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I am booking a flight on Delta from RDU to LHR. I can save 50% of the ticket cost by building my own RDU - LHR itinerary out of two round-trip itineraries, one from RDU to JFK and one from JFK to LHR. This entails some risk, and I would need to build in some buffer time to account for randomness (especially at JFK, and especially at customs on the return).

Since these flights are all on the same airline, I could mitigate this risk if Delta would work with me to create a protected layover, by binding the two itineraries into a single round-trip itinerary after I have booked them. Do airlines typically, and does Delta in particular, allow for this?

Related questions have been answered with regard to unprotected layovers and changing airlines, I could not find any answers on unprotected layovers while staying on the same airline.


For the dates I'm interested in:

  • RDU - LHR (via JFK): $1400
  • RDU - JFK: $150
  • JFK - LHR: $550
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The answer is this: yes, Delta will build this for you, at that higher fare. There must be more competition on the RDU-JFK and JFK-LHR routes than on the RDU-LHR route, so the fares are skewed.

Also, it's possible that the RDU-LHR route has higher fares because of connection risks at JFK - in part, you're paying a risk premium.

You can certainly ask, but there's a reason Delta in this case charges what it charges for RDU-...-LHR.

If you want a lower fare, check out alternatives. For example, Air Canada can fly you RDU-YYZ-LHR/LGW and has more reason than Delta to provide you with a low fare.

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    Aside on "there must be more competition": there used to be pretty significant variance in RDU - [LON] pricing, on the order of +/- $500. American introduced a direct last year (?) and now all prices --- including Air Canada's --- are within $100 of each other. It's literally impossible for utility to be sufficiently curved to justify a $700 risk premium on a $700 ticket: you just buy another fare if you miss your flight (yeah prices change, but the chance of missing a flight is small). We economists frequently ask, "How do firms learn to collude?" ... – kyle Mar 2 '18 at 17:31
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    But +1 for a reasonable answer. – kyle Mar 2 '18 at 17:32
  • @kyle I didn't realize you were an economist. :) Personally, I'd just book a very long connection to minimize the risk, especially if the penalty of rebooking a missed flight isn't onerous (which it probably isn't, given your fares out of RDU.) – Jim MacKenzie Mar 2 '18 at 17:54
  • @kyle Or you can simply buy good travel insurance with some of those $700 and keep the rest in your pocket. – Federico Poloni Mar 3 '18 at 11:55
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    Based on my reading, Delta's plan will only cover change fees/rebooking if the delay is due to weather. If it's due to being stuck on the tarmac at JFK for two hours, you're out of luck. – kyle Mar 3 '18 at 20:51

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