ARTA Warns Agents About New Interline Baggage Rules

The Association of Retail Travel Agents (ARTA) advised its members to proceed with great care and caution in verifying the accuracy of the new IATA Interline Automated Baggage Rules, which became effective last Friday, April 1. The new rules primarily impact interline itineraries, ARTA noted.

In June 2010, the Airline Tariff Publishing Company (ATPCO) announced that it had partnered with IATA to develop an industry standard solution to help airlines clearly and accurately communicate their interline baggage rules to passengers at the time of purchase, ARTA reported.

As part of IATA’s Automated Carrier Baggage Rules project, ATPCO built and hosted a global database of all interline baggage allowance and charges. Airlines submit their baggage rules and restrictions to ATPCO, and this data is then distributed to agents and passengers through distribution channels or carrier check-in systems, ARTA said.

ATPCO and IATA encouraged airlines to submit their baggage rules to the database by September 2010 to meet the requirements of IATA Resolution 302, which took effect on April 1.

However, in a statement, ARTA noted IATA’s advisory:

“Nearly all GDSs are technically ready. But we expect that not all of them will be live on April 1. In addition, some airlines will not have submitted or released their baggage rules to ATPCO by the deadline. Hence, we will not have full industry baggage automation on 1 April. But we do not expect major issues or operational disruptions ... airlines should provide complete instructions to their travel agents on their baggage rules, policies and charges on and after April 1”.

ARTA, therefore, recommends that agents be extremely careful to check with air carriers, distribution systems, host agencies, online web sites, and other air travel selling tools to assure that interline baggage information is correctly displayed and included, where applicable, on all related passenger documentation, including e-tickets.

“ARTA welcomes the new baggage rules system, but additional care at this stage seems prudent. While interline itineraries do not represent the majority of air travel journeys, there are enough such sales to warrant caution by travel agents until the system fully matures. Assuring that passengers have been correctly informed will avoid unpleasant surprises at check-in and eliminate disputes among airlines, agents, and their customers,” said ARTA managing director Bruce Bishins.

IATA’s new rules are as follows:

1. Baggage provisions are defined as free baggage allowance rules and baggage charges.

2. For the purposes of baggage provisions selection, the following 4 step process should apply for interline journeys:

Step 1 - If the published baggage provisions among all participating carriers are the same; these provisions will apply.

Step 2 - Where the one or more published baggage provisions differs between participating carriers, apply any common provisions and where provisions differ, apply the published baggage provisions of the Most Significant Carrier. In the case of codeshare flights, this will be the Operating Carrier, unless that carrier publishes a rule stipulating that it will be the Marketing Carrier.

Step 3 - If the MSC does not publish baggage provisions for the journey concerned, apply the published baggage provisions of the carrier accepting the baggage at check-in.

Step 4 - If the carrier accepting the baggage at check-in does not publish baggage provisions for the interline journey concerned, apply the published baggage provisions of each operating airline sector-by-sector.

The Most Significant Carrier (MSC)
For travel between two or more IATA areas, the MSC performing carriage on the first sector that crosses from one area to another. Exception: IATA Area 123 journeys only, the carrier providing carriage on the first sector that crosses between IATA Area 1 and IATA Area 2.

For travel between IATA sub-areas, the MSC is the carrier performing carriage on the first sector that crosses from one sub-area to another.

For travel within IATA sub-areas, the MSC is the carrier performing carriage on the first international sector.

Visit www.arta.travel.

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