Flying direct is every passenger’s dream scenario. Unfortunately, taking a direct flight is not always an option depending on your travel plans. Even when there are direct 12+ hour flights and it is possible to fly non-stop, the added expense can make the flight out of reach for the average traveler. Taking a connecting flight between two or more places is often the only option. Of course, connecting flights can be a great source of confusion. How do connecting flights work? Can I get a connecting flight between two different airlines? These are some of the questions you’ll have answered below.

What Is A Connecting Flight?

Simply put, a connecting flight is two or more consecutive flights on a single trip. Let’s say you leave London on a flight to Perth, Australia. A connecting flight might require you to change from one airplane to another before reaching your final destination. Sometimes connecting flights are rather instantaneous, other times they will require a wait in the airport between the two flights known as a layover. Layovers can be anywhere from an hour to several hours.

How Do Connecting Flights Actually Work?

Much of the ease of a connecting flight starts with the ticket. If you are traveling on a single ticket, a connecting flight is quite simple.

What exactly is a single ticket? It means that your entire flight is booked on one ticket. Even if there are two or more subsequent connecting flights, they are booked as one with the same airline.

If you are on a single ticket and your luggage was checked, that luggage will automatically be checked through to your last stop. When you arrive at the connecting airport, all you have to do is find your next gate and wait for the connecting flight.

Though the process can be quite rushed due to delays, it is often pretty simple and straightforward. You might even get a bit of downtime to eat or stretch your legs! There might be a security checkpoint in the terminal at the connecting airport, but this is not true of all airports.

If you booked your flights separately, not on a single ticket, you will have to take care of your luggage yourself once your initial flight arrives at the connecting airport. If your connecting flight takes place in a different country, you may have to present your visa and appropriate documentation. However, you will not have to leave the airport. All you have to do is collect your luggage and check it in for the next flight. Head to your gate and you’re done.

Connecting Flights With Different Airlines

In order to save money, some travellers will book connecting flights with different airlines. However, if you are booking flights with different airlines, and the first flight is delayed, you might not be able to make it to your next flight. In this case, it will be your responsibility to find a new connecting flight.

You could still be entitled to flight delay compensation for the first flight, but you’ll have to find a new flight and accommodations on your own. These are known as self-transfers.  They are different than transfer protected by the airline, which occurs when you book with one airline.

The main difference between the two is what occurs if your first flight is canceled or delayed.

  • Self-transfer. If your opening flight is canceled or delayed and you cannot get to your connecting flight on time, then you will miss your next flight. Unfortunately, will have to book a new flight and are not eligible for settlement.
  • Transfer protected by the airline. If you have scheduled a connecting flight from the same airline as your original flight then the airline will take care of you if the first flight is canceled or delayed.

With self-transfer, you will also be required to take care of your checked luggage on your own. You will have to collect it and check it after each flight.

Connecting Flights Are Simple

For the most part, connecting flights are pretty straightforward and simple. They can even be a great way to break up your travel day or try some new food in a regional airport!