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I am new to this, so explain stuff that might seem obvious to you. I'm seeing conflicting information when searching online.

Say I have booked an itinerary with separate airlines:

A -> B, B -> C
C -> B, B -> A

This is four separate flights, meaning neither of the transfers are guaranteed. The A -> B, B -> A is a return flight package, and the B -> C, C -> B one too.

What I'm worried about is that an airline cancels a flight in a place where I don't want to be, say the B -> C trip or the C -> B one (which is my holiday destination, so being stuck there would suck), and maybe refunds my £38, but leaves me stranded. Since they consider this a point-to-point purchase, I have no "home" base that I could considered away from, leaving them with no responsibility to take me back. Is that how it works?

If the C -> B flight is delayed, can they just put me on a later flight, so I miss the B -> A one, since that is not part of their problem, and B is my home as far as they are concerned?

This is in Europe.

Feel free to mention anything that might seem relevant, even if not directly a answer to the question.

Thank you.

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  • 7
    "This is in Europe." - do you mean "This is in the EU"? They're not the same Jan 6 at 13:38
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    Not your question, but just don't do this. Book both legs on a single ticket, or ideally get a direct flight. If there absolutely are no single-ticket options (e.g. C is an obscure location only reachable via local airlines that don't code share), either do some serious research on insurance policies or leave a 1+ day extended layover at B on the way back so that you can make alternate arrangements if your return flight is delayed or cancelled. Jan 7 at 2:55
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    @R..GitHubSTOPHELPINGICE: I’d rather say, only do this if you’re willing to accept the risk. Most times I’ve price-compared in recent years, suitable insurance/flexibility options have been pretty expensive — enough that in purely monetary terms, they were clearly worse than a smallish chance of buying last-minute rearrangements out-of-pocket. The insurance also provides some reduction in disruption/stress, so people may reasonably feel that’s worth paying for — but it’s a personal judgement call, and taking the risk oneself can definitely be the right choice sometimes.
    – PLL
    Jan 7 at 16:36
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    I see Ryanair as a tag.|| IF this includes Ryanair it should be in the question near the top and in bold. Rynair very greatly affects the advice given. If they are the last leg then maybe it is not much different than if any other airline was. BUT IF Ryanair are an intermediate leg it may significantly affect the advice given. || Ryanair are not only known for their bad service BUT they boast publicly of how they purposefully provide bad service, || [I've flown RyanAir once (two legs: England-Dublin return) . It was fun and we had no problems BUT we saw why people say what they do. Jan 8 at 0:01
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    "RyanAir wrecked my travel plans, but on the upside, I saved £100" said literally no one. Jan 8 at 2:40

3 Answers 3

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You have booked a return flight A -> B -> A with AirGreen, and a return flight B -> C -> B with AirRed on separate bookings. This can indeed leave you stranded.

For example, let us assume that your C -> B flight with AirRed gets cancelled short-notice. This leaves AirRed responsible for getting you to B as soon as possible, and to provide you with food and accommodation (if the delay is long enough) in C until then. Since this is happening in Europe, they might also owe you compensation under EC 261 (depending on the distance, how long the delay is, and whether the airline can blame circumstances beyond their control). However, AirRed is not liable for subsequent inconvenience this may cause you. Once they have delivered you to B (and paid the EC 261 compensation, if applicable), they've done their duty.

If you are not at the gate at airport B at the appropriate time for your flight B -> A with AirGreen, AirGreen can declare you a no-show, cancel your flight, keep your money and be done with you.

Note that the same issue might happen even if AirRed and AirGreen are the same airline, if you have two separate bookings. Only if you have a genuine connecting flight the airline is actually obliged to return you to A.

Your travel insurance might cover such a situation, but check carefully before relying on that. Otherwise I'd avoid making such a booking unless I could afford to book a new last-minute ticket from B to A.

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    @JonathanReez Whilst this is true, travel insurance is so cheap that I would be surprised if it was ever more economical to risk purchasing another flight. That, plus the extra cover travel insurance provides means, IMO, it is never sensible to travel without it. Too many people get stranded abroad with medical conditions and face serious repatriation bills because they didn’t buy travel insurance.
    – Darren
    Jan 6 at 7:53
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    But who do I buy this insurance with? Since each leg is separate, checking yes on their insurance option wouldn't do anything about missing my connection, right?
    – JohnBig
    Jan 6 at 9:28
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    @Darren: Insurance is a profitable business, which means they take in more in premiums than they pay out, by definition. It is never economically advantageous to purchase insurance in a strict expected-value sense, but most people are risk averse to some degree. The proper calculation is therefore just how risk averse you are relative to the cost and likelihood of purchasing a new flight.
    – Kevin
    Jan 6 at 20:40
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    Also, I see you’re American. I have a feeling that Americans are generally more reluctant to take out any kind of insurance (e.g. contents insurance - renters insurance to you, I think). I’ve never heard of anyone in the UK not having contents insurance. Whether that’s because it’s cheaper here, the industry is more heavily regulated or because in the US it’s seen as “socialism” the same way as universal healthcare, I don’t know.
    – Darren
    Jan 6 at 21:40
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    @Kevin You have misunderstood the economics of aggregating/redistributing risk. It's quite often economically advantageous to purchase insurance; you pay an insurer a small fee so that you do not need to keep a large sum of money tied up in case (for example) your house burns down. A sum of money you may not even have in the first place. And this also makes sense for societies; it is an ineffective use of funds for everyone to have a large sum of money tied up this way. A shared backup with a large enough pool of people so that the statistically required buy-in is very small just makes sense
    – user141552
    Jan 6 at 23:14
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Yes, you'll be stranded. If the connection were on the same airline, they MIGHT sort you to your actual destination at their discretion. easyJet did so in March when I was denied boarding Larnaca-Liverpool and had a connection Liverpool-Belfast - they sorted me to Belfast via the Netherlands. With separate airlines though, no chance unless it's a single booking through a third-party with a self-transfer guarantee.

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    It is safe to assume that RyanAir, on the other hand, will not lift a single finger more than they absolutely have to in order to help you. Jan 6 at 10:56
  • Possibly the first nice thing I've heard someone say about Easyjet. Interesting. Jan 9 at 2:59
  • @RussellMcMahon Their ground operations folks have been awesome to me in this context (I've been denied boarding 9 times in a year on their flights)
    – Crazydre
    Jan 9 at 4:10
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In addition to the other answers, note that outside Europe, and specifically in Asia, depending on the airlines, they might accommodate you, depending on their quality of service (ie forget LCCs), and your status with them.

I have occasionally run into similar cases, especially with B = Thailand, eg Laos to BKK with TG, BKK to HKG with CX, and Thai Airways did their best to get me to my CX flight in time: car from the plane to the next gate, staff accompanying me, etc.

And when that effort wasn't enough and I missed the flight, CX rebooked me on the next flight - I have been a Gold member for ages, so that probably helped.

And the luggage was put on the proper plane, because TG and CX interline.

So bottom line, you might want to elaborate on the airports and airlines involved.

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  • I have no experience with RyanAir (or other European LCCs). My experience in Asia is extensive mostly due to the fact that before Covid I was travelling for work at least 3 weeks per month, for 15 years. So even with a low frequency of incidents, it does stack up... :-)
    – dda
    Jan 6 at 11:01
  • AirFrance fly Billund - Paris - Marrakesh and will sell you a connecting ticket. It would need to be a big saving to make me choose separate RyanAir tickets over that.
    – thelem
    Jan 7 at 20:20
  • @JohnBig Since you’re flying from Denmark: virtually all Danish travel insurances (by which I mean annual ones as part of your home insurance – short-term insurances sometimes have vastly different coverages) will cover reasonable extra costs incurred if you end up stranded due to a missed or cancelled flight, assuming that (a) missing the flight was unforeseen and not your fault, and (b) your original travel plan adheres to the minimum transfer times at all airports. There will generally be a cap of about DKK 10–15,000 (≈ €1,500–2,000) per insured passenger. Jan 8 at 1:00
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    So far I never had long enough delays to miss a transfer, but from your description this seems to happen often enough that I can't just gamble that they'll be on time? I just don't want to be terrified the whole time while I'm away. The airline is the one I mentioned in the tag. It's all with them. Judging from their reputation, they seem to not be very keen on making people happy. Airports are in the EU -> no longer on the EU -> never in the EU.
    – JohnBig
    Jan 8 at 9:02

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