Unpacking transfer requirements when flying in and out of New Zealand

Navigating the bustling corridors of airports, especially with the added task of transferring baggage, can quickly turn into a challenge.

This is particularly true for those flying in and out of New Zealand, a country that serves as a gateway to stunning landscapes and unforgettable adventures… where, chances are, you’ll need to transfer at some point.

Understanding the ins and outs of baggage transfer is crucial, not just for peace of mind but also to ensure a smooth transition from one flight to another.

Whether you’re a seasoned traveller or setting foot on an international journey for the first time, the process can seem daunting.

But try not to worry…

With the right information and a few insider tips, transferring your baggage can be a breeze.

This article aims to demystify the process, providing you with step-by-step instructions to ensure your luggage safely arrives at your destination alongside you, making your travel experience as seamless and enjoyable as our scenic beauty.

And you know you can trust it too – I used to work as a reservations agent for Air New Zealand.

So, let’s jump on in…

Young brother and sister listening attentively to their cheerful parent while holding their luggage on a sidewalk

Short on time? These are the most important things to know about luggage transfer 🧳

Short on time? These are the most important things to know about luggage transfer

  • You will typically clear customs when first touching down in a new country. This means you’ll collect your bags and then check them in again (at a transfer or check-in desk). If arriving in Auckland and connecting through, you will clear customs (with your bags) in Auckland.
  • Air New Zealand transfer bags on through tickets.
  • When leaving New Zealand, your bags may be ticketed through to your final destination, but you will need to collect them if transiting USA.
  • Jetstar do not transfer bags domestically in New Zealand.
  • If not on a through ticket, individual baggage allowances will apply – check to see if these are the same domestically and internationally.
  • If not on a through ticket, you are responsible for allowing enough time to check-in and transfer luggage for each flight.

What to do with your bags when arriving in New Zealand

Arriving in NZ and leaving the airport

When landing in New Zealand (most likely Auckland), you will clear customs and biosecurity before departing the airport and starting your vacation.

Welcome to Aotearoa!

Arriving in NZ & connecting to another domestic airport

You need to collect your bags and clear customers when arriving into New Zealand and connecting through to another domestic airport.

Whatever airport you first arrive at when landing in New Zealand, you will be required to collect your bags and clear customs and biosecurity – this is likely to happen in Auckland.

Then you’ll transfer your baggage to your domestic flight, whether you do this manually or at the transfer desk…

You can catch a free bus or walk for 10 minutes to get between the international and domestic terminals in Auckland. This is where most travellers will arrive and transfer. Photo: aucklandairport.co.nz.

We suggest allowing a minimum of three hours to connect between your international arrival and domestic connection. Check your travel insurance though, as some companies require a four-hour connection

A shorter connection, however, is manageable if on a through ticket. The airline will provide you with a timeframe that they’re confident is manageable – and if it isn’t, they’ll rebook you free of charge.

Through tickets

What is a through ticket?

A through ticket is issued when you book all of your flights in one go. For example LAX via AKL to CHC.

If you book LAX to Auckland first, and then make a separate purchase for tickets AKL to CHC, you will not be on a through ticket.

What are the benefits of a through ticket?

There are several benefits to travelling on a through ticket.

Your baggage can be ticketed through to your final destination (though you will still need to collect and transfer your bags as required). You will also benefit from your international baggage allowance (even on domestic flights) and will enjoy a shorter transfer time between flights. If there is a delay and you miss your next flight, the airline will be responsible for rebooking you and looking after you.

Five wheeled luggage and backpacks on top of each.

AirNZ domestic transfers

More than 60 minutes before your scheduled departure

If you have more than 60 minutes before your scheduled departure time then clear customs & biosecurity, before going to the Air New Zealand domestic transfer desk on the ground floor of the international terminal.

Less than 60 minutes before your scheduled departure

If you’re flying on with AirNZ and you have less than 60 minutes before your flight is due to depart, clear customs and biosecurity and take your bags to the domestic terminal to check in again.

Jetstar domestic transfers

If connecting to a Jetstar domestic flight, clear customs and biosecurity and take your bags to the domestic terminal to check in again.

White Air New Zealand plane sitting on the runway at Auckland International Airport.

What to do with your luggage when departing New Zealand

Air New Zealand International Transfers

On a through ticket (all booked at once)

If you booked all of your flights together (with AirNZ or a partner airline), Air New Zealand will check you in for all of them at your first point of departure.

Your baggage will generally be tagged right through and you will not see your bags again until you arrive at your final destination.

However, there are a few exceptions to this rule.

If you have booked a stopover, or you plan to leave the airport in between flights, you will need to collect your bags, checking them in again afterwards.

When transiting through the USA, you will need to collect your bags, clear customs and re-check them at a transfer or check-in counter.

A few other countries require you to collect your bags in between flights, but USA is the main one.

We suggest asking your airline when you check in to ensure you understand the process.

Chances are though, if not flying through USA, your bags will go to your final destination.

Did you know? Regardless of what happens to your bags, you will generally clear customs when you first touch down in your final country.

On separately ticketed flights

If you have booked flights separately, whether domestic or international, you will need to collect your bags between flights and check-in again.

Allow plenty of time to do this… 4 hours minimum through Auckland, and longer still for international-international connections abroad.

Check in hall of Air New Zealand at Auckland Airport.

Jetstar international transfers

From a domestic flight to an international flight

Jetstar does not transfer baggage from a domestic flight to an international one.

Whether you are on a through ticket or separately ticketed, you need to collect your bags in between your domestic and international flights, and check in again.

We suggest allowing 4 hours between flights through Auckland.

From one international flight to another

If departing on an international Jetstar flight and connecting with a second international flight, sometimes baggage can be transferred through.

Check which partner airlines Jetstar will work alongside – remember though, this only applies international to international.

And there you have it, everything you need to know to confidently ensure your luggage gets where it needs to go!

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