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I will be flying from Brussels (BRU) -- via London (LHR) and Calgary (YYC) -- to Saskatoon (YXE). And then back the same way. On the way to Canada, I have a 2.5 hour connection in London and 4 hours in Calgary, while on the return trip both connections are 2.5 hours.

The whole trip was booked via British Airways website.
British Airways operate all the flights except Calgary-Saskatoon and Saskatoon-Calgary that is operated by WestJet.

I am wondering at which points I will have access to my checked luggage and at which points I will have to pick it up and drop off for the next leg of the flight.

Questions

  1. On my way there, I will drop my luggage in Brussels.
    Will I see my luggage in London?
    Will I see it in Calgary?
    Do I have to do anything with my luggage (pick up and drop off again) in either of these airports?

  2. On my way back, I will drop my luggage in Saskatoon.
    Will I see it in Calgary?
    Will I see it in London?
    Do I have to do anything with my luggage (pick up and drop off again) in either of these airports?

Related question: "Check-in luggage at connecting flight in Toronto".

  • 1
    I have about 2.5 hours in London, 4 hours in Calgary, then on the return trip 2.5 hours in Calgary and 2.5 hours in London. It's tight, but I hope I will make it :) I have the impression that LHR is a place where the luggage can get lost. I would like to recheck it manually in London. My guess is that I will have to recheck in Calgary on my way there and in London on my way back. But I am not sure. – Richard Hardy Sep 29 '16 at 18:53
  • The regular-sized cabin piece will generally be "gate checked" for small aircraft, such as the one you might be on between Calgary and Saskatoon. You're not going to have such a small plane between Calgary and London, though, so you'll only risk being deprived of your bag if the flight is very full and you board late. – phoog Sep 30 '16 at 15:18
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On the way out, your bag will be checked as far as Calgary. This is because there is a customs inspection at Calgary; your onward flight is domestic. You will collect the bag at Calgary after passport control, it may or may not be examined, and then you will drop the bag ready for its onward flight.

On the return your bag will be checked all the way to its final destination, Brussels, you will not need to collect or redrop it.

Your times are perfectly adequate for this to work.


I see from your comment that you are interested in short checking the bag to London. BA has a strict policy of not accommodating this request, because they feel it permits abuse of their pricing structure, which prices based on demand between city pairs, not based on number of flights taken or what the intermediate points are.

Still, you may find that WestJet agents have no idea about BA’s policies and are willing to accommodate your request, although with your relatively short connection time you’ve undermined that argument. You can also go to the bag claim at Heathrow and ask for your bag to be retrieved, it will not be sent to Brussels without you for security reasons. In future it is worth booking these kind of arrangements with an airport change in London, since that forces delivery of the bag at London.

  • @pnuts, was that a joke or is it serious? – Richard Hardy Sep 30 '16 at 5:39
  • @Calchas, when I was booking the flight I did not intend to exit in London - honestly. But my plans changed and now I would like to do that. But I am pretty interested in your statement it will not be sent to Brussels without you for security reasons. Really? What if I don't tell them anything and just do not show up for the last leg, will they off-load my luggage and leave it in London? How long could it take to get my luggage then? Just go to the bag claim, and there I find it? – Richard Hardy Sep 30 '16 at 5:43
  • @RichardHardy After a number of terrorist attacks in the 1970s and 1980s where passengers checked in exploding bags and then miraculously failed to board the aircraft, in Europe airlines have a policy of offloading bags if the passenger does not board. Probably the most famous example was Pan Am 103. At Heathrow Terminal 5, if you do not scan your boarding pass to enter the terminal, your bag will actually never be loaded onto the aircraft anyway. It could take an hour or two for it to be manually extracted from the baggage pool, depending how busy everyone is. – Calchas Sep 30 '16 at 8:36
  • @Calchas, thank you. I thought I would land and depart from the same terminal (I might easily be wrong), so then I would not have to enter the terminal and scan the boarding pass. Unless it is done when leaving the plane and walking into the terminal building or somehow similar. I will wait for any other answer and/or opinions before I accept the answer (I upvoted it already). – Richard Hardy Sep 30 '16 at 9:08
  • @RichardHardy You will land and depart from the same terminal. But at LHR T5, if you decide to follow the "connections" route to continue your flight, then your boarding pass is scanned before you go through security into the departure area. Unlike at some other airports, you cannot (easily) leave the departure terminal once you enter it. If you decide to exit at London, you will need to follow the signs for "Arrivals and baggage claim" and your boarding pass will not be scanned. – Calchas Sep 30 '16 at 9:17
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I did a similar connection three years ago although except for Heathrow each of my airports was a different one: My trip was FRA–LHR–YVR–YEG and back.

On your outbound flight, you will check in your bag in Brussels and not see it in London. You should go through the flight connections lanes at Heathrow and directly board your aeroplane to Canada.

Upon touching down on Canadian soil the first time in Calgary, you will have to first pass through Canadian immigration, then collect your bag and then potentially have it checked by a customs officer. (Incidentally, the first passport check seems to be only to determine whether additional questioning is required and thus whether the passenger needs to be separated after having collected their luggage — at least, that was my impression when I was asked to take the ‘other exit’ in Vancouver.) Assuming that you clear all of this, you then drop off or recheck your bag for the final, domestic leg of your flight.


On your return flight, this is different. Your only true domestic leg is the first one and there is no law in Europe stating that you must claim your luggage, pass through customs and immigration and then recheck them as is the case for Canada. Thus, your bags will be checked the entire distance through to Brussels. If all goes well, you will not see them once on that route. No rechecking is required anywhere.


You mention that you are worried about your luggage getting lost. While that is technically always a possibility it is just something that can happen and that you will have to live with. I personally have not had any luggage of mine get lost but I am not really a frequent air traveller. In any case, if your luggage is lost, it will be found by the airline or airport staff and forwarded to you as soon as possible. Since it would have been lost out of your control but in the airline’s or airport’s control, it is their responsibility to get it back.

  • You say In any case, if your luggage is lost, it will be found by the airline or airport staff and forwarded to you as soon as possible. Since it would have been lost out of your control but in the airline’s or airport’s control, it is their responsibility to get it back. What really matters for me is that I cannot afford losing the baggage, no matter who is to blame. That's why I will try to get away with hand luggage only. Thank you for your answer on exiting in London, but that was not included in my original question (although you edited that part in from the comments). – Richard Hardy Sep 30 '16 at 15:12
  • @RichardHardy Okay, you seem to have removed both the comment and the bit I added from the comment, so I decided to remove that part from my answer as it’s no longer relevant ;) I’ve always wondered why people are so keen on maximising their hand luggage in a plane but your argument of ‘not being able to afford it getting lost’ seems sound-ish. To me, having the luggage get lost is just some residual uncertainty that is rare and I cannot account for like a snowstorm delaying my plane. – Jan Sep 30 '16 at 15:44
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    Jan, I get your point. Most of the time temporary loss of luggage would not be too big of deal for me either, just this time is different. Regarding the snowstorm example: you cannot do much about; but you can choose between cabin and checked luggage, so if the checked luggage gets lost, you can still blame yourself to some extent. – Richard Hardy Sep 30 '16 at 16:30

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