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Everything You Need to Know About Self-Transfer Flights

What is a self-transfer flight?

What are your rights when you miss your connection?

When you have two or more flights in sequence, they are known as connecting flights.

There are two main connecting flight types: airline-protected transfer and self-transfer. With airline-protected transfer, your airline is fully responsible for getting you to your destination. In self-transfer, it’s your responsibility. However, even with self-transfers, there are certain things you are entitled to if one of your flights is cancelled or delayed.

Continue reading to learn more about self-transfer flights and your entitlements.

Check flight compensation online.

Self-Transfer Flights: FAQ

1. What Is a Self-Transfer Flight?

A self-transfer flight, also known as a self-connecting flight, is a type of connecting flight where the passenger takes responsibility for connecting between two or more flights. This means that the passenger books separate tickets for each leg of their journey and arranges their own transfer between flights.

In contrast, a regular connecting flight is when an airline provides a single ticket for the entire journey, even if there are 2 or more flight legs. The airline also takes responsibility for ensuring that the passenger reaches their final destination, even if there are delays or cancellations along the way.

The main difference between a self-transfer flight and a regular connecting flight is who is responsible for arranging and ensuring a smooth connection.

With self-transfer flights, the passenger must plan and organize their own transfer, which includes retrieving and checking in luggage again, checking in for the next flight and potentially going through security and passport control. In contrast, regular connecting flights keep you within the airport’s transfer area, avoiding the need to recheck baggage, check-in for the next flight or go through passport control.

  • With self-transfer, you re-check your bag and yourself
  • With self-transfer, you are in charge of finding a solution if things go wrong (one flight is late or cancelled and you are missing the other flight or flights)

Self-transfer flights are one of’s travel hacks. Read our article on travel hacks to learn more about how this flight booking website is making them more safe.

2. How Do You Know if Your Flight Is a Self-Transfer?

Here’s how to tell if your flight is a self-transfer flight:

  • If you have booked your flights separately, it’s a self-transfer.
  • If you have more than one reservation number, it’s a self-transfer.
  • If you have paid for the flights separately, it’s a self-transfer.
  • When you’ve made separate flight bookings with different airlines, it’s a self-transfer.

What does self-transfer mean on Skyscanner? Or Kiwi? It means booking 2 or more separate flights that are not a protected transfer. Treat them as individual, unconnected flights. Your baggage won’t go to your final destination, and you’ll have to check in for each flight. You might need to pass through passport control.

3. Is Self-Transfer Safe?

It varies based on the situation.

Some scenarios are relatively safe, while others are not safe at all (e.g. when you have a very short layover). In general, a self-transfer flight is riskier than an airline-protected connecting flight due to the added responsibility on you in case of issues like missing a flight. This is the main disadvantage of self-transfer flights.

However, there are methods to enhance the safety of self-transfer.

Passengers boarding a Ryanair flight

4. How to Make Self-Transfers Safer?

In certain cases, self-transfer flights are unavoidable when regular connecting flights are unavailable or too costly.

To enhance your safety, consider purchasing travel insurance.

This can safeguard you against potential issues, such as missing a connecting flight due to delays. Ensure you review the coverage details to confirm that such scenarios are included. Often, travel insurance may already be a benefit provided by your bank card.

For the best protection, buy insurance right after booking your flight. This ensures coverage from the get-go. If a flight is cancelled before your trip, you’ll receive a refund or the difference between the cancelled and new flights.

If you are uncertain about which insurance to choose, an easy option is to book your flight through Self-transfer flights booked with Kiwi come with transfer protection via the Kiwi Guarantee. For more information, visit Other websites may offer similar services as well.

5. Advantages of Self-Transfer Flights

I’ve covered the downsides of self-transfers.

Now, let’s look at the benefits of such flights.

  • Cost savings: Potential savings compared to traditional connecting flights. By piecing together separate flight segments, you can often find cheaper fares than booking a connecting flight through a conventional airline or codeshare. This flexibility allows you to take advantage of low-cost carriers and special deals that might not be available through a single booking.
  • Flexibility: Ability to choose different airlines, routes, layover times and flight schedules. You are not limited to the offerings of a single airline or its partners, providing more opportunities to customise travel plans to better fit individual preferences, such as selecting preferred departure times or choosing airlines with better service records.
  • Customisation: Potential for personalising the travel experience (e.g., extended layovers for sightseeing). For longer stops at each destination, consider booking self-transfers for a cost-effective and flexible alternative to multi-city flights.

6. What Happens if You Miss Your Connection Due to Delay or Cancellation of Your Previous Flight?

Let’s look at this from the “connecting flight vs self-transfer” perspective.

With a protected connecting flight, your airline will book you on a new flight for free. The airline must also provide you with free meals. Additionally, if your missed connection resulted in an overnight stay, the airline should also provide necessary accommodation. It’s called the right to care.

You have a protected connecting flight. It’s not your fault for missing the connection. The disrupted previous flight caused the missed connection. So the airline must take responsibility for the missed flight and assist you.

For a self-transfer flight, you need to organise a new flight by yourself. You won’t get help during your wait for the next flight. A self-transfer flight involves 2 or more flights booked separately that aren’t linked, even if they’re with the same airline. When you book flights separately, it’s up to you to make the connection.

However, you might still be entitled to flight cancellation or flight delay compensation (for the disrupted flight, not for the whole journey). More on this below.

7. Can You Get Compensation for Missing a Connecting Flight?

For a standard connecting flight which is protected by the airline, you might qualify for missed connecting flight compensation. This applies if the flight delay or cancellation was the airline’s fault (e.g. technical problems), not caused by extraordinary circumstances.

With self-transfer flights, it’s your responsibility to make it to the next flight on time. Yet, in cases of significant delay or cancellation within 2 weeks prior to departure, you may be eligible for compensation. But only for that one flight that was delayed or cancelled.

You are eligible for compensation if it’s the airline’s fault and:

You may be eligible for up to €600 in compensation. Contact your airline or submit a claim online through a flight compensation company. Note that compensation may take several months. Working with a compensation company could expedite the process.

Remember, for you to be entitled to compensation, disruptions must be within the airline’s control. For example, airline staff strikes and technical issues are the airline’s responsibility, while bad weather or pandemics are not.

Read more: Missed Self-Transfer Flight: Compensation

Flight departures screen at an airport

8. You Missed Your Flight and You Are Stuck at the Airport. What Are Your Rights?

It depends on the type of your connecting flight.

With a standard connecting flight, you’re entitled to complimentary meals and, if there’s a long delay overnight, a free hotel stay. Plus, the airline will arrange a new flight.

Sadly, this doesn’t apply the same way to self-transfer flights.

If your flight is late, you have a right to care. Meals. Drinks. Sometimes accommodation. You have this right because of this one disrupted flight. You also have a right to a new flight if your flight is cancelled by the airline. At the same time, if you miss your connection. You won’t get any extra assistance with this.

In all situations, you have a right to compensation for bad flights.

How much can you claim?

The compensation amounts are set at 250, 400, or 600 euros.

To get flight compensation, you can either contact the airline directly or opt for a flight compensation company, which is the simpler choice. We suggest using a flight compensation company as it saves time and effort.

When choosing this option, here is all you will have to do:

Go to
this page

Fill in a claim form

Upload documents*

Sign online

And that’s it — the rest is handled by professionals.

* Your boarding pass and passport or ID copy.

9. Baggage on Self-Transfer Flights

One common issue with self-transfer flights is when passengers are required to collect their checked baggage at the layover airport and re-check it with the next airline. This can be time-consuming and stressful, especially if you have a tight connection time. It is also important to note that there may be additional fees for checked baggage on each individual airline.

That’s why it is important to understand the policies and restrictions regarding baggage. Each airline may have different rules for checked baggage and carry-on items, so it is crucial to research this information before your trip.

That’s why self-transfer without luggage is a very popular option for travellers. By travelling with a carry-on only, you get all the benefits of self-transfer travel without taking too much risk and avoiding most of the hassle.

If it’s a self-transfer flight, you have to collect and recheck your baggage.

For a regular connecting flight, your baggage is typically sent to your final destination. You don’t have to collect it and recheck it.

Learn more: What to Do if Your Luggage Is Lost?

10. How to Plan a Self-Transfer Flight?

When planning and booking a self-transfer flight, remember this:

  1. Always book flights with a generous layover period. Unlike traditional connecting flights, where the airline ensures a smooth transition, self-transfer flights place the responsibility on the traveller. Allow at least 4 hours between flights, especially at large or unfamiliar airports. This buffer time can account for potential delays, security checks, and transfers between terminals.
  2. Familiarise yourself with the layout and logistics of the airports involved in your itinerary. Check if you need to exit and re-enter security, and be aware of the distances between terminals. Some airports offer shuttle services, while others might require a walk or a separate ticket for an inter-terminal train or bus.
  3. Book flights separately. Use flight search engines (flight comparison websites) and apps to find the best deals for each segment of your journey. Consider low-cost carriers for shorter legs to save money. Ensure that your booking confirmations and tickets reflect sufficient layover times.
  4. Pack light and smart. Travelling with just carry-on luggage simplifies self-transfer flights by saving time on baggage claims and minimising the risk of lost luggage. If you need to check bags, make sure the layover allows enough time for collecting and rechecking. Also, going carry-on only can save you money, particularly with budget airlines that may not provide free baggage allowance.
  5. Stay informed. Use flight tracking apps to stay informed about your flight status in real time. If you’re aware of potential delays before arriving at the airport, you can rework your plans accordingly.
  6. Check visa and immigration requirements. If your self-transfer involves international flights, ensure you understand visa and immigration requirements for all countries involved. Some layovers might require transit visas, especially if you must clear customs and enter the country to recheck your luggage.

Do you have more questions about self-transfer flights or regular connecting flights? Do you have more questions about flight delay or flight cancellation compensation? Ask in the comments.

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