How to use etc. for 2 people with partially overlapping trips
January 14, 2019 7:20 AM   Subscribe

My husband and I are going to Europe in June. We're flying from NYC to London. But he's going home first, from Amsterdam, whereas I'm going onto Rome and then back to the US from there.

I always use to book our flights. But this time it's complicated, because we have partially different itineraries. That is, I want us to be on the same flight from NYC to London, but then we're taking other transportation to Amsterdam, and he's flying back to NYC from there, whereas I'm flying from Amsterdam to Rome on that same day and then, about a week later, I'm flying back to NYU from Rome.

I know that I can use kayak to capture my flights, and then find him his flights, TRYING to get him on the same flight I'm on from NYC to London -- but what if I CAN'T get him on the same flight?

I just got us good-priced flights for another trip we're taking together, but two separate airlines were involved (it might have been a "Hacker" price) and so, after reserving the initial NYC>someplace else flight, I had to go back and try to "capture" the return flight separately on the other airline, and there were only a few seats left, and it was very stressful. (I know, most people would be happy to have this kind of stress. Privilege, etc.!)

Now this next trip, as described, is more complicated. I know I can go to a travel agent, call airlines, etc. My question is: CAN I use kayak in some way to do our separate itineraries but make sure at the outset that I can get TWO tickets for the initial, NYC>London flight?

posted by DMelanogaster to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total)
Perhaps implied is that I'm wondering if etc. is really saving me money, or if I should just go to a travel agent to do this. It's not my style, but maybe it should be?
posted by DMelanogaster at 7:22 AM on January 14, 2019

If you're booking from the U.S., you can cancel your flight within 24 hours, if you can't get your husband's itinerary to work out.
posted by serathen at 7:27 AM on January 14, 2019 [1 favorite]

I do this by booking one flight in one browser and one person's in a different browser (logged into our different airline accounts) and click almost at the same time to select seats together. Unless the flight is so booked already, you should be able to do this.
posted by k8t at 7:40 AM on January 14, 2019 [1 favorite]

I would use Google Flights/Matrix ITA to see what's available at what price (you can't book there). You'll want to book two separate itineraries, with "multi-city", because you're arriving in Europe in one city, and leaving from another. This assumes you want to book round trip. You especially (vs your husband) will have a complicated itinerary. Have you considered a high-speed train? You'd see more of the countryside, but it would take more time.
You could also book two one-way tickets together to Europe, then separate one-way tix back from Europe. Again, Google Flights/Matrix ITA will tell you what's best.
For best customer service, and maximum flexibility, I'd suggest booking directly with the airlines.
Good luck!
posted by dbmcd at 7:40 AM on January 14, 2019

It sounds like you're worried you'll buy one ticket and the flight will sell out before you buy the second, though maybe I'm misunderstanding.

Perhaps you could open two instances of Kayak (laptop and phone) or two different apps (Google Flights and Hopper) and not commit until both itineraries are satisfied.

As a sidenote, Kayak has recently been exposed as to be providing its user data to Facebook without permission. I would recommend you ditch them and try Hopper or another competitor.
posted by dobbs at 7:41 AM on January 14, 2019 [1 favorite]

serathen, I'm confused about that cancellation policy. That's the airlines' policy. I thought when I book through kayak, THEIR policy is that I'm booking non-refundable flights. Am I wrong??

Thank you all for great suggestions about dual-browsers, etc.!
posted by DMelanogaster at 8:03 AM on January 14, 2019

You want to book separate one-way tickets for each leg. Even if you are able to get both of you on the same flight, it's just a pain to have two passengers traveling together on separate itineraries, especially if you want to sit together. So you can do this sequentially.

1) Book a one-way flight for two passengers from NYC to LON

2) Book a return ticket for him AMS-NYC

3) Book a return ticket for you ROM-NYC
posted by permiechickie at 8:06 AM on January 14, 2019 [5 favorites]

I've done something like this with two different browsers (e.g. Safari with my credentials and Firefox with my wife's credentials). Also the type of booking you're looking for is called an "open jaw" in the parlance. You can usually (but not always) book transatlantic flights with open jaws and still get the same fare class as if you'd booked a round trip ticket, but it may be simpler to book the tickets directly with the airlines after locating your itineraries via Kayak (or Hopper, or Google Flights, or ITA Matrix, or whatever your weapon of choice is). If I'm doing something complicated I use ITA Matrix to identify the specific legs and booking classes I need, then use the airline(s)'s own advanced search tools to book my trips, possibly using two browsers at once to minimize the chances of missed bookings.

Your extra hop to Rome may or may not really screw you up though. In your case I'd price out a simple open jaw (NYC-LON, FCO-NYC) combined with a separate one-way ticket (AMS-FCO), and also a multipart itinerary (NYC-LON, AMS-FCO, FCO-NYC). Whether the latter is cheaper or more expensive will depend on the stopover rules of the booking class, and the only way to figure that out is to try it.

Also! Once you book your separate open jaw return tickets, call the airline and tell them that you're traveling together on the first flight and they'll link the two bookings in their system. Also also, if you figure out that what you want to do can all be done by one airline, if you're doing something that can't easily be booked online they will usually waive any fees for booking it over the phone. That will guarantee the two itineraries are linked.
posted by fedward at 8:14 AM on January 14, 2019 [1 favorite]

I thought when I book through kayak, THEIR policy is that I'm booking non-refundable flights
Kayak typically sends you to the airline's site for booking, so it should just be the airline's policy that applies. They make their money from a referral kickback, as does Google Flights. It might be different for non-US airlines, though I just tried booking a flight on Air Canada through Kayak and got a notice that 24-cancellation was allowed. (Annoyingly Kayak is down for me now, so I can't test further.)

Edit: this is with the site on desktop; the app may work differently.
posted by serathen at 8:41 AM on January 14, 2019

I did this! with only one awful error (gave my name instead of my husband's for one flight -- had to call booking agency and cancel -- THANK GOD for 24-hour cancellation policy!!!!) --

I got rid of my Amsterdam to Rome leg as part of my original itinerary, and got myself a separate flight later. Opened two browsers (thanks, multiple browser mavens) and got us on same NY to London flight and then did the other legs. We have separate itineraries for everything.

Thank you, everyone!
posted by DMelanogaster at 4:27 PM on January 14, 2019

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