Oneworld Just Eliminated A Very Customer Friendly Policy

Filed Under: oneworld

In terms of overall benefits, I consider the oneworld alliance to be all around best. That’s because as a oneworld Emerald member I receive access to international first class lounges, like the Qantas First Class Lounge Sydney, Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge Hong Kong, etc.

Cathay-Pacific-The-Pier-Lounge - 17

But that’s not the only area in which oneworld excels. For a long time, oneworld has offered a relatively seamless travel experience to those connecting between oneworld flights on separate tickets. How so?

  • If you’re booked on two separate tickets on oneworld carriers, you’ve been able to check your bags through to your final destination
  • If you’re booked on two separate tickets on oneworld carriers, you’ve been protected in the event of a misconnect or cancelation


In other words, say you book a ticket on American from Los Angeles to London, and then a separate ticket on British Airways from London to Rome. In Los Angeles, American would have to check your bag through to Rome, and if your American flight from Los Angeles to London were delayed, British Airways would have to accommodate you on the next flight, at no extra cost.

That’s no longer the case. As of June 1, 2016, the oneworld alliance has eliminated these benefits for passengers booked on separate tickets. Oneworld carriers no longer have to check your bags through to other oneworld carriers if booked on a separate ticket, and no longer have to protect you in the event of a misconnect when on separate tickets.

Airlines are in theory free to go above and beyond, though in practice it’s no longer a policy, so I sure wouldn’t count on airlines going above and beyond.

Obviously if you’re booked on a single ticket spanning multiple oneworld airlines, you’ll still receive these benefits. This change is reflected on as well:


So, why is oneworld making this change? Per a oneworld spokesperson quoted on AusBT:

Blunt says the interline rules were relaxed to encourage travellers to book their entire journey on one reservation, as this obligates all airlines involved to help you reach your destination – even if onward connecting flights have to be re-booked or re-routed by the airlines at no charge to the customer.

“Experience has shown that using separate tickets for different sectors presents multiple problems in delivering an alliance’s through check-in/customer support promise,” Blunt reflects.

“As anyone who has stood in a check-in line behind someone doing this can testify, that can be a lengthy process,” Blunt explains.

“And this at a time when, in response to the preferences of the majority of customers, check-in and baggage drop are now moving towards self-service and online options,” which don’t usually provide this functionality.

So they’re basically doing it because they want you to book on a single itinerary, which I suppose I can’t blame them for in theory, but in practice this was really a point of differentiation for oneworld.


Bottom line

Unfortunately the oneworld alliance no longer stands out for offering a seamless travel experience or better protection when traveling on multiple tickets. This is a real shame, because there were so many instances where it was beneficial to be on multiple records (for example, if you found a cheap ticket to London and then wanted to redeem Avios for a connection within Europe, if your plans changed last minute so you added another ticket, etc.).

Now you’ll have to leave time to claim your bag, clear immigration, etc.

It’s a shame that they’re eliminating this benefit, as it’s one I’ve used a couple of times. It was brilliant, and put me at ease when traveling with oneworld.

How do you feel about oneworld ruining the interline experience for those on multiple tickets?

  1. It was a policy that not strongly enforced by airlines. You had to fight for protection, and some airlines ignored it blatantly, like Qatar.

  2. I’m sure they’ll be nice about it and try to protect your separate ticket. I think they’re more about liability of if something forces them to book valuable flight space for an IRROPs passenger.

    As the old rule goes: be curtious, respectful, and nice to the agent, they’ll help you beyond the rules.

  3. I I flew on American and Qantas last year, on two separate tickets. I was surprised at how quick and easy it was to check me in and check my bags all the way through. Hopefully they will still do this as a per I flew on American and Qantas lashed year, on two separate tickets. I was surprised at how quick and easy it was to check me in and check my bags all the way through. Hopefully they will still do this as a courtesy.
    If I would’ve booked both tickets on one itinerary, it would’ve cost me thousands of dollars more.

  4. “Now you’ll have to leave time to claim your bag, clear immigration, et”

    Really really really big negative! I do not do this much, but there is no way of knowing how long this process will take.

  5. What is the portly on Star Alliance for this I just flew JFK to Frankfurt on an award seat and a purchased seat onward to Warsaw. My bag was checked all the way through. It would have been a real problem to not check bags through.

  6. Ha! I was flying from Denpasar to Paris via Doha with Qatar last week and mentioned I was flying with BA from Paris to LHR and the local Qatar agent insisted I could check my bags all the way through. I thought she was mistaken and politely declined. Well, I never knew!

  7. @lucky, what if you have one itinerary (PHL-ORD in AA and ORD-HKG in CX) and another itinerary HKG-MAA in CX as well. If I choose to collect my bags in ORD and re-checkin with Cathay, will they through the bags to MAA ?

  8. Is there any other industry that thinks the way to move forward and get better is to continually f&ck their customers over more and more in the name of progress?

  9. To be fair, even check-in agents for the same company at different airports are not always on the same page.
    Last December I was flying QR from MUC-DOH-BKK and then BKK-CNX with Bangkok Airways. The QR Agent in MUC told me it was not possible to put my bags all the way through to CNX. I told her it was more than possible as the two airlines code share. She did not agree, so I left it at that.
    On the same day, my wife flew QR from DXB-DOH-BKK and then BKK-CNX with Bangkok Airways. Well, wouldn’t you know it, she gets to the counter at DXB and the QR Agent said it would be their pleasure to check her baggage all the way through to CNX.
    On an unrelated note, what the heck is with the BA Lounge in MUC only allowing Emeralds one guest into the lounge? Is that common?

  10. But have you found this policy to be honored much? AA is pretty good with it, but QF & BA have always been sufficiently unreliable that the policy is effectively useless (because you still need to leave enormous transit times just in case.)

    Last year, I flew London to Amsterdam on BA Avios to connect to an AA award ticket on MH metal to Sydney. The BA agent literally laughed at me for asking if she could interline my bag on to Malaysia Airlines. Supervisor didn’t help. Nearly missed the flight. Nice.

  11. A big part of it is money. They’re trying to force people to avoid end-end ticketing which may cost less money. It’s all about extracting more revenue from passengers. AA has adopted similar policies to discourage back-back domestically.

    And it saves them money in a number of ways.

    It WAS a nice policy, but in the less-competitive world of airlines this is what they can do. The other airlines are no better.

  12. Virgin Atlantic has gone out of their way for years to be a pain about through checking baggage. End result: I won’t fly with them (and I know I’m not alone) . This is plain out idiotic on the part of One World. The new policy actively discourgages people from booking all segments on carriers within the alliance (and it makes one wonder, what IS the point of an ‘alliance’?). End result: elite customers now get to make efficient decisions about which carrier has the best service, hard product and schedule for any given route…..without any regard to ‘loyalty’ whatsoever. The devaluation of frequent flier programs and alliances is a two way street. At some point, a bunch of idiotic marketing people are going to wake up and realize how short-sighted they have been.

  13. I don’t think this has anything to do with ensuring a consistent and streamlined experience for the passenger or simplifying operations for the airlines – it has to do with money. The folks in revenue management and marketing want to ensure you’re paying the highest possible price for your planned origin and destination. The motivation here is very similar to what UA/DL/AA did a few months ago with multi-city itineraries. They want to make it was inconvenient as possible to travel on less expensive multi-ticket itineraries so you pay more for the single ticket.

  14. This post needs a follow up about appropriate connections times on separate tickets and which credit cards offer insurance on misconnects and what the minimum delay time is before it kicks in.

    This is always one of my biggest fears with positioning flights and separate tickets and thankfully, things have never gone wrong for me. Fingers crossed. I can’t imagine having a $100 positioning flight get cancelled and missing an International F award and only being giving the choice of paying a walkup fare or cancelling the trip.

    I’d lover to hear people’s stories about misconnects on separate tickets and how you were actually treated, even if the airline didn’t owe anything to you.

  15. This has been inconsistent for me on Oneworld but it doesn’t sound like it’s going to get better. I’ve experienced anything from 5 minutes (MCI, CDG, HKG) to 45 minutes (MEX, STL) for this process. It just depends on the agent I think.

  16. IME, whatever the alliance policy was, it was never a consistent reality throughout oneworld, certainly not one to depend on. The only exception being AA. 90% of the time other oneworld airlines merely ignored the policy no matter how nicely I brought it up. So, no big loss here.

  17. Anyone know if one world airlines still have to honor the policy for tickets bought before June 1st?

  18. I wonder if this ever applied to codeshares ticketed by a OW airline, but operated by non-OW. In my case on May 30, I was told at Vueling check-in, that my bag couldn’t be interlined through LHR. In fact the (very friendly and apologetic) check-in agent said my bag “would probably get lost in Heathrow.” Not worth the risk. But it was still stressful to have to queue to pass through UK Border. It would be nice if the UK let US citizens use the ePassport gates like Australia does. But of course, they want you to pay for their Global Entry equivalent…

  19. @Brandon – Brits get no particular special treatment in entering the US as far as I’m aware – we pay for ESTAs for example, in fact we’ve waited a long time to be able to even use global entry, so where’s the reciprocity?

  20. How can they change the policy effectively immediately – what if you booked a flight when the old policy was in place?

  21. As long as the load factors are high, benefits will continue to be clawed back. Once the economy drops and people start using online conference calls, etc more often, they will all start begging for your business again. Ebb and flow of the travel business.

  22. The number of people who use this “benefit” is miniscule, and so they can be dropped without a measurable effect on the bottom line.

  23. What’s your source for asserting that the number of people using this benefit is minuscule? This “benefit” was a major reason, albeit not the only reason, why I switched from Star Alliance to oneworld. I frequently travel on multi-reservation itineraries, which has saved me thousands of dollars, and only felt comfortable doing so because of the protections benefits.

  24. Lunacy. It couldn’t have been expensive to run but did generate loyalty, ie revenue. I use combinations of individual sector tickets ( paid and award) continually: it has worked like a dream. They now expect a passenger arriving in Cairo on QR and transferring to a BA to LHR to go through immigration to collect the luggage and check in again?

  25. Suppose I’ll see how this new policy works. I’ve an award booking on QR to JNB and a revenue ticket onward with BA/Comair to CPT. Purposely left the onward BA flight with at least 5-hours in case we’re late on QR, but did book BA rather than SA because of the “protection” policy. (I had considered adding the BA flight as a segment but the fees jumped up to be more than purchasing a separate ticket!) Have something similar on my return to NAmerica on an award to JFK on CX/AA (F award) but in this case decided to book JJ in business on their uber-cheap JFK-YYZ flight for the final leg. Again, have about 5 hours connection at JFK.

    I’ve had to use this policy once in the past three years flying OW. LAN revenue flight from MVD-SCL misconnected with SCL-MIA, making me miss my separate revenue AA flight back to YYZ. Called AA from SCL and they rebooked me on a later flight waiving any change fees.

  26. Utter rubbish. I have used this all the time when knowing I have to be in two places , locking in the longer distance flight for advance purchase, but buying the second ticket later, not knowing when onward travel would begin/end. I can understand that kiosk check in may have a great deal to do with this.

  27. “Blunt says the interline rules were relaxed…”

    That’s some real doublespeak right there.

    The rules were *tightened,* not relaxed. But “relaxed” sounds so niiiiice………….

  28. Does Star Alliance have a similar policy w/regards to checking bags to the final destination on two separate itineraries, and honouring a misconnect without any charges?

  29. So they took the things that were stronger selling points for them and killed them off? With no notice? Not good.

  30. This was a really useful one world feature which I’ve used a couple of times stitching award tickets and positioning flights together. It does at least seem like you can still get the service if, ahead of time, you can persuade the airlines to collect several tickets under a single PNR, which moves the complexity from the airport to the phone. I have definitely been that guy in the checkin queue trying to stitch tickets together to check bags through – date changes due to overnight flights tend to confuse check in staff

  31. Not quite right, Ben. Yes things have changed in the interlining side however on the separate PNR and ticket front it was only ever a published AA policy to provide assistance and sort out the onwards connection. For other OW airlines even connections on sep tickets on the same carrier weren’t explicitly covered!

  32. @TravelinWilly: The RULES are for the oneworld airlines. You don’t call a passenger benefit a rule. The rule was formerly a “must do X”. Now it is a “may do X”. Therefore, the rules have been relaxed for them.

  33. Gary Leff is reporting that American will continue to through check to separately ticketed 1W flights, for now.

    @Evan – BA is going absolutely no through check on separately ticketed flights. Not even BA to BA. It’s in the the thread on BA’s FlyerTalk page that they’ve mentioned this on their Speedbird Club site for travel agents.

    @sazizi – There’s no house rule for Star Alliance, and each airline applies its own policy. United does through check to separately ticketed UA/UX and Star flights, per their website and my experience.

  34. About 3 years ago I was heading home from SFO flying United F class and then onto MEL QF J class. It was my first experience of having to do a self-check-in and being totally naive I just assumed if I insisted on counter service that I could have my bags checked all the way through from SFO to MEL even though the airlines were not linked and the bookings were made separately. It worked!! Whilst the United ground crew person was not happy about having to serve anyone in general (I watched the transaction ahead of me and it wasn’t pretty) she did book my bags all the way through so I didn’t have to pick them up at LAX and check them in again. I’m thinking my naivety might be a strategy in the future.

  35. If you have separate tickets in the same PNR, then they will still through-check check the bags (as long as you are connecting to another Oneworld carrier). They used to do it for separate tickets in separate PNRs. Travel agents can easily do this, but I doubt an airline will. Of course if you’re mixing revenue tickets and redemption tickets for the trip, they can never be in the same PNR, so you’re screwed in that scenario. So much for the “seamless” travel experience they keep touting.

  36. I only know the luggage part:

    Star Alliance policy:

    Seperate PNR – onwards journey
    Through check-in of luggage possible, if more then max amount of stops, add extra luggage print tag highlight connection tag.
    Print out of boarding pass possible, or must be picked up by showing ticket at connection airport’s transferdesk / airline lounge

    Some agents might be typing away a novel on the keyboard but in my experience at AMS / FRA / BKK / SIN / CPT / SFO or smaller stations like HKT / KIX / YOG / CNX the check-in staff (and/or supervisor) should be able to pull it off

  37. I’ve actually been wondering about this, albeit how Star Alliance does it rather than Oneworld. I’m flying UA from DAY-ORD-IAH and flying SQ from IAH-DME-SIN-BKK on a separately booked ticket. It seems that from my limited research (Which pretty much amounts to @Chris telling us you’re SOL with *A) they do not have a alliance-wide policy. However, from what @USBT says though it seems I may be able to do it because United’s policy is that they will through-check bags. (Can someone point me to the page on their website that says this?).

    Also, on my return, I’ll be flying from KTM-BKK on TG and BKK-SIN-NRT-LAX on SQ. Does anyone know how Thai handles this?

  38. There is no consistency even with the same carrier!
    Flew ICN with CX,onward with UL,agent refused and justified with new policy so hat to go through customs.

    Same day arrived at SIN with CX onward with UL (the one refused in ICN) no problem at all followed a few days later by MH onward with CX also no problem. Either they didn’t know or it is not enforced.

  39. @Weymar Osborne – For United’s through check policy just go to “Baggage” then their “Checked Baggage” page, and near the bottom open the tab that says “Connecting Flights”.

    It says – “For a trip that includes one or more connections, United will check bags to the final destination stated on the ticket. United will transfer bags to a connecting flight on your United itinerary, or on a separate itinerary that includes a Star AllianceTM partner airline flight, if the connecting flight is scheduled to depart within 13 hours after arriving at the connection city.”

    And Star does not have an alliance wide policy. United will through check to separately ticketed * flights, but Air NewZealand won’t. So there’s clearly no standard policy for *.

  40. I haven’t had much experience, however the two cases I had:
    a) MH KUL-CDG (oneworld) connecting to GVA on AF (SkyTeam) – the MH staff at counter actualy proactively asked if we wanted to check through our luggage to GVA directly even when we didn’t ask. Big win
    b) CX PER-HKG-CDG connecting to NAP again on AirFrance. Was briefly told it could not be done (contracted staff manning CX counter) however we were quite happy to re-checkin due to possibiliy of delays clearing immigration + getting Schengen visa. Fun & games

  41. Dislike this new policy as I travel for business and typically have two separate tickets between oneworld partners. Now if we have to claim our bags it could mean a longer layover to allow time to claim and recheck bags. Not a friendly way to fly when traveling on business.

  42. I had enjoyed the OneWorld “through-check” benefit since working in the Middle east the last few years, only to discover the change this year, much to my chagrin. Outbound on BA to LHR, then AA to DFW, and the Riyadh BA agent supervisor said the policy had changed and they refused to do it.
    On my return from DFW, however, AA was more than willing to it and I enjoyed the usual benefit. Agree that this is a crap decision … being able to make separate bookings gives me much greater flexibility in my travels… but not any more (save for AA)… so much for “ONE World” ….

  43. Had seperate ticket today going JFK-LAX and LAX-SYD, both on AA.. At checkin in JFK, was told that I can’t check my bags through even though both tickets on AA… Completely ridiculous policy…

  44. Worst policy ever
    Today I had a flight from Pensacola Miami via american with a final destination to south america via American as well. They did not check my bag all the way through the final destination ended up spending all day picking up my bag rechecking it at Miami airport which is chaotic lost my connecting flight, now im told next flight leaves tomorrow, from miami then dallas then south america, i have to pay for hotel and transportation tonight!! Total chaos!!! This industry gets worse and worse everyday. Ridiculous policy. Total disrespect fr customers. AMERican airlines, the worst ever

  45. Such Craziness ! AA Exec Platinum member, Living in London with a lot of business in USA. Typically I fix my AA transatlantic flights a way ahead and get that ticketed. Then work out my AA US Domestic routings at a later date when I can to match in, usually with a connection on the way home. Result, two separate PNRs, but all on AA.
    Until this change my return journey was simple, check in at originating point, and bags tagged through to London. At Connecting airport (e.g. DFW or MIA) simply get off the domestic flight and walk to new gate. EASY !
    Now…. Bag gets tagged to connecting airport, I have to go and wait for bag to be delivered. Take bag out to check in – hope I still have 60 minutes before departure to drop the bag ! – Then through security (again) and get myself to gate.
    This is a HUGE degradation of customer service levels especially for the frequent business traveller. Check in agents (by their own admission) say that adding the extra sector details on your PNR to tag the bag through to your final destination is very little work.
    CRAZY AA !! Find a way to look after your loyal customers !

  46. We flew BA from SFO to LHR on an awards flight, and then on to CDG on a revenue flight just this September. BA happily booked my luggage through when I asked at bag check.

  47. not happy! Just happened to me with American Airlines. However, Cathay did help me out once I completed my AA flight to the start of my Cathay flight. It means that I can’t use different frequent flyer numbers in different bookings, if I can’t buy separate tickets. May have to review who I fly with. Very frustrating!

  48. just saw AA flyer post above. Yes, American confirmed this to me today – even if I am on connecting AA flights – separate ticket, they won’t entertain the thought of checking bags through to final destination. I am longtime Qantas Platinum, and am just about to reach exec platinum with AA as well. I organise my flights around AA and other one world carriers. AA was quite belligerent about my situation. I have alot of points with AA that I am now going to use and change my allegiance. Qatar has always been helpful – as is Cathay, but now have to think about what I’ll do in North America.

  49. Just got caught by this. I fly 250k+ miles with OW every year making TPAC and TATL flights monthly. This benefit was the last thing keeping me with AA. I have been loyal for a decade. That’s ends January 1st.

  50. So what’s the latest on AA policy regarding this? (Seeing conflicting reports above.)

    Traveling on AA award US-HKG (AA+CX) then on a BA award HKG-Japan (CX). Any chance AA will through check the bag?

  51. Late to the party on this. Flying CX to LAX from HKG connecting to UA on a separate ticket (done many times previous). As noted above, CX refused to check the bag through, even though I had a four hour connection.

    On the return, United DID check it all the way through to Hong Kong even though it was not only a separate ticket but CX isn’t even a Star Alliance carrier. That’s called going above and beyond.

    Makes me almost prepared to move all my business to UA now (over 125,000 miles in J).

    What these carriers dont understand is my business takes me to the US or Europe but I have many stops so I buy one ticket to the continent and then separate tickets depending where I need to go. Wasn’t this the whole idea of the alliances to make this easier?? SMH.

  52. Any recent data points? I am flying from ATL to KUL via DOH next month on QR. I want to buy a separate ticket on MH from KUL-BKK. Wondering if I have a chance in hell at getting QR to check the bag all the way to BKK. I realize the official policy has changed per this article, but just wondering if any recent examples of airlines being helpful.

  53. Flew CK Manchester to Auckland with separate ticket on NZ from Auckland to Rarotonga, no problem for CK to thru check baggage all the way, this was August 2017.

  54. This post has me a little confused:

    Why does Mike expect AA to protect his Oneworld connection on a separate ticket, when you’ve already written about how Oneworld has since eliminated this policy?

    Is AA’s official policy really supposed to protect Oneworld connections on separate tickets? Mike’s post suggests that it is, but this post suggests that it’s not.

    I’d really appreciate a clarification here, given the seemingly conflicting information on your site! Thanks.

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