Layovers, Stopovers and Baggage Claim Requirements

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I have had many occasions in traveling where I found myself in a city new to me with several hours to spare before my connecting flight. Surely you have too, and perhaps on a few of those occasions you were able to leave the airport and meet up with friends, grab a nice lunch at a local place as opposed to airport fare, or just do a little sight-seeing in a place you’ve never been. As many times as I have been through Schipol I have never seen the local sights, so I plan to address that on a future trip to Sweden when I have an opportunity to stopover in Amsterdam overnight.

So let’s say you just have a shorter layover, say 8 hours or so, and you want to do one of the above little excursions. Is there anything to prevent or inhibit you? Not really. Let’s say you have a longer layover, say 14 hours or so, what about now? Anything to inhibit you? Only your checked baggage that you would be required to claim and then either find a place to stash safely or drag around with you on your little excursion! The official rule is on page 63 of the international contract of carriage. There is a possible work-around for this if you should happen to be delayed and your bags go ahead of you. When you aren’t there to claim your bags they are taken off the belt and into control of baggage services. They will typically try to contact you to let you know they have your bags, and you can then inform them of your delay and let them know when you will be there to claim the bags.

Also good to remember is that for domestic or Canada travel, anything over 4 hours is considered a stopover, and you’re entitled to reclaim your bag. For international you have up to 24 hours before it counts as a stopover, you are entitled to claim your bag after only 6 hours, and required to reclaim your bag after 12 hours. There is no mention that I can find of what time limit applies to require you to reclaim your checked baggage when traveling domestically.

So go explore and have some fun, but always know the rules and be sure to look at the luggage posts in the Essentials tab under E12! – René


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  1. Actually, you aren’t required to pick up your luggage after 12 hours internationally in every case. I recently traveled and had a 15 hour layover and didn’t have to touch my bags. So I don’t know if it depends on the airline’s rules or what.

  2. @Charlie – it is good to know the “official” rules. Not so say the reps may not enforce them. You can always ask to have your bags checked through to your final and hope they will do it for you. It can also depends on time zones naturally.

  3. Checking through may not be an option if it’s your first stop in the Schengen zone as you may be required to claim your bags and go through customs. But, of course, you can walk right up and re-check the bags on your connecting flight.

  4. Yep agree with Charlie. You never need to get your bags on an international connection after 12 hours. I’ve had multiple 16 hour layovers with no issues. Biggest thing is ensuring baggage is checked through to final.

  5. I always want to leave the airport on my longer lay-overs, but I’m frequently at a loss for what to do with my carry-on luggage. I’ve never been successful with getting GAs to check it early enough for me to leave and re-enter security in time for my flight.


  6. So, that 12 hour rule is pretty tricky. I flew Delta domestically, but was connecting with a partner airline to fly domestically. They were suppose to check my bag through, but instead refused when I checked in and also charged me a fee for the bag on the domestic flight. I then had to claim the bag and also pay to store it while I spent time in my layover city. At check in, the agent said they couldn’t check through luggage because I had a 15 hour layover before my international flight (over 12 hours), even though the international flight was with a partner airline. I’m trying to get refunded with Delta because the guidelines are very uncertain.

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