Just wanting to share my experience last week when flying from Dubai to London Heathrow via Hamburg. I booked 2 business class reward seats on a single booking reference number using the Qantas multi-city booking engine:
I knew that Hamburg was a smaller airport (eg: compared to Frankfurt) and knew the transit would be tight (1hr) but assumed it was possible otherwise Qantas wouldn’t offer it as a viable connection. Being a single booking reference I assumed that we could check our bags all the way through to LHR and could easily make the connecting flight.
On arrival at Emirates check-in in Dubai though, we were told that Emirates doesn’t have an agreement with British Airways and so there was no way we could get our bags checked all the way through to London. We would have to collect our bags, clear customs/immigration etc… and check in again at the BA counter for the next flight. We would miss our connection! Not a lot we could do at this point. We had a flight to catch.
So I tried to phone Qantas in Oz and thankfully got to speak to an agent almost immediately. But… she was hopeless. Claimed I must have booked 2 separate legs. No, I tried to reiterate. It was a single booking reference etc… Anyway, long story short… after explaining, re-explaining things and that we were literally at the gate boarding, she said there was nothing she could do until the first leg had been flown. She would try to make a change but that she couldn’t guarantee anything and could I call back a bit later??
Thankfully Emirates came to the rescue and said they could email ahead to their Hamburg colleagues who would try to rebook us on the next BA flight to LHR 3hrs later. To our immense relief, on arrival in Hamburg we were met by an Emirates employee at the jet bridge who gave us the good news that we had been successfully rebooked. 5 stars for Emirates. Zero for Qantas!
So, I guess the lesson here is… be careful with these sorts of bookings and transit times. I know that 1hr is a very tight transit, but I’ve done it plenty of times before where my bags have been booked all the way through (with other airlines). But this anomaly between Emirates and BA is a nasty gotcha.
It also means that I’ve had to change and rebook flights (some with cash) for our return leg later this week as I had booked a similar return leg from LHR - DXB via Frankfurt - once again on a single booking reference and with a 1.5hr layover in Frankfurt. This is a very big airport but you can make this transit with enough time. But knowing the situation with BA, they won’t be able to book our bags to DXB so we would be caught out again as we will have to collect our bags and clear customs. So I’ve opted to fly in the night before and spend a night at the Frankfurt Marriott Airport Hotel so we have plenty of time for our morning departure to Dubai the next day. Oh… and to add insult to injury, Qantas refused to waive the change fee - 6,000 points per traveller, per booking changed. Grrrr!!
Anyway, I’ve learnt a lot on this trip and will be much better prepared for the future! Hopefully this information will help others to not be caught out too.