If this is your first time getting a connecting flight, one of the biggest concerns you might have is whether or not your checked baggage will be transferred to your connecting flight, especially if you are booked with two different airlines, or if you need to recheck your luggage all over again by yourself.
This article is going to explore the various scenarios involving connecting flights and checked luggage, so as a traveler, your mind can be put at ease and you can take your next trip with connected flights knowing what to expect.
Will Your Checked Luggage Get Transferred Automatically on Connecting Flights With Different Airlines?
As much as I wish the answer was an easy “yes” or “no”, it’s actually much more complicated than that. Below are various flight situations regarding connecting flights and your checked luggage.
Situation 1: Both Flights Are On the Same Ticket
If you’re traveling from one destination to another, but you have a little stop on the way, and both your flights are on the same ticket, most likely your bags will be checked to the final destination.
This means you don’t have to worry about collecting your baggage from the luggage carousel and having to check it in all over again. You can just sit down, relax, and enjoy the trip.
Situation 2: Each Flight Is Booked Separately
If you are flying on different carriers with different tickets (meaning, each flight was booked separately), then there is a high probability that your luggage won’t be transferred automatically and you’ll have to do it yourself. Aside from experiencing a slight inconvenience, it isn’t that entirely difficult to recheck the luggage yourself.
You need to determine the time of your next flight. If your layover is pretty long (over 2-3 hours or more), then you might not be able to check it right away as the check-in counter might still be closed. If that’s the case, you can explore the airport or grab a quick snack.
Once the check-in counter opens, all you have to do is drop off your bags, pick up your boarding pass, and wait to board the plane—pretty much like what you would do on a regular flight with no layovers.
Situation 3: Both Airlines Have an Interline Agreement
An interline agreement is an agreement between two airlines that decide to form a partnership. In its most basic form, it simply provides a way for passengers to book itineraries on multiple airlines (including trips with layovers) without the hassle of booking each one separately.
If two airlines have an interline agreement in place, it also means that they will handle the check-in and baggage of each other’s passengers. Thus, travelers who book tickets with airlines that have an existing airline agreement means they only need to check in once for all the flights on their itinerary and their luggage will automatically be transferred to the second airline.
Situation 4: You’re Flying Internationally and the Connecting Flight Country Requires You to Go Through Customs
If you’re on an international trip and the country where your layover or connecting flight is requires you to go through customs, you’ll need to exit, collect your luggage, go through customs, and then check in your luggage all over again. It’s a little bit of a hassle, especially since you just want to relax before your next flight, but it’s a requirement so there’s no escaping it.
As with the second situation where you might have two different flights booked with separate tickets, don’t forget to check the departure time for your next flight. This will help you determine how soon you need to check in your luggage and how fast you need to clear customs as well. Some destinations that are popular with tourists during certain times of the year might have a long customs line, so you need to factor that in as well.
Tip: Make Sure to Check the Label on Your Checked Luggage
Before you let your luggage go with the travel agent, don’t forget to check the label and make sure that it is headed towards the right place—your final destination. The last thing you want is for you to be heading to one place and your luggage to another.
To avoid lost luggage, be sure to write your name and contact details on your luggage tag (check out our luggage tag guide for more tips!). It might also help to take a picture of your luggage so that it’s easy to show and identify in case it gets lost.
Having to check in your luggage all over again can be a bit inconvenient, depending on the kind of tickets you book. Before taking the trip (or perhaps even booking the tickets), you should always check first what to expect when you arrive at the connecting flight country. That way, you’ll know whether you have to check in your luggage all over again or if you can just sit back and relax.
Need to know more about rechecking baggage on international flights, what to expect, and other information about luggage and layovers? Check out our article: Do You Have to Recheck Your Luggage on International Flights?