Until recently, the cheapest way to fly was to research all the different options on several different websites, buy separate tickets with low-cost airlines, and make your own luggage transfers through connecting airports. But it could be hard to figure out the right connections and a simple flight delay or cancellation could really throw off your plans.
Now flight search companies, low-cost airlines, and airports are making it easier to find cheap tickets with no-hassle connections.
“Virtual interlining” eliminates most and in some cases all of the hassle of creating an itinerary with different airlines to get the best price. Interlining agreements are set up between airlines to handle the transfer of passengers on flight connections. There are complicated contracts and it gets expensive for airlines — especially as they have to share responsibility for baggage tracking and customer service. But with virtual interlining, you can connect using airlines that don’t have an interlining agreement. Technically, you’re flying on separate point-to-point tickets with separate airlines — but virtual interlining services fill in the gaps.
Worldwide by easyJet, supported by Dohop, launched in September of last year. It includes a network of airlines that will get you far: Singapore Airlines, Scoot, Thomas Cook, Norwegian, WestJet, Loganair, La Compagnie, Corsair, Neos, and Aurigny. Combined, they offer flights to 100 destinations with connections through London Gatwick, Milan Malpensa, Venice Marco Polo and Berlin Tegel. easyJet has a helpful Q&A on its Worldwide by easyJet service that explains the terms and conditions.
Airports are also taking part by offering full-baggage connection service and other conveniences. That way, you don't have to stop to pick up your bags to check them in again for the next leg of your trip.
GatwickConnects was a leader in virtual interlining offering the service since 2015. You can search for GatwickConnects flights on Skyscanner or directly with Gatwick, supported by Dohop. Participating airlines include Air Europa, Aurigny, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, easyJet, Flybe, Meridiana, Norwegian Airlines, TAP, Thomas Cook, Thomson, Virgin Atlantic, Westjet and WOW Air. Luggage transfers covered by GatwickConnects work from one Gatwick terminal to the other, so even if you are changing terminals you are good to go once you stop by the GatwickConnects service desks. When you book directly with the airport, you also get a dedicated security line to speed you through, and flight protection for missed connections.
London Stansted Airport has announced plans to launch a similar service next year supported by Kiwi. Like Gatwick, it will offer easy baggage transfers and flight protections.
And this new seamless travel isn’t limited to Europe. Dohop, Kiwi, and Skyscanner can find routes around the world. HK Express also announced virtual interline services in Asia this year, supported by Dohop, with plans to add connections to worldwide destinations.
The most important thing to remember if you decide to book multi-airline flights is to read the terms of service: The company responsible to help you manage any travel disruptions may not be the airline you fly.