A stopover (i.e., a stop of greater than 24 hours in duration) will almost always require you to pick up your bags. Meanwhile, on a layover (i.e., a stop of less than 24 hours in duration), you can have your bags checked straight through to your final destination, or you can ask them to be "short-checked" to the layover point so you can have access to them.
Some countries (like the US) require all visitors to collect their bags upon landing in the country, regardless of whether it's the passenger's stopover, layover, or destination.
When you book complex award flights with stopovers and layovers, you’ll want to know what happens to your checked baggage along each of these flights. Ordinarily, if you’re flying somewhere and staying there for longer than 24 hours (i.e., a stopover or a final destination), then you’ll always be required to pick up your bags when you land.
But what about layovers of under 24 hours? In most cases, your bags will be “through-checked” by default – that is to say, they’ll be automatically put onto the next flight and you’ll see them at your next stopover or destination instead.
However, if you have a long layover or an overnight layover, you can certainly ask the check-in agent to “short-check” your bags to your layover point. That’s a reasonable request, since you might need to have access to your suitcases during your long layover.
No matter what you choose, make sure to double-check the baggage tag that gets printed off upon check-in and verify where your bags will be going. The last thing you want to do is forget to pick up your checked bags somewhere and leave it going around and around on the conveyor belt!
Lastly, some countries (like the US, and Canada with a few exceptions) require all visitors to pick up their checked baggage upon arriving in the country, regardless of whether it’s your final destination or if you’re merely having a layover or stopover. Even if you’re on a short connection, you’ll have to pick up the bags and re-check them before catching your next flight!
Last updated 17 November 2018. Any questions? Contact me.