I am planning to travel from US to Albania, and when I search on flight ticket websites such that US as origin and Tirana (TIA) as destination, then it costs me $1050 cheapest. However, it costs me $850 when I buy two separate round-trips through Barcelona (US to Barcelona round-trip, Barcelona to Tirana round-trip). I just checked Barcelona, but there might be other transfer airports in Schengen area which costs me even less. I don't need a visa for Albania but I need a visa to go into a Schengen country, so my question is 3-fold:
How can I learn which Europe airports have the international transfer area, so that I don't need a Schengen visa to transfer through the airport? I guess the airlines would take care of that when you buy the tickets together (I already have such an experience multiple times), but given that I will buy them separately, I need to have that information beforehand.
The two separate flights I am planning to buy are through different airlines, and in my experience, the airlines check whether the traveler has a visa for the destination country before they let you into the airplane. So, would it be easy to convince the US to Barcelona trip airline that Barcelona is not my final destination, but I have a separate flight from Barcelona to Albania?
Are there any Europe airports that have "international baggage claim" areas which are before the passport checkpoint? I mean, if I buy separate flights, do I have any chance to check-in a baggage for the US to Barcelona trip?