Flights making our own connections save $..smart or risky?
You long layover will avoid most of the problems we had on the way down. We had about a 3-4 hour layover scheduled in each direction, which would have been really tight if I had to claim bags, clear customs, check in, and go through the 3-4 security checkpoints required in Colombia. We were able to streamline the process by checking both our bags under my wife's ticket.
However, since Avianca didn't allow online checkin for international flights, in theory I still had to clear customs and check in at the desk. Happily, a very helpful Air Canada rep was able to run past customs and pick up my boarding pass, allowing me to continue through the international connections lane.
On the way back, we had much larger problems. Our flight leaving Quito was delayed many hours, and passengers connecting to Toronto were pulled off the plane after about 3 hours. Since my connecting ticket was separate, this caused a lot of stress, since there was no guarantee that it would be honoured since I missed my flight. Additionally, since I had no connections, I hadn't really been pulled of the Avianca flight - I just stuck with my wife - so they didn't really have to honour my ticket either, as the flight did leave eventually.
Happily, after a marathon phone call to Air Canada on Sunday, and a trip to the Quito offices of both airlines on Monday, they both allowed me to rebook. On the phone, Air Canada told me there'd be a change fee of about $120, but the girl in Quito said it wasn't needed. When I was asked for money in Bogota, I pulled out her business card and argued that I'd already been told no money was needed, and they let me board.
In the end, there was a 3 day delay which had nothing to do with them being separate tickets, and booking separate tickets didn't end up costing me anything. But it did add to the stress of the situation, and if the airlines had been sticklers, it could have cost me more than I saved by separating them.
With a 24 hour layover, I doubt you'll have any serious problems, and if they do come up, you may be able to talk your way out of them. Just recognise what risks you're taking, and be prepared to deal with any consequences that result.
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