In June 2016, oneworld removed a previously friendly policy, where they would through-check you and your baggage to your final destination, even if you are holding two separate tickets. Let’s say you booked a ticket from Sydney to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific, and then a separate ticket from Hong Kong to London on British Airways, under a different ticket and record locator (PNR). Under the previous policy (before June 1), Cathay Pacific could check your bags in all the way to London, even though you are traveling on separate tickets.
This old policy is what really made oneworld awesome to me, especially since a lot of my travel is done with award tickets (read: tons of one-ways), it’s a scenario that I have encountered quite a few times. I frequently have to position myself to airports where there is award availability by buying cheap one-way tickets, even on extended family trips. So being able to do through-check my bags was a huge time saver. Unfortunately, with the elimination of the passenger-friendly through check-in policy, someone traveling on the above itinerary would have to pick up their bags and clear customs in Hong Kong, and then check-in again for their second flight.
Well, there’s good news! Cathay Pacific has announced that starting January 1, 2017, they will once again through-check you and your bags to your final destination, even if you are traveling on separate tickets. The only caveat is that for this to apply, Cathay Pacific will have to be the first carrier in your overall itinerary. Here’s the “advisory” Cathay Pacific published:
Effective 1 January 2017, as a courtesy, Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon will through-check you and your bags to your final destination if you are travelling on separate tickets involving connections with our airline partners. However, through-check may not be possible if your travel begins with an airline that does not provide separate ticket through-check service.
Cathay Pacific is offering this “as a courtesy,” because other major players from oneworld, like American Airlines, British Airways, and Qantas, still won’t be through-checking passengers and their bags. Malaysia Airlines is the only other oneworld carrier that I know still have a publicized policy to through-checks passengers booked on separate tickets.
This will be a huge time saver for some people, and I certainly appreciate Cathay Pacific offering this convenience option for passengers. Having to claim bags and re-check-in is a major pain point for customers, so I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for other oneworld carriers to bring back the friendly policy, but I have to admit I’m not too hopeful…