Connecting flights with low cost airlines

Generally speaking there are two types of connecting flights.

The best and most convenient are, of course, airline protected connecting flights. Especially the ones provided by traditional, full service airlines, like KLM or Air France. And then there are self transfer connections. That’s two or more flights that you book separately. In this case you may book all of your flights from the same airline, or these can be two or more different airlines.

While the latter is often less safe, sometimes it's the only option. With low cost airlines mostly it's the only option. Mostly there are no "proper" connecting flights with low cost airlines.

On the airplane

What if you fly with low cost airlines?

What if one or all of your flights are with low cost airlines?

Does it automatically mean that you are less protected?

Read on to learn more about connecting flights with low cost airlines.

Had an issue with a flight recently? You might be eligible for up to 600€ compensation Check your compensation

Connecting flights with low cost airlines

1. Not all connecting flights are created equal

Some low cost airlines offer connecting flights, but some don’t.

While you can “create” a connecting flight with whatever airlines yourself, this will be so called self transfer connection. If something goes wrong, it will be your responsibility. While connecting flights that are offered by the airline are protected and make travelling easier.

1.1 Airline protected connecting flights.

For example, Norwegian offers to its customers connecting flights.

It's a low cost airline, but it offers "proper" connecting flights.

If you have booked a connecting flight with Norwegian (one reservation number) and you miss your connection because your first flight is cancelled or delayed, Norwegian will make sure you're transferred to their next available flight to your final destination. If the next available flight is only on the next day, and you have to spend a night at the airport, Norwegian will provide you with free meals, hotel, and transportation to and from the hotel.

But, sometimes, it’s not possible to buy an airline protected connecting flight.

1.2 Self transfer

Then there’s another option — to make a self transfer.

This means that you are buying two or more consecutive flights (with separate reservation numbers). Such flights aren’t airline protected. If one of the flights are delayed or cancelled, and you don’t make in time for the next flight, it’s not the airline’s responsibility to put you on another flight. You’ll have to buy a new ticket and, if it’s a long wait, also book a hotel.

The airline won’t pay back for your loss.

1.3 Claim your compensation

If you make it to your destination 3+ hours later, and it’s the airline’s fault, you can can receive a compensation up to €600. If it’s an airline protected flight, what matter is the time of your arrival to your final destination.

In case of self transfer it’s slightly different.

Because then you should look at the flights one by one.

Claim your compensation online!

Calculate your flight compensation for free! It takes less than 2 minutes Calculate compensation

Clock on the wall

2. Low cost airline services

You pay less, and you also get less.

Low cost airlines offer relatively low fares in exchange for eliminating many services that traditional airlines offer. When you are travelling with a low cost carrier, remember that meals, checked luggage, seat selection, blankets and pillows and amenity kits mostly aren’t included in the price of the ticket.

What is included in the price of the ticket?

Service Low cost airlines Full service airlines
Cabin bag In most cases free of charge. Some budget airlines only allow 1 small personal item At least one full-sized carry on bag free of charge
Checked baggage At an extra cost Yes, except for the Basic fare
Airport check-in For an extra cost For free in most cases
Blankets and pillows No Mostly yes
Airline amenity kit No Mostly only for business and first class passengers. But still some full service airlines offer amenity kits even to their economy passengers
Food No Yes. Drinks, hot meal, breakfast and some snacks. Depending on the duration of the flight
Seat selection At an extra cost. Or random seat allocation at check-in (free) Free of charge a day or two before your flight departure
Multi-class cabins No Yes (Economy, Premium Economy, Business, even 1st class)
Frequent-flyer program (points or miles) No Yes
Airport lounges No Lounge access for premium passengers

Read more about the differences between low cost and traditional carriers.

If you'll be travelling without checked luggage, don't forget about airplane carry on luggage restrictions. They are the same for most airports globally.

Baggage sign

3. What happens to your luggage?

Often you’ll have to collect it and recheck it.

That’s if you are flying with low cost airlines, and there are several flights.

If you have a connecting flight with a low cost airline and travel with a checked bag, ask if your bag will be delivered to your final destination, or you’ll have to collect it and recheck it. Not all low cost airlines offering connecting flights transfer baggage to the final destination.

But some do. A good example is Norwegian Air Shuttle.

At the same time Ryanair will be able to transfer your baggage to your final destination at a few airports only.

If you have a self transfer connecting flight, you’ll have to collect and recheck your baggage at every stop. Even if one (or few) of the airlines you are flying with is a traditional airline. Hence the name self transfer.

4. Pay attention to the airport codes

Because there can be several airports in one city.

When booking a self transfer flight, regardless of the type of your airline, pay attention to the airport codes. Will you be departing from the same airport?

Or you'll need to change airports?

If you'll need to change airports, how far are they from each other and how much time will it take to get there? Can you make it to the second airport with time to spare? Don't you need a visa to leave the airport to travel to the other one.

Norwegian aircraft - Norwegian flight delay compensation

5. Transfers sold by 3rd parties

All of these we can put into two categories.

Most of these companies are putting all the responsibility on you in case one of the flights is delayed or cancelled, and you can’t make it anymore. For example, FlySiesta. They do sell self transfer flights. But it’s your responsibility if something goes wrong, and you can’t make to the next flight.

And then there is kiwi.com.

Kiwi is a much safer option for connecting flights.

When you buy a connecting flight with Kiwi, it’s protected, and Kiwi is responsible for the mishaps, not the budget airline you are flying with.

Kiwi Guarantee protects its customers from flight delays, flight cancellations and schedule changes. If you have booked a trip with Kiwi, and the trip has been affected, you must contact Kiwi within 24 hours, otherwise the Kiwi Guarantee may be cancelled.

Learn more about Kiwi Guarantee on kiwi.com.

6. A connecting flight with traditional airline and low cost airline

What if you have a flight with both?

Flying long haul with a full service airline, such as British Airways, to Europe from outside of Europe and then connecting to your home country with Ryanair, Wizz Air or other low cost airlines?

Then as well it’s called a self transfer.

In this case, neither of the airlines are going to be responsible if you miss your last flight, even if it’s not your fault. It’s a self transfer, and it’s up to you to find a solution, if you miss a flight or several.

Unless the flight has been purchased via kiwi.com, and comes with a connection protection.

Don’t forget about your luggage! Whether the flight is protected by Kiwi or not, you’ll have to collect your luggage before checking in for your flight with a low cost airline. Again simply because it’s a self transfer.

Bed and nightstand

7. Travel insurance

Get yourself a travel insurance.

Especially, if you’ll be travelling with a low cost airline, and you have booked two or more separate flights with different reference numbers (self transfer). It will protect you in case of delay and cancellation.

Even if you’ll not be entitled to a compensation, your travel insurance may cover the extra expenses.

Before buying a travel insurance, make sure it provides cover for travel delay and cancellation, and read the rules carefully. Because some policies may not cover it, or it may not be sufficient enough in your situation.

8. Know your rights

In Europe travelling with low cost airlines you are the same as protected.

If things go wrong with your flight, often you can get a compensation. That applies to all delays and cancellations, when it’s your airline’s fault.

If your flight is 3+ hours late, you may be entitled to flight delay compensation.

If your flight is cancelled 2 weeks or less before the flight - flight cancellation compensation.

The rules are different if the cancellation happens more than 2 weeks prior the trip, which isn't considered a last-minute cancellation.

Flight compensations - Rules - ENG

Righ to care (no matter the reason of the flight disruption).

When you have to wait at the airport for more than 3 hours, the airline, even low cost airlines, should provide you with free meal and 2 calls, e-mails or faxes. In case of an overnight delay free hotel accommodation should be provided.

In Europe all passengers are eligible to receive this type of care.

By Europe and EU we mean all EU Member States, the United Kingdom (UK), Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Reunion, Mayotte, Saint Martin, the Azores, Madeira, the Canary Islands, Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland.

The same applies to charter airlines and charter flights.

In many situations it applies also to non-EU airlines.

Contact your airline or file this form to claim your compensation.