Oneworld to lower its minimum service requirements


If you fly on members of airline alliance oneworld you can travel on more than 1 booking and check your bag through to your final destination on connecting flights. The alliance’s interline agreement requires oneworld member carriers to do so.

From September 1, 2016, however, this will no longer be a requirement. Oneworld airlines will be free to continue offering the check-through service if they so choose, but it will be above the alliance’s new (lower) minimum standard.

The new (not properly publicized) requirement is that oneworld carriers are required to check passengers through only to the final destination on their first ticket, not to the next destination on a separate booking.

This has profound consequences for passengers flying on separate bookings as the following example shows. You book a roundtrip London-Kuala Lumpur on British British AirwaysAirways. Later on it becomes clear you cannot do the business you were planning in Kuala Lumpur, but you can do business in Sydney.

Thus, you purchase a roundtrip Kuala Lumpur-Sydney at Qantas with flights connecting to your London-Kuala Lumpur roundtrip. From September 1 this will no longer work out if the oneworld carrier where you buy the second ticket will adopt the lower service standard.

If the first airline will not check your bag through to your final destination your trip will be eventful. On arrival in Kuala Lumpur you will need to clear immigration, wait for your bag to arrive from your British Airways flight and take it through customs.

Next, you will need to go to the Qantas counter in the departure hall to check in your bag and collect your boarding pass for the flight to Sydney (if you did not check-in online), and you need to go through passport control. This will prove to be very time consuming.

The best way to make it to your connecting flight under oneworld’s lower minimum service requirement is to have your itinerary all on 1 booking. But in the example above that was not possible. The second best solution is not to buy a second ticket with Qantas, but with Malaysia AirlinesMalaysia Airlines as this carrier says it will continue to support through-checking of passengers with separate tickets of oneworld member carriers.

If you would want to stick to Qantas you should allow sufficient time (that is, many hours) to make your connection. Thus, the third best solution is probably staying the night over in Kuala Lumpur.

American Airlines also says it will continue to through-check passengers on separate tickets with oneworld member carriers. However, we recommend that you double check it with both airlines before you book. After all, carriers hate transparency and oneworld’s lower minimum service standard was not properly publicized.

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