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Checking luggage from a domestic flight to an International flight

Hello, We are flying Alaska Airlines from Portland to San Francisco. In SF, we change to British Air to fly to London and then on to Prague also on British Air. I am seeking advice on whether to check our bags in Portland and hope that they will make it to Prague along with us, Or, are we better off to carry on as far as San Francisco and then check with British Air there? We have a two hour layover if everything is on time from Portland.

Any thoughts??

Thanks, Kathy

Posted by
1008 posts

Why don’t you carryon to Prague if you decide to carryon Portland to San Francisco. There’s less chance your luggage will be lost.

Posted by
9454 posts

Just took the PDX-SFO-LHR-MXP route last week. We checked one bag as we had hiking sticks that could not be carried on. The bag was checked thru and arrived just fine.

Posted by
11696 posts

This is all on one ticket? What kind of plane are you on from PDX to SFO? And when are you flying? If this month, you could have a problem with delays at SFO.

Knowing those answers will help people give a good response. My initial inclination was to say carry it to SFO your self and check it there, thinking that is one less transfer to go wrong. But I don't know what the connection procedure is at SFO. I am thinking there is no way to transfer between your flights (domestic to international) airside at SFO, but maybe I am wrong.

As i see it, you will most likely land at T3 where the Alaska planes land (on domestic routes, not Mexico). Then you will use the Airtrain Red or Blue Line to get to the International Terminal for your BA flight to London. If you are checking the bag there, you will have to go through the baggage check line at the BA desk along with all the passengers who are starting their journey at SFO. But most of them should already have gone through the line. So the question is how long will this take and whether it would slow you down significantly. You still have to go through security.

So after thinking this through, I am leaning strongly toward checking it the whole way through. We have never had a problem with bags checked with Alaska, and for flights to Europe on BA (our usual airline) we have only had a bag go missing once. That was our daughter's bag when she flew from SFO to Rome. The bag did catch up with her 2 days later. Whether this glitch suggests there may b problem with baggage handling at SFO I have no idea.

I will be interested in seeing what others have to say. ( And I will bet that someone will advise you just do carry-on the whole way).

Posted by
2359 posts

Here I am: carry on the whole way. If your bag meets the measurement requirements for carry on, why check? Worst case, you get to the gate for the BA flight and you have to gate check. At least you know the bag is getting on the plane not lost in a transfer.

Posted by
471 posts

I agree to just do carry on the entire way. With transfers, etc, you just never know.

On the way home, I never mind checking bags as it doesn't matter if things get delayed.

Posted by
92 posts

Here’s another vote for carryon the entire trip! I have no issues with checking a bag on a nonstop flight but if making several changes, I try to carryon only. With the predicted delays in San Francisco due to runway work and the British Air pilot strike, I would definitely carryon this trip! Have a great time!

Posted by
3361 posts

An advantage for you is that Alaska Airlines is a partner with British Airways, which should easily allow you to ask that you and your luggage be checked all the way from your first departure point to your final destination. If you were taking a non-partner airline to SFO, like United, the situation would likely be different.

Posted by
9454 posts

Wanted to clarify my comments above. Our flights were on Alaska and British Air. Seamless.

Posted by
98 posts

Four years ago I did take one flight from Anchorage, on Alaska Airlines to Seattle and then British Airways to London, all on one ticket (I found a great deal). At the Anchorage Airport Alaska Air funneled me to a “special” international check-in desk where my papers were inspected and my bag was checked though to London. I do not know if the Portland Airport has a similar arrangement but you might call Alaska Airlines and see if they do.

Posted by
4846 posts

Carry-on or check is a personal decision, some clarification/summary on comments above.

  • Since Alaska Airlines and BA are partners, you can check your bag in Portland and pick up in Prague, just verify at check-in in Portland. Your trip, for all practical purposes is on one carrier, just the colors of the plane and uniforms change.

  • If you are going to be in Prague for a few days at the start of your trip, then checking a bag has less risk, in the unlikely event there is a delay with the bag, it will catch up with you in a day or two. If you are hitting Prague and immediately heading for another destination, then carry-on is more prudent.

  • If you check, plan on carrying on at least a change of clothes and enough stuff to last a day or two without your bag, again, unlikely you will have issues, but be prepared.