Airlines nowadays generally prefer you to book your tickets directly with them. They will protect your booking if something goes wrong and do their best to get you to your destination.

One thing I like about airline alliances is they’re designed to operate as though they’re all the same airline. You might have one flight on an airline, then connect to another airline to make your destination.

Protect This?

A problem arises when you book separate tickets. Perhaps you chose to use your frequent flyer miles for a flight from London to New York on British Airways and you paid for the next flight on American Airlines from New York to Dallas. Both carriers are in the same alliance.

Logically you might expect that if your first flight was late, meaning you missed your connection, that you would be automatically put onto the next flight. However, as you are on separate tickets, this is sometimes no longer the case.

Varying Rules

There are varying rules when it comes to this. Qantas will protect across separate bookings only if one of the flights is a frequent flyer redemption. This is because it is not possible – on any airline, as far as I know – to combine a frequent flyer miles redemption with a cash ticket.

British Airways will not protect you at all, even if you have two tickets and both are British Airways. You only have protection if you have one single booking with all your flights in it.

What Is The Point Of An Alliance Then?

I am one of those people who always books a combination of some tickets with miles and some with cash. The main reason for this is that I am not cash rich or miles rich, so I get to maximise the value of both by doing separate bookings. Also remember, you can’t combine a cash ticket and a redemption ticket, otherwise I happily would.

From a passenger perspective, separate tickets requires me to build in three hour breaks between flights in case of delays and I accept that as a reality of the travel experience.

However, as airline alliances tout the added connectivity, seamless transfers and recognition across the alliance, the ability to protect all your flights should also be high on the list.

As a customer, it does not give me a stress free travel experience, knowing I absolutely have to make the next flight, otherwise it will be cancelled and I could be out of pocket for huge amounts of money. This goes against the whole point of an alliance. It also goes against the airlines desire for people to book directly and make their own itineraries.

Overall Thoughts

While this probably only affects a small subset of people, it is very frustrating. The reason behind it is that the airlines don’t want to be liable for hold baggage that doesn’t connect and I get that. However, it used to be a fact that flying in an alliance meant you were essentially flying in one big happy family of airlines who all worked together to get you where you needed to go.

To be fair, some of the airlines will do their best to get you moving, even on separate tickets. Others do not. This inconsistency is annoying and finding out who does and does not is sometimes not easy. I think this is a point that needs to be worked on within alliances. They should provide that seamless experience they all tout in their marketing material.

Have you ever experienced a problem with connecting flights on separate tickets? How was it handled? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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