I am an Indian citizen living in the United States on a H1B visa. I wanted to travel to Warsaw for a vacation, for which I am applying for the Schengen Visa from the Polish Consulate.

The tickets I find on Kayak, Priceline, etc seem to be more expensive than if I fly nonstop from from SFO (San Francisco) to CDG (Paris), and then from CDG (Paris) to WAW (Warsaw). This will be 2 separate flights with separate tickets, so I understand that I will have to collect my luggage and then check in again at CDG. It might not be the most convenient option, but the price difference is significant.

So I wanted to ask if anyone here has done this in the past. Specifically:

  1. Does CDG need any special visa (transit visa like London-Heathrow, or Canada Toront)? OR having Schengen visa from the consulate of my final destination enough over here.
  2. Will I get my Schengen entry/departure stamp on my passport at CDG (Paris)?
  3. Why do flight search engines not show these options? I assumed that they would try most if not all permutations combinations. Is there any catch to what I am trying to do?

Any help is appreciated!

Update: clarified that I meant booking 2 separate flights with 2 separate tickets i.e. one from SFO to CDG and another from CDG to WAW, both flights completely separate from each other, separately booked.

  • Are you buying the two flights together, or separately? It makes a difference...
    – Doc
    Jan 26, 2020 at 1:35
  • Buying the flights separately!
    – Ufder
    Jan 26, 2020 at 5:15

2 Answers 2


The SFO > CDG flight is international, departing the US and arriving in France (a member of the Schengen area).

While the flight from CDG > WAW is international (between countries), it is from one Schengen state (France) to another Schengen state (Poland). Inter-Schengen flights are without systematic Immigration checks.

If you fly on separate tickets, you'll pass through Immigration and Customs at CDG. If you fly both legs on one ticket, you'll pass Immigration at CDG and Customs at WAW.

Provided you've adhered to the Schengen Visa Code about from which Schengen state you obtained your Schengen visa, you can enter the Schengen area through any of its member states. A discussion of the issue can be found here.

So the answers to your questions are:

  1. No.

  2. Yes, as you'll pass Schengen Immigration at CDG.

  3. The issue is: what happens if you miss a flight? If on a single ticket, the airline is responsible to get you to your destination (here, WAW) and put you up on the way if that's necessary, and perhaps pay you compensation if the delay is significant. Because of the cost of this added responsibility the single-ticket price is sometimes higher.

If you travel on single or individual tickets, on the other hand, the risks of missing a flight are mostly on you, the individual traveler. If you the first flight (SFO > CDG) is cancelled or delayed, the airline will get you to France, but has no further responsibility. If you're late getting the France, you'll miss the second flight, and airline #2 will not be responsible (i.e., will not pay for a new ticket) to get you from France to Warsaw. Worse, after missing the CDG > WAW first leg, the airline will cancel the WAW > CDG second leg.

While flights are usually more-or-less on time, the SFO > CDG flight could be two hours late — not enough to force airline #1 to rebook you or give you compensation, but late enough to miss the CDG > WAW flight, and by extension, have your WAW > CDG ticket cancelled.

For shouldering this risk, individual tickets are sometimes less expensive. Which you choose depends on your personal risk tolerance. Some individual—ticket travelers overnight near the airport of an important (international, expensive, intermittently-scheduled) flight to absorb travel delays and minimize the risk of missing the flight.

  • "This flight is not considered international": it is international for most purposes; it's just not subject to systematic immigration controls. A more precise term is "intra Schengen." The Schengen codes use the terms "internal" and "external" to differentiate intra-Schengen things (flights, borders) from extra-Schengen things.
    – phoog
    Jan 25, 2020 at 20:11
  • Also, the answer to 2 is definitely yes. It's not possible to board an internal Schengen flight from an arriving external flight without passing through the immigration control checkpoint, and that means getting a stamp. Similarly, there's no way to get a stamp in Warsaw after arriving on an internal flight, because the passengers arrive in the area that is not behind the immigration checkpoints.
    – phoog
    Jan 25, 2020 at 20:17
  • As phoog has said, #2 is not Probably, it's YES! Immigration occurs at CDG. Customs occurs at WAW. I also disagree with #3 and much of the following text. Single tickets are often cheaper than buying two individual tickets - it just depends on the route/airlines/availability/sales/etc
    – Doc
    Jan 25, 2020 at 20:22
  • Also, there ARE customs controls within the Schengen region. In particular in a case like this one, customs formalities occur in the final airport (WAW). Schengen covers immigration, not customs.
    – Doc
    Jan 25, 2020 at 20:24
  • Thanks for all your comments. Each is very useful. I'll amend the answer. Jan 25, 2020 at 20:32

You are considering booking separate flights for your trip. As David indicates, this means that if you are delayed, you are most likely on the hook to book and pay for a new ticket to Warsaw (and usually the return flight from Warsaw to Paris as well).

Tickets booked at the last minute can be quite a lot more expensive than tickets booked in advance. And if travelling during busy periods, you could have to wait a while to get a seat (or, alternatively, they may be very, very expensive).

Any hotels and meals would be on you as well.

Remember that if you have checked luggage, you need to:

  • Deplane. Can take a while on large planes like a 777 or a 380.
  • Walk to customs. If you are flying Air France, you’ll most probably end up in the L or M concourse, which means quite a bit of walk, then wait for a people mover, ride that, and a bit more walk. In other terminals it will be quicker but still a bit of a walk.
  • Queue for passport control. There are lots of international flights arriving in a short period in the morning, and there can be significant queues. Even the boss of Paris airports complained about it recently. 90 minutes wait is not unusual if you don’t have status.
  • Wait for your luggage. Even if by any chance your get through passport control quickly, CDG has awful performance when it comes to that, it’s often worse than a third world country. Don’t trust the estimated time shown on the signs.
  • Go through customs, which is usually quick, but you never know.
  • Get to the terminal for your departing flight. Could take anywhere from a few minutes to a good half hour (there are officially 3 terminals, but it’s a lot more complex than that, and terminal 3 is quite a distance from the inter-terminal people mover).
  • Find your departing flight’s check-in area, queue and..
  • Check-in/drop your luggage before the check-in deadline (depends on the airline and flight, but usually close to one hour before departure).

After that you’ll have the usual steps of going through security and to your gate before the boarding deadline, but if you make the earlier deadline that should be a piece of cake.

The general rule of thumb is that if you have two flights on separate tickets, you should have at least 4 hours between them, but it really depends on the combination of flights (dictates which terminals you use, check-in deadlines, cost of rebooking a new flight at the last minute, risk that you may have to stay overnight...). For the return flights for instance I would have a LOT more buffer, as check-in deadline for long haul flights are longer, there aren’t many CDG-SFO flights (you’ll probably have to wait until the next day), and such a flight at the last minute will be very costly.

Ideally, you want to have an overnight stay in between, but that really depends on the combination of flights.

As to why search engines don’t usually suggest those flights:

  • I think the reasons above are enough. We have quite a few questions around here from people who book separate flights and end up in dire straits when things go awry.
  • In addition to the above issues, in many situations (not here), it adds requirements for full visas for the transit point which would not be needed with an airside connection.
  • Some engines actually do, and people have all sorts of issues they didn’t expect when delayed.
  • The minimum connection time if everything goes alright is much higher than a “real” connection, so many combinations are just not possible on separate tickets, even if all flights are on time, and if you add enough buffer, that restricts combinations even more. A “real” connection will allow connection times under an hour (some airports and airlines go down to 30 minutes even for international-to-domestic). This is just impossible for tickets booked separately.
  • This answer presumes that the OP is booking 2 separate tickets. He has NOT stated this, but instead only that he is purchasing 2 separate flights (SFO-CDG-WAW) which could very well be on the same ticket/PNR, and with the same airline/alliance.
    – Doc
    Jan 26, 2020 at 1:37
  • Thank you for elaborating so clearly on @DavidSupportsMonica's answer. I was thinking of putting a 6-8 hour delay, since I have never been to CDG and don't speak French :). Worst case, even if I have to buy a new last minute CDG > WAW ticket, as long as its under $400, I should be okay, since that would be the price difference in a direct flight to being with. So basically I am trading primarily convenience and then time to some extent (since shorter direct flights are even more expensive) with money. I wish I could select this one as a correct answer as well!
    – Ufder
    Jan 26, 2020 at 5:45
  • Last minute flights can sometimes be a lot more expensive than that, especially if you have specific timing constraints. And remember that the most sensitive part is probably the return flight, you really want quite a bit of margin on that one. You may also consider travel insurance, but make sure that it does indeed cover missed self-connections.
    – jcaron
    Jan 26, 2020 at 11:58
  • True, definitely need to keep that in mind. Thanks once again for the help!
    – Ufder
    Jan 26, 2020 at 18:11

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