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What's your rule for booking separate tickets? Do you ever do it?

Searching for flights to Italy later this year (Sept-Oct) and Google is showing some really tempting prices the only problem is it would be separate tickets (Norse and then EasyJet).

I normally avoid separate tickets because I know if the first flight is delayed, you've got problems. BUT, the current price is making me think about it again. Wondering what you fine folks think of booking separate tickets? Do you ever do it? How much time would you allow in between flights?

Posted by
6478 posts

Hi James, I have separate tickets this year for the first time. I’m flying Spokane, Washington to London on Delta. Two weeks later, London to Ljubljana on Easy Jet. Two weeks later, Dubrovnik to Amsterdam on Easy Jet. Since this is a separate ticket to finish my route, I am staying overnight in Leiden and taking my final Delta flights back to Spokane the next afternoon.

Personally, I wouldn’t fly two separate tickets on the same day.

Posted by
5318 posts

I frequently book separate tickets, but I always spend at least one night before continuing on. For example, I almost always start or end my trip in London. I often use a discount carrier between London and my other destination.

Posted by
14150 posts

I would never book two separate tickets for the same day flight.

The simple question to ask if from Clint Eastwod: "Do you feel lucky, huh, do you?"

Posted by
5685 posts

James, I have done this several times flying to/from Europe, on the same day. Yes, it is risky - more risky depending on time between flights. I have done it both to save money and for convenience. E.g., years ago, when I started a trip to Poland, I got a direct flight into Amsterdam (pretty sweet to get a direct flight to Europe), and a few hours later, I caught a direct flight from there to Gdansk, my starting point. This was the most optimal way to get to Gdansk. Flying any other way would have required at least one more stop and hours longer to get to Gdansk. Of course, had I arrived late in Amsterdam and missed my connection, it would have been much worse.

This kind of question really has two dimensions and I think you should separate them: 1) what are the logistics of traveling on two separate tickets, how do I estimate the risk, and how bad is my backup plan? (Yes - you have to have a backup plan and be willing to accept it if you need it.)

And 2) what is my personal tolerance of risk? This one is important when reading people's responses...because THEIR tolerance of risk may be different than YOURS! Just because someone else would NEVER fly on two tickets on the same day doesn't mean YOU shouldn't! Some people are extremely risk-averse, and that will color their answers.

In my case, my backup plan in case I miss a connection (and lose the value of my second ticket) is usually to buy another plane ticket the same day...or at worst, not get to my destination the same day, just spend the night in the connecting city and get there the next day. Usually I've got a few nights in the first city, so arriving a half a day late would be unfortunate but not a disaster. If I was catching a cruise ship the next day that would leave without me, that would be a disaster, right?

Sometimes the backup plan is not bad. Maybe there are additional direct flights the same day after the original one you are booking. It might cost a few hundred Euros. If it would cost a thousand Euros, that might be a lot different.

But it's important to consider what affects the risk. Is the connecting airport one with a bad reputation? Hard to connect in? Will I have checked bags? Can I move quickly between connections? (I travel with carry-on bags only and can more pretty fast with them in an airport. Until last year's summer meltdown at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam, it had a reputation for smooth connections with minimal delays, usually without any shuttle buses, etc., so I felt pretty good about doing this type of connection there.)

Sometimes trip delay insurance may cover the costs of a delay caused by a delayed flight. Check with any insurance provider that might cover it.

Posted by
5685 posts

Oh, and I should add: I'd done this four or five times, same day, and never had a problem. I figure that I've gained enough on average either in savings or in added convenience (reduced travel time) that if I have one expensive mishap it has still been worth it over the years with the cost averaged out over all of my trips. At least, that's how I look at it.

Posted by
3982 posts

My last two international flights were significantly delayed- one 24 hours and one 5 hours. Thankfully I had connecting tickets. I would never buy separate tickets within 24 hours. Flights have been increasingly erratic since COVID. In addition, many folks are traveling this year for the first time since 2019, so the pent-up demand is very high. The shoulder seasons are also increasingly very busy. Labor strikes in Europe seem to be on the rise. What if you missed your second flight and there were no available seats for the next day or two?
Good luck and safe travels!

Posted by
10526 posts

BUT, the current price is making me think about it again. Wondering what you fine folks think of booking separate tickets? Do you ever do it? How much time would you allow in between flights?

If you want comments on a particular itinerary, you need to share the details of it.

How much is the savings? How severe would the impact to your financial situation if you had to buy tickets at the walk up price, assuming there is availability?

How many people in your party and how fast can they move?

Checked bags?

I have never done it, but that is not to say I never would, IF given the right circumstance.

Posted by
20 posts

Timely topic with Airfare cost and capacity woes. Would rather be on a single ticket but not always a good value or practical. Was recently shopping flights for a Sept RS Adriatic tour and there are only so many flights into Ljubljana and out of Croatia. We ended up with separate tickets. Considerably better value to book the connectors direct with Lufthansa from their hubs. If you go same day, I suggest connecting on the separate ticket earlier in the day where the connector carrier has multiple flights to that same destination if possible. A buffer day is also reassuring. Carry on your bags if possible. We connected on separate tickets/carriers to Frankfurt last month and would have missed our flight if not carrying on. It was the day after a strike and the security and baggage drop lines were crazy. Also, kudos for flight shopping early. I'm seeing flight costs(from US at least in the Premium Economy cabins) on flights we have booked for fall travel increase by the thousands of dollars in the last week. At elevated levels, folks might consider a little more managed risk than normal and bake in contingency/mitigation planning. Example.. we are headed to France next month and it was a better value to book separate round trip tickets on Delta Charlotte to JFK(ticket 1) and then JFK to Paris/Return from Marseilles to JFK (ticket 2) verses booking a single Multi Leg Delta ticket same flights. Go figure.

Posted by
343 posts

I am doing it in late September to go to Berlin. United has a daily flight from ATL-EWR-BER. That same flight, booked separately ATL-EWR, EWR-BER, was approx $400 cheaper if I had paid cash for the whole thing. I used Skymiles (with a 15% discount b/c I have a Delta AMEX) for the ATL-EWR portion.

I rarely check a bag so I won't have that to contend with either way.

I've booked separate tickets once before: ATL-BOS, BOS-KEF. Another situation in which the same flight on a single ticket from ATL was about $500 more than if booked separately. Worked perfectly. Fingers crossed my luck holds!

I looked at some of those Norse flights too, but the timing just didn't work for me; it put me arriving back in the US so late I'd have to spend the night before making my connection back to ATL, thereby wiping out any savings.

Posted by
16606 posts

Only on multi-city trips where I am spending a few days prior to the next flight. Have done it often when combining legacy carriers for the trans atlantic portion on an open jaw and using discount airlines for getting around once in europe,

Posted by
1895 posts

If you are doing it the same day-don't. My niece tried it to go to Europe last summer and her first flight was delayed and by the time she made it through Amsterdam airport her next flight had left. She had to stay the night at an airport hotel and her family spent several hours trying to find any flights for her.

She too got a "too good to be true" airfare. And had to pay almost as much as a connecting flight for her mistake. Honestly, if you are going to stay overnight just to save money, you will have to pay for hotel, food, etc. Financially and time wise it doesn't make sense.

Posted by
4429 posts

Is the distance to the final location too far for a train or bus plan B or C?

Posted by
25606 posts

I don't think anyone has mentioned the added risk if the second leg of your travel is the initial part of a round-trip ticket, as would be likely if your outbound connection was in the US. I've never tried that, but it's my understanding that if you miss that connection and don't make it onto the first leg of a round-trip (or multi-city) ticket, the entire ticket is cancelled.

Posted by
16606 posts

acraven, you are correct, and I have had this happen when I missed an outbound flight a few years ago. You miss any portion of a ticket and the rest of the ticket is canceled; and it is tough to impossible to change that. But fortunately after a day on the telephone I did.

My last trip on separate tickets was

IAH to IST to ODS on Turkish Air (ticket one) four nights
ODS to KBP on Ukraine International (ticket two) four nights
KBP to BUD on Wizz (ticket three) couple of weeks
BUD to IST to IAH on Turkish Air (ticket one)

I would never try a "layover" on separate tickets. What If a flight is changed or canceled? The next flight is screwed up. Not worth a few hundred savings.

Posted by
1587 posts

Personally, I wouldn’t fly two separate tickets on the same day.

I agree. I generally try to plan the first landing and use that city to regroup and get over the long transatlantic flight and spend the night. If I am interested in the first city I may stay an extra night and fly out the day after. It really depends on your first landing.

Posted by
1667 posts

In a few weeks I fly to Edinburgh for a five-week visit to Scotland.

The only direct flight from my local airport (Guadalajara) to Europe is to Madrid on Aeromexico. There is no partner airline that would have gotten me to Edinburgh directly, and the itineraries (and costs) were unsatisfactory.

I would never fly internationally on separate tickets, but what I'm doing is flying from GDL to MEX on Volaris and on Turkish Airlines from MEX to EDI via IST. My Volaris flight arrives at MEX at 10:15 pm, and my Turkish Airlines flight departs the next morning at 3:45 am.

My experience on Volaris is that they are reliably on time. And there are several other later flights from GDL to MEX aas a backup if needed. Still, I'll probably be a bit nervous until I'm in the air out of GDL!

Posted by
2290 posts

I did this flying to Santorini in 2018 and am doing it this year to Sicily and Sardinia. Everybody has their comfort zone but these are "rules" I abide by.

  1. A direct flight to Europe where will catch unconnected flight if I am going to take it the same day. The flight to Athens required a connection but in 2018 I didn't sweat that as much as now in terms of things going wrong. This year, I am flying to London and then Sardinia in July. The flight to London is direct. I am flying to Rome via Paris in May. We are spending the night in Rome (actually two nights) before taking a Ryan Air flight to Catania, Sicily.
  2. Sufficient time between direct flight and unconnected flight. I am arriving at 10:30 am in London and the flight to Sardinia is at 4:30. I don't know what "magic number" is but I would have been comfortable with four hours but this was only option anyway.
  3. Be prepared to buy another ticket. This means I will not take an unconnected flight on the same day as my flight back to U.S. For both of my trips this year, I am returning to the city where the international flight departs from the night before (Rome, and then London). For my Sardinia trip I have bought the two legs from London on separate tickets so if I miss the first leg, I won't have the second cancelled. That way I am only risking buying one ticket.

BTW, I am flying Norse to and from London. One major reason is that I can get a flight to Sardinia from Gatwick. There are none from Heathrow so would have to go to a different airport.

Posted by
2679 posts

Do it all the time...

Here are my rules

Arrival in Europe.

1. Minimum of 4 hours between flights
2. Willingness to pay the price it it all goes wrong. So I flew into London and was heading to Madrid. I knew that if it all went to "heck" I would have to walk up to Iberia and buy a one way ticket to Madrid. I was willing to do that.

Departure from Europe
Be in the return city the night before my flight back to the states because I am not willing to follow rule 2 above

Finally all tickets within Europe are "one way" Because when flight one was 6 hours late and I had to buy that 1 way ticket I don't want to have to do that again for the flight back to London which will often happen on a round trip ticket.

Posted by
157 posts

Thanks everyone for your replies! Really good points of view that gave me some things to consider. For this particular trip, after looking at backup options, costs associated with missing the connection, and just the overall added stress, I decided ultimately I’d feel more comfortable just booking a single itinerary. As a matter of fact I just found an OKish fare (OK being relative to the prices I’ve recently been seeing IMHO) and booked with Delta for the last week of September to Italy. Doing the separate tickets would have only saved me maybe a couple hundred bucks and I really didn’t feel it was worth it overall. Now off to find hotels!

Posted by
351 posts

I guess I’m in the minority but I’ve done this numerous times, buying 2 separate tickets for same day flights. Flying to Europe out of Charlotte is crazy expensive so I buy a nonstop flight out of JFK or EWR, then buy nonstop RT CLT-JFK (or EWR), allowing 4-5 hours on each side of flights. This has saved me significant $$$ each time (typically 50-70% less than if I’d booked 1 ticket out of CLT). Am doing same thing this spring: Have a RT nonstop ticket from CLT-Frankfurt (with miles), then bought multi city tickets Frankfurt-Krakow and Wroclaw-Frankfurt on Lufthansa. Have 4 hours after arrival in Frankfurt and for return am flying into Frankfurt night before flying out.
Yes, I fully realize the risk. Over the years this has saved me several thousands of dollars. So if my luck runs out, I’m willing to deal with that.