Self-connecting flights, how to book them?Self-connecting is the process when one travels on two or more connecting flights, booked separately on different tickets. From an aviation standpoint, these flights are regarded as separate journeys (point to point flights), and the carriers take no responsibilities for missed connections, schedule changes, cancellations, etc. In other words, the risk lies fully within the passenger.
Why do we book self-connecting flights?
- When a self-connecting combination is cheaper than direct flight or regular connecting flight. This is the most common out of all reasons. Suppose we want to reach New York from Prague and the cheapest offer on a regular carrier we get is EUR 500 for a one-way trip. Suppose we find out that Virgin Atlantic has on sale tickets from London to New York for just EUR 200 for the desired date and we can easily reach London from Prague on a Ryanair flight for Just EUR 50. Under this scenario, we book both tickets separately, connect in London, and save 50% of the cost of the regular fare.
- When we do complex trips. This is another common reason. Suppose we start at London and plan to do a backpack trip in Asia for 2 weeks. We buy a comfortable non-stop return flight on British Airways to Singapore and out of Singapore plan further our Asian adventure on a series of low cost flights of Air Asia, Lion air and other regional carriers. All of these are booked separately, but in essence present a long chain of (inter)connected flights.
- When schedules are more convenient. There are many occasions when certain city pairs are better linked with self-connecting flights. If we need to get to a regional airport in Poland for example from any European capital, we will find out that the travel options are almost fully dominated by LOT Polish airlines offering connecting flights via Warsaw, Lufthansa and rarely some other carriers. On the other hand, regional airports in Poland like Krakow, Wroclaw, Gdansk, Katowice are fully overtaken by low cost carriers. Wizz Air and Ryanair have based tens of aircrafts in the Polish province, serving routes across Europe. Connecting on any of them may often be much more convenient (and cheaper), compared to connecting flights via Warsaw.
- For any other reasons. Today’s Internet based reservation systems simply allow consumers to search in a transparent way and book almost any flight on their own. Whether we choose to book self-connecting flights for convenience, price, complex trips or any other reason such as carrier preference, fun, mix of everything, self-connecting flights are a great alternative to the classic travel booked on a single ticket.
- Baggage does not get transferred automatically. It is important to know, that when do combinations on our own, our checked baggage goes to the destination printed on our ticket. And since such combinations are presented on different tickets, we need to collect our baggage from the carousel and check it in again for our outward flight. We need to allocate sufficient time at the transit airport for this procedure. In case we travel on hand baggage only, things are easier, but we need to note that certain airlines (e.g. Ryanair) allow up to 90 pieces of hand bag into the cabin and puts for free everything on top into the hold. So for such flights, you need to be in front of the check in lines to be on the safe side.
- Schedule changes do happen. Usually we buy our tickets months in advance. In the meantime airlines happen to change flight schedules, for which they inform us and we have the right to cancel our booking. If this schedule change happens to affect our connecting flight, then we are screwed. Even if we cancel the reservation, the airline operating the second flight will not have a reason to cancel or change our reservation free of charge. Both airlines regard us as point to point passengers, not taking into account we are doing a complex trip. Unfortunately, there is little we can do to prevent such a scenario. It happens rarely, but it does happen.
- Missed connections. When you travel on a self-connecting flight, you are the only one responsible for catching your outward flight. A missed connection will leave you at an airport all alone, without rights to assistance. Usually you need to rebook at your own expense and pay high last-minute fares. Sometimes airlines do assist and provide compassion, but they are not obliged to. They regard you as a “know show” passenger and will not care for the reasons you didn’t arrive at the boarding gate on time.
Very often benefits outweigh dangers when it comes to booking self-connecting combinations. Before proceeding with the booking, it is wise to do some research on the flight combination – do we have sufficient time for the transfer (most important), are the airlines reliable, what are the flight punctuation statistics, how expensive it would be for you to rebook in case the worse happens, etc. A company which takes care of such matters is SafeConnect Inc, where you can do an automatic check on your self-connect flight combinations.
Written by Connectionreview.com editorial team.