Delta and most of the other US network carriers have checked in bags to the final destinations even when the passengers have had separate tickets. This practice is coming to an end on Delta starting on January 15, 2013. Delta has issued the following statement, although it is not publicly available on Delta.com.
Effective for travel on or after January 15, 2013, Delta Air Lines policy will be to check a passenger’s baggage between the origin and destination points that are indicated on a single or conjuncted ticket exclusively. If a second ticket is presented for travel on another airline beyond the destination of the first ticket, the passenger will be advised that Delta will only check the bag to the destination on the first ticket(s). The passenger must collect the baggage at baggage claim for their first ticketed destination, and then re-check their baggage with the down-line carrier for the next flight.
Previously, in cases where a passenger presented more than one ticket to a Delta airport agent at the origination point, Delta would offer to check the baggage from the origin on one Delta ticket to the final destination on the second ticket, collecting both Delta’s and the other airline’s fees. This was done on a courtesy basis but has never been part of an official policy.
The policy update does not apply to interline itineraries, wherein the passenger has an entire journey on one ticket. In these situations, Delta will continue to check baggage through to the ticketed destination as normal policy.
This clarification of policy helps Delta ensure that checked baggage service is consistent for all customers.
Below are examples of a single-ticket and multi-ticket scenarios.
Single ticket example:
Ticket 1 – ATL-LAX on a Delta flight connecting to another airline operating LAX-NRT.
Delta Policy: Delta will check the baggage from ATL to LAX to NRT.
Multi ticket example:
Ticket 1 – ATL-LAX on a Delta flight
Ticket 2 – LAX-NRT on a different airline
Delta Policy: Delta will check the baggage for the ATL to LAX flight only. Upon the flight’s arrival at LAX, the passenger must collect the baggage at the Delta baggage claim and then proceed to check it with the down-line carrier for the next flight LAX to NRT.
There are often discounted air fares that do not allow end-to-end ticketing i.e. using Delta filed fare to Los Angeles and Cathay Pacific filed fare from Los Angeles to Hong Kong. Until January 15, 2012, Delta can (or could) check your baggage through to Hong Kong. After January 15, you need to collect your bag(s) in Los Angeles and recheck with Cathay Pacific.
There is no need for Delta to do this. Sometimes having separate tickets is the only sensible solutions. Passengers must reserve lot of extra time for picking up bags, considering how long it usually takes for US carriers to deliver them, and then rechecking them with other carriers.
There are airlines that dot not through check bags with other carriers if on separate tickets unless they are on the same alliance. Delta won’t even do this.
The reason behind this customer unfriendly move has to be the goal of collecting more checked bag fees. There really isn’t any other reason behind this dumb move.