Qatar Airways is taking a welcome step back from the Oneworld alliance's traveller-unfriendly baggage rules for connecting flights.
From March 1, the Gulf airline will once again allow passengers to have checked baggage sent ahead from any Qatar Airways flight to any connecting flight on any Oneworld airline – even if those flights are booked on seperate tickets.
The only caveat will be that the time between two flights meets the airport's 'minimum connection time' or MCT – a period which is typically two hours.
Under the current and highly contentious Oneworld rules, introduced in June 2015, passengers connecting from airline to another – such as from Qatar Airways to fellow Oneworld members Qantas, British Airways or Cathay Pacific – had to have both flights made under the same booking to enjoy seamless luggage transfer from check-in to their first flight to arrival of their second flight.
Booked your two tickets separately? You could have to to step off your Qatar Airways flight, clear airport immigration, wait for your checked bags to appear on the luggage belt, then take them through customs and back to the airport's departures level, to check them in again for your onwards flight.
That's a time-consuming headache which no business traveller needs, but Qatar Airways now plans to do away with that headache.
An update to the airline's ground services manual issued on February 23 and sighted by Australian Business Traveller instructs that even under seperate tickets baggage can be through-checked for Qatar Airways and Oneworld member airlines as long as the MCT is adhered to.
A spokesperson for Qatar Airways confirmed the change to Australian Business Traveller, saying the new rules would take effect from March 1.
"Qatar Airways is pleased to offer passengers the courtesy of through-check of themselves and their bags to their final destination when travelling on multi-sector journeys involving connections onto other Oneworld member airlines, even when the trip is booked using separate tickets."
But it won't necessarily work on the other way, such as a return journey which starts on another Oneworld member before connecting to a Qatar Airways flight.
"Customers should note that through-check may not be possible on their return journey if their trip starts with another (Oneworld) airline that does not provide the same level of service," the spokesperson added.
Qatar Airways' previous policy, as confirmed by an airline spokesperson to Australian Business Traveller, was that "where tickets are issued under separate bookings, passengers will need to collect their luggage during transit to minimise impact of itinerary changes outside of Qatar Airways control."