Connecting Flights With Different Airlines


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How do connecting flights with different airlines work?

How to book connecting flights with different airlines? These are two of the main questions that we will answer in this guide. At the end of this article you will also find information on air passenger rights in the European Union and the UK, about flight compensation rules, and how it works on flights with different airlines.


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


Airplane at the airport in Kiev
Airplane at the airport in Kiev, Ukraine

1. It’s Just a Connecting Flight With Different Airlines (Very Common)

This is something very, very common nowadays.

You can be looking at, or you can book a flight connection with different airlines, and it may be a regular connecting flight. You see, airlines share flights. And sometimes they also sell flights operated by other airlines.

You may book a connecting flight from Qatar Airways, and one of your flights may be operated by airBaltic. This happens because Qatar Airways and airBaltic are codeshare partner airlines. They share their flights. However, this is still a proper airline-protected connecting flight — you’re fully protected.

Because it’s considered as one journey.

You have a single booking code.

In this situation, Qatar Airways is the marketing airline. You booked a flight from them. While airBaltic is the operating airline. It’s their flight, their airplane, their staff. There are two airlines, but it’s an airline-protected connecting flight.

Read more: Connecting Flights

1.1 Operating Airline

This is the airline operating the flight.

If you’re on the Air France plane, and there’s Air France staff, then it’s an Air France flight. Air France in this case is the operating airline. No matter how and from whom you have booked this flight. In case of flight problems, operating airline will pay you flight compensation (EU, UK regulations).

1.2 Marketing Airline

This is the airline selling the flight.

When there are two airlines, one selling a flight and another one actually operating this flight, the marketing airline is the one selling the flight. In case of flight problems, marketing airline will be the one looking for solutions. If one of your flights is delayed and you miss a connecting flight, you have to contact the marketing airline (airline you booked your flight from).

In case of a missed connection, they will book you on another flight.

That’s how it works around the world, not only in the EU / UK.

Read more: Missed Connecting Flight Due to Delay 

GET FLIGHT COMPENSATION

File a Claim Online

2. Or – These Are Self-Transfer Flights With Different Airlines

This is the second most common option.

You made several reservations, and now you have connecting flights with different airlines. This is known as a self-transfer flight connection. To put it simply, it’s a DIY connecting flight. And since it’s a DIY connection, not airline’s connection, it’s fully your responsibility if you make it for the next flight or not. If one flight is delayed and you miss next flight, this is your responsibility (not airline’s) — that’s the biggest risk with self transfer.

Read more: Self-Transfer Flights

Singapore Changi Airport arrivals zone

3. How to Book Connecting Flights With Different Airlines?

Sometimes you don’t even have a say in this.

Sometimes, no matter how you book a flight, there just are two or more different airlines. Because it’s just a connecting flight with different airlines.

3.1 Booking Connecting Flights With Different Airlines

How to book connecting flights with different airlines?

If you plan to do it online, the options are the same as with any flights — airline websites and flight booking websites or apps. Choose what suits you the best. Here’s our top tip, if the price difference is less than 10% or 20 euro or dollars, better book directly from an airline. Because, mostly, in case of any problems with flights, not having a middle-man makes things a lot easier.

Don’t forget that this will be a self-transfer connection.


How to Book?

Flight booking websites, or airline websites.

Few examples: skyscanner.net, expedia.com, momondo.com.

Want to be on the safe side? Add insurance right away.

Or book a flight from Kiwi.com (with Kiwi Guarantee).


Read more: How to Book Connecting Flights?

3.2 Booking Connecting Flights With Low-Cost Airlines

These too we can call connecting flights with different airlines.

Since most lowcosters don’t offer connecting flights.

Yes, you can buy several flights from Ryanair or Wizz Air. But they aren’t connecting flights. They are separately booked flights. When and if things go wrong, if there’s a delay or cancellation, and you miss any of flights, this is your responsibility to find a solution — none of the airlines is responsible for that.

How to book connecting flights with lowcosters?


How to Book?

Flight booking websites, or airline websites.

Few examples: skyscanner.net, expedia.com, momondo.com.

Want to be on the safe side? Add insurance right away.

Or book a flight from Kiwi.com (with Kiwi Guarantee).


Read more: How to Book Connecting Flights?

We have a separate guide on how to book connecting flights (different types of connecting flights). We also talk about third-party booking websites and travel insurance there. See that guide to learn more about different options.

Waiting for baggage - Karachi Airport, Pakistan
Waiting for baggage – Karachi Airport, Pakistan

4. Connecting Flight Baggage Transfer: Different Airlines

Connecting flight baggage rules are very simple.

They differ only depending on the type of connecting flight. There are only two types of connecting flights. First are airline-protected connecting flights, second — so-called self-transfer flights. Both can be with one or several airlines.

4.1 Airline-Protected Connecting Flights

With airline-protected flights it’s super simple.

In this case, the airline takes care of your checked baggage. You check in baggage once, at the airport of departure, and then you collect it at your final destination. Only in rare exceptions, you have to collect and recheck baggage between flights. One such example is when traveling through the US. Everyone has to recheck baggage in the US.

It’s the same on flights with different airlines.

4.2 Self-Transfer Flights

In this case, it’s exactly the opposite.

In this case, baggage transfer between flights is your responsibility. You have to collect baggage at every airport. And you have to recheck baggage for every flight. If there are more than two flights this can be tiring.

Don’t forget about this when flying with different airlines!

5. Carry On Baggage

Different airlines have different carry on baggage policies.

Even though carry on policies may look the same at first, nowadays they vary quite a lot. Number of bags, weight and dimensions differ. While some airlines don’t pay attention to the weight of the carry on, others are particularly strict with this. Make sure to check the rules before you fly or make a booking.

And if you’re flying with two or more airlines, plan accordingly — if one of your flights have smaller carry on allowance, take this into account.

This applies not only to self-transfer flights.

Hong Kong Airport transit
Hong Kong Airport transit

6. What Happens If You Miss Your Flight? (Your Connection)

And again, it depends from the type of connecting flight.

It doesn’t matter that much if there is one or several airlines. However, if it’s a connection with several airlines, it’s more likely that you have a self-transfer flight, meaning that you will be more interested in self transfer rules.

6.1 Airline-Protected Connecting Flights

Unless it’s due to your fault, your airline takes care of this.

If there are several airlines, contact the airline that you have booked your flights from. If you booked your flights from Qatar Airways, and now you should be flying with airBaltic, contact Qatar Airways.

Did you reach your destination 2+ hours late?

You might be entitled to flight compensation.

In this case, contact the operating airline.


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


6.2 Self-Transfer Flights

No matter what happened, the other flight is your responsibility.

The airline operating your first flight, which was delayed or cancelled – and is the reason why you missed your flight – isn’t responsible for this connecting. They won’t give you a new flight instead of the one you missed or are going to miss. They won’t pay for the inconvenience.

But, they are responsible for their flight.

Was this flight 2+ hours late?

Was this flight cancelled less than 14 days in advance?

If you answered yes to any of this, in Europe and UK you might be entitled to flight compensation. You won’t get this compensation right away, but there’s some kind of assistance you might be getting, depending from the exact circumstances (get in touch with the airline!). In the EU and UK it’s called “Right to care“. Apart from that, it’s definitely worth making a claim to receive compensation from them.

You can do it on your own or through an agency.

GET FLIGHT COMPENSATION

File a Claim Online

What is your experience with connecting flights with different airlines? Have you ever booked a flight like this? Did you do it directly or with flight booking websites? Do you buy travel insurance?


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