United Eliminating Checked Bags On Separate Tickets Outside Star Alliance

Filed Under: United

Typically when you’re booked on separate tickets you can still check your bags all the way through to your final destination by presenting your e-ticket receipt at check-in. Exact policies differ by airline — some airlines will let you check through bags from virtually all carriers, while others (like Southwest) won’t let you check through bags from any other carriers.

Per a memo sent to travel agents, United will be tightening up their policies for checked bags on separate tickets. Beginning on March 1, 2015, it will no longer be possible to check bags through from a United flight to a separate ticket on another airline, with a few exceptions.

Effective for travel on and after March 1, 2015, when a customer has two separate tickets, United will though-check bags only when the secondary ticket is for travel on the following carriers:

  • United and United Express
  • Star Alliance partner airlines

With the new policy, a passenger’s baggage will be checked between the origin and destination points that are reflected on a single or conjunctive ticket.

If the traveler holds a second ticket on another airline beyond the destination of the first ticket, United will check the bag to the destination on the first ticket(s). In such situations, the traveler must collect their baggage on arrival at their first ticketed destination, and then re-check baggage with the next carrier for their continuing flight(s).

If you have a single ticket number from origin to destination, this won’t be an issue. If you have two sets of tickets, United has broken down the scenarios:


There’s no doubt this is a disappointing change, and it’s kind of sad that United doesn’t see the value in making the travel process as seamless as possible for their passengers, even when part of their journey is outside the Star Alliance.

But here’s the most disappointing part — United partners with roughly a dozen airlines that aren’t Star Alliance members , though under these new rules you couldn’t check bags from a ticket on United to a separate ticket on one of their partner airlines that doesn’t belong to the Star Alliance.


I think it’s bad enough not to allow bags to be checked through from separate tickets to begin with, but to not even allow it for all of your partner airlines is kind of shocking.

Beyond that, Air Dolomiti, Edelweiss, and Germanwings are all Lufthansa Group airlines, and in some cases Air Dolomiti operates flights on behalf of Lufthansa, and Edelweiss on behalf of Swiss, so I’m not sure how that will work in practice.


For what it’s worth, American had planned to initiate a similar policy last month, though has since postponed until February.

(Tip of the hat to Chris)

  1. Did Delta do this first?

    If not, then why is UA doing it?

    I thought Delta threatened to do this, but relented.

  2. But when you’re travelling on the same ticket but the flight is not operated by a star alliance airline would it be still possible to check bags all the way to your final destination?

    Like for example now that LH is discontinuing their flights out of AUH, United used to put passengers booking throught their website on those flights to FRA and then connect you to a UA flight to any US destination, but now if you try to book through their webpage any day after LH ends their operations out of AUH, they now put you on a BA flight to LHR and then connect you to a UA flight to any US destination; with this new change will passengers still be able to check all their bags through their final destination although it’s the same ticket?

  3. This policy largely makes sense to me. I’m willing to bet that UA has had to endure all sorts of customer complaints about luggage either mishandled or lost at some point on the transfer from its handling to its final destination–with no guarantee that the fault was UA’s or that of the second carrier. This policy streamlines that responsibility for UA for itself and its Star Alliance partners.

    I am sure that UA will likely fine-tune this policy to include codeshare partners where the ticket is United all the way through–even if the equipment is not. In the rare instances where UA has partners that cannot codeshare, UA may make certain exceptions or it may decide that it needs to consider the codeshare.

    I’d rather UA spend its time and resources focusing on the baggage for its own customers. I applaud this policy. For those who do have multiple non-alliance airlines itineraries, they can either carry on or check their bags for each separate airline.

    UA’s policy is still better than that of many others, including British Airways, which won’t even combine their own ticketed flights to check bags all the way through!

  4. i have to say i took advantage of this when flying other carriers (Thai and Druk) and it worked great for me but i wonder what percentage of travelers was actually using this?

  5. Air New Zealand has been doing this for years. They explain it as a liability issue for the originating carrier. No idea if that’s right, but that’s their explanation.

  6. @Evan, it’s actually the opposite. The final carrier is the responsible party in the event of damage/loss per international agreement.

    This is a pure cash grab as interlining bags isn’t difficult–and they ALREADY DO IT so it’s not like it requires any type of capital investment. It would be nice if you could just say “OK I’ll pay the stupid checked bag fee if you just check the damn bag through.” I guess that would violate “most significant carrier” rule, though?

  7. Hi Lucky, first time posting here!
    I booked separate tickets NRT-HNL on ANA and then HNL-KOA on Hawaiian as that was the much cheaper option than booking all through ANA. Despite being partner airlines ANA didn’t let me check my baggage to Kona (although on the return trip Hawaiian didn’t have any problem checking my baggage direct to tokyo). Was never sure what the exact rules are….

  8. I didn’t even know it was possible to through-check if the other ticket was not Star Alliance!
    Air Dolomiti and Germanwings: even though they are the operating airline, as long as you buy your ticket through Lufthansa on their website, I’d guess you’ll be fine. If you buy it on the Air Dolomiti or Germanwings website that might be different.

  9. Now, what if I have two seperate tickets but both Star Alliance.
    e.g. LAX-SFO on UA, then SFO-FRA on LH but seperate tickets.

  10. Sounds about right. The perks of being part of a formal alliance should be clear. If a passenger is ticketed by UA to fly with a non star alliance partner as a UA codeshare then bags will be checked through. That is the whole points of such non-alliance, sector specific partnerships.

  11. Under the PMUA system, the interline checked bag for separate ticket is easily to be done if the interline agreements are there. At check-in counter, it was less than five minutes for agent to do so. I have done that so many times (UA->CX/CI/NH/and so on) with no problems at all. Under the SHARES, it takes more time for agents to link reservations together and print out the bag tag. Although most agents seem to familiarize the system nowadays, it still takes them a lot of efforts to figure out the interline checked bag.

    On the other hand, I feel UA does this to hope money staying with 016 stock.

  12. Hi lucky – any idea if this actually went into effect and/or how strict they are being? (I know you don’t fly ua, just though I’d ask) Looking to check bags through with two different tickets united bf EWR-gru, LAN gru-aep. Thanks!

  13. What about a United flight (016 ticket) and then a non-star partner (like Hawaiian) but the HA operated flight is on a 016 United ticket (but separate PNR from flight 1).

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