Is it a good idea to buy two separate airline tickets for a single "trip"?
September 9, 2007 12:26 PM   Subscribe

I'm thinking of taking a transatlantic, one-way flight using two separate tickets. Basically, the cheapest flight I've found that goes to my destination (via one or 2 connections) is more expensive than taking a direct flight to New York, and from there taking one of the budget airlines to my final destination. Should I go ahead with two separate tickets, or is the hassle not worth saving $100-200?

The other reason I like it is that all other complete flights require a departure time of 4am. For some reason, if I break it into two flights I can leave at 10am, which is much, much nicer.

Just to be clear: I would be making two separate purchases that would be (I'm pretty sure) unknown to each other. Thus, my baggage won't be forwarded on and I won't have a boarding pass or anything like that when I get to New York.

Basically, my primary concern is that since I will have two separate tickets I will have to check in again when I get to New York, and I'm unsure what kind of process I'll need to deal with regarding luggage, etc. I'm also concerned about restrictions that budget airlines might put on my carry-on or checked baggage (I will probably have a decent amount, a large, potentially heavy carry-on and at least 2 checked bags).

In case anyone is interested, this is from Cairo, Egypt to Washington, DC.

A similar question was posted earlier regarding a transfer in Frankfurt. However, I'm putting up my question because a) A ton of the respondents basically ignored the core of the question and acted as if this were a standard stopover rather than two separate trips; b) this is in Europe and involves transfers between countries (and thus passport control) whereas mine does not and finally c) traderjoefan never posted a followup as promised.

PS: If there is some way I could bundle these two flights into a single package so I could get all my tickets at the Cairo airport, that would be wonderful.
posted by Deathalicious to Travel & Transportation (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
No real harm to taking separate flights, since you have to manually recheck your luggage anyways. It has to go through customs in NYC.

What's the budget airline?
posted by smackfu at 12:34 PM on September 9, 2007

Which airport were you trying to fly in to? I'm surprised flying to New York is that much cheaper then flying to Dullas.
posted by anaelith at 12:38 PM on September 9, 2007

A week ago I flew NYC-MN on NWA and was able to check into that flight online (up to 24 hours in advance) and print out a boarding pass at home before I left. Then all I had to do was show up at the airport with the pass and go through security.

You'll have to go thru passport control/customs when you arrive in NYC from Cairo, regardless.
posted by xo at 12:39 PM on September 9, 2007

And my experience has been you don't need to recheck your luggage. You take it to another room, and basically hand it to someone who sends it off on the continuing flight. Which, of course, I could not do in this case.

For budget airlines I was thinking JetBlue.

Oh and then I thought, "What the heck. Might as well take a look at Expedia again." Found a flight for $543. So, um, I'm probably going to take that. But in case it falls through, AND if I need to do something like this in the future, I'm still interested in the answer to this question.
posted by Deathalicious at 12:40 PM on September 9, 2007

Note that when airline #1 screws up and delays your flight's arrival into the US by 4 hours and you miss the connection, that's their problem. With separate tickets, it's entirely your problem, and may cost you a hefty charge to rebook. So give yourself plenty of time for that connection.
posted by smackfu at 12:41 PM on September 9, 2007

The other thing to explore is flying out of NYC and taking a train or cheap bus from DC to NYC. Note this previously on AskMeFi.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 12:42 PM on September 9, 2007

I'd suggest single carrier, you may be able to find a flight a bit easier with the tools below.

1) flyertalk


2) ITA, log in as guest, select cities, and choose graphical mode.

The reasons to avoid multi carrier are innumerable, but the biggest is luggage control and hassles. the problem with multi carrier and multi ticket is that first flight can hose you all the way down the line, and if you miss the second flight you could end up boned.
posted by iamabot at 12:43 PM on September 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

1) there are a lot of reasons not to do this, but if you must, do take heart in knowing that NY-DC shuttle flights are run frequently (every 30-60 minutes), and can be much more flexible with reassigning missed flights, depending on the airline/agent/your attitude, frequent flier status, and winning smile/phases of the moon.

2) I wouldn't consider doing a chinatown bus or Amtrak with your full complement of luggage. Airport-to-Amtrak-or-Chinatown with all that stuff would be a pain in the ass.

3) This is entering the US, huh, so you will have to reclaim your luggage anyway.
posted by whatzit at 12:51 PM on September 9, 2007

If the first flight is late for some reason, you're screwed on the second. If it's all on one ticket/carrier, at least they have to reroute you or otherwise help you get to your final destination. If you do the two ticket scenario, make sure there is a bigger than usual layover.
posted by barometer at 12:59 PM on September 9, 2007

I'm going to answer your moot question directly: it's probably not worth saving $100-$200.

I can't think of "innumerable" reasons not to do this; the one reason I can think of is that if your first flight is seriously delayed, you eat the second ticket. (Although as an anecdote, I've missed a flight or two in my time -- totally my fault -- and I didn't eat the whole ticket. They charged me a $75 rebooking fee or whatever. Just call the airline when you realize you're not going to make your flight and discuss your options; don't simply no-show.)

If you're talking about saving hundreds or thousands then it could be worth the gamble, but I wouldn't do it for one or two hundred. I've been on too many fubar flights.
posted by iguanapolitico at 1:18 PM on September 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

I don't think 1-200 (even with the nicer departure date) is worth the headache and hassle because the % they f' it up is higher than the probability they don't... i mean they are airlines after all. :)
posted by wangarific at 1:45 PM on September 9, 2007

I have done this through Portland OR to Medford, had the first flight been late, and got totally screwed up as I missed the connection (that wasn't really a connection if you see what I mean.) Cost me more, so check that you do have a really good layover/interval
posted by A189Nut at 3:47 PM on September 9, 2007

Which airport were you trying to fly in to? I'm surprised flying to New York is that much cheaper then flying to Dullas.

EgyptAir offers direct flights to New York (and New York, only). To go to any other destination in the US requires a stopover -- either in New York or in Europe.
posted by Deathalicious at 5:00 PM on September 9, 2007

These quick DC/NYC flights are sometimes rerouted to other NYC airports (JFK, LGA, Newark) due to weather or traffic problems. Depending on your connection time, this could be just awful for you.
posted by Eringatang at 5:53 PM on September 9, 2007

These quick DC/NYC flights are sometimes rerouted to other NYC airports (JFK, LGA, Newark) due to weather or traffic problems. Depending on your connection time, this could be just awful for you.

I'm pretty sure this would only apply if I was going in the other direction (or round-trip), right? I can't imagine you'd arrive at JFK only to be told that you have to go to Newark in order to fly down to DC.
posted by Deathalicious at 11:07 PM on September 9, 2007

I was able to buy a ticket from Egypt to DC with a connection in New York for under $600! It leaves at a reasonable hour too, alHamdulillah.
posted by Deathalicious at 8:44 PM on October 4, 2007

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