When looking for a flight to our destination, we always try to choose the best connection – a direct one. However, this is not always possible because of the range of services offered by the airport or, whether we like it or not, a lower price of a combined flight. How to plan such a trip, how to prepare for it, and what should we know and do if any of the connections are delayed or cancelled?
A connecting flight / connection flight / combined flight: a journey from A to B via C.
All three terms: a connecting flight, a connection flight, and a combined flight mean the same thing – our flight goes from the starting point of the journey to the destination point via a connecting point, such as from Warsaw to Dubai with a change in Frankfurt, which is one of the major air hubs and handles distant routes, compared to Warsaw or generally Poland, which does not have such a huge hub.
As mentioned before, a connecting flight can also be called a “combined flight”. This combination consists of the fact that a flight is not always operated by the same airline; on the contrary, it happens when we are booking a flight that it is operated by two different carriers. In addition, a flight that includes a transfer can have two booking numbers, but we will get back to this later.
How do I prepare for a connecting flight?
First of all, pay attention to whether the airline in question is the actual flight operator or whether it is a marketing carrier. This identification is very important if, for example, you would like to file a claim for compensation (you always file a claim with the operator!). Moreover, take a look at the visa regulations in the country where the transfer is to take place. In most cases, the luggage is transported directly from one aircraft to the other without our participation, but it may happen that it is you who will have to collect the luggage and check it in again. However, you will be informed about this at the airport of departure during the first check-in, so there is no need to worry. The same ambiguous situation can be seen in the case of check-in. Usually, you will receive boarding passes for the current and the next flight at the first flight, but you may still have to go to the appropriate window at the transfer airport to collect a travel document for the next flight. Also, check if your flight has one or two bookings; this matters in the event of any disruption to the journey that might have a negative impact on the rest of it, after which you would like to claim compensation.
And, ultimately, yes: you can leave the airport if you have plenty of time to change flights. You should only remember that some countries may require a transit visa, so before each trip with a transfer, check carefully if you need such a document.
Two flights, one journey: how to keep your nerves at bay.
There is nothing to worry about. As a rule, connecting flights are planned in such a way that you, as a passenger, have a guaranteed period of time to switch from one aircraft to another. Usually, everything takes place at the same terminal, but it may happen that you will have to move to another airport location. In such a case, there are clear and visible signs placed at the airport to show you the right way.
Still, you will feel most at ease on a connecting flight where both connections have the same booking. If the first flight is disrupted in any way, e.g. by a delay or even a cancellation, and you do not make it to the second flight, the airline is obliged to arrange alternative transport for you to your destination. However, if your flights have two different booking numbers, the situation is somewhat more complex – the carriers do not feel obliged to guarantee another means of transport to your destination because they were not in any way responsible for and had no influence on what happened to the previous flight. It is up to you to organize the flight in such a way as to ensure that, even with the disruption, you can make it to the second connection. Therefore, you must also check this detail carefully.
Bear in mind that most low-cost airlines do not offer combined flights on a single booking, and each section is treated as a separate flight, so when you decide to travel with such a carrier, allow at least two hours to change flights so as not to be under pressure.
What should I do if I have issues with the flight?
First of all, find out more about the reason for the delay or cancellation at the first stage of the journey. In this way, you will know what prevented you from continuing your journey. Also, ask for the provision of meals and drinks, a hotel room and transport to the hotel if the alternative flight or a different means of transport are available the next day. Of course, you are entitled to all of this if both flights have the same booking, while compensation is payable in both cases – whether the flights have the same booking or two different ones. Nevertheless, the amount of compensation may be different. In the case of two different bookings, you can only get compensation for the part of the journey that was disturbed and nothing more, unfortunately. In the case of just one booking – for the whole journey, even though only one part of the journey was disturbed.