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When planning our recent Europe getaway, we first booked our overwater flight, which was from Boston to Dublin on Aer Lingus. This was one of the sweet spots of the distance-based British Airways chart, though it was gutted with the recent British Airways devaluation.
The flight still costs 12,500 Avios in economy class, but Business Class (which is what I booked) now costs 37,500 Avios instead of only 25,000 Avios.
Getting from Cincinnati to Boston
But now I still had the problem of how to get from my home in Cincinnati to Boston for my flight. My Aer Lingus flight leaves Boston at 9pm, so I have plenty of time to get there. The only problem is that there aren’t really any good options to get there! Southwest flies to BOS, but doesn’t fly from Cincinnati. I could fly out of Dayton or Columbus, which might be an option, especially given that I have the Southwest companion pass.
There actually even is a direct flight from Columbus to Boston, but the only problem is that we are flying BACK to Cincinnati, so we’d have to do some car trickeration. With Delta’s reduction in service from Cincinnati, there aren’t a ton of direct flights to ANYWHERE that is not an airline hub.
(SEE ALSO: The curious case of Delta and CVG)
I ended up booking the direct flight on Delta, using 12,500 Delta Skymiles for each of us.
Connecting flights on different airlines – the threat of misconnecting
When you’re trying to decide if you want to take connecting flights on different airlines, you need to take into account not only how much of a layover you are scheduled to have, but what your plans are if things go wrong (as they occasionally do!)
In my case, I was connecting to an international flight (to Dublin), and there is only one flight per day. This is somewhat of a “dream trip” for us, so the downside of missing that flight is high.
Like I said, my flight from Boston to Dublin leaves at 9pm, and the flight from Cincinnati to Boston goes from 4:00 to 6:15pm. So if all goes well, I have about a 2.5 hour layover, which would be plenty. I’ve used sites like FlightAware to track plane path and delay times, and this flight, although delayed, has not once in the past few months been delayed so long that I’d have missed my flight (not even close
Of course, I said that about my Amtrak train (Checking historical Amtrak delays – will I miss my train?) but then it ended up THIRTEEN HOURS delayed
EDIT: One thing I forgot to mention was that if you are traveling on connecting flights on different airlines but WITHIN THE SAME AIRLINE ALLIANCE, you may have some additional protection. For example, oneworld has a great policy like that; if you’re traveling one flight on American Airlines and one on British Airways, it will be like you’re on the same carrier for your whole trip.
Another problem many people when they have connecting flights on different airlines is what to do about their luggage. In my case it’s not an issue as we are not planning on checking any bags, but if you are… then you probably don’t want to book connecting flights on different luggage.
Unless the two airlines are part of the same air alliance, they won’t have any coordination with your luggage – you’ll be on your own. I once had to keep track of 17 pieces of luggage in the airport and it was a nightmare. I would NOT recommend this unless you have a LOT of time.
Like WAY more time than you think you’ll need. Because you have to plan for not only what happens if everything goes well, but also for what happens when things go WRONG! Think weather delay, or flight misconnect, or anything else. Remember your first airline doesn’t have any responsibility to make sure you hit your connect (though most airlines will TRY).
What do you think? How much of a layover is “enough”? Would you risk it?