Last year, I booked a set of flights for my boyfriend. He was coming to visit me in Arizona from Europe. But he was going to go back home from Orlando after we did a week in Disney.
I had trouble finding decently priced flights. I normally start on Kayak and normally end up on one airline’s site to buy the best-priced route. This time, I was pretty stumped so I figured I’d try Expedia.
We ended up with:
- [His local airport] -> Rome -> Chicago -> Tucson
- Orlando -> London -> Rome -> [His local airport]
That’s 3 flights each way. They were mostly sold as Iberia flights but were really code shares for British Airways, American Airlines, Vueling… there were at least four airlines in there.
But we paid one low fare and carried on… until it came time to fly.
Oh get ready for this.
The trouble started when I called to try to pick out his seats. Called Iberia. No, this flight is on British Airways, American, and other carriers… call them. I called them. No, this is an Iberia flight. We can’t book seats on an airline that’s not ours.
Took days of calling to get him seats. Fast forward to flight day.
His local airport doesn’t have an Iberia desk. He checked in with the first airline. They weren’t sure how far they could check the bag. So it had to be re-checked in Rome with it hopefully passing through Chicago and then landing in Tucson. Which it did but that means paying to check it twice.
Returning to Europe, Orlando had no Iberia desk. He was checking in with British Airways for his flight to London. It took them an hour to check his suitcase. They didn’t sell him the ticket. They had no connection to his next flight to Rome. Everything the agent put into the computer it rejected because the next flight was on another airline.
The agent got her manager. The manager got her supervisor. The supervisor went to “the expert in the back.” These women were all lovely and really tried to help get the suitcase straight to Rome even though the next flight was on another airline.
What a mess. And of course in Rome, he had to get his bag and re-check it on another airline and pay again.
This isn’t unique to Expedia.
This is true for any company that gets creative with code shares or mixing-and-matching flights.
Kiwi.com has a neat solution.
If you go to book something like this on Kiwi.com, when they give you a mix-and-match result, they have messaging right there that suggests you not check any bags.
Notice the message at the bottom of this suggested flight route? Cabin baggage aka carry-on luggage only. Why? Because they know that they are putting you on a series of disconnected one-way flights. You will NOT be able to check your bag at point A and arrive at point C or D without having to collect your checked bag and re-check it (and pay again).
Be warned about mix-and-match.
Mix and match will save you money unless you have checked bags. If you have checked bags, please consider the following:
- You will need to collect your checked bags on your plane change, which takes you outside of security. You’ll go to the check-in counter and wait in the line to check your bags again. You will pay again.
- Make sure there is time for that. There isn’t time for that on a one-hour layover. Not even sure about a two-hour layover given what ticket counter lines and security lines can be like
You’ve been warned! Book carefully. It might be worth a little extra money to fly all on one airline so they can check your bags straight through. Or as Kiwi.com suggests, carry-on luggage only.