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There are times when you’ll find that booking separate tickets as part of the same journey might be the best solution – this may be due to various factors including award availability, lower fares, better connection options, mixing airlines, etc. When you book separate tickets there are several things you must be aware of and also you should always be prepared and have a backup plan in case you miss your onward flight due to a delay or cancellation.

What are Separate Tickets?

Separate connecting tickets are flights you book on separate tickets but your intention is to connect right away – usually without an overnight layover. When you book separate tickets the airline carrying you to your connecting city isn’t responsible for your next flight since it was booked on a separate ticket. Therefore if your first flight is delayed or cancelled and you miss your onward flight, you have to rebook yourself and potentially forfeit the value of your ticket (since you’d be marked as a no-show because your onward airline doesn’t know that you’re flying in from somewhere).

Why Book Separate Tickets?

There are several reasons why you could be booking separate tickets – this includes aspects like award availability, better fares, mixing airlines, etc. For example, let’s say you’re redeeming miles from airline A but this airline or their partners do not fly to where you want to go – so you book your ticket to a city in which you connect in, to another airline that may not be a partner of airline A, to get you to your destination.

Other times you could be booking separate tickets due to better fares if you break up your flights or perhaps you want to fly two different airlines that aren’t partners.

Important Things to Note

There are several important things to note and understand when booking separate tickets:

  • you always want to leave plenty of time in your connecting city, generally 4 hours or more
  • if you check bags, you’ll need to pick them up and recheck them in your connecting city, some airlines can through check bags to other airlines, but don’t expect this and be prepared to collect and recheck them
  • you may need to go through security/immigration depending on your itinerary so be sure to check the details and add more time if necessary
  • you’ll need to check-in for your flights separately as they are on separate tickets and sometimes online check-in might not work so you’ll need to do so at your connecting airport

Be Prepared and Have a Back-Up Plan

If you’re booking connecting separate tickets, be prepared and have a backup plan should you misconnect. If your first flight is cancelled or significantly delayed and you miss your onward flight on a separate ticket, just know that the initial airline likely won’t rebook you and neither would your onward airline – all because you booked separate tickets.

Always have a backup plan in case things don’t work out – before booking make sure you know what you’ll be doing if you miss your onward flight. Take a look at backup flights or alternatives that you can select if your plans go south.

Same-Day Change Could Save You

This applies to travel on US airlines as they allow you to do a same-day change for free or for a small fee on tickets if there is availability on other flights that same day. If your first flight on a separate ticket is delayed and you’ll misconnect, see if you can same-day change your other flight to a later one so you won’t have any trouble later – this could save you if your first flight is delayed.

Same-day changes are only available on a select number of airlines and each of them has their own rules and policies as far as what can be same-day changed. If you’re unable to do it online, try calling the airline or contacting them through other means.

All in All

There will be times when booking separate tickets makes more sense than buying one ticket. While this could save you money or miles, there are risks involved and you must be prepared in case things do not work out. Remember all of the aspects mentioned above and others when booking separate tickets – such as having to recheck baggage.

Always make sure your layover is extra long so you have time in case a flight is delayed or you need to go through immigration or passport control. If you book different airlines and they aren’t partners or are members of different alliances, your travel journey will be different and your benefits may not apply to all flights – depending on what cabin you booked and what your elite status is. Booking separate tickets to your final destination can be a great way to fly there, but be sure to take everything into consideration and always have a backup plan.

Travel Miles 101 has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Travel Miles 101 and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.