What to watch out for when buying tickets – part two... In a recent article we talked about what the codeshare of a flight is and how you can find it on your airline tickets... In this article we will educate you on the issues surrounding the sale of individual and multipath flights – that is, connecting flights. Once again we will seek to explain in simple terms what you should expect and what could catch you by surprise when subsequently requesting your compensation from the airline...
Nowadays there are countless points of sale where you can purchase air tickets. From the websites of the airlines themselves, from large web-based sellers such as Letuška here in the Czech Republic, Pelikán in Slovakia, or the globally renowned kiwi.com, from all manner of travel agencies or travel offices, and even from individuals who operating their own websites "from scratch”. Along these lines you can buy airfare in hundreds of different places under terms like “cheapest”, “hottest”, best deal” and a range of other superlatives.
Is there anything wrong with that? Not counting the fraudulent or malicious entities, nothing at all. The large number of points of sale improves the competitive environment, which pushes prices lower, a given client can choose the point of sale that best suits their needs or offers them the best benefit. With all of these benefits, you might ask, where’s the problem? It’s simple – every coin has two sides. Every BEST hides a BUT you’d do well to watch out for. We’ll try to point out some of these BUTs to you below.
The first big BUT is hidden in the PNR code (Passenger Name Record). This number/code records the itinerary of a flight or multiple flights linked to the given passenger. In practice, this can mean that there need not be only one flight under a single reservation number, but in fact many more. And this small detail belies one of the most problematic areas in lodging claims for later compensation. The reason is that one reservation equals one ticket, and therefore the flight or flights on a single ticket can later be judged to determine whether or not European regulations apply. Let’s look at a few examples:
Here you can clearly see that if the flights are under a single reservation (see Example 1) it is considered a single flight. In one case the flight began in an EU location, Prague, and ended at its destination, Atlanta, with a three-hour delay – both basic conditions for requesting compensation have therefore been met. In the other case (see Example 2), all the flights have their own reservation number, and are therefore considered three separate flights. In this case, the delay occurred on the flight from Miami to Atlanta – while the delay at the arrival destination amounted to three hours, the departure location was outside the EU (Miami) and with an airline whose registered office lies outside the EU. One of the basic conditions was therefore not met, and it is not possible to file a claim for compensation. Our recommendation is that you always check your reservation and think carefully about whether saving a few crowns is worth it to you if it means losing the opportunity for compensation due to a delayed flight.
The other big BUT to watch out for relates to the connection times available to you. If you purchase a ticket with only a short connection time, it can happen very easily that you could miss your connecting flight. All you need is a delay of a few minutes and your life just got harder. With a single reservation, this “just” means that you will wait for the next connecting flight for a few hours at best, or overnight at worst, because in this case the airline is obligated to transport you to your arrival destination. Even then, it will be a challenge to collect any compensation. And yet if you have your flights divided between multiple reservations, the fact that you did not make your flight due to a short connection time will mean that you have to buy a new ticket at your own expense... and you can forget about any compensation for a missed connection. That's why we recommend that you find out the recommended connection time (you can call the airline) and purchase a connecting flight that gives you enough time to make the plane in peace, rather than having to spend thousands more crowns and several hours more at the airport instead of the place you were going.
The safest way to buy tickets with multiple flights is through the airline themselves. The absolute best thing to do is to have all flights operated by the same carrier. That way they will have to address any of your eligible claims for compensation and they won't have many options for worming their way out of it. The second relatively safe method is to buy from a trustworthy seller who always marks everything clearly or at least offers certain guarantees in the cases we’ve described. The least safe path is to buy from sellers where the main factor is the price, at the cost of quality and transparency. If you're not sure, but the offer seems attractive, read reviews about the given seller and try to find out how it behaves in compensation cases.