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I'm going to be flying to the British Isles in a few months, and want to see three cities: Edinburgh, London, and Dublin. I considered getting a 3 leg booking, but for some reason it's extremely expensive - over double - to do so. Part of the reason being that Ireland is very cheap to fly to.

  • Chicago <-> Dublin: $800 rt
  • Dublin <-> London: $160 rt (around the same for Edinburgh, and about the same one-way from either, maybe $200 total)
  • Chicago <-> London: $1000 rt (similar for Edinburgh)
  • Chicago -> London -> Edinburgh -> Dublin -> Chicago: $2200 (!!)

These are all on "major" airlines direct from the airline (Aer Lingus or British Airways), I'm not travelling on Ryanair or chancing it on one of the shady ticket resellers.

Given the prices, I clearly prefer the Dublin round trip and then the separate price to London/from Edinburgh or reverse.

My question is, what's the best way to book this all told? Should I try to book all on the same airline, or book intentionally on separate airlines - or just pick the cheaper/simplest flights and not worry about it? I likely will stay in Dublin the first leg, so the return trip (London -> Dublin -> Chicago) would be all in the same day. If I book both tickets (separately) on British Airways, for example, will they forward my luggage if I ask them to, or will I need to deplane, pick up luggage, re-check, etc.? (Perhaps customs requires this anyway, I'm not familiar with UK/Ireland rules.) Will the airline notice I'm booking effectively a connecting flight and object (thinking I'm trying to get around paying the normal higher fare - which I sort of am, but I'm actually wanting to visit Dublin anyway, otherwise I probably wouldn't bother)?

American citizen, if relevant. I'll be travelling with my wife and two young children, also if relevant. Also, while not the main focus of the question, if there are suggestions on airlines (particularly Aer Lingus vs. British Airways, which seem the main two possibilities) they're welcomed.

  • The way we've planned it now, we'll travel London->Dublin and Dublin->Chicago on the same day, so yes, those flights would "connect" in that sense. We will of course plan them sufficiently far apart to allow for a reasonable amount of lateness (3 hours or so), plus kids having snacks and such, but yes, in theory one could cause lateness in the other. – Joe Jun 5 '15 at 18:40
  • You could consider doing the Edinburgh -> London (or vice versa) leg over land. The direct train takes ~4 hours, and may be cheaper or more expensive depending on when you want to travel and how far in advance you book. – CMaster Jun 6 '15 at 11:16
  • @CMaster The fastest northbound train takes 4 hours 20 minutes, but most trains are closer to 5 hours. (Southbound the 05:40 train takes four hours, all the others take longer.) It is a good way to see the British countryside, with some breathtaking views in southern Scotland. I would say it's worth doing in one direction at least. – Calchas Jun 6 '15 at 17:06
  • In addition to BA and Aer Lingus you should also at least investigate which deals you might get from Air France, KLM, Lufthansa, or SAS. Total travel time will be somewhat longer (since connecting in some continental European hub will be a bit of a detour), but the open-jaw price may well be lower than direct flights, depending on how the mysteries of airline pricing work out on any given day. – Henning Makholm Jun 6 '15 at 19:01
  • @CMaster I do plan on doing that leg overland. With two preschoolers I will probably do it overnight (on the sleeper) to both save kids running about and to save a nights hotel. Though we're considering stopping at Birmingham on the way so that would be a daytime train I think. – Joe Jun 6 '15 at 21:22
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You have another option which will be priced midway between those two, but it will offer you much better security.

This is how I would do it:

  1. Ticket 1: An "open jaw" ticket. You fly Chicago-Dublin; and then you fly from London-Chicago. [This is not two oneway tickets. It is a single open jaw ticket. It will be priced as half way between the cost of a return trip to Dublin and a return trip to London. The reason it is called an "open jaw" is because on the map it looks like your route has an open mouth.]

You can book this by using the "multi city" feature or with any travel agent. The important part is to leave the Dublin-London part out.

This will ensure that you get some of the advantage of the cheap fare to Dublin, but you are protected against delays or complications on your return from London.

  1. Tickets 2,3...: Fly from Dublin to Edinburgh, and from Edinburgh to London, as necessary at the cheapest price. If one flight is late or something, it will ruin your day but not the whole holiday.

To return to the question you asked: if you do want to book it as a return to Dublin+local flights, I would allow a bit more time in Dublin in case of delays.

Dublin is a small, easy airport and even in the worst case, collecting bags and re-checking the bags, doing the terminal change, passing through US Customs&Immigration, you would be airside again within an hour or so. However, if your inbound flight is delayed or cancelled, you are utterly unprotected in the event you miss your second flight, and you may end up having to buy a same day one-way flight Chicago. That will be a lot of money for four people. (Probably 4000 USD total).

BA can forward luggage onto EI (Aer Lingus), AA and US, and should so if you present the EI/AA/US PNR information to the BA desk. It is within BA policy to do this, because EI is a BA partner and AA and US are fellow oneworld alliance members. BA will not forward luggage onto any other airline at Dublin. That said, it probably won't save you much time, because the layout of Dublin airport means you will go past the bag reclaim, through customs, and change terminals anyway.

If flying across two tickets EI->EI, I do not know what their policy is.

Finally, there is nothing illegal or improper about what you are trying to do. Playing these kind of games is quite common amongst regular commuters. It is actually quite unlikely anyone will notice, (although to be fair BA once had a man waiting at the jetbridge to escort me through security on a very tight connection between two tickets when my first plane was late!).

However, on the flip side, you take on the risk of any problems or misconnections that happen. In some cases, like what happened to me, they will do their best to help you; especially if you are sticking to the same airline. But they have no obligation to help you.

  • Would an open jaw Cicago -> Dublin -> Edinburgh <> London -> Chicago work and be reasonable in price? – Willeke Jun 6 '15 at 20:45
  • I will have to check again perhaps on a carriers site. On travelocity when I tried something close to this it was prohibitively expensive (double or more). But perhaps the site wasn't handling it properly and/or I screwed something up. – Joe Jun 6 '15 at 21:20
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    @Willeke so you want the open section to be in the UK? No that is not likely to be any cheaper. The biggest savings usually come from having the open section across an international border, because having more than two international fare components on the same ticket usually pushes up the price in a complicated way. (Very happy to explain in more detail but not enough space here.) Also domestic flights are basically free on a transatlantic fare anyway. – Calchas Jun 6 '15 at 21:21
  • @Joe This is what I am proposing: i.imgur.com/Dtexlpt.png (Note I am not saying you need direct flights.) If you have a look at the Fare line in the screenshot, you can see how the total price was computed, which is the sum of two very cheap fares. However, if we include the Dublin-London hop, those dirt cheap fare components are not allowed any more, and the entire way the price is computed changes: i.imgur.com/kOJno3N.png – Calchas Jun 6 '15 at 21:35
  • Hmm. So I managed to try this today, and doing it directly on the BA website I don't seem to be able to get a decent price. No matter how I do the open jaw, it's at least $6600 for the 4 ($1200 per adult $1000 per child for the base fare plus a lot of taxes). Now, BA wouldn't show me the individual price for each leg (perhaps because that's too complicated on this kind of route), so maybe I just picked relatively expensive fares (I tried a few options and never manged one under $6600, though)... – Joe Jun 8 '15 at 20:50
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If you'd prefer a short answer: if you fly on only 1 airline, you are much more likely to have a good outcome if there is a delay of the 1st flight, or some other issue. If it's a popular connection, they may hold the 2nd flight. If you miss a connection and it's their fault, almost all airlines will get you on the next available flight, and pay for your meal(s) and hotel room, if appropriate, while you're waiting, all at no charge to you. If there are 2 airlines involved, none of these considerations are likely, and you may have to pay a huge fare for a last-minute flight to replace the missed one.

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