A Useful Airline Baggage Rule I Didn’t Think I Knew

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Every now and again the universe decides that I’m getting a little bit too confident with the various rules surrounding airlines and travel so it sends me a timely reminder that I’m as fallible as anyone (perhaps even more so!) Fortunately for me, on this occasion, the reminder came in the form of a rule that benefitted me rather than penalised me and for that I was very grateful.

I have a couple of intra-Europe flights coming up with British Airways and I booked both with Avios to help avoid some of the wallet-killing fares that are around for travel this time of year.

Because I didn’t book my flights until, comparatively, close to the departure date I had to book what was available rather than what I really wanted. I ended up with an Economy Class redemption outbout (that’s fine) and a Club Europe redemption inbound (a complete waste of Avios).

That all came to 25,500 Avios and $44.70 which is a lot better than the $600+ fare that was being quoted.

Because I have oneworld status I get a 2-bag allowance on British Airways Economy fares (as long as I don’t book a “hand baggage only” fare) and a 3-bag allowance on Business Class fares and, while 2 bags are normally way more than I need, this time I actually need to take 3.

British-Airways-767-Club-EuropeBritish Airways 767 Club Europe cabin – about as good as Club Europe gets

What I’ve been finding annoying about the situation is that I only need to take 3 bags on the outbound journey and I could quite easily come back with just the one….but my bookings are the wrong way around to allow me to do this – I need to be in Business Class on my outbound flight to get the 3-bag allowance…or so I thought.

I had a look on BA.com and could see Club Europe (Business Class) availability for the date I want to fly my so I called up the airline to, reluctantly, part with another 8,500 Avios for a Business Class seat and to get the 3rd bag added to my baggage allowance.

After a short hold I was put though to very helpful phone agent (probably the most helpful BA agent I’ve dealt with) and I got lucky. I got lucky because the reason for wanting to upgrade to Business Class came up in our conversation and the agent knew her stuff.

If you’re booked into two different cabins on a single ticket, British Airways gives you the higher of the two baggage allowances for your whole trip.

Had I bothered to check my baggage allowance on BA.com I would have seen that, despite being booked in Euro Traveller (Economy) on the outbound flight, I was still showing a 3-bag allowance (courtesy of by Business CLass booking for the return flight):

british-airways-baggage-allowance

If I’d considered the situation properly this all makes complete sense and, embarrassingly, I’ve even been a beneficiary of this rule in the past….just in a different way.

I’ve had itineraries where I was flying a short flight in Economy Class and linking up to a long-haul flight in Business Class where I was allowed the Business Class baggage allowance on the short Economy Class flight. And quite rightly to! 🙂

There are two reasons why I think my brain didn’t compute that the baggage allowance would work in a similar way for these Avios redemptions:

  • I was considering each Avios redemption in isolation and not as part of a round-trip.
  • In the past, in situations where I benefited from this baggage allowance rule, at some point I’ve been flying in the higher cabin in the same direction as the lower cabin. Eg. LAX – Dallas (Economy Class) linking to Dallas – London (Business Class). In this case I’m not doing that. In this case the whole of the outbound is in Economy Class while the whole of the return is in Business Class and apparently my brain can’t handle that.

I was delighted and a bit embarrassed all at the same time. The agent saved me 8,500 Avios and a change fee but I really, really should have known better.

Bottom Line

In hindsight I knew this rule all along just, for a number of reasons, my brain decided to ignore this and instead assumed the worst.

Luckily I got a great agent who knew her stuff and who was only too happy to put me right.

I’ve thought about this a bit more since this happened and I’ve actually benefited from this rule when flying on American Airlines, United Airlines, a combination of AA and BA and a combination of Finnair and AA so it’s really something I should have remembered.

I’m putting my error down to the fact that I’m not used to needing more than my 2-bag allowance on the vast majority of my flights so I’ve never really paid close attention to the rules before. But, now I know.

I can’t see me needing this rule again any time soon but, for those who normally just get one bag in Economy Class, this could be a useful rule to know.