Just curious. In the past I've always booked my travel thru a website such as Expedia. This time around, I'd like to look at the airline directly. So when Expedia or Kayak finds my flight with multiple airlines, connections etc. would I go to the first airline site or all of them to check prices.
It depends. Sites like Expedia can mix and match flights with all different airlines. The airline websites typically only give itineraries with other airlines within their own alliance.
I have always stuck by going directly through the airlines. We have been on trips with volcanos and stikes and all other types of disruption. The great part about buying direct is that you deal with the airlines and not a third party. Sometimes with a complicated trip it is worth it to call and get set up with an agent from the airlines.
Most of the time when you see a multiple airlines listing, it just means that two or more airlines working together service that route. Since they work together, you can probably find that itinerary on any of the airline websites. Price can vary between them, so if you want to book a multi-airline flight directly I would check each of the airlines' websites, starting with the largest or the one with the longest segment. You have to check both because sometimes different sites will show different routing options.
Most of the times when 'multiple carriers' or 'multiple airlines' are listed on a search engine, it is actually just a code-share. When this is actually a case of interlining (one ticket comprising different carriers), I'll first try the airline which is taking care of the intercontinental flight. If that fails, I try others. If everything then fails, I'll consider buying through Expedia/Travelocity/Orbitz. However, I try to avoid as much as possible these interlined tickets where the airlines are not part of the same alliance and/or operating in code-share. If something goes wrong, there are tons of reports on how passengers are left with the hot potato in their hands and none of the airlines involved "owning" the issue and solving problems with lost baggage, missed connections etc.
Also trying to make any changes to a multiple airline ticket can also be a nightmare. I had a recent trip I booked through PL - 3 legs on AA 1 leg on Delta. I called to try and make a change to the AA leg and was told that Delta "owned" the ticket AA could not change it - I called Delta to change it and was told Delta would only make changes to a Delta flight but they did not have any from the airport I needed! Was a real PITA! If you see a flight with multiple airlines make sure they are in an alliance or you could run into similar problems.
Warren I have looked at Kayak, but they didn't include Airtransat at that time so weren't showing me the best price. Perhaps they do now. I just look at the airlines websites myself, its not like there are that many that fly from Vancouver to Europe anyways.. BA , AC, AT , and Luthstanza mostly, yes there are a few more, but they are never cheap.. Would you consider driving down to Seattle , there are lots more choices from there. I personally have not found a cheaper price on Kayak then if I just booked directly.
I fly almost entirely out of Spokane, WA. It's the closest international airport (about 3-1/2 hours)away from me, but still relatively small so my choices are somewhat limited. Surprisingly or not, to fly from Kelowna BC, my next closest airport, I can expect to pay at least $200 more. Good 'ole Canada.
Pat: Air Transat was established as a charter airline, not a "scheduled" airline. That distinction is fading, especially with Air Transat operating on a busy schedule. It does not belong to an airline alliance and does not code-share with scheduled lines. It also does not appear on many, if any, of the big international agency sites. Go to its home page directly.