Sometimes you book travel that involves a couple airline tickets to get the job done. Maybe it’s that you got a really good deal to one place, but needed a second cheap flight to get to another place, or maybe you booked a ticket that featured multiple airlines to get you the best price.

Most people think they’ll need to pick up their bags after each flight, but actually, with a little bit of know how, you can have one airline transfer it to the next, even if they’re not official partners…

a sign on a wall

It’s All About Interline Agreements…

Interline agreements are things that most travelers have never heard of, but they’re valuable to understand. They work totally different to airline alliances, and allow airlines who aren’t alliance partners to put together agreements to transfer bags from one airline to another.

For example, Virgin Atlantic and British Airways are not partners, they’re enemies, but they have agreements in place to transfer bags from one to another. How? We’ll cover that next…

a view of a landscape from an airplane window

So, Most Importantly, How Do I Do It?

Like most great things in life, it’s all about communication. When you check in for a flight, you need to tell the check in person that you have a connection (which they can’t see on their screen) to another flight with another airline, possibly not on the same ticket or reservation.

You’ll want to have the confirmation or ticket number handy, as well as the flight number and airline, so that the check in agent can look up the info and put the dots together. Not every airline can interline to another, and some won’t even interline with themselves, but many will, and that’s exciting for travelers…

a jet plane on the tarmac

How Do I Know If There’s An Interline Agreement?

Unfortunately, there is no master list published online, but most major airlines will “interline” bags between each other. Even Emirates and Qatar will interline bags between each other, even though they are again, much like British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, competitors.

You can always google the two airlines with the term “baggage interline” in the query, or you could call either airline and ask. Unfortunately, some airline staff will not be prepared to help interline, and you may need to consult someone else before giving up. Be polite and let them know how helpful it would be.

a sign in a airport

What’s The Main Benefit Of Having Bags Checked Through?

Here’s an easy example. I was flying from Italy to Bangkok with Qatar Airways, and then immediately had a connection on Emirates to Hong Kong. If my bags had been interlined (which they couldn’t because computers in Italy were down), I would’ve been able to simply go through the “transit passenger” section, not having to reclaim my bags and re check in, re clear security or go through full immigration.

Because my bags were not interlined, I had to go through immigration, grab my bags, wheel them to Emirates check in, go through security again and then make my flight, all in all, wasting an hour.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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