New Qantas, American Airlines baggage rules cause transit trauma

By Chris C., August 22 2016
New Qantas, American Airlines baggage rules cause transit trauma

Revised rules for handling checked baggage on connecting Qantas and American Airlines flights could add time and hassle to your next stateside trip.

Despite the two airlines' joint venture across the Pacific, check-in staff are no longer obliged to tag your baggage through to your final destination from September 1 2016 if your flights are booked separately rather than under the one reservation.

Instead, those bags will only be tagged as far as the destination shown on each individual booking – not where you’re actually headed at the end of the trip.

Both Qantas and American Airlines have confirmed the new arrangements to Australian Business Traveller.

It won't make much difference on flights into the USA, as travellers need to collect and re-check their bags at the point of entry – a process with which most Qantas flyers into Los Angeles are quite familiar.

Where  things will get more complicated is the return journey if you're using American Airlines to fly from any US city to Los Angeles, Dallas or even San Francisco to connect with a Qantas flight back home.

For example, if you have one booking with AA from Chicago to Los Angeles and a separate booking with Qantas from Los Angeles to Australia, you’ll have to collect your checked bags from the carousel at American's LAX Terminal 4, schlep them around to the Tom Bradley International Terminal, then line up to check it in again with Qantas.

There’s also that second sweep at security to make time for, which you wouldn’t need to worry about if your bag had been tagged to travel all the way through to Australia.

American Airlines makes just one exception, and that's where one of your flights is booked using frequent flyer points and the other paid for with real money – in which case, check-in agents will still be able to check you right through.

Also read: Oneworld airlines revise connecting baggage policy

The fix: booking flights separately but ‘together’

Making multiple flight reservations on their own can sometimes make sense – particularly if you’re the type to lock in your long-haul journey as soon as a trip is approved but then wait to book your US domestic flights only after shoring-up meetings with Stateside suppliers or clients.

That’s where a great travel agent can really come in handy: they’ll be able to sidestep these new baggage policies by joining all of your flights under the one booking, which is the key to having your bags checked through as normal.

Just tell your travel agent these magic words: “If my trip needs to be booked under multiple ticket numbers, please ensure that all tickets are attached to a single PNR to enable Oneworld through-check.”

(Consider writing that one down – the terms might sound foreign to you, but any decent travel agent will know exactly what you mean and what to do.)

As the alternative, if you’re ready to book your entire trip you could also visit the Qantas or American Airlines website and perform a ‘multi-city’ search to keep everything together.

But remember that the cost for doing so may be higher than having a travel agent make separate bookings.

Read: New LAX terminal connector: quicker transits, more lounges

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT

Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

03 Jul 2011

Total posts 187

I noted that on the MH website and in recent promo emails, they are pushing the fact they will check luggage through, when on different OW bookings.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Oct 2013

Total posts 703

New Question, How much extra would you pay to have all your flights on the same booking?

I did some random searching of dates in February and in Economy found that flights from Sydney to Boston were around $100 cheaper if you booked the entire journey on the Qantas website.

I then did the same search and found some dates were $200 cheaper but others were $200 more expensive to book a separate ticket.

For $200 I think I'd pay it but I'd be interested to hear what others think.

If you did the Qantas option you'd have both flights on the same ticket so you're protected against delays (to a degree), you'd also get (assuming your bronze) 3950 more points.

06 Sep 2015

Total posts 24

you make an excellent point, I've often found trying to book separate flights (unless same airline or a partnership like Qantas/Emirates) is often more expensive. in the end you have to balance convenience vs cost. the big advantage of one booking is if first flight is delayed they can rebook you on next flight at no cost as the airline takes responsibility for delays.


12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1501

” American Airlines makes just one exception, and that's where one of your flights is booked using frequent flyer points and the other paid for with real money – in which case, check-in agents will still be able to check you right through.”

As least this is good because in my practice this is most common scenario.

10 Aug 2016

Total posts 20

Does anyone know if aa would still throughput luggage if all the bookings were on aa but with a separate PNR. For example if I booked syd-lax return on aa and then later booked lax-jfk return at a later date

I know in that scenario CX/KA covers you. Good question - will find out with AA.

I think this is the information you need (refer summary table below). I'd copy the URL but it will be delayed due to AUSBT vetting rules.

I suggest you consult Flyertalk. Do a google search on key words "oneworld interlining baggage changes"

10 Aug 2016

Total posts 20

Good summary thanks. Looks like QF will check through their own PNRs, which is a positive

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Sep 2012

Total posts 240

I suspect one reason AA do this is becuase it's vitually impossible for someone to book a paid and FF booking under the PNR (ie booking) whereas, as the article suggests, if you use a travel agent, all flights and corresponding tickets can be put under the one booking.

This is a major victory for corporate and retail travel agents who had been losing a lot of business to those booking online independently. 

I know right!

Oneworld has just given these folks a lifeline! Honestly!

Just when airlines were trying to consolidate their sales channels, these idiots just shot themselves in the foot.

People are resilient - they will always find a way. Silly rules like this represents yet another challenge and rewarding opportunities for those, who do not tolerate taking things lying down. I say, bring it on!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2012

Total posts 136

A good way to get rid of old unwanted suitcases I feel! Check 'em in and just don't bother leaving airside and rechecking them onto the 2nd leg. Leave it to the airlines to cope with (hopefully) thousands of unwanted suitcases! That'll serve em right for screwing the customer.


Air NZ Airpoints

12 Mar 2014

Total posts 36

The airline won't care. They just send (or likely sell) the lost baggage.

24 Aug 2016

Total posts 4

So gone are also the days of making connecting bookings with Oneworld carriers using a combination of frequent flyer points with qantas for the long haul and then paying for side flights...  we are stuck with this issue next week connecting through Singapore from Malaysian to Qantas.  Looks like everyone is going to be re-checking a lot of luggage at LAX, Heathrow etc etc from now on!

03 May 2012

Total posts 11

Why the heck would they not want to check your bags all the way? It's only going to cost them more money in extra baggage handling; delayed and grumpy passengers.

Hauling all your bags between terminals in LAX at night is such a safe and enjoyable experience - NOT! It was the only time I missed an international connection. QF put me up in a hotel.

24 Aug 2016

Total posts 1

I am facing an issue with my delayed baggage claim.

I got my baggages delayed and both airlines are refusing to take the responsibility.

I have tried my best but no resolution.


Be aware of this when you book.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Jul 2012

Total posts 3

We just travelled Miami to LAX onto Sydney the same day, few hours layover in LAX. When checking in at MIA first class flight I was advised by the lady she is Not allowed to check me through to Sydney, even though we both had first class tickets and Platinum FF with Qantas. I pointed out Oneworld clearly states you can check baggage to final destination, was told No. In fact she was very rude and had no care at all, I explained I had a bad back and the 3 large bags makes it almost impossible for us to get around LAX, so can you please check us through? Answer was No with a smile...

For us who travel often and had 3 large bags we only used AA for their connection ease in LAX via the new bridge and to obviously avoid the LAX debacle at check in.

If we had not know this we would Not use American Airlines, simple reason they are a below average airline, we also paid a premium in fares with Qantas where their partners pick up our service because we are loyal Qantas travellers, but after reading your article why would you use the one world brand over Star Alliance or Virgin Oz, who both will check your bags all the way home and provide a top notch service, in fact Virgin Oz has a better business class seat over Qantas and cheaper.

For us the most disappointing point is how Oneworld and its partners clearly state they will check your baggage to your final destination, this is wrong and misleading to the customer. I ask this, "how can they get away with this misleading advertising", or can they? 

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