If you follow travel, you’ve probably seen the ever frustrating tip of “piecing together” flights to save money. In other words, if you want to get from Atlanta to Santorini, it may be best to buy a ticket from Atlanta to Paris, and then a separate ticket to Santorini. The annoying thing with that, is that you need to run at least two separate searches, and likely a lot more. One search engine is tackling that, and so far, the results are fascinating…

On Google Flights this week, a new era of flights popped up more than usual. “Separate tickets, booked together”. The flight search giant has always been adept at showing options where it made sense to book separate tickets for a better priced trip, but there wasn’t a way to book all the pieces “at once”. You’d have to go to each site and book each separately, entering your name, birthday and credit card info at least twice, if not more. Now, Kiwi.com appears to be changing that.

The essence is rather simple: rather than just show you that these separate tickets would perhaps give you a lower price, leaving you to go book each element individually, Kiwi bundles them up into one easier to book package, savings considerable time.

Rather than “here’s the info”, now go to this airlines website and book one part, then go to this other airlines website and book another, and so forth, you are able to book all the elements as if they are all together even though they’re not.

It may find a cheap Norwegian Air flight to a connecting point, and an entirely separate airline the rest of the way, in a way that no traditional airline search would allow. It’s putting airlines together that would never be sold together as codeshares or alliance partners.

What’s most interesting here is that quite a lot of work is obviously going on behind the scenes in the algorithm. Much like the way Google Flights allows you to search to and from up to 7 cities at a time, it seems Kiwi is on something similar, but going a step further by breaking up each individual piece and finding prices across all airlines, bringing an even wider array of outcomes.

Furthermore, the OTA (online travel agency) adds protections to these separate tickets that you wouldn’t otherwise have, if you booked them separately on your own.

Really, that’s kind of the game changer here, other than the search algorithm that combines both legacy and low cost airlines. Being able to separately book tickets which would generally leave you entirely stranded – and eating the costs – if something were to go wrong, is revolutionary, and may lure more people to actually playing around with non-traditionally connected itineraries.

The protection doesn’t work quite the same as a traditional airline ticket setup, but it can actually be better in some circumstances. If one flight is going to screw a later flight, Kiwi offers an alternative flight, or a refund. It’s a whole lot better than the “nothing” you’d get if you book separate tickets on your own.

It’s definitely one small step for convincing people to try new money saving techniques, and one giant leap for search engine algorithms. There could be fun deals ahead. What do you think?

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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13 Comments

  1. The guarantee is garbage, for example they don’t guarantee you’ll be on the next flight out or even if the rebooked flight with have the same if not lower amount of connections. So you can be waiting for a day or two for the next flight only to be on a flight with multiple layovers when you originally had a non-stop.

    1. As noted, I agree that it’s not the same, but it’s a higher level of protection than you’d get booking separate tickets on your own, which I do all the time. That’s valuable, even if it’s not perfect. I had to strong arm American Airlines recently to get me on a suitable next flight with separate tickets, both with them!

  2. You failed to mention if you have to change dates you now have two penalties to change…also you failed to mention airlines may not transfer luggage between flights when on separate tickets. Misleading article

  3. The catch is that judging by shared experiences on certain popular air travel forums, the ota in question often appears to have very poor customer service leaving clients in far away places desperately trying to get in touch. And that’s logical given razor thin margins vs the costs of an internationally available well trained fully staffed customer service infrastructure. Further, many customers of ota’s tend to me inexperienced travelers and aren’t aware of the pitfalls of using ota’s in general vs booking direct nor being fully aware of the implications of faux connections, guarantee or not, when it comes to baggage self-transfer, connection times and in many cases visas.

    I’d never take the risk of faux connections on cobbled together tickets to save a few bucks.

  4. We found kiwi.com to be very helpful when air Asia just cancelled a flight, and failed to offer us an MAS flt around the same time instead. Which was actually cheaper than their one. We didn’t even want the difference refund, the timing really worked. Apparently that’s their policy despite iata saying they should offer you an alternative if they can’t fly you. Kiwi organised a refund from air Asia so we just bought the cheaper sector on MAS and flew when it suited us. Refund took a month tho, but ok. This was a kiwi.com 2 sector unconnected flights, so l think this could work.
    We will certainly give it a go next time too.
    Tnx for heads up Gil.

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