How do baggage transfers work on a journey with multiple connections?
Wednesday 23 October 2013
Q. I am travelling from Heathrow to Cusco in Peru via Madrid and Lima. My flights will be with BA/Iberia and LAN. Will I need to collect my bags at each airport and re-check them or do the airlines do this for me? Getting this information from the airlines seems harder than I had expected. Adrian Oliver, Herts
A. First, it's regrettable that the airlines can't help you; a good travel agent would. But here's the system. For most international flights with an immediate connection, baggage is tagged to the entry point for your destination country (in your case, this will be Peru's capital, Lima). This is the norm for "online" connections at an airline's hub, eg Air France via Paris, Lufthansa via Frankfurt and the Gulf-based airlines via Dubai, Doha or Abu Dhabi.
It also applies for many inter-carrier journeys – especially for alliances. British Airways, Iberia and LAN are all part of the Oneworld Alliance and you can certainly expect your bag to be transferred automatically at Madrid. Check that a tag with the code LIM is applied before the case disappears down the baggage belt at Heathrow Terminal 5.
So why is the bag not checked all the way through to your final destination, Cusco? Because the last leg, the hour-long hop across from Lima, is a domestic flight. As there is no customs check at Cusco, it must be examined in Lima. In my experience, this is the most cursory of formalities. Don't be surprised to be invited to press a button that triggers, randomly, a light – either green or red. The theory is that, if it is green, you waltz straight through, while if it is red then your possessions get minutely examined. In practice, you will probably be waved through, whatever the colour. You will then need to check the bag in again.
There are two big exceptions to this policy. The first is when you are transitting via the US. America has no transit lounges, and insists that all people and their possessions are examined upon arrival.
The other exception, which certainly won't apply to your journey, is low-cost airlines – particularly in Europe. Plenty of Scots fly on easyJet to one of the London airports, and change planes to Continental Europe. Every time, they have to reclaim their bags and nip around to the bag drop to check them in again.
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 1 Avengers: Age of Ultron: Nearly 700 German cinemas refuse to show movie
- 2 Donald Trump decides that Baltimore riots are Barack Obama's fault
- 3 X Factor in crisis as numbers of people auditioning plummets
- 4 General Election 2015: Stephen Hawking says he will vote Labour
- 5 Baltimore riots: Furious mother marches her son home live on TV
French air-traffic controllers strike Q&A: When is the strike and which travellers will be affected?
A380 celebrates first decade in flight - but how long will the Superjumbo's time in the sky last?
Best large holiday homes and cottages in the UK for a group, family, hen do or stag party
The 10 Best lightweight luggage
The most powerful passports in the world
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
EU exit would hit UK economy much harder than neighbouring countries, study finds
Andrew Lloyd Webber: Phantom of the Opera writer mocked after issuing a warning about Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon
General election 2015: Labour will toughen hate crimes legislation surrounding Islamophobia
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This hotel in Chadderton is a p...
£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...
£15310 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has arisen for a...
£24000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Situated in the heart of Bradfo...