September 8, 2005 · Lessig
So here’s a question someone out there should know the answer to.
My family and I were in Spain this summer. On our return back, we flew from Alicante to Frankfurt, through Barcelona. (No, for no good reason.) Our ticket from Alicante to Barcelona was on Iberia, and from Barcelona to Frankfurt on Lufthansa. We had about an hours connection in Barcelona.
When we checked in, Iberia informed us that they would not check the bags through to the Lufthansa flight, and that its only interline agreements were with airlines within the One World Alliance. Thus, in Barcelona, we had to get our bags, recheck them, and then get through security, in less than an hour. Lufthansa was fantastic in helping us. We made the flight by literally 5 minutes.
I guess if I were an airline trying to kill of the amazing competition of new low cost airlines, this would be a good strategy — make it effectively impossible to interconnect outside your (high cost) network. (E.g., while in Frankfurt, I had to fly to Berlin for a meeting. The cost on Lufthansa for that trip was about 700 EU. The cost on FlyDBA was about 150 EU.) But what is the history of this? It couldn’t have been the case that interline agreements were only with alliances, since alliances are new. So when did this practice begin? How broadly practiced is it? And why would competition authorities permit it?