Alaska Airlines has just announced a frustrating policy change which will go into effect on January 15, 2013, regarding interlining bags. Specifically, they’ll no longer allow bags to be interlined for travel on separate tickets.
“Interlining” bags simply means that your checked bags are checked to your final destination even if your itinerary involves multiple carriers. For example, Alaska will often sell itineraries that involve travel on both Alaska and Delta, so this simply means that your bag can be checked through all the way to your final destination.
The same is true if you’re traveling on multiple reservations. For example, I recently flew from Hong Kong to San Francisco on Cathay Pacific using American AAdvantage miles, and then connected from San Francisco to Seattle on Alaska using British Airways Avios. I could have checked my bag all the way to my final destination since Cathay Pacific and Alaska have an interline agreement, even though I was on separate reservations. While checking in at Hong Kong Airport I would have just shown the agent my onward receipt and they could have checked it through.
That’s what’s changing. As of January 15, 2013, Alaska will no longer allow interlining bags on separate reservations. They blame new DOT regulations, though in practice this is just a way for them to extract more money in baggage fees.
This is disappointing, since it doesn’t just mean that it’ll cost more to check bags when flying on separate tickets, but also means it’ll take a lot longer to transit when traveling on multiple tickets since you have to claim your bags at baggage claim and re-check them in.
Another change at Alaska Airlines that’s “South of Expected,” which seems to be the norm for them as of late.