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This is for 2 Sri Lankan nationals. The below route can be booked 2 ways (this is a weekly route). One is through Google Flights (which takes you to emirates website) and one is through Emirates website directly.

Emirates Website through Google Flights: 
Ticket #1: CMB to DXB to GRU to PTY - $3600 
Ticket #2: PTY to NAS - $550

Emirates Website directly: 
Ticket #1: CMB to DXB to GRU to PTY to NAS - $7800

Route:

Legend: CMB - Sri Lanka, DXB - Dubai, GRU - Brazil, PTY - Panama, NAS - Bahamas

                 CMB      DXB      GRU      PTY      NAS
      03/26      02:55    05:55                                 Emirates
                          09:05    17:20                        Emirates
      03/27                        01:30    06:24               Copa
                                            07:48    11:42      Copa
  1. How come Google Flights doesn't show the complete flight (CMB to NAS) but Emirates website does (advanced search)?
  2. Which ticket is better? I would think the cheaper ticket is better even though it would result in 2 separate tickets. Brazil requires transit without VISA if onward ticket in on a single ticket.
  3. Does Emirates allow date changes for any reason? In case we are unable to get the PCR test result in time, we would need to push back the trip by 1 week (we would know 24 hours before the trip starts).
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    Warning: Emirates advanced booking is actually a multi-city itinerary, which is the same as separate bookings for each flight, even though on the same ticket. This is usually intended to plan multiple separate flights with a few days in each intermediate cities rather than connecting all the way through. You may not get the same guarantees you would get from a regular single booking. Which probably explains why you can't find the 4-flight itinerary on Google Flights, they are considered 4 trips, not one. – jcaron Mar 1 at 18:11
  • @jcaron The fourth flight does not show up because it is operated by Copa, rather than Emirates. For the third flight Emirates have a code share. – thelem Mar 11 at 12:59
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If you book the first - cheaper - version, you have two independant tickets, and it is your problem to make the connection. If your arriving flight is late - for whatever reason - you lose the second ticket, and will be stranded (and have to buy a new one, typically no refunds).
Emirates (and most others) do normally not easily offer such separate bookings, to avoid angry customers that don't understand what they do, and because they prefer to sell the higher priced ticket.

Also, booking separate tickets means your luggage does not get checked through - you need to leave the secure area, pick up your luggage, and check-in again. This takes significant time, and potentially requries a visa (!), a COVID test, and/or other things, as you are entering the country - doesn't matter that you plan to leave again right away. Consider it as you are immigrating into that country - for half an hour.
Looking at your times, you will for sure NOT be able to connect in PTY in the short time if you have separate tickets - you need to take a later flight for the last leg.

That being said, if you are sure you can manage / avoid the visa issue, and have enough time between flights, you can save the money and book two tickets. It might be a good plan to leave a day inbetween, or be ready to buy a second ticket for the connection (still cheaper...).
I have done such splits often, and it always worked, but sometimes it got really tight; it is not for the faint of heart. Still saves a lot.

Flight changes: it depends on your ticket class. Probably not for free, but it's guesswork without seeing the details.

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  • Buying separate tickets under COVID circumstances is taking extra risks, It is, much more than normal, likely that flights are cancelled and that entry rules for countries change. – Willeke Mar 2 at 16:39
  • Correct. However, for a saving of nearly 3000 $, I would look into it anyway - even if you re-buy the last leg, you saved a killing. – Aganju Mar 2 at 19:01

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