My boyfriend and I are going to take the flight Lima (Peru) - Madrid (Spain) (1 hour layover) - London Heathrow (3 hours layover) - Stockholm Sweden. Our booking was made through Iberia and the whole trip has already been set; in Heathrow we will fly with British Airways but with an Iberia flying code.

However, my boyfriend will only be flying to Madrid because he has to stay there for one day and then he'll come to Sweden the next day with another new flight.

Since he has to catch the train in Madrid fast after landing we prefer that his luggage goes all the way to Stockholm Sweden with me so I can take it home with me. But we are afraid that once they realize that he is not on board from Madrid-London-Stockholm that they will take out his luggage in London and keep it there.

Does anybody know how it works? I've called Iberia and they only say you will have to see at the airport which is not helpful at all. Does someone know or has any experience?

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    What's the matter with the obvious solution to this, which is that you check his luggage as yours, in which case it will fly with you? – DJClayworth Jun 8 '15 at 3:22
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    Hi, thanks for replying. No, he also has his ticket to Stockholm as end destination. However due to changes afterwards he has to stay in Madrid and will be traveling to Sweden with a new ticket the next day. The matter is that Iberia tells us his luggage probably will go all the way to Stockholm since he will be checked in from Lima-Madrid flight but we wont know until we are at the airport and then the charges for me to add another luggage (his) would be a total of 180$ which is unecessary money if his luggage actually goes all the way without problems. – Elle Jun 8 '15 at 3:41
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    @Elle His baggage will definitely not be onboard if he is not. – Calchas Jun 8 '15 at 11:26
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    @Elle Also, any additional sectors on your boyfriend's ticket will be cancelled if he misses his flight. So I hope you are finishing your journey in Sweden and not returning to Peru? – Calchas Jun 8 '15 at 11:26
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    Often I found that they assign both luggages to a single passenger (i.e. both receipt have the same name on it). Maybe if you ask the person at the baggage drop they will put both on your name. – algiogia Jun 8 '15 at 13:44

Unaccompanied bags are only allowed in freight not on passenger flights.

As you will have to show your boarding pass at the gate at Heathrow, this will be checked against the luggage loaded. If the passenger is missing or hasn't boarded, their luggage will be offloaded due to security concerns.

This is normal practice across almost all airlines/airports I have traveled to; and to tell you the truth, it causes a large amount of delay as the plane is generally boarded but can't taxi from the gate as they have to open the luggage hold to find the passengers luggage, offload it, possibly re-bin the rest of the luggage, load it again and then adjust the manifest.

It would be very rare case that your boyfriend's luggage traveled unaccompanied - I can imagine this if you don't deplane at your transit points - but this is highly unlikely given your itinerary.

I can offer you two solutions:

  1. Simply check in together and have his luggage tagged with your reservation; that way the bags won't be offloaded even if your boyfriend is.

  2. Have your boyfriend courier/cargo his luggage in advance. That way his luggage will be at the destination even if he doesn't fly (or is late), plus you don't have to worry about overweight fees and hauling luggage around the airport.

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    Indeed, unaccompanied transit baggage at Heathrow is taken extremely seriously after this incident: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pan_Am_Flight_103 – Calchas Jun 8 '15 at 11:24
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    I think its almost universal the way its handled; not just Heathrow due to security issues. – Burhan Khalid Jun 8 '15 at 11:25
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    Surprisingly the US carriers do not always apply this policy on domestic flights – Calchas Jun 8 '15 at 11:27
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    3. Have him take his luggage with him, whatever combination of flights he takes. – DJClayworth Jun 8 '15 at 13:12
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    Calchas is right, US domestics don't do this, which came as a huge surprise to me after years of European flying. They have the longest and most complicated security checks in the world, but they they allow a gaping security hole like that. – DJClayworth Jun 8 '15 at 13:15

Considering that airlines typically won't ship luggage that's not connected to a flying passenger, your best bet, if you can't check in your boyfriend's luggage, is for you boyfriend to travel with his luggage himself.

Unless you get clear confirmation his luggage will travel all the way to Stockholm, I suspect you run the risk of his luggage being offloaded in either Madrid or London.

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    And offloaded with a significant delay to all the other passengers on the plane. – David Richerby Jun 8 '15 at 8:56

Even if you were to make the luggage come off in London, this is not the end of your troubles. I spent 3 hours at a Qatar Airways desk waiting to get baggage that could not be short-checked/ short-tagged for a 20 hours overnight stop. I'm not sure Heathrow will be better.

Off the top of my head, I also think that they are subject to security searches if nobody claims the bag, especially if the owner is nowhere to be found (such as wondering if he can get his bag at the service desk). There are also suggestions online that some airline are quick to 'fine' you to give your bags back.

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