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Last year, when boarding the first leg of a three-leg ticket which had two checked bags per person, the airline (United) check-in attendant did not recognize that the second bag was already included and forced me to pay $100 for the second bag (just for the first leg). They instructed me to pay the fee then, and later follow up with the other airline (Turkish Airlines) for a refund. That turned out to be a run-around culminating in United credit (which I couldn't even use because I did not purchase the ticket from them).

This year I have a similar flight, and based on reports from others with the same route I expect the same confusion. What can I do to prepare and prove to the attendants that their computer is wrong and the ticket already includes the second bag?

Unfortunately I don't have any form of documentation which shows the ticket along with the number of checked bags. The travel agency repeatedly confirmed that all three legs have two checked bags each, and the agent did provide this excerpt:

UPTO50LB/23KG AND UPTO62LI/158LCM
UPTO50LB/23KG AND UPTO62LI/158LCM

Is that likely to be enough?


Update: the above was not enough, nor a print-out from the Turkish Airlines confirmation page which showed two checked bags for the United flight. I was forced to pay again. The attendant said that the only way I would be allowed to check my second bag for free is if I had documentation from United Airlines which confirmed that I had two checked bags included in the ticket.


Some more information which I think might be useful from an answer that was deleted:

So far I have not found a way to avoid this unfair charge. All I have right now is a list of things which don't work:

  1. Presenting documentation which shows that the bags are included in the ticket base fare. This includes excerpts from the GDS or from the reservation page of other airlines. Documentation which does not come from the airline (United) will not be considered.

  2. Following the attendant's advice and seeking a refund from the airline who sold the ticket. Turkish Airlines will state that United was wrong to charge you and send you back to United.

  3. Trying to get a refund from United online. One option which will be presented is a misleadingly-named "instant refund", which will give you credit for that airline, which you will not be able to use if you don't purchase tickets from them. I did not receive a response after seeking an appeal for the "instant refund".

The attendant's explanation was that, per United policy, regardless of what's in the ticket or reservation, it is United's policy to always allow only one free checked bag, unless the ticket was purchased directly from United Airlines.

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  • So you paid for 2 checked bags, but then "don't have any form of documentation which shows the ticket along with the number of checked bags". How does this make any sense? Multi-airline tickets show me exactly which leg gives me how many bags, and I've skipped over ones where they do not give me the same allowances. Did you somehow buy a multi-leg ticket from Turkish Airline? I didn't know they can give you a United ticket... Are you sure you aren't using a flight aggregator?
    – Nelson
    Mar 14, 2023 at 5:38
  • Essentially all the automatic emails I have don't have the number of bags on them. What do you mean by "show me", where are you looking at the ticket? Yes, you can buy e.g. a KIV-IST-ORD-MSP ticket from Turkish Airlines, and that has United as the ORD-MSP leg. Anyway in the end this did not matter at all, no amount of documentation would have been satisfactory for the attendant. I was told that even if Turkish Airlines sells you a ticket which has 2 bags for each leg, United does not honor that and will force you to pay for the second bag if they are the first flight. No idea if this is legal. Mar 14, 2023 at 16:49
  • Here is the bit from the Turkish Airlines reservation confirmation page: dump.cy.md/37d22bda225d4184c9e30dd5bcfe8c92/… . However, the attendant did not even want to look at it because it did not come from United. Mar 14, 2023 at 16:58
  • So far I have not found a way to avoid this unfair charge. All I have right now is a list of things which don't work: 1. Presenting documentation which shows that the bags are included in the ticket base fare. This includes excerpts from the GDS or from the reservation page of other airlines. Documentation which does not come from the airline (United) will not be considered. 2. Following the attendant's advice and seeking a refund from the airline who sold the ticket. Turkish Airlines will state that United was wrong to charge you and send you back to United. 3. Trying to get a refund from Uni Mar 14, 2023 at 17:26
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    I hate to say it, but I think that this sort of debacle may be better addressed by causing a PR nightmare for United. EG Tweeting the CEO and all the PR people you can find.
    – Peter M
    Mar 14, 2023 at 18:10

1 Answer 1

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In the end, I was able to get a refund.

Here is the timeline:

  • 2023-03-13: Checked in and was forced to pay for the bags.
  • 2023-03-15: Sent copy of the bag charge receipt to the agency.
  • 2023-03-18: First message from the agency's special services team. They have contacted United, but received no response for many weeks. They continued to provide weekly updates stating this.
  • 2023-05-10: United replied stating that "We've verified that you didn't meet all conditions for a baggage waiver", thus rejecting the refund request.
  • 2023-05-17: Agency contacted Turkish Airlines. Once again, there was no response for a while, but the agency continued to provide periodic updates.
  • 2023-05-28: Agency replied stating they received a reply from United. (I'm guessing Turkish Airlines sent them back to United, same as what happened to me last year.) The message states that United's "Refunds Department has made a one-time exception and processed a refund".
  • 2023-05-30: I received the refund to my card.

Although I have closure, unfortunately it is not clear whose fault this problem was (United performed the refund without admitting any fault) or how to avoid this in the future. My only advice would be to book with a good agency that will fight with the airlines on your behalf.

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  • Or avoid more than one piece of luggage.
    – Willeke
    Jun 13, 2023 at 14:01
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    Something worth noting, from the agency I've heard that this problem is specific to United and Turkish Airlines. Possibly they have agreements with other US airlines but something went wrong with United. So "avoid United" may also apply. Jun 13, 2023 at 14:03
  • United just seems to have a crappy IT system. Had a similar issue with a flight booked at Swiss, where the international leg was premium economy and included two bags, which extended to the US domestic United leg. United personnel at the airport admitted that the second bag should be free, but were unable to waive the charge. Had to pay and apply for reimbursement.
    – helm
    Jun 13, 2023 at 15:07

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