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Let's say you're transiting through London with checked bags. The airline refuses to short-check your luggage. You then proceed to miss the second flight, forcing them to take your bags off the airplane. The following questions arise:

  1. Is it guaranteed that the airline won't fly your bags without yourself on the plane?

  2. Can they legally force some sort of a financial penalty for skipping the second flight?

  3. Is it generally legal (as in, not a crime) to do this?

  4. Are other complications likely to arise, e.g. a long talk with the airport security to make sure you're not a terrorist who's got cold feet?

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    What is a short-check? – Richard Everett Jul 28 '16 at 9:32
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    @RichardEverett getting your checked-in luggage before the final stop – JonathanReez Jul 28 '16 at 9:34
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    Please don't do this: it is assholery of the highest order. Everybody else on your skipped flight gets delayed half an hour while they hunt for your bags, which is already multiple wasted person-days even before they go on to miss their own connections. – David Richerby Jul 28 '16 at 11:22
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – RoflcoptrException Oct 25 '16 at 14:36
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  1. No. If the bag is supposed to be offloaded, mistakes happen and the bag could proceed to the destination without you.
  2. Yes. If they have it in their terms and conditions such as KLM, then the passenger may have agreed to pay this fee and therefore the airline is capable of requiring you to pay it. They may not insist on payment depending on circumstances. For example:

    ...I wanted to break my flight [from Muscat to LHR] in ams rather than fly to LHR... I was told in the ams lounge that the cost to search for my bags would be 275 euros [per bag].

  3. Yes. People's plans change all the times. Business travellers may be informed on landing that they need to be somewhere else. An illness or death may have occurred within the family. The passenger may be sick themselves. These things happen and airlines are capable of dealing with them.
  4. Possibly. You may be required to go through additional screening of yourself and your bags, but this would be highly variable.
  • Would the airline demand the fee is paid before giving you the bag? – JonathanReez Jul 28 '16 at 7:58
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    @JonathanReez You are the OP.... :) – Thomas Jul 28 '16 at 11:17
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    @Thomas I think JonathanReez is referring to the gentleman in AMS who paid 550 euro to retrieve his bags. I think I'd buy a new bag and new clothes – Berwyn Jul 28 '16 at 11:24
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    I would suspect that if the bags do make it to the final destination, the airline is under no obligation to fly them back. – DJClayworth Jul 28 '16 at 14:25
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    @user568458 2008 is a long time ago (in transportation security years) – stannius Jul 28 '16 at 18:53
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Is it guaranteed that the airline won't fly your bags without yourself on the plane?

Pretty much, yes. I respectfully disagree with Berwyn on this, if such a mistake would happen then people would get fired for breaching security. See my answer Why can't I travel onwards if my bag wasn't going to make the flight? here and Moyli's comment on it.

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    In the London case, it is pretty much guaranteed. In general I don't think it is. In the US it's not even a requirement. Mistakes happen, a bag gets offloaded and held in the luggage system but the tag may still be attached and it might be forwarded. You can read lots of stories about this kind of thing on FT. If it didn't happen, your luggage would never get lost! – Berwyn Jul 28 '16 at 11:17
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    @DavidRicherby Indeed. The question was "is it guaranteed?". I respectfully suggest it isn't guaranteed – Berwyn Jul 28 '16 at 11:25
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    I think you are right about the perceived security breach but it begs the question: What is the matter with (generally unaccompanied) cargo? Is it more closely examined because there is more time? – Peter A. Schneider Jul 28 '16 at 12:34
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    @PeterA.Schneider This is one reason, the other being that a terrorist, unless being insider, cannot force unaccompanied cargo on a certain plane at a certain time. Even if you check your cargo with Lufthansa from Lagos to Frankfurt, it could be on Lufthansa's mixed (Pax/Cargo) 747 from Lagos to Frankfurt, or on the FedEx feeder flight from Lagos to Cairo and then on a DHL cargo plane to Leipzig and by truck to Frankfurt, or it is taken to Cologne by UPS, and/or it is stored in a warehouse somewhere for some hours. Now good luck trying to down a passenger jet with said unaccompanied cargo. – Alexander Jul 28 '16 at 12:56
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    It is not at all guaranteed that the bag will be on the same plane that you are. It has happened to me that I arrived early after a transatlantic flight, and had a long connection (at EWR, I think); it was not possible to change to the earlier flight (which I could now catch - but which was full). But my bag made it onto that flight - when I arrived at my home airport, my bag was already waiting at the baggage office although the bags had not yet been offloaded from the plane. – Floris Jul 28 '16 at 19:44
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Just this summer I had a connection at ORD where for fare reasons I could have made a second leg flight before the one on which I was booked. One of my two bags went on the earlier, more expensive flight without me, while the other was inexplicably delayed until the second day following.

I would so not count on this as a gimmick for baggage retrieval.

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