separate tix=big savings; worth it?

Jan 19th, 2018, 12:23 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 126
separate tix=big savings; worth it?

Looking at SFO-PRG with VCE-SFO return in premium econ. in late summer. When I look at routing through Heathrow, the search turns up Virgin connecting to British Airways. BA is not listed as a partner on the Virgin Atlantic website so I'm a little puzzled that I can get all the tix through VS. When I search Virgin SFO-LHR-SFO and British Airways LHR-PRG, VCE-LHR, I see the same flights but a much lower total price (almost $1K less for the two tix). If I have a minimum layover of 2 hours in Heathrow, is it too risky to book the flights separately? BTW the Heathrow site says I need 70 minutes to make the connection with carry-ons.
greytop13 is offline  
Jan 19th, 2018, 08:10 PM
Join Date: May 2003
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Here's the risk: If Airline A is late with your incoming flight, too late for you to make your outgoing flight on Airline B, then Airline B will regard you as a no-show and cancel your ticket. You will be forced to buy an expensive walk-up fare. Airline B will also cancel your return ticket with them. Airline A will owe you nothing, because they got you to your destination, to your destination as far as they are concerned.

I would not chance this with so little room for error.
Jeff_Costa_Rica is offline  
Jan 20th, 2018, 03:56 AM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 4,630
One minor delay, one long line, one glitch of any kind and your savings are toast. Penny wise, pound foolish.
AJPeabody is online now  
Jan 20th, 2018, 05:58 AM
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Here's the thing with premium economy: it doesn't exist on shorthaul flights within Europe. Once you get off the plane (VS or BA) at Heathrow, you're in ordinary coach from then on, until you get back on the big plane in London on the way home. But when you price tickets on a US > London > Europe > London > US itinerary where you're using PE for the transatlantic legs, the airline computers assign a "fare class" to the intra-Europe legs that comes close to the same fare class you're getting on the PE flights over the pond. But that fare class for the shorthaul tickets is usually way more expensive than the cheaper flights if bought on their own.

So by buying two separate trips, SFO-LHR-SFO, and an open-jaw LHR-PRG//VCE-LHR, you'll get the PE price on the longhaul trip but the cheaper economy fare on the shorthaul one. The downside for this is that even though you might be transiting London without a stopover on the way home, you'll have to pay the high UK departure tax (Air Passenger Duty) on the westbound PE fight, which you wouldn't have to pay if the whole VCE-xLHR-SFO trip was on one ticket. Still, the savings on the shorthaul ticket might be worth it.

Flying on separate tickets is always risky; one delay can really mess things up. If you decided to go the separate tickets route, I'd give myself LOTS of spare time to make the connection - half a day or even an overnight.

I'd also look at other possible routes with PE offerings - Air France through Paris, for example, or Lufthansa through Frankfurt or Munich. The field of PE choices has broadened a lot in recent years.

As far as one airline ticketing you for flights on a competitor, they all CAN do it, but most won't. You can get around this by purchasing your tickets through some OTA like Expedia.
Gardyloo is online now  
Jan 20th, 2018, 06:13 AM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 4,630
Perhaps a better way is regular economy for the whole trip on one ticket, protecting yourself from very expensive mishaps, and trying to buy upgrades for the long haul segments at the airport.
AJPeabody is online now  
Jan 20th, 2018, 06:44 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
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If I had a protected connection, and if the flights were using the same terminal, I might book a two hour connection through LHR. Otherwise, absolutely not.
thursdaysd is offline  
Jan 20th, 2018, 07:52 AM
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Posts: 126
Thank you all for the great, expert advice. What appears to be a value, really isn't since doing an overnight (hotel) would eat up savings as would a missed and repurchased flight. I'll keep looking.
greytop13 is offline  
Jan 20th, 2018, 08:23 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 17,051
Look at Delta via JFK. They have a new premium economy product that's comparable to "real" PE on foreign carriers. You'd skip London altogether; they have nonstops to/from PRG and VCE from JFK.
Gardyloo is online now  
Jan 20th, 2018, 04:26 PM
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Thanks, Gardyloo. When that routing has turned up in GoogleFlights they posted a warning that the legroom was below average. I'm trying to avoid economy seats with extra legroom and get a more comfortable product that some (VS, AF) are offering on the 787 from the west coast. Looking at seatguru, the DL Comfort + looks like it has the same configuration as economy. I assumed it was like the United economy plus product I've flown before. This time we're looking for something better, but without paying the steeper price of business class. (BTW I have the miles for upgrades to business on United but they only put you on a waitlist with no guarantees.)
greytop13 is offline  
Jan 24th, 2018, 12:39 PM
Join Date: May 2008
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Have you looked at Norwegian from Oakland? They have a premium product (which is perhaps more comfortable than most true PE's). I don't know how the connections are to your two destinations. They've added a bunch of new destinations and increased frequency to LGW.
traveler318 is offline  
Jan 26th, 2018, 11:21 AM
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 7,667
Have you looked at one way tickets on different airlines? Several times, I've found either the cost high or the flights inconvenient on round trip tickets. I recently booked a United flight to Maui and a Hawaiian flight back to Sacramento for less than a round trip ticket on either airline.......and the times were more convenient for me.
tenthumbs is offline  

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