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I'm sorry if this is a duplicate question (or a trivial one) - I don't know what to search for (my searches for the question title only bring back mathematical answers).

I'm planning on dropping off my daughter with my grandparents for the summer break and returning at the end of summer to pick her up.

The problem is, I'm not familiar with the ordering process - I bought simple 2-way tickets in the past but in this case she needs one return ticket for the whole summer and I need 2 separate return tickets, one at the beginning of summer (for the drop-off) and another at the end of the summer (to pick her up). Obviously, the leaving / returning dates must coincide on the tickets and I'd want her to sit next to me on the flights. The trips are between Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) and Budapest (BUD).

What is the easiest way to get such an arrangement? I don't think this is supported on sites like Travelocity and the like.

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    Here's a potential alternative: if your daughter is old & mature enough, consider an unaccompanied minor service instead, where the airline escorts her through the flight. This would be much cheaper & less hassle than you flying along both ways, and is usually available for kids 8+ (exact rules vary per airline). – jpatokal Apr 2 at 3:19
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    Is she under 11? – Harper Apr 2 at 5:01
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    Why not just book the tickets separately, then when you check in for your flight, select/ask for seats next to each other? I've done this several times between UK/US, UK/Europe. I simply check in and select seat 25A, then the other person I travel with also checks in picking seat 25B. This way no matter how you book the flights, you can sit together. – Uciebila Apr 2 at 12:08
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    Please don't just use airport codes to describe your journey. People have to look them up (DFW is fairly well-known to international travellers but most people won't know what BUD is, even though it's obvious once you know). They're also very susceptible to typos: if you'd written "Bufapest", people would have guessed the typo but "BUF" would have got you advice about travelling to Buffalo, NY. – David Richerby Apr 2 at 13:26
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    @Uciebila it is my understanding that some airlines are now intentionally charging extra for families to sit together. Your method may/may not work in the future. – emory Apr 2 at 13:34
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You could proceed in two different ways:

  • Make three separate bookings: one for your daughter and two for you. You end up with three bookings DFW-BUD-DFW.
  • Make two separate bookings: one for you two for the flights on which you will be travelling together, and one for you for the flights on which you will be travelling alone. You end up with two bookings: DFW-BUD-DFW (2 people) and BUD-DFW-BUD (just you).

The advantage of the second method is that you can ensure your daughter and you will be sitting next to each other, since you are booking the tickets for both of you in the same step.

However, it might be worth comparing prices between the two methods, because in general trips originating in Dallas are not necessarily equally priced to trips originating in Budapest, so you might end up saving money with the first method.

If you do decide to make three bookings, book your daughter's and your ticket directly consecutively to ensure you get the seats that you want.

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    Please note that with the second method, if you miss either of the return flights (BUD-DFW) because of delays or cancellations on a flight on the other booking, the airline will have no legal duty to make sure you get to your destination. If you miss the first leg on your BUD-DFW-BUD ticket, they will probably cancel the second leg as well. – Jacob Bundgaard Apr 2 at 8:40
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The best way I've found to make this kind of booking is either:

  • Get a travel agent to do it for you, they can "link" separate tickets and arrange seating, or
  • Decide which airline you want to fly, call the airline booking line, and work through it with them on the phone.

The travel agent option is probably a lot less headache than talking to an airline booking agent directly.

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    I had to look up where BUD was. Halfway across the world, perhaps on multiple airlines, I'd definitely call a travel agent. – Greg Hewgill Apr 2 at 1:11
  • Going to BUD with Lufthansa / BA / AA is pretty easy - usually with a single stop. – xxbbcc Apr 2 at 1:27
  • All three alliances do BUD-DFW, easily. *A will transfer in FRA or YYZ, OW in PHL or LHR, ST in CDG most likely. I also see wacky cross alliance routes (LO to JFK, AA to DFW) which I seriously doubt to be bookable. – chx Apr 2 at 2:02
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    @GregHewgill I didn't know where BUD was, either (I edited it into the question, because people shouldn't have to know that). But, come on, Budapest is a European capital, not some unmade airstrip in the middle of the Amazon rain forest. While a travel agent might be good advice for the particular coordination requirements of this trip, it's absolutely not required for the "We need to get to Budapest" part. – David Richerby Apr 2 at 14:07
  • @DavidRicherby: I wasn't trying to imply that a travel agent was necessary for any trip to Budapest. Of course it isn't. My answer was written within the context of the question, where the OP has specific accompaniment requirements. – Greg Hewgill Apr 2 at 19:26
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This started as a comment on Mophotla but it expanded so much it needs be an answer.

First, the two bookings trick is a great trick.

To expand on the three bookings booking process: search with whatever engine you prefer but book with the airlines directly. I checked Air France, British Airways, Air Canada and all of them offer seats after booking any time before check in for a fee. I heartily recommend subscribing to Expertflyer -- for five dollars a month you can look at the seat map before booking:

enter image description here

The results look like this.

As a footnote, towards Budapest I found it much, much better to have a short flight first in North America then the long one. Waiting hours in the morning in Europe after the overnight transatlantic flight is brutal. I absolutely refuse to do this and check into a hotel instead if my routing is such.

  • My mother is willing to shell out the extra money to AA to fly directly from Philly to Budapest, just to avoid dealing with the extra hop on the European end (and avoid the drive to Newark or JFK). For her, it's not so much the exhaustion, it's more the mobility issues (she's had some less-than-pleasant interactions with airports vis-à-vis getting a wheelchair and someone to push it) and the dealing with European Union red tape twice instead of once. – Martha Apr 2 at 19:13
  • There's a direct from Toronto as well (and AC flies DFW-YYZ). – chx Apr 2 at 19:50

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