Reader question – am I protected for a mis-connect when traveling OneWorld carriers on separate tickets?

Posted on February 26, 2016 by in Travel Agent Rate, Travel Deals

MightyTravels 2016-02-26 at 12.15.20 PM

I do that a lot – buy separate tickets on different airlines to get from A to B. Just last week we traveled from San Francisco to Los Angeles on Southwest and on to Aruba with Copa Airlines (Review) . I’m always a bit anxious about delays and a misconnect – in thsi case we had 6 hours – that a lot of time to spend at an airport. I usually leave at least 4 hours for different tickets on separate carriers.

But how about the policy we have all heard of at American Airlines? American has mentioned the re-accommendation policy (which it calls OneWorld policy) in several documents intended for travel agents (not the general public).

MightyTravels 2016-02-26 at 12.05.55 PM

This spells it out very clearly – if you have two OneWorld tickets you should be treated like on one ticket. That is reassuring!

Also in this Flyertalk thread a reader posted his reply from emailing Oneworld:

[Response from the VP Membership and Customer Experience]

Thank you for your note enquiring about through service provided in the event of separate point-to-point tickets, which our VP Corporate Communications forwarded for my review.

As an alliance, oneworld member airlines follow agreed procedures to provide through check-in service for passengers holding separate tickets involving another oneworld member airline. However, we have chosen not to highlight this service on our website.

Traveling on separate tickets for a single itinerary can compromise our member airlines’ ability to provide proper through service for our customers. For example, our ability to provide through check-in service can be compromised if passenger names are not entered in exactly the same way during the two separate booking processes; one booking under the name of Smith/JohnA (for example, in the BA system for the LHR-HKG flight) may not support proper system links to a separate reservation made under the name of Smith/JohnAlexander (for example, in the CX system for the HKG-SYD flight). While customers can overcome the through check-in concern with website check-in for both segments, further baggage handling problems may be caused by those separate check-ins, as the second carrier – in your example, CX – may not receive adequate baggage information from the first carrier.

Once a passenger is through-checked, that passenger is provided protection in the event of a flight disruption, even if the passenger has chosen to purchase separate tickets.

I hope this answers your question. Thank you for your support of our oneworld member airlines.

This indicates again the willingness to re-accommodate customers if say Cathay Pacific fails to connect you to S7 or vice versa.

The problem though is that none of this information is available for the general customer. Most airlines are very good at re-booking should they cause a delay but things get hairy when it’s a purely weather related cause. Many Chinese airlines (oneWorld has only Cathay pacific which is very good at rebooking!) do not follow international procedures and think rebooking is a thing from another planet.

The Mighty Travels reader in question has two Qatar tickets (one paid, one award) with a sufficient, but rather short connection time on two international itineraries. If we take the above stated at face value Qatar should accommodate him in case of a mis-connect. This should especially be the case when Qatar itself is operating all the legs and will ahve an easy time to ‘link the tickets’.

However since there is no public policy to rely on (and claim compensation if things go awry) – so there is some level of risk left.

Several German insurance companies used to offer a ‘transit insurance’ that would pay up to $500 in case of a mis-connect that was not your fault. Any kind of flight combinations was allowed including discount airlines as long as a minimum connection time was observed. However most companies have already phased out this product.