As someone who’s trying to travel as much as possible, and someone who also just quit her 9-5 job to do so (meaning spurts of income here and there but nothing stable), it becomes obvious that I have to get reallllly creative when buying tickets. I first learned the beauty, and beastly, part of connecting flights when I was planning to study abroad in Paris. Way back when I was a travel n00b, I decided to book what I thought would be a flight from New York to Paris, and then half an hour after I booked the ticket, I realized that there was an hour layover in Iceland.
I thought it’d be another adventure, and that it would be cool to say I had seen Iceland’s airport, but all I ended up feeling was crustiness and exhaustion from the 3AM layover. Luckily, I did it for the sake of cheapness, and to tell you about it now. If you don’t know, connecting flights are two flights packaged on the same airline with a time span in between both flights where you just chill out in the airport with dark circles and no wifi. Why do airlines do this? So they don’t lose a customer despite not offering direct flights. Most people avoid them for various reasons but mostly because no one likes to have the stress of traveling not only once, but twice for one journey. This is exactly why they’re cheaper, and why you’ll always find me taking at least two flights to get from city A to city B.
What you probably don’t know is that you can make your own connecting flight and save even more money.
Oh snap, you’re reading real close now huh?
I kept getting stressed at how expensive flights were from JFK – Lisbon; even the connecting flights that were offered were at least $600 for a one-way ticket, um, ain’t gon’ happen. Granted, it was peak season and I was booking with one month’s notice, but still, I knew there had to be another way. After looking up all of the major cities in Europe and then searching RyanAir flights, I realized that the best way to go about hustling the system would be to book a plane from JFK-Manchester, a $200 overnight flight on an airline I’d never heard of (still not stopping me, the cheapo over here), and then withstand an eight hour layover in the middle of the day just to board the second plane from Manchester to Lisbon that cost $100 on a more known airline, so at least there was that.
The key here is to book on different airlines that have no idea of your exact departure or arrival cities, so if something goes wrong (i.e. a delay, a cancellation, etc.) you have no way of protecting yourself because the two different airlines aren’t related, so they won’t care if one gets delayed affecting the other. Basically, you’ll risk missing your flight and losing money if anything goes wrong. Sounds fun right?
Yes, I was a bit nervous to press purchase on both of my tickets on completely different airlines, but for the sake of research and experience I said “Boom Pow” and clicked confirm purchase like a bada$$.
And when you book the “confirm purchase” button, it’s ova; you’re going.
The day of the flight, I decide to look over my itinerary carefully and check-in online to save some travel stress. Why was I not finding my flight online? Literally every single link on the airline’s site was not showing my flight… It got so bad that I even used the “instant chat” help option and spoke to someone online from the airline. Ok, apparently I have a real flight and ticket, said Yvanka from some cubicle in Europe. Cool, I’m a little less stressed. I get to JFK from the air train and for some reason, my airline wasn’t listed anywhere on the terminal directory, despite every other airline being listed. Travel stress building and pit stains growing.
I finally figured out where to go after getting off at the wrong terminal and running back to terminal four, and then of course I have problems with my carry on bags because they were too heavy. I end up having to check one of my bags, and without thinking, I gave them the backpack that had my laptop in it #TravelFouls left and right. I then had to suffer through security thinking if I should try to go back and save my laptop, or just deal with it because it would’ve probably already have gone down to the belly of the plane either way. After two minutes of deliberation inside my head, I decided to risk it and run out of the line only to find out that like my logic had told me, the bag was gonzo.
All was fine from that point on, except for the part where I landed in Manchester airport and had six hours to kill while exhausted. I bought a coffee to wake up, and it was so damn hot that I ended up burning my hand as I accidentally spattered the coffee all over the floor.
I recovered from my burnt hand and finally made it to Lisbon in one piece about nine hours later. When I landed, the first thing I saw on my phone was Damon’s text message “did it work?” since we were both doubting my ability to pull rank on the flight system, too bad I nailed it. Barely.
In the end, it might’ve been bad travel karma that caused me to have a burnt hand, stress about possibly losing my laptop, and a sore back from sleeping on an airport bench… but at least I’m $300 less broke and now have a story to tell, suckaazzzz.
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