How to Get Bags Checked All the Way Through on Partner/Alliance Flights

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How many of you have been on a multi-airline itinerary where one airline allows you to carry-on your luggage and another forces you to check it?

This type of confusion and inconvenience used to be more common decades ago, but thankfully many airlines have partnered up and simplified the situation. Some airlines even have interline agreements where you can check your luggage all the way from origin to destination without touching it, even if you had three airlines and three plane changes on your itinerary. When you purchase a multi-airline ticket from an alliance airline, the email or online itinerary will normally include the rules about what you can/can’t carry-on and checked luggage limits.

However, there are times when you are planning your own trip segment by segment and need to know what the rules are for each individual airline. Alliance websites are normally my first stop to search for these rules and I normally go to Star Alliance’ link.

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“…For legal reasons…”

The odd thing is that each airline has its own rules, even as part of an alliance.  If anyone can explain to me what the ‘legal reasons’ are, I would greatly appreciate it!

Let’s say that you want to book a flight from Helsinki to Copenhagen (HEL-CPH) on SAS. Their website shows the following information: a table and some small print.

Always read the small print!

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Get your reading glasses or press “cmd +” multiple times!

Additional charges may apply for travel to/from/within US and if the first segment of the itinerary starts with a US airline, the first segment airline’s baggage rules take precedence. This tells you to plan ahead.

If you intend to fly to HEL on an award ticket and open jaw back from CPH (looking for a cash ticket on this SAS flight), make sure you don’t overpack. You will be charged with hefty fees… unless you have status with that alliance.

One more thing that will help you reduce expenses – if you have status with an alliance, you will normally receive a luggage benefit while traveling on an alliance partner. In the above example, Star Alliance Gold (*G) members who purchase an “SAS Go Light” fare can check in luggage at the “SAS Go” rate for free.

What has your experience been with baggage treatment while traveling on different airlines in the same itinerary?