One World Alliance and BA ticketing anomaly (long-ish)

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This topic contains 2 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Binman62 20 Jan 2011
at 17:08
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  • Anonymous

    TiredOldHack
    Participant

    Just an oddity. As some may know, on the BA website you can select your flights and then change the class of travel.

    Plan was to depart on New Year’s Eve, BA247 to Buenos Aires EZE (or Sao Paulo GRU), connecting LAN flight to Santiago SCL. World Traveller (economy) class. Return two weeks later in Club World (business). Until quite recently you couldn’t book flights to Santiago on the BA site, but now they’ve added their partner LAN to the site, so you can.

    But when you add the connection, you can’t change inbound or outbound classes, so the site will only let you fly economy or biz, both legs. Odd.

    So I opened another window onto LAN’s website, and discovered that I could do the BA flights to Buenos Aires (economy out, biz back) for £1900 a head (there were three of us) and the LAN hop to Santiago for just over £100 each. Bargain.

    But I wanted to book the whole thing in one hit, rather than two separate flights on two separate bookings, so rang BA and explained I wanted to change the class of travel for the return trip. “Oh, that’s easy,” said a breezy voice. “Just select your flights, and then you can do that.”

    “Um, er, no, I can’t. Not when I add the EZE-SCL flight.”

    There was a confident chuckle. “Would you like me to do it for you?”

    “Yes please!”

    “That’s odd. You can’t do it.”

    “That’s what I said.”

    “Well, I can get you a price if you want.”

    “Sure.”

    “The best price we can do is £3200 a head.”

    “But I can do it for £1200 less than that, booking the flights separately!”

    “You’d better do that, then.”

    So I did. And what I failed to consider was that doing it this way meant that there was not a registered connection recorded in the system, so at Heathrow the check-in desk refused to check the luggage all the way through to SCL.He said we’d have to clear immigration and customs, collect the offloaded bags, check them in, and pass back out, and I knew that wasn’t going to be possible in the 90 minutes we had between flights. Not in Argentina.

    I was referred to the ticketing desk, who calmly said that as LAN and BA were One World partners, this could indeed be done, and she did just that.

    Same on the return flight. SCL staff insisted we clear immigration at EZE, collect bags, check them in, and then pass back through immigration. I calmly explained that this was not necessary. Check-in girl consulted a colleague. Colleague backed her up. I stuck to my guns. Colleague went to take further instructions, and came back and said: “It is not possible because BA is not a partner airline with LAN.”

    Oh yes it is!”

    She went off again. Came back beaming. “Yes, we can check your luggage through.”

    We still had to check ourselves into the connecting flights, each way, but that can be done airside (at the gate or in the business lounge).

    Essential to know that partner airlines can do the luggage thing, even if the staff themselves don’t know it!

    I also have a nasty suspicion that without a registered connection, you may be stranded if you miss a flight. Confirmation or denial, anyone?

    And why the cost discrepancy? In theory, it ought to be cheaper booking the flights in one hit, but it wasn’t.


    Binman62
    Participant

    Tiredoldhack…..you are quite right, if you missed a connection when on separate tickets the onward carrier has every right to hold you to the terms and conditions of the ticket and that could result in you being stranded.

    BA.com is probably the worst for pricing itins involving more than one carrier. I find that AA.com provides a far better indication of price for such trips and then call BA with the fare basis codes. It is not full proof by any means but it is generally better than BA.

    Through fares are also generally higher than point to point which means a lot of people take advantage as you did but there are clearly risks. Losing a £50 one sector is one thing but a 1 way EZE LHR is quite another.

    Shop around is my advice, trailfinders, kayak.com and orbitiz are pretty good. If you have time a stop at the transit point can sometimes pay for itself by what is saved if use point to point fares but do not want to risk a lengthy delay.

    As for the operational issues with bags. I understand that even when travelling on any given alliance there is no requirement for them to thru check bags if you are not on a through ticket. The comments however by LAN staff that they are not partnesr with BA are regretably not surprising and not limited to LAN. There is little co-operation between BA and QF at haethrow and I suspect the average BA checkin agent would struggle to know all the one world carriers. It always makes me smile ruefully when I here crew say ” if you need assistance contact any or any of our one world partners”.

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