Connection do's and don'ts

Hmm, 45 minute connection between my flight to Vancouver and Frankfurt? Seems tight!

Well, truth be told, that is what we in the travel biz call a ‘legal’ connection and/or ’married segment’.   

If it shows up, let’s say on Air Canada’s website, as a connection, then you can be free to book it as-is, and if there is an ensuing delay or complete miss-connect, it is the airline’s financial responsibility to re-accommodate you on the next available flight to your final destination.  

Booking connecting flights is a sometimes confusing situation. Passengers affected by weather delays are frustrated when it seems there are different policies in places for different people. 

Let me explain ~

Airline tickets are a contract between you (the passenger) and the airline. The airline has a financial responsibility to get you from the point of origin to the point of destination.  

However each ticket number is individual. Let’s say you have a flight from Kelowna to Seattle with Alaska Air, then you are connecting with American Airlines to Dallas . . . but you miss your connection in Seattle, due to weather. If your flights from Kelowna to Dallas were issued all the way through on one ticket, then both Alaska and American are responsible to get you thru to Dallas. 

If, for some reason, you ‘broke the fare’, and issued the Kelowna/Seattle ticket separately from the Seattle/Dallas ticket (maybe because you noticed you could save a couple of bucks by doing so), then the reciprocity between airlines ends, even if it’s all booked on the same file. Technically Alaska is only responsible to get you through to Seattle, and it doesn’t matter to them that your final destination is Dallas.

This situation is something that often crops up with Expedia-style web fares. They compute the lowest possible fare between points, but the average Joe doesn’t realize that his Kelowna to Vancouver to Taipei to Manila itinerary is actually comprised of three separate tickets. Baggage is not routed through to the final destination, and the passenger can’t actually just ‘connect’ in Taipei. He needs to clear customs and security, then re-check in for his Taipei to Manila flight. God forbid if one of the flights miss-connects.

I’m not saying you can’t take advantage of point-to-point ticketing. It’s just that you have to book your connections accordingly, to give yourself enough time to facilitate the potential issues.

Another situation involves booking connecting flights with charters such as Air Transat or Sunwing. Charter airlines have no reciprocal agreements with scheduled airlines. This means if their flight is late coming home and you miss your connection back to Kelowna, they have no responsibility to cover your re-booking fee or forced overnight stay. I always recommend a minimum of four hours when connecting to charter flights, or, preferably, build in overnights to avoid stress.

Finally, if the worst comes to pass and you do find yourself in a miss-connection situation, check your credit card coverage. Many offer what is called ‘trip interruption’ coverage. As long as you’ve paid for all the connecting tickets with the same credit card, they will pay your catch-up costs.

Better yet, talk to your travel consultant first. He/she has invaluable advice about interline ticketing situations, and can explain the realities of that so-called ‘unbelievable fare’ on Expedia.

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About the Author

Joy has long been a believer in the art of travel: the belief that a vacation is something to be anticipated savored and then long remembered as one of life’s great adventures. 
Website: thejoyoftravel.ca

You can contact Joy at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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