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.