Interlining Baggage Rules: What They Are and How to Use Them

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Booking award tickets is complicated, especially if you only want one ticket versus multiple tickets with multiple connections on different airlines. Sadly, it doesn’t always work out to be one ticket. In fact, it’s very rare that it does unless you’re in a hub city.

For first time award travelers on a complex booking with multiple airlines not in the same alliance, you may be wondering what to do with your baggage. Do you have to collect it at every connection and recheck it? No… Well, sometimes, but fortunately, many airlines give you to ability to interline your baggage to avoid the check, collect, and recheck monstrosity.

What is Interlining?

Wikipedia puts it best:

Interlining (also known as “interline ticketing”) is a voluntary commercial agreement between individual airlines to handle passengers traveling on itineraries that require multiple airlines.

Interlining baggage works the same way, except instead of handling passengers traveling on multiple airlines, they handle baggage. For example, take my trip to Australia. We flew on United, Air China, Japan Airlines, and Qantas. That’s two different alliances and tickets between those four airlines, which means if it wasn’t for interlining our baggage, we would have had to do the check, collect, recheck dance multiple times during that trip.

How to Interline Your Baggage

It’s extremely easy to interline your baggage, but for a first timer it may seem complicated, so here’s the rundown.

What You Need

  • Your boarding pass for the flight your flying on and your boarding pass for the flight you need to interline your baggage to. In other words, to be able to interline your bags, you’ll need to check in to the flight you’re interlining to or it won’t be possible.
  • Checked bags (obviously). You’ll need to make sure the weights and sizes follow every airline’s rules that you plan on interlining the baggage to.
  • A competent agent. Without an agent that wants to help you out or knows what they’re doing, you’re going to have issues.

Play by Play

  1. Get to the airport early with your baggage. As I mentioned above, if you don’t have a competent agent, you’re going to have problems, which could take a while.
  2. Ask the agent to interline your baggage to your next flight(s). They will ask you for your ticket(s) and put an extra tag on your luggage.
  3. Then, they will check it in and you’ll be on your merry way. Easy right?

Headaches of Interlining

Interlining your baggage is a great solution for award travels, however, it’s not without its hassles.

  • The Agent(s) – If an agent doesn’t know what they’re doing, you may need to talk to their supervisors to get what you need done.
  • Not All Airlines Interline – Certain airlines, such as Southwest, do not interline. You’ll want to determine this before you get to the airport, so you can be prepared for it.
  • You’ll Need to Recheck Your Baggage Occasionally – Even if you interline your baggage, you’ll still need to go through customs and recheck it when you get to certain countries. For example, you’ll need to do this in the US and Australia at the first city you land in.
  • Not All Airlines Participate – Most major airlines do allow interlining, but not all of them.

US Airline Rules

These are the current US Airlines Rules as of March 2015.

Alaska Airlines

Alaska does interline baggage to other carriers. In 2012, they announced that they would stop interlining baggage, but fortunately, it caused such an outrage that they changed their minds.

American Airlines

American Airlines used to allow interlining on all major airlines, but they changed that in October 2014. Now, they only allow interlining baggage to Oneworld partners, US Airways, AA, US Express, and American Eagle.

Delta Airlines

Delta does not allow interlining of baggage to other carriers, even other SkyTeam members. It sucks, I know.

Frontier Airlines

Frontier does not interline baggage to other carriers.

Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines is not part of an alliance, but they do have interline agreements with 28 other airlines.

JetBlue

JetBlue has interline agreements with 37 different airlines, so if you have a multiple award tickets, you should have no problem interlining through JetBlue.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest does not interline baggage.

Spirit Airlines

Spirit does not interline baggage.

United Airlines

United is by far the most generous US airline when it comes to interlining. They have agreements with most Star Alliance carriers, Oneworld carriers, and Skyteam carriers as well as major non-alliance carriers. The only caveat, is that you have to pay United fees for baggage regardless of your second ticket’s class.

US Airways

US Airways does not allow you to interline your baggage to other carriers, however, once the merger of US and AA completes, I’m sure this will change to AA’s policy.

Conclusion

Interlining your baggage is by far the best way to deal with checked bags on multiple award tickets. Without it, you’d have to run through the hassle of picking up your baggage, rechecking it, and going through security again. It’s a slick deal. Now if only all airlines had interline agreements…


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