Oneworld Connecting Bags Policy

Recently, there were a few articles commending Cathay Pacific’s decision to abandon the annoying oneworld connecting baggage rules come January 1, 2017. However, CX is not the first oneworld carrier to have decided to ditch the connecting baggage rules oneworld came up with in June this year. Malaysia airlines (and I am pretty sure some other airlines as well) are quietly leaving that rule behind.

Effective 1 June 2016, [other] Oneworld alliance members are not obligated to offer through check in services for passengers and their baggage to their final destination when they travel on separate tickets on separate bookings. This means that if you have chosen to purchase two or more separate tickets on separate bookings for travel with one or more oneworld carriers, you may have to check yourself and your baggage in again at the end of each sector.
 

Allow me to give you some background story…

The oneworld alliance used to be one of the best… I beg your pardon, was the best alliance among the three alliances (oneworld, Skyteam and StarAlliance) until June 2016 when they changed their connecting bags policy. Before the change in policy, passengers travelling on any of the oneworld carriers were offered a seamless travel experience when connecting between oneworld carriers even when travelling on two separate reservations/tickets/bookings.

For instance, if you were travelling from Melbourne to Singapore on Qantas, and then Singapore to Colombo on Sri Lankan, on two separate bookings, as a oneworld member, Qantas would be able to check your bags through to your final destination, in this case, Colombo. You would not be required to take your bags out, clear immigration and then check your bags in and go through immigration again. Also, if the Melbourne to Singapore sector were delayed or cancelled and you missed your ‘connecting’ flight to Colombo, oneworld guarantees that you will be put on the next available flight to Colombo.

So when the policy changed in June this year when oneworld announced that airlines are now NO LONGER, at their discretion, required to through-check bags for passengers going to the final destination if the entire journey was not booked under ONE reservation. There were a lot of confusion and resentment especially amongst the elite members. 

Star Alliance and Skyteam has had this policy for as long as I can remember. I cannot deny the fact that this benefit may have been the one big differentiating factor amongst the alliances. The airlines are now free to decide if they want to continue this policy, and many airlines have almost immediately issued statements saying they will stop doing it, for example Cathay, Qantas, Malaysia and American.

Yet, if my memory serves me right, Malaysia Airlines seems to desert the connecting bags policy as quickly as they announced it. Although many other carriers (read: other alliances) are still practicing the annoying interlining baggage policy. 

Kudos to MAS, check out Malaysia Airlines connecting baggage policy below.

Just two weeks ago, I flew Malaysia Airlines from Melbourne to Singapore via Kuala Lumpur. However, my Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur sector was an award ticket and the Kuala Lumpur to Singapore was purchased separately. Technically, because I was on two separate bookings and if MAS followed the oneworld June 2016 connecting bags policy, the ground staff can refuse to check my bags through to Singapore. Therefore, I would had to collect my bags, re-checkin and clear immigration at Kuala Lumpur. Yet, the ground staff at Melbourne airport were able to check-in my bags through to Singapore.

The reality is – many airport staff are still kind enough to do it for you, if you ask politely. Like anything else in life, some sugar goes a long way! There is no interlining rule that says that non-alliance carriers are not allowed to check through bags. I have personally checked through bags between Malaysia and Singapore Airlines with absolutely no hassles. Moral of the story – be nice!

I did a quick check on oneworld’s website and they seemed to have changed their bags policy stand by stealth. There were no longer any mention on their website regarding the connecting baggage rule anymore.

Oneworld, in my opinion, is still the best alliance after all.

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Kolin
Kolin
K̶Colin sleep travels poorly. He can't seem to find a hotel bed that shares the unique olfactory charm of his own.