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Baggage check-through change poorly timed

By Greg Cornwell - 2 August 2016 5

An artist's impression of a Qantas Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. The airline will be operating eight of the aircraft on long haul flights by 2020.

Interstate media advises Qantas shortly plans to change the way it through-checks baggage for overseas travel: a change which could profoundly affect its Canberra passengers.

Hitherto if you were flying on one of the 15 member Oneworld Alliance airlines your heavy non-cabin luggage would be checked through from Canberra to your final destination.

Effective September 1, if your travel is not all one booking on the one ticket there is no requirement for Oneworld airlines to guarantee the through-checks.  This could cause you to claim your baggage at transit points (like Sydney for ACT overseas travellers) then queue and check in again.

Whatever the reason for this alteration, it could be a major inconvenience for transit passengers coming intrastate or interstate to Australian overseas departure points.

Boarding in Sydney for London perhaps is no problem for the locals but our already irritating bus connection between the domestic and international terminals could now be further complicated by adding heavy baggage to the transfer.  How this could be done to allow rechecking is anyone’s guess.  Another bus perhaps?

Whether or not Emirates is included in this new arrangement given its special relationship with Qantas is unclear, however what superficially could be simply more convenient ticketing for the Oneworld airlines is now another possible worry for passengers.

There are fairness and practical considerations too.  What if your first airline does not fly to your second destination?  Should you be forced to go through the rigmarole of another check-in through no fault of your own?  Will we now have to allow more time for airport check-ins in case of extra possible delays?  What about disabled or wheelchair passengers.  Families with young children?

Why can’t the whole trip be on the one ticket, irrespective of the airline used?  And why all the fuss?  Couldn’t the change have been made without the implied threat to hapless people coming from outside the overseas airport hubs?  Is it an attempt to limit travellers to flying with the same airline all the way – despite the important qualification it might not fly where you want to go and therefore why should you be penalised?

If the change is only a necessary administrative adjustment, although I cannot see the need to alter what has worked satisfactorily and provided airline passengers with the grateful relief of getting rid of the heavy stuff until reaching the final destination, the timing is poor.

Unless the Star Alliance airline group is planning a similar move why shouldn’t travellers move to those airlines?

For those who cannot avoid Sydney and changing carriers, say flying east into the Pacific and the Americas, there is the Canberra direct bus to the international airport, therefore avoiding any additional check-in.  For those to Asia and Europe there is Star Alliance member Singapore Airlines commencing a service to New Zealand and Singapore from Canberra in September – the month the above alteration is to take place.

As I said, if this change was necessary, the timing is poor.

Pictured is an artist’s impression of a Qantas Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. The airline will operate eight of the aircraft on long haul flights by 2020.

 

What’s Your opinion?


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5 Responses to
Baggage check-through change poorly timed
JC 8:27 pm 03 Aug 16

I don’t really get the issue – fly to Sydney, pickup your luggage, go to the international terminal, check in.

My experience with expecting luggage to magically follow from one flight to the next has been that I am frequently in some foreign place buying spare clothes to keep me going until somebody finds my luggage for me. I would rather take care of it myself.

I’ve had bags lost on me by Cathay, Air France, Swissair, and Qantas. *Always* when there were two unrelated flights involved.

There is an issue, but not really at this end. It is moreso in transfer points o/s in particular in places where you may need a visa to enter the country. So lets say you fly Qantas to Hong Kong and then CX to London, but separate bookings. When you get to Hong Kong you need to clear immigration, collect bags, clear customs and re-check. No visa issues here for Aussie of course.

Some places, SIN if your bag is only check to SIN but you are going further afeild, go to the transfer desk and they will collect your bag off the belt and re-tag it, but that is the exception not many airports do that.

Now that said as I mentioned above if saving a buck is what you are aiming to do by booking separately then this is the cost of that saving. At present in the above scenario the risk is worn by Qantas if they through check you but no benefit for taking that risk. But post change the risk belongs to the passenger.

Anyway the rumour mill has it that BA was one of the big instigators of this. And the reason being it can be cheaper by many $100’s if you are flying long haul by booking your return starting in close by european cities (due to the way the UK charges passenger taxes. So people would book a one way flight to say Dublin, Paris, Amsterdam etc, then book a seperate long haul flight back to London and then onto say Sydney.

Oh and coming back what passengers would do is book a stop over in London then next day book to fly to where they started from hence making it a return trip. But would then conveniently miss the flight the next day to Dublin etc.

Anyway under current rules the passenger could through check their bags to the long haul destination despite being separate bookings. So get on, fly to Dublin, transfer back onto same plane and away you go. But post change they cannot. So passengers seeking to do this will need to enter the country, collect bags and re-check. Which would add time, which would mean it is unlikely a passenger could connellect and recheck on the same flight they just came in on and of course they run the risk of missing the return journey and hence long haul flight. Under current rules if through checked BA would be responsible for any delays and missed connections.

BA tried to stop this practice by charging passengers who ‘missed’ their flight back to Dublin etc, by charging them the long haul fare as if it were ex London after the fact. But that was found to be illegal.

So few months later this rule change, and guess what, unlike Qantas, BA won’t through check different bookings even to themselves, so makes this practice that much harder.

And as mentioned Star has had this rule for years, though as with One World individual airlines can still choose to through check, but they wear the risk.

madelini 4:07 pm 03 Aug 16

Given that most people fly on one booking (perhaps with separate tickets, but as JC pointed out, the booking is the important aspect), I don’t believe that it would greatly impact the flight system anyway. Having flown internationally, this seems to be the norm – for example, if you book Sydney to New York, you will most likely change at LA or San Fran, where you must collect your bags even if your connection is on the same booking. It is one of the aspects of international travel; the impact will be a minor inconvenience for those affected, but if your bags make it to your final destination then it doesn’t really matter. It’s the same as waiting hours in a Customs or Border Control queue – just one of those things.

If you are flying by multiple airlines on separate bookings, I would say that most people expect to collect their luggage halfway unless they are advised by airline personnel that they don’t have to.

Additionally, given that this only affects Qantas, your point about the buses at Sydney is not really relevant, as Qantas supplies its own free shuttle bus between its international and domestic terminals.

Can I ask, if you believe this timing is poor, when would have been optimal?

HenryBG 12:37 pm 03 Aug 16

I don’t really get the issue – fly to Sydney, pickup your luggage, go to the international terminal, check in.

My experience with expecting luggage to magically follow from one flight to the next has been that I am frequently in some foreign place buying spare clothes to keep me going until somebody finds my luggage for me. I would rather take care of it myself.

I’ve had bags lost on me by Cathay, Air France, Swissair, and Qantas. *Always* when there were two unrelated flights involved.

JC 11:37 am 02 Aug 16

PS Re Star Alliance, it has been their policy for a long time.

JC 10:32 am 02 Aug 16

Greg few points.

Firstly for baggage to be through checked post this change you need your travel to be on the same booking but they can be on different tickets. There is a big difference between a booking and a ticket.

Secondly the issue for airlines here is when an airline accepts your baggage and through checks it the first airline is then responsibility for getting it to your destination. Why this is a problem is let’s say to keep costs down you choose to make one booking with Qantas to fly CBR-SYD and then a second booking on CX to fly to Washington DC if your bag doesn’t make it to the CX flight then Qantas is responsible for getting that bag to you. Despite you only having paid them to get them to Sydney? So you get a cost saving but Qantas gets the risk.

As for the number of people this will effect don’t think as many as you make out. Most people already travel on the one booking anyway. And you raise the issue of say Qantas not flying to certain destinations the solution is simple book through a travel agent. Your travel would be seperate tickets but same booking so would be accepted.

And connection Qantas to Qantas or Qantas to Emirates is not effected by this change either.

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