THE PRO’S AND CON’S OF BOOKING SEPARATE CONNECTING FLIGHTS

aka HEADING OUT TO SIEM REAP (CAMBODIA) aka HOW NOT TO SCREW UP YOUR CONNECTING FLIGHTS

Note to self:
Don’t leave from Brussels, Belgium when there is sudden frost so you get stuck in your airplane with 800 strangers for 4 hours without airconditioning and start celebrating the arrival of the de-icing team (who knew that was a thing?) like the coming of the Messiah.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN AIRLINE’S CONNECTING FLIGHTS AND BOOKING THEM SEPERATELY YOURSELF

If you can, and budget allows it, try to book your transfers with the same airline. Or if possible with an airline that works in the same alliance (you can check the alliances through the airline websites). These options allow you to get your bags checked-through to the final destination.

However, there is a downside to this method, albeit one that most of the time doesn’t occur, but did happen to me. Having booked the initial flight to Bangkok (BKK) on Thai Airways, there was a cheaper connecting flight going from BKK to Siem Reap with Bangkok Airways. These two airlines DO NOT work together in an alliance (and thus don’t transfer bags) on international flights. This means that you – takes a deep breath –  have to collect your bags at the transfer airport, go through VISA and passport control as if you were to enter the country, then check your bags in again at the counter of your connecting airline (like you normally would), and finally go through VISA and passport control as if you were to leave the country on any outbound flight. After all this, I KNOW you deserve a beer or two. I know I did.

So, that’s the downside: a long process of checking in and out and useless loss of time. What was of course worse, was since I booked with two different airlines and my flight from Brussels arrived ridiculously late to Bangkok, I missed my separately booked flight to Siem Reap. In other words: I spent 80$ on a flight I never got on. If you book within the same airline, they will put you on the next available flight out that day, transfer your bags, if necessary put you up in a hotel and the whole shabang. However, if you don’t have 50 days off work like me (and most other people with a regular 9 to 5 job), you tend to NOT want to spend 2 full days getting where you need to be. Since you have booked with that airline, you are bound by their schedule.

BXL_AIRPORT
Me feeling all “Alright, let’s do this!!” before I knew the icy sh*t-storm I’d be in an hour later

ENTER STAGE – THE SILVER LINING OF BOOKING SEPARATE FLIGHTS

In my case, if I would have had to wait for the next Thai Airways flight to Siem Reap, which was like 15 hours later – insert gun/waterpistol emoji to dead face emoji here – I’d be going crazy (and not the good ‘cray-cray’ kind of crazy). So OK: I lost my 80$ on the missed connecting flight and had to spend another 120$ for the next flight out (which luckily was only an hour later) but the regular Brussels – Bangkok – Siem Reap trip with Thai Airways was 200$ more expensive to begin with, and I gained almost 15 hours of travel time… not bad right?

Yeah yeah, I get what you’re thinking: “Dude, you also had all the extra stress and hassle, and what if there was no other flight out? You’d have lost all that money and be stuck in BKK for a night.” True, I hear ya. But… when you are transferring in a major airport like Bangkok, which is serviced by almost a hundred airlines, I’d say you have a pretty good shot at getting out of there asap.

I’d like to leave you with this though: travelling means something different to everyone. And everyone has to sacrifice something to get where they want to go: days off work, money, leave family and friends behind to find ‘that something special’ elsewhere,… But mostly, I believe travelling is freedom. Which also entails your freedom to choose where you want to go… and how. I choose to go as efficiently as my budget permits when it comes to ‘the drag of airport transportation’. But hey, if you set off with a one-way ticket and no idea when you want to return, it makes sense to sacrifice a bit more time instead of the almighty dollar, right?

So, I’ll see you guys and gals in the air or at the transfer counter, whichever comes first.

– Jan

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