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Whenever I fly I always have my baggage sent to my final destination so I don't have to pick it up again and check-in at a transit airport.

My next flight layover time is very tight and if I might miss it for some reason, can my family at the destination airport claim my baggage on my behalf?

  • Which airports are we talking about? That could change it from "it's conceivable in some circumstances" to "not gonna happen." – Zach Lipton Jan 25 '17 at 20:31
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I believe that the airline will not carry normal checked bags unless the passenger is on board. I have been on several flights where the captain has indicated that a check-in passenger has not boarded the plane and therefore the flight is delayed until they unload that passenger's bags.

I assume that if you miss your connection the airline will rebook you to another flight and your bags will accompany you on the new flight.

An exception to "passengers and bags on same plane" is when my bags were not put on my plan and instead were delivered on the next flight. But I guess the security risks in this case are not the same, I could not choose to fly on a different plane to my bags.

  • I've had my bags sent on planes I've not been on multiple times. The airlines normally don't care when it's a second flight. Otherwise the rule is the airline may separate your bags from you but you can't separate from your bags. (If it's involuntary you can't plan on it so as to separate from the bomb you packed.) – Loren Pechtel Jan 31 '17 at 1:36
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Technically NO. This is because it is not their baggage.

But, there is a lot going on here so there is no way to definitely answer this question.

If you miss the connection, it is possible/probable, though not always required, that your luggage be unloaded from the flight.*

Alternatively, depending on the airline and attentiveness of baggage service at the destination, if your bags do go ahead of you, they may be send directly to storage instead of the carousel.

In that case, it may depend on the discretion of whoever is staffing the luggage desk. Maybe your spouse can collect them, maybe not.

*For the nitpickers, there are different rules for irregular situations though today, airlines do a much better job of keeping baggage with the passenger and will prefer to offload. This is because it's much easier to locate bags now and baggage going ahead is a different scenario than lost/delayed baggage.

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