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Delta Airlines Will Send Your Bags to Your Final Destination Without Rechecking For Certain International Connections

News Airports + Flying
by Tim Wenger Apr 22, 2024

Travelers heading home from a trip to Japan this year may have a few extra minutes to spend in the airport lounge. A forthcoming policy change from Delta Airlines is set to make traveling to the United States from Japan, and eventually other destinations across Asia and Europe, much easier for some passengers. The rule change would permit international travelers coming from Japan and landing at an international airport in the United States before connecting to an additional US destination to skip the process of bringing their checked luggage through customs during their layover.

As airline policy currently stands, internationally connecting passengers must collect their luggage upon landing in the United States, proceed through customs, and then re-check the bag with the airline before heading to the gate for their connecting flight. The policy update would allow passengers to skip the process of claiming and then re-checking their bags. The bags will instead be put through scanners by airline and customs staff behind the scenes.

The new process will first take effect on Delta flights from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport to airports in the United States. After testing the policy on flights from Tokyo Haneda, Delta plans to enact it on flights coming from Seoul’s Incheon International Airport, Frankfurt International Airport in Germany, and London Heathrow. By the end of the year, this policy could be commonplace for passengers flying internationally on Delta.

“Anyone who has traveled and connected in the United States knows that it’s a difficult experience,” said Delta’s Vice President for the Asia-Pacific Region, Jeff Moomaw, in Japanese newspaper The Mainichi. “We will soon be able to remove that part of the experience.”

There is one caveat to the new policy, however. Passengers connecting in the United States to an additional international flight will still need to collect their bags and pass them through customs. But the policy for passengers traveling from airports where this rule will be in effect and then ending their route in the US should make Delta a preferred airline as it will save time and stress when reintegrating to the US from abroad.

Time will tell if this policy becomes standard practice at other major international carriers. Given that most followed suit with recent hikes in checked bag fees as well as changes that made it harder to earn and keep top-tier reward status, Matador expects announcements from other airlines following Delta’s trial on flights from Tokyo.

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