On Connecting Flights, What Happens To Your Luggage?

If you’ve ever seen the film Meet The Parents, you’ll remember that famous Ben Stiller scene where he experiences the irritating travel nightmare of losing luggage on a connecting flight. Which brings us to the question of, what actually happens to our luggage on connecting flights? It’s not generally something we think about. We get on a flight and somehow our luggage (usually) manages to accompany us there, as if out of nowhere! But what actually happens to our luggage when we get on a connecting flight? Shedding a bit of light on this subject might take a bit of stress away and help you not to worry about your luggage getting lost somewhere in transit.

Domestic flights

In the case of domestic flights, your luggage will be labelled with a tag to your final destination. Your bag is removed from the first flight and loaded aboard the following flight.

International flights

In the case of international layovers, what happens to your luggage depends on the airport and the country your changeover happens to be in. For example, if you’re flying somewhere outside of Canada or USA to an airport that’s located in either of these countries, the policy is that you collect your luggage and recheck it, regardless of where you’re flying to on your second plane journey. This is because the USA has no transmit lounges and insistent on all possessions being vetted on arrival.

In the case of other countries, if both of your flights are under the same airline or twinned/partnered airlines, your luggage is transferred from the first to the second automatically. Some low-cost airlines in Europe will require you to reclaim your baggage and check it in again before a transfer that is in another European country.

Contact your airline

If you have any concerns or questions about your luggage and changing flights, the airline you fly with or in some cases, the airport’s own website, will be able to offer details about what their policy on luggage transfers is. It’s worth checking this out beforehand even if you don’t have a specific question in mind, as each airline is different and you may find that their rules require you to do something another airlines you regularly fly with does not. Websites like Trip Advisor can offer information on luggage concerns and there’s always someone who will have asked the same question as you on similar Q & A sites!

The importance of travel insurance

One absolute essential to make sure you’ve got covered is travel insurance. Losing bags can ruin your whole holiday – it’s so worth it to just pay a small amount and ensure your bags (and your peace of mind) are safe and sound! If you’re getting on a connecting flight, travel insurance is so important as the potential for human error by the airline is increased.


Other useful tips

A common misconception is that your luggage will automatically get checked in when you check on to your connecting flight. This isn’t always the case. If your incoming flight happens to be late (a regular occurrence with flying!) your luggage may not make the connection even if you do! Double check luggage tags to see if the flight numbers are correct and go straight to the help desk in the baggage area if your luggage doesn’t arrive when you touch down.

Another thing to bear in mind is that baggage allowances differ from airline to airline. If you connecting flight is a different airline to your first one, make sure your luggage will be allowed to go on the flight. You can check baggage allowances on an airline’s website.

If you notice damage to your luggage that you believe to be the airline’s fault, make sure you report this before you leave the baggage claim vicinity or you may be refused later down the line. Pick up the right paperwork and make a claim through your travel insurance plan. It’s worth packing an extra set of clothes in your take-on bag, just in case things do indeed get lost in transit!

It’s an age-old cliché but ‘failing to prepare is preparing to fail’ and this is so applicable when it comes to travel! Take the stress out of your flight transfer by following our advice on connecting flights and your luggage above. Happy travels!

About this Guide

Written By Alex
Last Updated On September 3, 2021
Reading Time 
4 minutes
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