines still can do this and I asked American Airlines about any changes to their policy.
On June 10, an American Airlines spokesperson told me (and several other outlets),
oneworld still requires all members to thru-check when all tickets are in the same PNR, but does not require it when they are in separate PNRs. Each carrier can unilaterally decide what they will do. American is not changing anything at this time, and we will continue to thru-check bags on multiple PNRs with oneworld carriers.
A mere one month later, on July 19, they notified travel agents they were doing the exact opposite. (HT: David F.)
This is a policy which in many cases is purely punitive and doesn’t even really help the airline.
I reached out to American and learned this new policy goes into effect September 1 although I’m not sure how they can retroactively apply it to tickets purchased before the new policy was implemented.
There’s one small saving grace. Customers traveling on separate tickets where one segment is an award ticket and another has been purchased can through-check bags. Travel must be on American or oneworld partners, and not on partners outside the oneworld alliance (like Etihad or Air Tahiti Nui). Tickets much be in the same reservation.
In the past I’ve been unable to get American to book paid and award travel in a single reservation. That has usually involved setting up an award ticket and the agent trying to sell a revenue ticket inside that PNR.
However American tells me that:
- Agents can create new records including both award and paid travel by phone.
- Existing award travel can be combined into a booking with paid travel I think the problem I’ve experienced arises when trying to create paid travel inside an award booking.
It’s something, at least even if it’s a pain and of benefit only in limited circumstances.
And in contrast, both Delta and United will through-check bags on separate tickets as long as both tickets are for travel within their respective alliances. There’s no need to try to create a single reservation booking to do it, and it isn’t limited to award travel. American’s policy is thus more restrictive than either of their major competitors.
Waiting at baggage claim, then re-checking luggage, is a pure waste of customer time. I don’t blame this man sleeping on a baggage carousel.