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Are Self-Transfer Flights Cheaper Than Connecting Flights?


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Are self-transfer flights cheaper than connecting flights?

Self transfer flights are becoming more and more popular. But there are several things you need to remember when booking a self transfer. First of all, not, it isn’t always cheaper, and there are extra expenses associated with self-transfer flights. Also, there are some risks when it comes to self transfers.

Be sure to compare prices for both self transfer and regular connecting flights in order to find the best deal for your journey.

And always keep in mind the risks of self transfer.

Did you miss a connecting flight? File a compensation claim online.

Delta planes in JFK airport, New York
Delta Air Lines planes in JFK airport, New York

Are Self-Transfer Flights Cheaper Than Connecting Flights?

As you might already know, self-transfer flights refer to booking separate flights (often on different airlines or with budget airlines) to reach a final destination instead of booking a single connecting flight.

So are self-transfer flights cheaper than connecting flights? 

Self-transfer flights can be cheaper than regular connecting flights, but it depends on several factors. We talk more into details on them further below.

One of the reasons why self-transfer flights are cheaper is that you can browse and choose the cheapest flights from different airlines on every portion of your trip, in comparison to being restricted by a single airline’s connecting flights. You, basically, make your own DIY connecting flight.

Or, you choose what a flight search engine offers you.

For example, Kiwi Nomad is great for multi-stop journeys.

Also self-transfer flights are cheaper when the journey consists of two or more flights with low-cost airlines. Offering a no-frills experience, low-cost airlines provide passengers the option to pay only for those services they need most. Low-cost airlines operate with a simplified business model that focuses on minimizing operational costs. That’s why self-transfer flights with low-cost airlines can be cheaper than connecting flights. 

But not always self-transfer flights will be the cheapest option for you.

Situations When Self-Transfer Flights Aren’t Cheaper (Read Carefully!)

1. When You Fly With Low-Cost Airlines, and Need to Buy Baggage Allowance

Flying with low-cost airlines is cheap only if you do not require any “add-ons” for your cheap ticket. If you do, the price of your ticket rapidly increases in no time.

You have a long journey with multiple flights, and each of these flights is operated by a low-cost airline. While it may be cheap if you travel without checked luggage, it might be costly if you need to check in a suitcase.

If there are several flights with low-cost airlines, you need to buy checked baggage allowance for every one of those flights. Booking baggage allowance can be costly on low-cost airline flights. If you have several such flights, the costs will quickly add up.

2. When You Fly With Low-Cost Airlines, and Need to Select and Book Your Seat

When flying with low-cost airlines, you don’t get to select seats for free. 

You have to pay for seat selection. If you are a group of people traveling together, and want to sit together, you will see that the cheap flight becomes not-so-cheap when you count in seat selection.

Families should be wary of booking self-transfer flights with low-cost airlines, as it could prove to be an expensive option. Low-cost carriers often don’t seat families together, meaning that additional charges must be paid for all members wanting to sit in the same row; this cost might be far from economical.

3. Accommodation for Overnight Layover

Cheap self-transfer flights often involve overnight layovers

Yes, you can always stay at the airport, but not always it is possible. 

Spending a night at an airport is not always possible due to security concerns. Additionally, airports may be closed during certain hours of the night, making it impossible to enter the premises. Finally, often airports lack basic facilities such as comfy chairs, or there might be not enough chairs, comfy or uncomfy. 

Even if it’s possible to stay at an airport during the night, not all travelers want to do this. Do you want to do this?

If you don’t want to spend the night at the airport, you don’t have any choice but to book a hotel or other accommodation. Plus, you need to get to that accommodation either by public transport or taxi. Not always you can stay walking distance away from the airport. 

When you’re considering booking a self-transfer flight with an overnight layover and staying at a hotel, remember to add the cost of accommodation into your budget. Compare this total cost versus what it would be for a regular connecting flight that doesn’t require an overnight stay – you may find that the latter is actually more economical.

Rain Vortex Waterfall in Changi Airport, Singapore
Rain Vortex Indoor Waterfall in Changi Airport, Singapore

Are Self-Transfer Flights Cheaper Than Connecting Flights? My Experience

I have experienced both. I have been on cheap self-transfer journeys. And I also have seen that self transfer just doesn’t make sense.

I will give you an example.

I want to fly from Kuala Lumpur to Brussels. 

I see that self-transfer flights are cheaper than regular connecting flights. The difference is not that great, though — about 150 EUR less than the cheapest connecting flights with traditional airlines.

While taking multiple separate flights might seem cheaper at first, it becomes clear that it isn’t the case once you start counting in extra baggage costs. Most of these self-transfer flights are operated by low-cost airlines with strict checked baggage policy. Especially if there’s a flight in Europe with Ryanair or Wizz Air which only allow to take one free personal item. If you want to carry a full-size carry-on bag or suitcase, you have to pay extra. If you need a checked bag, too, it will be even more expensive. 

Keep in mind that if there are several flights with low-cost airlines, you need to buy checked baggage allowance for every one of those flights.

What is your experience with self-transfer flights? Do you book self-transfer flights often? Was it cheaper than taking a connecting flight? Write in the comments below.

About the author:

Co-founder and Editor at Connecting Flights Guide

Una is an organized globetrotter and foodie who’s been living a digital nomad lifestyle since 2013. She always starts her day early with a good book before diving into work. Apart from traveling and aviation, her other passions include gym, hiking and cycling. Una is also a strong proponent of AI technology. She firmly believes in its potential to simplify life and has often advocated for its wider adoption in our day-to-day activities. Her favorite airlines are Qatar Airways, Emirates, and KLM.


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This article may contain compensated links. Learn more in our disclaimer.

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