I think it's better if I tell a short example:

I plan on going from country A to country B, and I find out that it is cheaper if I pass by country X. However, the flights from A to X and then from X to B have to be booked separately with unrelated airlines 1 and 2.

Is it usually possible to ask airline 1 to automatically transfer my luggage on arrival to city X, to the plane managed by airline 2?

Or do I have to grab my luggage myself and go through customs and airport-security?

  • 6
    It is of course always possible to ask.
    – fkraiem
    Jun 16, 2016 at 12:39
  • 3
    @fkraiem Sure but the question is equally obviously using "ask" as a polite version of "tell them to do it and have it actually happen." Jun 16, 2016 at 13:02
  • If you do this, be sure to allow much more time than usual for the connection in X. If you have a connecting flight on the same ticket, the airline is responsible for getting you to X early enough to catch your onward flight; if you miss the connection, they'll put you on the next plane. However, on two separate tickets, you are responsible for getting to X on time. If your flight there is delayed, it's your fault and the airline has no obligations to you. Jun 16, 2016 at 13:07
  • 1
    I don't think this is too broad. The fact that the answer is "it depends completely on which airlines you're talking about" is useful and non-obvious. Jun 16, 2016 at 13:10
  • @DavidRicherby you should convert your comment into an answer. Jun 16, 2016 at 14:05

2 Answers 2


Unfortunately, there is no "usually" in this scenario. Luggage transfer is only possible if there is a baggage interlining agreement, and only available if there is a specific policy allowing it. For example, some airlines allow intra-alliance throuch-check on separate tickets, some only allow it on same airline, and some disallow it altogether.

It is always preferable to have both flights ticketed on the same PNR, which may not be possible by buying directly, but may be possible by using a travel agent. If both/multiple flights are on one PNR, this allows additional luggage transfer interlining opportunities that othewise wouldn't be possible.

Edit: By PNR, I'm referring to a specific reservation or Passenger Name Record referenced by a short alphanumeric code termed a record locator. Multiple, otherwise separate flights may be booked under one PNR, and in some cases this may provide additional protection and capabilities such as the ability to transfer luggage.

  • 1
    Thanks for the answer! I just found this related question: "travel.stackexchange.com/questions/57382/…" Combined with your answer I think I have all the informations I need.
    – Dryr
    Jun 16, 2016 at 10:36
  • 2
    @Dryr Ok. Be careful what you read though. These things are subject to change and sometimes at the whims of check-in agents unless you are certain of their policies and your rights. Sometimes they may do a through-check even though they don't have to
    – Berwyn
    Jun 16, 2016 at 10:41
  • 1
    I see. I'll go read more informations about the policies of the concerned airports. Also just in case I think I'll stay overnight in the city where I'll make the transfer. Thx for the advice.
    – Dryr
    Jun 16, 2016 at 11:14
  • What does "PNR" mean? Jun 16, 2016 at 13:03
  • 1
    @Dryr On the times I've needed to book separate tickets, that's what I've typically done, too (stayed overnight, that is.) Baggage aside, if you book separate tickets, you will usually have no recourse with either airline if the first one is late causing you to miss your next flight. However, if you book as a single ticket, they are generally responsible for getting you to your final destination one way or another if one of the flights is delayed/cancelled/etc.
    – reirab
    Jun 16, 2016 at 14:38

Speaking from personal experience, I would strongly warn against this.

I had once a ticket from Raleigh, NC to JFK with American Airlines, where, 2 and a half hours later I was to change over to Air France and continue on to Stuttgart via Paris.

The lady at the check-in in Raleigh happily recorded all my flight numbers so I wouldn't have to pick up the luggage in JFK (where I also had to change terminals).

I'm not 100% sure, where exactly things went wrong (see footnote below[1]), but I arrived in Stuttgart, whereas my bag didn't. Since I was coming back from a 3-week business trip and leaving for another week-long trip the next day, it was most unpleasant to end up with only two sets of clean underwear.

The bag was, nonetheless, delivered a couple of days later to my employer's address.

[1] - Perhaps 2.5 hours was too short to transfer the bag between terminals and airline in JFK. On the other hand, the flight to Paris went behind schedule and I had to wait until the next flight to Stuttgart in CDG. Amusingly, the last time I flew via Paris (this time from Stuttgart to Moscow, on a single ticket with Air France), my bag also got lost. So it's hard to decide, what was the real problem, the change in airline or the shortcoming of Air France and/or the nature of CDG.

  • 1
    Bags get lost every day. They get lost on single airline transfers. They get lost on single flights with no flight change. That's just a fact of travel.
    – Berwyn
    Jun 16, 2016 at 16:51
  • True, it's hard to build up a statistic from few isolated data points, but there are mine.
    – LLlAMnYP
    Jun 16, 2016 at 16:59
  • I'm sure your data point will be noted. I never check in bags but my wife did on her last flight and it got lost. She got a $200 visa card for the inconvenience. I should check in bags...
    – Berwyn
    Jun 16, 2016 at 17:02

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