Reader Question: SAS Elite Member Luggage Allowance On TPE-HKG-ARN When TPE-HKG Operated By Cathay?

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A LoyaltyLobby reader sent us an email about difficult situation that they had faced when checking in with Cathay Pacific (Oneworld airline) for their flight home in Taipei connecting to SAS in Hong Kong.

Cathay Pacific

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Here’s the email from the reader:

So, yesterday my fiancé and I were traveling from Taipei back home to Stockholm via Hong Kong, as the final part of a trip that was booked in February this year. The first leg was from Taipei to Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific, and the second leg was from Hong Kong to Stockholm with Scandinavian Airlines. Both flights were in Economy and on the same ticket/PNR. We both hold status with SK (Diamond and Gold), but no status with CX.

Now, SK offers their own Diamond and Gold members to check in two extra bags in addition to the quota that is already included (in this case one bag weighing a maximum of 23 kgs). CX, if I’m not mistaken, offers all Economy passengers without any status to check in 30 kgs (up to two bags).

At TPE we wanted to check in four bags (weighing 23, 23, 6 and 4 kgs). We were told that we were only allowed one piece each of a maximum of 23 kgs, something that surprised us, as SK would be the most significant carrier taking us home to ARN. We also checked with a supervisor, and he confirmed that we would have to pay for anything above 23 kgs, as the rules for most significant carrier does not include status benefits. Running out of time and options (this was an early morning flight where the check-in opened a mere 90 minutes before departure) we opted for the only option presented to us: pay a whopping 3,670 TWD for 10 kgs overweight and have the bags checked only to HKG. When informing the check-in staff that we only had a 1h 45m connection in HKG, they told us that this wouldn’t be a problem, as all we needed to do was to approach SK’s transfer desk in HKG and tell them to send the bags on to ARN. Now, of course this made no sense, but with now a mere 50 minutes until departure from TPE we had no choice but to run to security and immigration to make our first flight. At the boarding gate at TPE we asked the gate staff about what would happen, and they told us that bags that are checked only to HKG of course must be picked up there and re-checked for the next flight in person. Luckily our flight arrived a few minutes early into HKG, and being familiar with that airport – as well as holding frequent visitor status – we made our way through the airport and were able to re-check in at SK’s check-in desk 10 minutes before it closed.

Looking back at the whole experience we feel that very little of what happened made sense, and also we were probably unable to think clearly as we were stressed and suffered from lack of sleep (we got up at 02:30 that morning to make it to the airport in time). Besides from misinforming us about how the bags would be handled at HKG, was the situation handled correctly by the CX check-in staff at TPE? Or should we in fact have been entitled to check in the extra bags without any cost – either to HKG or all the way to ARN?

The problem here is that Cathay Pacific is part of Oneworld and SAS is in Star Alliance. The most significant carrier luggage allowance doesn’t take into account the extra allowance that the reader and fiance were eligible on the long-haul segment based on their SAS status. This won’t extend to the Cathay flight.

Not sure if the reader had taken full advantage of their carry-on allowance or if the extra bags were too big to take on board.

Cathay Pacific, however, could have checked all the bags though to Stockholm and collected the extra cash only for their portion and let SAS to deal with the extra on their flight (waived due to status). Not sure why they didn’t do this? The flights to Hong Kong are often delayed and the likelihood of missing the light to Sweden was great (luckily they made it).

Conclusion

Not sure why SAS here used Cathay Pacific as their feeder from Taipei when there is EVA Air too that is part of Star Alliance and the reader would have been eligible for Star Alliance Gold member extra luggage allowance on that airline?

You have to be really careful when booking mixed itineraries including codeshares on airlines that are not on same alliance. There are very few exceptions to the rule but status related benefits are 99% of the time extended based on the operating airline and not the marketing one.

I have lifetime status with both Star Alliance (United Gold) and Oneworld (AA Platinum) that helps if flying in economy. SkyTeam status comes and goes depending how many flights I take on the alliance but I have Elite Plus right now from Flying Blue.

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