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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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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?

  3. 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?

  • What is your nationality? What is your originating city? – Michael Hampton Oct 27 '16 at 3:16
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    "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" - they will not, and they clearly state it is your responsibility to look up, and get all necessary visas. – George Y. Oct 27 '16 at 4:30
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  1. First of all, the airlines don't guarantee you won't need a visa to transfer. Many are happy to sell you a transfer through two Schengen airports, which would require a regular Schengen short-stay visa.
    Having said that, pretty much any airport with a direct flight from outside the EU will have a visa-free transit zone, although some airports require you to go through an extra security check before boarding your next flight.

  2. While the Schengen rules allow visa-free transit on separate tickets, you might encounter inexperienced gate employees who would deny you boarding.

  3. No, there are no such airports. If you buy a ticket on two airlines which belong have an interline agreement, they might be able to check your bag all the way to the final destination. Otherwise you would have to fly with hand luggage.

Overall your best option is to get a regular single-booking flight.

  • +1 but overall the best option IMHO would be to buy the flight on one ticket if getting a visa is a hassle and the savings is not that much as here. – mts Oct 27 '16 at 7:52
  • @mts Yeah makes sense – JonathanReez Supports Monica Oct 27 '16 at 8:03

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