Can you Check Luggage Through on two Separate Tickets?

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You might have come across a great offer here on Travel-Dealz lately. But the airport of departure is just too far away to simply drive there. So the solution could be to book a separate flight that will connect you to another city. Especially with business or first class flights, this can still save you a lot of money.

If you’re traveling light and you only want to bring a carry-on bag, there shouldn’t be a problem. But what about checked luggage? Will it be forwarded to your final destination? Or do you have to pick it up after your feeder flight and check it in again?

There’s no short and simple answer here. Generally speaking you will never be entitled to having your bags checked through. But we will try to provide some information on the topic and some tips that might help. Also, we’d be happy to hear from your experience in the comment section so we can build up a knowledge base that will help others in the future!

The Basics

Good news first: in principle, it is possible to have your luggage checked through to your final destination, even if you have two separate tickets. But all airlines that are involved in your trip must have some kind of cooperation. There are various forms of agreements between airlines. And each one of them will grant different benefits to travelers.

Interline Agreements

This is the most basic form of cooperation between two airlines. What carriers agree on is that they can sell flights of partner carriers and that they will handle passengers (and their bags) for each other if those are traveling on the same itinerary even if the flights show different airlines codes.

Codeshare Agreements

Codesharing is a more intense form or interlining. Two airlines might see that it would benefit both of them to partner up and allow another airline to sell flights using its own airline code. The result is the “operated by” phrase that many will already know.

Airline Alliance

Most of you will have heard of them: Star Alliance, Oneworld, and SkyTeam, the three big alliances. While having an interline or codeshare agreement doesn’t seem to be a requirement for a carrier to join an alliance, this will very often be the case.

How can I get my Luggage Checked Through?

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We will now try and give a few recommendations that could be useful when trying to get your luggage check through on two tickets. However, none of them guarantee that it will work! Let us know if you’ve ever tried to get your bags forwarded to the final destination despite having two separate bookings.

What can increase your chances of having your luggage checked through? And what points should you definitely consider to avoid running into a disaster? Here are some hand-on tips.

Find out About Agreements

Now, we’ve taken a short digression into the world of inter-airlines agreements. Even if those agreements are meant to become effective only for passengers traveling on one single itinerary. Without them, chances of getting your bags checked through are close to zero. So will have to take a look at ways to find out about those agreements.

The easiest way to do so is ExpertFlyer. Unfortunately, you will need a PRO account to check which airlines have interline agreements with each other. If you don’t want to spend money just to find out which airline has an agreement with another one, you could also try contacting the carrier.

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Airlines that British Airways has an interline agreement with

It can pay off to do your homework. If you arrive at the airport and it turns out that the two airlines you booked your ticket with don’t cooperate – there is no solution to your problem.

Contact the airline

Of course, it would be great if you’d arrive at the airport and have some (at least partly) official statement from the airline that you can show to the agent. Contact the carrier before your travels. Sent them an email or use social media to get some kind of response. Telรถl them that you are planning on traveling on two separate tickets and ask how this will be handle.

Also, this won’t guarantee that everything will work out as planned. But it can definitely not hurt if you’re able to point out that you’ve received an encouraging answer from the airlines.

Factor in Some Extra Time at the Airport

As already mentioned, checking luggage through on separate tickets isn’t something that is done all the time. Consequently, it can take a while until the agent at the airport has set up everything in the right way. You might even have to convince someone to do what you are requesting.

It could even happen that an agent doesn’t know what to do at all. If that’s the case, you might have to wait for someone else to show up and help. Either way, don’t expect the process to be hassle-free. Or as fast as an average baggage drop.

The same goes for the airport where you’ll be connecting to your second flight. Add some extra time for your layover. This will be your emergency plan if you can’t get your bags to check through. You will need enough time to claim your luggage, go through immigration, check-in your bags again, and then there are the security checks.

Gather all the Information About Your Flights

The agents at the airport will have all the information they need to check your luggage for the first flight. But not necessarily for the second one. Since you will be flying with another airline, it can definitely make sense to present all the details for the other flight, such as booking code and ticketing number, to the airport.

All this will most likely be needed to send your bags right to your final destination. And if you can’t provide the information, it might not be possible to check through your luggage from a technical point of view. So better be prepared.

Perform a Final Check

If you want to make sure that everything is set up correctly, you can always perform a short check. Have a look at the luggage tag that the agent at the airport will attach to your suitcase or bag. It carries all the relevant information. And for you, the most important are the airport codes.

These codes will tell you exactly where the bags are heading for. If IATA codes are a closed book to you, check out this website. Memorize the codes that you’d like to see on your tag. If you see that the labels only show the IATA code of the first airport you’ll apporach, you can be sure that the agent didn’t check through your bags to the final destination.

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Luggage tags for a flight to Hamburg via Panama City and Istanbul

Be Aware of Some Risks

Bags that get lost or damaged are something that no traveler wants to experience. But it just happens from time to time. And while you won’t have to worry about the liability of you’re traveling on one itinerary, this can change if you checked your luggage through on two tickets.

You could end up dealing with both airlines, none of them willing to help or compensate you. Sure, the convenience of not having to worry about your bags until you reached your final destination might be worth it. But maybe don’t pack items of high value into your checked bags. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Theory and Practice

We’ve covered the main points that are relevant if you want to have your luggage checked through on two separate tickets. But how high are the chances that such a request will be satisfied? And does it actually really make sense?

The Airlines

There are no official pieces of information that could give reliable guidelines on which airline will accommodate your request on which one won’t. But if you trawl through websites like FlyerTalk, you will find various reports telling stories about the problems that travelers encountered when trying to get their luggage checked through on more then same itinerary.

A short – and definitely unrepresentative – survey that we conducted here at Travel Dealz showed that Lufthansa Group carriers seem to have more generous policies for checked through bags. For example, on a Swiss feeder flight, the luggage had been forwarded to the final destination, even though the next connections was on Lufthansa. Singapore Airlines managed to get luggage check though on the next Brussels Airlines flight as well.

Also, feedback from our readers points us in the same direction. United Airlines, SAS and Aegean Airlines have apparently been accommodating enough to check luggage through on two separate tickets. Although airline staff mentioned that they are not supposed to do so.

On the other hand, it has been brought to our notice that British Airways and Iberia (both part of IAG) won’t even send your bags to your final destination if the connections flight is operated by the same airline!

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Can you tell us about your experience with checked through luggage on two separate tickets? We’d love to hear from you in the comment section!

Low-Cost Carriers

If one of your flights is booked with a low-cost carrier, your chance of getting your luggage check through are practically zero. Most of the no-frills carriers do not sign agreements with other airlines. So even if the agent on the ground would like to help you – which per se is already rather unlikely – they can’t.

So if your feeder flights are with Ryanair & Co: plan ahead give yourself some extra time at the airport to pick up and check-in your nags. Or try to travel light and just bring a cabin trolley. This will save you time and money when flying with low-cost airlines.

Your Travel Route

This is another point you should consider. Because in some cases, not the airline but the national laws in the country you’re visiting decide if bags can be checked through. Let’s have a look at the USA and Canada:

No matter where exactly you’re headed for. After arriving at a so-called point-of-entry, you will have to claim your bags, go through customs and immigration, and then check-in your bags again. Now, if your connecting flight is with the same airlines or on the same ticket, your luggage tag might have the final destination printed on it again. That can save you some, but very little time. So it’s not worth spending half an hours or longer at the airport your first flight departs from. Just to convince an agent to have your bags checked through.

We would recommend checking the regulations for immigration and customs in the country in which you will switch between tickets. Maybe there is no need to have your bags checked through after all.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, there is no way to ensure that your luggage will be checked through when traveling on two separate tickets. Yes, there are rules and regulations in place. But not even those will guarantee a smooth process. We know that it would be more helpful to have clear guidelines. Since we can’t provide those, here’s a summary of our tips:

  • Choose the right airline: try to avoid low-cost carriers. A feeder flight with an alliance partner will increase the chances of getting your luggage checked through.
  • Contact the airline ahead of time: write an email and ask, if they will check through your bags. You might not receive an answer. But if you do, you have something to show the agent at the airport. Could turn out to be useful.
  • Be friendly to the agent: since the agent at the first departure airport can make or break the deal, it can’t hurt to be extra polite.
  • Have an emergency plan: never show up at the airport with luggage that needs to be check through and 60 minutes of layover time! You’ve got to have a solution if the airlines refuse to check through your bags.
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Comments (6)

  1. This article is such utter nonsense. There is not much correctness in here and I wonder who you referenced for correctness. Interline and codeshare agreements (codedhare is an advanced interline agreement) stipulate how ONE ticket (contract) is handled when 2 or even more airlines are involved. A interline agreement is totally irrelevant for separate tickets. Bottom line and short version: No airline is in anyway obliged to check through bags on 2 separate tickets. Ever! Even if booked in same itinerary!! If they do it is pure luck and beyond what they should do. Due to the increased liabilities and all sorts of (EU)regulations, airlines will even stricter insist on 1 ticket, 1 contract, 1 obligation.
    Thank You!

    Reply

    • Hi John, thank you for taking the time to send us your feedback! Really sorry that the article is not at all to your taste. We did point out that there is no way to make sure that your bags will be forwarded. But we tried to present a few options that you have when traveling on two tickets and want to check your luggage through to your final destination.

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    • I agree, such a long article for nothing. The only thing you can do is ask in advance by writing the airline on Facebook or what ever and get a feeling for it, if it might be possible or not. (Mostly not) But Lufthansa is able to do so, even if the next flight is with an other Allianz. BA and IB most likely won’t do it, even if the next flight is within the same Airline. (own experience) The article is a bit waste of time and should have more pointed out the experience people had. Which you could have collected and displayed. An overview of, if it ever worked or not would probably make more sense. Then trying to let the reader think, that because of the headline you will find an answer. But this article gives no answer at all.

      Reply

      • Hi Ben, it is great to hear about your experience! The title (which has been changed) might be misleading. Which was definitely not intended. The main reason we published this article was to give some guidelines on how it could work. As you stated correctly, there is no way to be sure. The article mentions that contacting the airlines upfront is an option. We would be more than happy seeing people leave a comment so we can improve this article and present an overview of all the experiences others made.

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  2. At least for StarAlliance I can say it works 90% of the time.
    I/we often book nested flights and open jaws from Europe to North America or within Europe (mostly UA, LH, LX, SK, SN, A3) and feeders or local connections are award flights.
    The reps sometimes tell me they are not supposed to check all the luggage through (mainly since the airline doing so is responsible for your luggage until it reaches the final destination on your tag / So John might be a rep?) but gladly do it anyway. Maybe *G Status helps in my case. I have very limited experience with other alliances as I only fly business on pre-defined complete itineraries.

    Reply

    • Hi Jay! Thanks so much for sharing this with us! It really seems as if Star Alliance carriers would handle this topic better than other airlines. I will definitely include your feedback into the article!

      Reply

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