When it comes to honouring elite members’ benefits, different airlines may interpret it very differently even if they belong to the same alliance. On the one hand, Cathay Pacific allows Ruby passengers to select any seat for free at the time of booking; on the other hand, Sapphire and Emerald passengers can use only “fake” or third-party lounges when flying Qatar Airways.
Among all Oneworld partners, British Airways is probably the least generous about check-in baggage allowance. Most importantly, when travelling on a hand-baggage-only fare (HBO or Basic), you don’t get any allowance whatever your status is.
Words have been around though, that you could check in your hand luggage regardless of this. I did it when I was flying from Edinburgh the other day, and was told by the ground staff that it’s still chargeable although he’s waiving it this time. I was very confused about the policy, so asked my question on Flyertalk.
It seems to be a more complicated issue than I thought, and here are the conclusions:
It is not an official policy, and the waivers are only in place at special venues or on special occasions.
Heathrow has been offering this perk consistently for domestic and EU flights – in fact they’ve got banners and posters at the terminal advertising this. Gatwick appeared to take the same stance too (although BA is not flying from LGW at the moment), but City Airport doesn’t offer this at all.
For airports outside London, it is much more variable and there is no guarantee on it being honoured or not.
If a flight is busy, you are likely to receive an email or SMS inviting you to check in the hand baggage, regardless of the departure airport.
The check-in allowance comes out of your hand baggage allowance, which is usually two bags. So you cannot check in one hand bag, and then take another two on board.
I hope it helps!