Home Airlines Can You Check Bags To Your Destination With Two Different Reservations?

Can You Check Bags To Your Destination With Two Different Reservations?

by joeheg

The rules for checking a bag with airlines can be confusing. It gets even more complicated when you’re connecting between two different airlines. So imagine if you’re not only flying with two airlines, but on separate reservations.

You’ll see the term PNR, which stands for Passenger Name Record. That’s the six-character number assigned to your airline reservation. You can save several flights under the same PNR, even from different airlines. If that’s the case, you should have no problems as long as the airlines are in the same alliance. 

What I’m talking about is when you have made one reservation with one airline and a separate reservation for your connecting flight.

The answer to the question of whether or not you can check the bags from your departure airport to your final destination is, well, complicated. This is because there’s a difference between what’s possible, what’s reasonable, and what’s required.

Each U.S. airline has its own rule about interlined baggage. If you need to know what the airlines are expected to do, that’s where to start.

What’s our experience when interlining bags on separate reservations?

We rarely need to book separate reservations so I have a limited data set to go on, but when I’ve needed to do so, my success rate when checking bags from different PNRs has been 100%.

Now, I’m not asking for anything out of the ordinary. On the contrary, I try to make sure I’m booking flights where it should be easy to interline bags, such as sticking to the same airline alliance for all of the flights. I also usually am trying to do this when I’m checking in for a business class flight, which I’m sure has helped my odds in getting a helpful check-in agent.

On our trip to see Christmas markets, we started our journey in Salzburg, Austria. I already had reserved our award flight on Singapore Airlines from New York JFK to Frankfurt. When searching for flights from Frankfurt to Salzburg, the only non-stop was on Austrian Airlines (which was later changed to a Lufthansa flight). I booked award tickets for the connecting flight using 8,000 United miles.

Singapore and Lufthansa are both Star Alliance members but that doesn’t mean they have to check bags between the airlines. When I looked into it, I found a link to Singapore Airlines’ checked baggage policy. That didn’t help me figure out anything at all.

What I did was let the agent know when checking in for our Singapore flight that we had a connecting flight from Frankfurt on Lufthansa and asked if he could check our bags to our final destination. I provided the PNR for our Lufthansa flight and with a few taps on his keyboard, out came our luggage tags with our bags checked all the way to Salzburg.

Will this work for you?

I wish there was a set answer I could give but there are so many variables, including the willingness of the employee who is checking your bags at your departure airport, that there’s no sure thing. Delta and United have published policies where they will check bags through if you’re flying on an alliance partner. American’s policy says they will not check the bag through on separate PNRs with partner airlines or even with their own planes.

If you’re going to make two separate reservations, make sure to leave enough time during your connection to plan for the worst-case scenario. That would be if you were required to pick up your bags from the baggage claim and go back to the check-in desk for your connecting flight. If you’re connecting in a country that requires a visa for you to enter, this may be a problem and in that case, it would make sense to book flights on the same PNR, even it means paying a little more for the ticket. The peace of mind will be worth it.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


Rjb January 2, 2020 - 8:11 pm

I was flying On Iberia from JFK to MAD and separate PNR also on Iberia from MAD to TLV. Iberia told me to pound sand. Screw them.

DaninMCI January 3, 2020 - 6:27 am

Most of the time one world won’t through check bags like your example. They can but won’t. In addition when you fly international routes many times you will be required to pick up bags and recheck via the customs process. We fly a lot of flights with separate PNRs and you should always assume they can’t through check your bags and be pleasantly surprised when they can. Some alliances like Star are much better than other airlines. Usually we just don’t check bags when possible.

patrick kerr January 3, 2020 - 9:24 am

United and Singapore flight on separate tickets. At check in they said they couldn’t do it but when waiting for our flight out I talked to someone airside in customer service and they said it could be done and actually set it up, found out bags and re-tagged them. Depends on the experience of the one doing the check in.


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