When you book overseas flights to domestic destinations in PNG other than Port Moresby, you need to understand the ins and outs of booking with codeshare or non-codeshare airlines. There are baggage allowance issues as well as flight cancellation and re-booking issues when your itinerary includes non-codeshare airlines. Below is a recent case study:
Sue was coming from the States and booked a Qantas flight to Australia, and an Air Niugini flight from there to PNG, but found she could save $75 USD by flying to her domestic destination of Goroka on PNG Air (Airlines PNG) instead of Air Niugini (PNG Air does not have a codeshare arrangement with Air Niugini). She was given two 50 lb (23 kg) check-in bags as her International Baggage Allowance all the way to Port Moresby. However once she checked in for her Goroka flight with PNG Air, she was only given the Domestic Allowance of one bag at 16 kg. For the extra 30 kgs that she brought she was charged K9 per kg in excess, totaling K270 ($90 USD). Also her codeshare airlines, Qantas and Air Niugini, had changed her flights into the country, but because PNG Air is not a codeshare with those airlines, the change of her domestic flight could only be made through her travel agent and she paid a re-booking fee of $15 USD. Then, because PNG Air only has one flight per day to Goroka and she was now arriving after that flight, she had to spend the night in Port Moresby at her own expense, and catch the Goroka flight the next day.
By booking with codeshare airlines you should get your International Baggage Allowance all the way to your domestic destination (as long as you are traveling on the same day -within 24 hours- or the next PX fight). Also, with codeshare airlines, if a change in itinerary occurs, they should change your flights along the entire ticketed itinerary, with the airline supplying hotel and meal vouchers if you miss a flight along the way. Non-codeshare airlines might not take responsibility for you if you are stranded. It is best to book through a travel agent so all your flights are on one itinerary, but not all travel agents are aware of these codeshare issues, so make sure to ask that they book you only on airlines with codeshare/interline agreements.
In a previous post I listed the airlines that Air Niugini has agreements with. I believe PNG Air has an agreement with Virgin Australia.
if you booked your tickets online and did not leave yourself at least 2 hours for your layover to transfer from an International to a Domestic flight – the airline may not be responsible when you don’t make your connection. They could charge to re-book you and not provide an accommodation voucher.
On the day I heard this, they did end up re-booking the passengers without charge for a later, same-day flight when they missed their connection. The travelers had booked with a 1 hour 10 min. layover but their international flight was 1/2 hour late. Again, check-in counters may close a flight 45 minutes before departure.
Something to consider…just saying.
We’ve had a few instances in Port Moresby where Air Niugini has tried to charge travelers from the States for excess/over-weight baggage as they transfer to their Domestic flight. This pertains specifically to those traveling from the USA. On the Air Niugini website, it states that the allowance for this route is 2 pieces 30 kg (Economy). We wrote to Air Niugini for clarification of their baggage allowance and they replied confirming what is stated online but also stating that the total of the 2 bags should not exceed 46 kgs (so that would be two 50 lb bags) – see copy of letter below. If you are traveling to your domestic destination on the same day (or within 24 hours) or the next scheduled PX flight, this allowance applies through to your domestic destination, as long as you are transferring to an Air Niugini flight. The clerks behind the Transfer counter are not always aware of these details, so I highly recommend you print out the document below to present at the airport if this happens to you. I have highlighted and underlined the section in question.
If you are not traveling directly (like if you spend a couple days in Australia on the way for example), your allowance MAY be limited to that flight’s stated allowance, instead of the TO/FROM USA allowance.
ATTENTION: Air Niugini will not honor Virgin Australia international baggage allowance when you transfer to their flight, and vice versa.
Be courteous – kindness still goes a long way 🙂
If you are traveling to PNG on an airline that Air Niugini has a ticketing agreement with, often you will be able to check your bags all the way to Port Moresby. If not, however, you may find yourself collecting your bags and re-checking them at the stop where you are changing airlines. This can be quite expensive. I have a list of fees that was passed to me by Air Niugini last year; I don’t know if these prices have changed, and these are listed as “out-going” fees, but it gives you an idea of what you might expect to pay traveling TO PNG as well. Here are the excess baggage rates plus approximate USD & weight equivalent:
POM-BNE – K34 per kg = apx. $7.00 per lb
POM-CNS – K21 per kg = apx. $4.50 per lb
POM-SYD – K42 per kg = apx. $8.50 per lb
POM-MNL – K78 per kg = apx. $16 per lb
POM-SIN – K106 per kg = apx. $21.50 per lb
POM-TYO – K116 per kg = apx. $45 per lb
So if at all possible, travel with an airline that Air Niugini has an agreement with. This is the list of carriers that they have E-ticketing agreements with:
AIR CALEDONIE INTL
AIR CHINA LTD
AIR NEW ZEALAND LTD
AIR PACIFIC LTD
ASIANA AIRLINES INC
CATHAY PACIFIC AIRWAYS
CHINA SOUTHERN AIRLINES
CONTINENTAL AIRLINES INC
HONG KONG DRAGON AIRLINES LTD
JALWAYS CO LTD
JAPAN AIRLINES INTL INC
JAPAN TRANSOCEAN AIR CO LTD
KLM ROYAL DUTCH AIRLINES
KOREAN AIRLINES CO LTD
SILKAIR SINGAPORE PTE LTD
SRI LANKAN AIRLINES LTD
Let me also mention here about your carry-on baggage. It is posted in both terminals that travelers are allowed 7 kg (15 lb) TOTAL weight for cabin baggage. You are allowed 1 personal item and 1 carry-on with the TOTAL weight of 7 kg (15 lb). If you arrive carrying extra items, you may be told that you have to check them, so be prepared for that (fragile items should be in just one bag that you carry). This is the Land of the Unexpected – so EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED, and if everything goes smoothly for you, GREAT!
If you are planning to travel from Australia to PNG or through Australia to PNG, you may find larger luggage allowances available for your flight into Port Moresby if you join Air Niugini’s Dentinations program. Joining is free, and Economy Class/Destination Members get a 30 kg (66 lb) baggage allowance (one piece per person) from Australia to Port Moresby instead of just the 23kg (51 lb) regular allowance. Of course if you are traveling to/from the USA and your flights are on one itinerary, you should get your 2 pieces per person at 23 kg each piece (Economy) the whole way.
The best way to keep your flights on one itinerary is to go through a travel agent. There are a couple listed on the bottom right side of this blog, but any travel agent should be able to book you on one itinerary.
We are seeing a trend with airport layovers here in Port Moresby that you should be aware of as you travel through. When booking your international flight and your domestic connection, take into consideration that it may take you an hour to an hour and a half to get through Immigration and Customs. On some days there are multiple flights landing at the same time and flooding the Immigration and Customs lines. After clearing all that, you’ll make your way to the Transfer counter (and possibly wait in line there too) so you can check in for your domestic flight. The big problem we’re finding is that more often they’re boarding those domestic flights early. So a 2-hour layover has shrunk by an hour before you even get to the transfer desk, and another 15 minutes in the Transfer line. Once you get to the counter you could find that your flight is full and already loading. Even though you thought you had enough time with 45 minutes before your domestic flight is due to leave, they may not have a boarding pass left for you. If they do check you through, get straight down to the domestic terminal departure lounge if you are within 45 minutes to an hour before the departure time listed.
We have been to the Jackson International Airport (JAX) here in Port Moresby on a few occasions now helping new arrivals transfer from their international flight to their domestic flight, and we have observed some things in regards to allowable luggage.
1. If you are traveling from the States, on one itinerary (even if you overnight in Australia or even in Port Moresby), you should be allowed your international luggage allowance on your domestic connection. At the transfer desk, if they want to charge you for excess or overweight baggage, make sure they know you have come from America (and not just from Australia). People traveling up from Australia are not allowed the same number of bags.
However, Air Niugini has just announced new economy baggage allowances for its passengers travelling on its Australian routes – Cairns, Brisbane and Sydney. Effective immediately passengers travelling in economy will be allowed one bag – 23 kg/50 lb (it was 20kg/44lb).
2. On your domestic Air Niugini flight, you are only allowed 7 kg/15 lb of hand luggage per person if you have transferred from an international flight, 5 kg/11 lb if just domestic. They have stopped anyone carrying large carry-on bags and weighed those on the scale that is right by their desk. If you can’t re-pack your things to get the weight down, you will have to step out and check your bag. If at all possible, check in those large carry-on bags with your luggage at the transfer counter. Or, redistribute the weight between all your carry-ons to lessen the load of the larger bag. Do not assume you can sweet-talk your way in with excess or heavy carry-ons.
3. If you are traveling with a large stroller, you can have it tagged along with your checked-in bags, so when they take it from you at the gate as you get on your domestic flight it will already have a tag on it.
4. If at all possible, allow yourself PLENTY of time between your international arrival at Port Moresby and your domestic connection. We have seen multiple occasions where 2-4 international flights are landing in POM at the same time or near same time! By the time they process all those flights worth of people through immigration AND customs, you may not get out to the terminal for an hour or longer after your plane lands. We have had to practically run to the Domestic Terminal with people and all their hand luggage and little ones a couple of times already and we have only been doing this for a couple weeks.
5. Once you clear Customs, go through the doors, down the hall and go to the Transfer counters which are at the other end of the same building (don’t go outside). After you check your bags and get your boarding passes, then go outside (the Exit is back by the Arrival hall) and all the way down to the Domestic Terminal.
I hope this is helpful for those who are making plans to come our way!
When we came back to PNG in January 2011 we were able to check our luggage from Dallas to POM (Port Moresby) flying with United to San Francisco and then Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong and Air Niugini to POM. We have found United is very helpful in checking luggage all the way through.
In 2008 we flew with United from Dallas to Tokyo and then Air Niugini to POM. We had an extra bag and United was able to write us a receipt saying that overweight was paid all the way to POM – and they checked the luggage all the way through so we never had to see it until arriving in POM. You have to specifically ask them to do this. Since United has a luggage agreement with Air Niugini they are able to, and we just showed the receipt in Tokyo when we checked in with no added fees. We have heard that American Airlines will not transfer bags to Air Niugini even though they are supposed to be part of the One World partners. Air Canada also told us they would not transfer luggage automatically to Air Niugini.
If you are transferring from your domestic flight to an international flight on the same day – you often will not have to pay domestic luggage charges in the USA. It probably depends though if you purchased your international ticket with your domestic leg or separately.
When we arrived at POM in Sept 2008 we were told by Air Niugini that they would accept two bags any weight from the international flight and transfer to ANG domestic flights if it is the same day and done in the international terminal check-in lines. So it might be cheaper to pay for added weight to get 70 lb bags instead of paying for an extra 50 lb bag so you don’t have an extra bag to pay for with Air Niugini.
This couple traveled to Goroka from Dallas Texas in April 2010. When they purchased their tickets, they never realized that V-Australia did not have baggage agreements with Air Niugini or American Airlines. Here’s their story:
The American Airlines airplane departed Dallas very late and that put the Los Angeles connection very tight. Once arriving in LAX on American, we had to go to baggage claim and claim our bags.
Once our luggage was in hand at LAX, we had to go outside the terminal and travel outside on the sidewalk a fair distance to the V-Australia luggage check-in counter. After about 10 minutes of walking we came to the Tom Bradley International Terminal. NOTE: That is not the correct one! We had to keep on going for another 10 minutes or so to TERMINAL 3. As we approached Terminal 3 we saw inside the building that the one V Australia Desk was at the far left of all the check in counters. We were just walking in the glass door of the building when we saw the last two attendants walking away from the counter. They didn’t seem too happy to have to unlock and turn the equipment back on so that we could check our two pieces.
Now, about the LAX to Brisbane portion…Once we got to the V-Australia gate, they were announcing that there was a delay in boarding because of issues with the aircraft. So there was about a four-hour delay in our departure from LAX to Brisbane. By now were concerned for the luggage claim and recheck we faced once we arrived in Brisbane.
Once the airplane landed in Brisbane, there was no time left to claim the luggage and be able to board the Air Niugini (Qantas Flight Number) aircraft.
I am not recommending this as a standard procedure, but I simply told the attendant, “sorry that you have no luggage and baggage agreement with any of the airlines, but I am late for my Air Niugini flight and somehow V-Australia and Air Niugini will have to agree to work together this time.” If we had claimed our baggage and rechecked it in at the Air Niugini counter there in Brisbane, the flight to Port Moresby would have been long gone.
We headed straight for the “Transit Passenger” line & security on the right side of the long hall. We cleared security, went upstairs and went immediately to the “TRANSIT Passenger” Desk at Gate 80. We advised them that we had arrived on V Australia and that we were trying to catch our flight to Port Moresby and asked them if they could call Qantas and V Australia and ask them to work together to transfer our luggage to our Qantas Flight. They made the call and we made the flight. Since we were requesting our boarding passes from Brisbane to Port Moresby we also asked for our boarding passes from Port Moresby to Goroka. They may or may not normally give people a Goroka boarding pass, but since they did, that was key for us to make it on our afternoon GOROKA flight as well.
Once we got to Port Moresby and got our luggage for clearing customs in Port Moresby, we saw that they had POM tags on them and that the Brisbane Claim Tags were rolled up and taped as records that reflect our claim tickets.
We came from Toronto, Canada, on Cathay Pacific, to Hong Kong. The next flight was to Port Moresby on Air Niugini. We were assured in Toronto that our baggage was checked through to Port Moresby, and received the same information in Hong Kong. When we arrived in Port Moresby – guess what! No baggage. In retrospect we probably should have realized that because it was a different air line we would need to collect it in Hong Kong and re-check it. This was a good lesson to learn! Incidentally we really appreciated the help of the NTM Government representative in Port Moresby – without him there would have been no way we would have made the Goroka flight.