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Kiwi.com sells different kinds of connecting flights:

  1. "Connection protected by the carrier"

    • These are the same as on any online travel agency: they include the usual support of the airline as defined in the contract of carriage.
  2. "Connection protected by the Kiwi.com Guarantee"

    • Unique connections combining multiple separate (budget) airline tickets. These are not protected by the airline so they cover them with the "Kiwi.com Guarantee."

There are some enticingly cheap tickets using the later. I can live without in person service, worrying about bags, transit visas and check-in twice. I want to understand any additional risk of these tickets to decide if the savings is worth it, and to help choose between flights.

The explanation of this guarantee isn't highly detailed.

  • For changes more than 48h before departure: I see they may opt to give me a refund instead of doing a (more expensive) rebooking.
  • How much does this guarantee cover when delays or cancellations occur less the 48h of departure? The terms focus on "reasonable" reaccomodations at "disproportionate" prices. What are these in practice?

    In case We are unable to find a reasonable alternative Flight(s) or other means of transportation due to a disproportionate price difference between the potential alternative transportation and the original price for the unused Flights, we may agree with You on Our proportional contribution to the costs associated with the mutually agreed alternative transportation.

  • How will Force Majeure situations differ vs. a standard ticket?

16
+500

Although this is anecdotal, I needed the Kiwi.com guarantee once, and I was successfully covered. It was unpleasant, but it got me to my destination without spending any extra money. I conclude that it is worthwhile if you are willing to go through a hassle in order to save money.

My original flights had a 4.5 hour connection protected by Kiwi. Due to some aircraft problem, my first flight was 4 hours late and I couldn't make the connection.

I followed all Kiwi's rules and I kept written evidence of doing so: I first contacted them online as soon as I knew my first flight was delayed, even though the airline was saying the delay would be only 1.5 hours. Kiwi replied to contact them immediately upon my first flight landing. I got off my first flight about 4:30pm, contacted Kiwi online, and they told me they'd get back to me within 2 hours with a new plan. I kept contacting them every 2 hours and they kept apologizing for the delay and assuring me I will be covered as long as I continue to follow their rules. About 12:30am, they emailed me a new plan and asked me to reply to confirm. I replied to confirm immediately, and they sent my new confirmation just before 1am. Their new plan provided a paid hotel room, €70 refund to cover taxis and meals, and a new flight to my destination the next day.

It looks like their main catches are:

  • If you don't contact them as soon as you know there may be a problem, the guarantee isn't valid (I think this is because they're trying to recover funds if they can cancel the second ticket before it takes off)
  • If they make you an email offer and you don't reply right away, their offer may become unavailable and you may have to wait even longer for them to make another offer
  • If you pay for your own hotel or replacement flight, they won't reimburse you. You may be tempted to do so if you get frustrated waiting for them
  • They may deny you if they think you should have made it to the next flight (in my case it was obvious I couldn't)
  • If all replacement flight options are very expensive (more than twice the original cost), they may offer a refund or partial refund instead
  • 1
    Thanks for sharing your experience. An eight hour wait for a travel agency to come up with an alternate route is pretty damning; what if there was a better option you could have taken that afternoon? – Zach Lipton Mar 29 at 23:16
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    There actually wasn't any suitable alternative later that afternoon, but yes, I felt the 8 hour wait was excessive, especially since their stated policy was to offer an alternative within 2 hours. – krubo Mar 30 at 12:30
  • Thanks a lot for a first hand report, I feel this absolutely agrees with Hilmar's summary: don't use Kiwi.com. The long wait and capped flight replacement options nails it. – chx Mar 30 at 15:24
  • @krubo thanks for the info. Sounds like a rather expensive rebooking. Do you know if the rebooking cost more than twice the price of the flight you missed? – Carl Apr 1 at 12:13
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    In my case, I think the rebooking was about the same price as the flight I missed. – krubo Apr 1 at 13:17
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+50

I highly recommend not to book this type of connection and read some online review on Kiwi from people who have tried using this guarantee. Typical complaints include

  • You need to call KIWI directly when you miss the connection, which can be quite difficult and expensive if you are in a foreign country. Wait times on the phone can be quite long
  • If you incur any cost BEFORE you talked to KIWI on the phone, they won't refund it.
  • The guarantee is capped at twice the actual cost of the flight that you missed. If you had booked a $30 Ryan air ticket, missed it, and needed to rebook on a $300 Lufthansa ticket, you are still out $240
  • Kiwi doesn't pay if they think it is "your fault", i.e. they won't pay if both flights are on time. If you miss it because of long lines at immigration or customs, late bags, or just an overly aggressive short connection you are out of luck.
  • Not related to the guarantee but still a concern: many passengers complain about exorbitant baggage charges (much higher than the airline charges) and not honoring the 24-hour cancellation rule.

Keep in mind that even if KIWI is legally required to pay something, they still may drag their feet and make this incredibly hard and cumbersome for you.

  • 1
    I found that Kiwi was charging about US $25 for guaranteeing a six-hour layover. I decided I'd take my own chances. – Andrew Lazarus Mar 25 at 20:11
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    I have no references but this all matches everything I have ever heard about kiwi.com from people who have had the displeasure of attempting to use their guarantee. I would not book with them myself. – Michael Hampton Mar 26 at 1:38
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    I've had bad experiences with them. They insisted on doing the check in themselves and kept forgetting to do it. I had to keep spamming them on facebook to get them to respond and finally check in for me. – user59310 Mar 28 at 14:04
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    One purpose of them doing check-in themselves is so that if you have a tight connection to a different airline, you already have the boarding passes. Not sure if it serves any other purpose. – krubo Mar 29 at 16:03
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    Looks like another purpose of them doing check-in themselves is to make it hard to tell if they sold you a throwaway or hidden city ticket. Reference: Kiwi.com terms and conditions 5.8 – krubo Apr 1 at 13:25
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Low cost airlines sometimes fly through airports with rather limited connection options. Let's see an example.

Let's say you are in the UK and want to soak up a little sun so you are flying from Edinburgh to Thessaloniki. You get a route with two Ryanair flights via Bratislava. On paper this looks great: the flights are super cheap, you are saving hundreds of pounds and it's not like there are direct flights to be had for any money so why not? However, you miss your connection and now you are in Bratislava. The next flight to Thessaloniki is in four days. If you don't want to wait, you need fly back to some major Ryanair airport -- London, Brussels, Dublin -- and hope this time you make your connection. Or you can take ground transport to Vienna or Budapest and a flight from either... this is going to cost a lot of money, take a long time and it's really a huge hassle. Also, if Kiwi doesn't help you out, are you even going to know what to do when straddled in Bratislava?

Really, unprotected connections should only be booked by people who have a lot more experience in flying and solving these situations. I feel this is the biggest caveat with what kiwi offers -- they would need an iron tight concierge style service even more than monetary guarantees to make sure you don't get stranded.

  • Some fair points here about self-connecting but it doesn't answer my questions at all: I am a person with lots of experience in solving these situations. – Carl Apr 1 at 12:19
  • @Carl No guarantee will put you on flights that do not exist... and while my question doesn't go into this, I think it semi-obvious in a situation like this, Kiwi will refund you and shrug. – chx Apr 4 at 21:24
  • There's always a way. I know I'm risking having to fly back through Dublin in your example (or get to VIE - I used to commute BTS-VIE every day...) either way I'll manage. I just want to know what I have to pay for - clearly they don't only shrug based on the experience of people who have actually made claims. – Carl Apr 4 at 21:58
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Kiwi is a scam... my wife just missed her connection in London where they gave her 2 hours scheduled to collect her bags, get thru customs and check back in with another airline. That airline stated check in closed 1 hour prior to departure. She was not made aware of it until she got to the counter missed it by 4 minutes. Kiwi customer service line stated that she had 1:56 to make the connection from arrival and that their policy gave her 1:45 min or more to make it. Nothing they can do. No rebooking or help in any way. Called customer support as soon as counter told her it was too late to check in.

  • 1
    Most airlines close check-in 1 hr before departure for int'l flights. – lambshaanxy May 26 at 5:30

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