January 25, 2013 When Two Tickets Costs Less Than One
A ticket to Europe from my city costs around $1200 round trip. But a ticket to Europe from New York is about $600.00 and a ticket to New York from my city is about $300.00. Simple math tells me that if I book two separate tickets I stand to save about $300.00 on the entire trip. This is what frequent flyers call creating an unprotected connection. Unprotected connections are risky because if for any reason the connection is missed, the airline is not under any obligation to help. This is different from a protected connection where the airline is still obligated to get you to your destination even if things go wrong, aka a “protected connection.”
For example using a single ticket on Delta from Orlando to Atlanta to New York, even if something goes wrong in either Orlando or Atlanta Delta still has the obligation to get the passenger to New York. Now if the passenger has two tickets one from Orlando to Atlanta on Delta and a second ticket on United from Atlanta to New York. If something goes wrong in Atlanta, Delta’s only obligation is to get the passenger to Atlanta. Once the passenger is in Atlanta they are at the mercy of United and are treated like anyone else who misses their flight.
Note in order for the connection to be unprotected, there has to be two separate tickets not just two separate carriers. For example, if someone purchases one ticket off of Kayak and the first segment is on Delta and the second segment is on United, it is still one ticket. Again for there to be an unprotected connection there has to be two separate tickets booked separately. That being said book separate tickets can be a good idea as in the first example. The key is there has to be a lot more time in between flights to allow for things to go wrong. My recommendation is a minimum connection time of 6 hours on an international flight and 3 hours on a domestic flight. Yeah that’s a long time, but generally you are saving lots of money so it’s ok.
In a grand example of do as I say, not as I do last year I booked a three ticket trip. The first ticket was Austin-Houston-New Orleans on Southwest. The second ticket was New Orleans-Philadelphia-Madrid on US Airways. The third ticket was Madrid-Zurich-Stockholm on Swiss Airlines. My connection time in Madrid I think was two-and-a-half hours. In New Orleans US Airways announced a long delay on their flight to Philadelphia which would cause me to miss my connection in Madrid. Thankfully through my own research, the US agent saved my butt and got me out on United through Washington DC. My connections worked, even though they really shouldn’t have.
In short, it may save a lot of money to book trips in two segments, but it can be risky. Use this option with caution.