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How do airlines transfer checked in baggage?
November 23, 2010 8:35 AM   Subscribe

Do all international airlines automatically transfer checked in baggage to connecting airlines on different airlines ( non codeshare/alliances )? How do they do it?

I am travelling from Mumbai, India to Hanoi, Vietnam through a connecting flight in Bangkok, Thailand. Since my flights are on Air India and Vietnam Airlines, I suddenly wondered how my checked in baggage would get transferred.

Would it get automatically transferred or would I have to get out of the airport and get back in?

The sites which I found by searching on google only mentioned about domestic flights and not international ones. It would be really interesting to know how airlines manage the logistics
posted by manny_calavera to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total)
 
Many airlines have an interline agreement with other airlines that allows direct transfer of baggage, regardless of codesharing and alliance status. Call Air India or research this question in the Airlines of India forum on FlyerTalk.
posted by grouse at 8:40 AM on November 23, 2010


They should check your bags all the way through to the destination city, if it is not the last stop you're making within that country. In your case, you should be ok. Make sure you ask the ticketing agent in Mumbai to verify that they will be checked through.

You would only need to re-check your bags if you landed in Hanoi and then had a flight to another city inside Vietnam. Then you would need to go through customs, etc.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:41 AM on November 23, 2010


It worked in the one instance that I had to do it, but I have no idea how they managed it and neither did any of the gate agents.

I had a last-minute flight change due to weather, traveling from Boston to Germany. Lufthansa flight was canceled, and they put us on an Iceland Air flight to Frankfurt through Keflavik, and then on to Dusseldorf on Lufthansa again. The gate agents thought we needed to collect our bags in Frankfurt and recheck them, but the airline took care of it. In fact, we were so frantic looking for our bags that we missed our connection.
posted by backseatpilot at 8:41 AM on November 23, 2010


As long as you're booked for a single journey it's automatic and surprisingly reliable, but if you're concerned, when you change flights you can ask someone at information to track your bags using the baggage claim slip or your ticket details.
posted by tavegyl at 8:57 AM on November 23, 2010


This is not always automatic. Check with the airline rep in Mumbai before you get on. Then check again in Bangkok. You don't want to know how many hours of my life I have wasted in airports because the rules are not consistent on this.

I don't know exactly how it is handled, but I imagine luggage tags are probably the key. i.e. the tags the checkin agent puts on your bags. They have flight and airport codes on them.

Oh and the thing about "the bags never go on the plane unless you're already on it"? That's utter baloney. In that it is not consistent. Again, many hours, many, many wasted hours in airports, because of this piece of misinformation.
posted by bardophile at 8:59 AM on November 23, 2010


On not having previewed: It's possible that airlines have gotten better about this since I was last doing long-haul flights. I know I wouldn't count on it, though. YMMV
posted by bardophile at 9:01 AM on November 23, 2010


In my experience they usually transfer them, assuming you booked both flights as part of one trip, of course. (Which it sounds like you did).

There are exceptions: I've flown London to New Zealand via San Francisco on British Airways and then Air New Zealand. I was required to collect my luggage in SF and re-check it in. (I suspect this was because we had a relatively long - 6 hours - break in SF, or possibly because of US security requirements).

You should be fine, but double-check in Mumbai.
posted by Infinite Jest at 9:06 AM on November 23, 2010


Usually. If they aren't going to transfer your bags, they'll generally tell you.

Generally, if you have to go through customs, you need to claim your baggage. I've had flights where I needed to get off the plane, go through customs, and then catch my connecting flight.
posted by valkyryn at 10:58 AM on November 23, 2010


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