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  #1  
Old February 20th, 2011, 12:23 PM
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Default Booking our own flights or using cruise co.

Normally we book our own air and fly in a day early in case of any delays. Only once have we used a tour operator to book flights - on a Viking cruise in China - and that was because they were offering two-for-one fares.

We have a trip with Hurtigruten booked for Jan 2012. The tour starts in BA -- they fly us to Ush. and back -- so we either need to get ourselves to BA or book flights through them. It's too soon for them to give pricing so I'll at least wait and see what they come up with but I wonder if in general using them is the way to go.

I guess I'm worrying that any weather situation that would change or cancel their itinerary (or boat being hit by wave or running aground as we've been seeing in the last few months!) would make rebooking flights at the last minute a big (expensive) problem for us -- maybe more so than on a flight to Europe where there are more daily flight options. Also flying out of Philadelphia in January there's always the possibility of weather problems and if we book air with Hurtigruten we'll be a little more covered I think for problems/delays vs. having our own flights.

I do have trip insurance but I'm not sure if that would cover all types of changes/delays/weird situations that could arise as far as airfare is concerned. Also if it's a last minute problem there's a possibility of not finding another available seat so you could miss the trip altogether. Hmm... I know there's always risk involved - don't mean to overthink this but...any thoughts?

Thanks in advance.
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Old February 20th, 2011, 02:18 PM
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Normally we book our own air and fly in a day early in case of any delays. Only once have we used a tour operator to book flights - on a Viking cruise in China - and that was because they were offering two-for-one fares.

We have a trip with Hurtigruten booked for Jan 2012. The tour starts in BA -- they fly us to Ush. and back -- so we either need to get ourselves to BA or book flights through them. It's too soon for them to give pricing so I'll at least wait and see what they come up with but I wonder if in general using them is the way to go.

I guess I'm worrying that any weather situation that would change or cancel their itinerary (or boat being hit by wave or running aground as we've been seeing in the last few months!) would make rebooking flights at the last minute a big (expensive) problem for us -- maybe more so than on a flight to Europe where there are more daily flight options. Also flying out of Philadelphia in January there's always the possibility of weather problems and if we book air with Hurtigruten we'll be a little more covered I think for problems/delays vs. having our own flights.

I do have trip insurance but I'm not sure if that would cover all types of changes/delays/weird situations that could arise as far as airfare is concerned. Also if it's a last minute problem there's a possibility of not finding another available seat so you could miss the trip altogether. Hmm... I know there's always risk involved - don't mean to overthink this but...any thoughts?

Thanks in advance.
As a general rule, you are FAR better off booking your own flights. There are more protections with flights booked directly with the airline. Fare rules for individual tickets dictate what options you have when problems occur.

In general, tour agencies/cruise lines book consolidator class tickets which are generally NON reroutable, NON changeable (without HUGE change fees-some almost twice what the airlines charge) and the real biggie-they are NON ENDORSABLE. What that means to you-they can ONLY be used on the airline that wrote the ticket. You CANNOT use your United issued ticket on an AA flight without United paying AA IN CASH for your seat. No tit for tat exchanging seats as with other tickets.

Example: Your trip starts at JFK to EZE (Buenos Aires). The cruise line books you on TAM with a stop at GRU. This flight leaves JFK at 7:40PM. For whatever reason-mechanical, crew hours, security shutdown in the terminal, whatever, you cannot board the plane and the flight is canceled. You CANNOT take that ticket, have TAM ENDORSE the ticket to AA and board the LAN/AA flight to EZE at 9:50 the same night. You will WAIT until TAM has another flight-the next night. Could you have missed your cruise??? VERY likely.

Ask 500+ people on the Star Princess "earthquake" cruise last March how well those cruise line booked tickets worked for them. They all missed their cruise. The tickets were NOT endorsable-so they could NOT reroute to EZE from SCL without a LARGE input of cash. One gentleman was charged $1100+ to reroute his ticket to meet the ship in Ushuaia. MORE than the original cruise air ticket cost.

All US airlines shut down service to Santiago. The US airlines were STILL flying into Buenos Aires, Rio and Lima. And some of the foreign airlines-LAN, JAL and AeroMexico provided bus service for their passengers from Buenos Aires and Mendoza to get their passengers to Santiago. BUT the cruise line tickets were NO GOOD on any of the other airlines, even IF the passenger was willing to take an 18 hour LUXURY bus ride (some South America long haul buses are more luxurious than first class airline seats on BA, Cathay and Qantas).

Your choice but if you read the fine print in almost all cruise contracts-air, hotels, shore excursions, etc. etc. sold OUTSIDE a package (like your Antarctica trip with shore excursions, intra SA air and hotels which is a highly specialized trip) are booked as a CONVENIENCE and the cruise line is NOT responsible for anything.
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Old February 20th, 2011, 09:01 PM
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Excellent explanation greatam - thank you so much. That clears up a big misconception I had about cruise line or tour operator booked tickets being a safer way to go.

I'll book them myself. Don't suppose you have any other words of wisdom on timing of buying tix for that route for Jan 2012? I know it requires a crystal ball, etc etc but maybe there are spring sales I should wait for or maybe this is a 'book it quickly, there are only so many seats' kind of situation.
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Old February 24th, 2011, 03:00 PM
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Unfortunately, as with so many things, it's not quite so simple. We were on a Baltic cruise out of Amsterdam a few years ago and a flight was late into Schiphol. The ship waited five hours for it because it was a flight the cruise line was using to bring passengers in on. I doubt they would have waited five hours for my wife and myself if our self-booked flight had been similarly late.
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Old February 24th, 2011, 03:23 PM
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digitl - that's the kind of thing I was envisioning & wondering if that made it worth booking air w/Hurtigruten. It's very confusing.
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Old February 24th, 2011, 05:15 PM
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Unfortunately, as with so many things, it's not quite so simple. We were on a Baltic cruise out of Amsterdam a few years ago and a flight was late into Schiphol. The ship waited five hours for it because it was a flight the cruise line was using to bring passengers in on. I doubt they would have waited five hours for my wife and myself if our self-booked flight had been similarly late.

Yes, it IS that simple. You had a flight with probably at least 50 people on board for the cruise. The ship waited. You also flew in day of cruise. If you would have booked your own air, you most likely would have flown in the previous day, which would have allowed time for any glitches.

BUT if you would have had a connection that was missed and did NOT make the flight with the 50 other people, you would have been in WORSE shape than if you had booked your own tickets. It is ALL in the fare rules. AND the cruise contract. I really wonder how many have ever read the entire cruise contract. MOST cruise lines owe you NOTHING if you miss the ship due to their air. Clearly spelled out in the cruise contract-hotels, shore excursions, transfers and air is booked as a CONVENIENCE and the cruise lines accept NO responsibility nor have any liability. Here is a link to the Princess cruise contract. Pay particular attention to paragraph 15, subsection F. MOST cruise line contracts are written the same way.

http://www.princess.com/legal/passag...ract/index.jsp
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Old February 24th, 2011, 09:34 PM
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we booked our own flight last year from JFK to EZE to USH and AA cancelled our flight from JFK and tried to book us on the same flight 24 hours later. Fortunately we were able to get on a flight 12 hours later and just make our connection in Buenos Aires. If we had missed the ship in Ushuaia, we could not have caught it anywhere else!

For Antarctica, I would have the cruise line book my flights unless I have enough time between connections!
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Egypt Land Trip Review http://www.independenttraveler.com/t...-all-one-world
Swan Hellenic Minerva Antarctica - January 2010 http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1083945
Galapagos http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showt...ight=galapagos
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Old February 25th, 2011, 06:11 AM
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Yes, it IS that simple. You had a flight with probably at least 50 people on board for the cruise. The ship waited.
So, it isn't as simple as your earlier statement that 'As a general rule, you are FAR better off booking your own flights'. If you book through the cruise company they are more likely to wait for a late flight.

By the way, the use of CAPITAL letters is regarded as SHOUTING.
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Old February 25th, 2011, 06:15 AM
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we booked our own flight last year from JFK to EZE to USH and AA cancelled our flight from JFK and tried to book us on the same flight 24 hours later. Fortunately we were able to get on a flight 12 hours later and just make our connection in Buenos Aires. If we had missed the ship in Ushuaia, we could not have caught it anywhere else!

For Antarctica, I would have the cruise line book my flights unless I have enough time between connections!
We usually book our own as the cost is around 50% of that charged by the cruise companies. We use some of the saving to fly in a couple of days early and enjoy looking around our new location.
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Old February 26th, 2011, 06:25 PM
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We usually book our own as the cost is around 50% of that charged by the cruise companies. We use some of the saving to fly in a couple of days early and enjoy looking around our new location.

We were saved by the extra day in BA that we missed due to the flight and yes, we had 2 days in Ushuaia to enjoy that town. The sailing before us was delayed for 12 hours because 25 people who were on the ship's flight were late!
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Swan Hellenic Minerva Antarctica - January 2010 http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1083945
Galapagos http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showt...ight=galapagos
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Old February 27th, 2011, 08:45 AM
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Well flights were finally listed yesterday for AA - I had been waiting for theirs before deciding. Prior to yesterday I could get LAN or Continental for $1400-1500. Now the cheapest is around $1700 for all of them. Incredible difference over night! I guess I'll wait a bit now and see if they go back down or start going even higher.
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Old February 27th, 2011, 10:07 AM
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We have found that the general direction is up, so we go for the best price we can find as early as possible. Not always guaranteed to work but usually the best bet!
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Old February 27th, 2011, 10:22 AM
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I know - I'm kicking myself. $300 per ticket more overnight is crazy. Now I'm not sure whether to bite the bullet at $1700 for fear that they go higher or wait a few weeks.
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Old February 27th, 2011, 03:01 PM
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We're on an Hurtigruten trip in February 2012 and, although the outward flight is currently available, I'm having to wait for another three weeks for the return flight. As soon as I see it, I will book. Last year I waited for prices for our UK - South America - UK flights to drop as I had seen 'Prices From' lower than those announced when they were released. It cost me £200+, and they never did get down to the 'Prices From' level quoted. I'll not be making the same mistake again!

You say that the price of your flights has risen now that AA has released theirs onto the market. Supply has increased and the price has increased. When supply increases, the price normally drops... Is there a message there?

You also mention LAN. Our Madrid - Santiago sector with LAN last year was excellent and far, far superior to our Iberia sector (awful - the meals and service took us back 20 years!) and also an AA flight we took from the UK to JFK also last year.

Last edited by digitl; February 27th, 2011 at 03:09 PM.
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Old February 27th, 2011, 04:14 PM
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We've flown LAN once before to Peru and thought it was a great experience. Actual metal flatware and linen napkins for dinner service in economy (and that was on a 10 pm flight where I didn't even need a meal!).

What I was hoping to book was an AA ticket with the Miami to BA leg operated by LAN. I could've done that last week on the LAN site but for some reason thought booking through AA would be preferable; don't know why

Maybe the situation in Libya is to blame for prices shooting up. I was truly thinking the AA prices would be at or lower than the others that were already released last week. That's what I get for thinking...
My next mistake will probably be waiting for someone to lower theirs.
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Old February 27th, 2011, 06:15 PM
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Last year I waited for prices for our UK - South America - UK flights to drop as I had seen 'Prices From' lower than those announced when they were released. It cost me £200+, and they never did get down to the 'Prices From' level quoted. I'll not be making the same mistake again!
Now I understand why you think cruise air is the way to go. The EU has VERY stringent regulations regarding air travel, missed connections, compensation, etc. etc.

US travelers on cruise line air have NONE of those protections. Totally different situation. It is spelled out in the cruise contract. The cruise line doesn't have to do ANYTHING to get you to your cruise. They may TRY-but all responsibility and liability falls on the airlines. There is NO compensation, there is NO protection. And if you don't believe me, ask one of the 400+ US passengers who missed their Star Princess cruise. They simply didn't get there with their cruise air tickets. The cruise line told them all to file a claim with their travel insurance. For those who simply didn't make any kind of effort (their airline told them they were not flying to Santiago, so they stayed home), they generally lost all their money. The only thing that was refunded from the cruise line was the cost of the air ticket-what a slap in the face.
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Old February 27th, 2011, 06:16 PM
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Last year I waited for prices for our UK - South America - UK flights to drop as I had seen 'Prices From' lower than those announced when they were released. It cost me £200+, and they never did get down to the 'Prices From' level quoted. I'll not be making the same mistake again!
Now I understand why you think cruise air is the way to go. The EU has VERY stringent regulations regarding air travel, missed connections, compensation, etc. etc.

US travelers on cruise line air have NONE of those protections. Totally different situation. It is spelled out in the cruise contract. The cruise line doesn't have to do ANYTHING to get you to your cruise. They may TRY-but all responsibility and liability falls on the airlines. There is NO compensation, there is NO protection. And if you don't believe me, ask one of the 400+ US passengers who missed their Star Princess cruise. They simply didn't get there with their cruise air tickets. The cruise line told them all to file a claim with their travel insurance (which quite a few of them didn't have). For those who simply didn't make any kind of effort (their airline told them they were not flying to Santiago, so they stayed home), they generally lost all their money. The only thing that was refunded from the cruise line was the cost of the air ticket-what a slap in the face.

Those with European cruise air packages were re-accommodated into EZE, Lima or Mendoza and put on buses into Santiago (if they chose to take the bus). Some were even flown to Ushuaia to join the cruise at NO expense to them.

Last edited by greatam; February 27th, 2011 at 06:19 PM.
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Old February 27th, 2011, 07:42 PM
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Now I understand why you think cruise air is the way to go.
But I don't: please re-read what I have posted.

I have simply pointed out that there is at least one advantage with using flights booked through the cruise company. Some may find that this advantage outweighs the alternatives, others, like me, may not.
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Old March 12th, 2011, 10:27 PM
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Normally we book our own air and fly in a day early in case of any delays. Only once have we used a tour operator to book flights - on a Viking cruise in China - and that was because they were offering two-for-one fares.

We have a trip with Hurtigruten booked for Jan 2012. The tour starts in BA -- they fly us to Ush. and back -- so we either need to get ourselves to BA or book flights through them. It's too soon for them to give pricing so I'll at least wait and see what they come up with but I wonder if in general using them is the way to go.

.
We did a Hurtigruten tour to Antarctica a few years back. One of the people on the ship got into Ush late because of booking errors caused by the cruise company. We departed from Ush late because the ship waited for her.

If she had booked herself, I do not know if the ship would have waited.

If you miss the boat in Ush, there is no next port that you can catch up to the ship at. Think about that before you make a decision.

DON
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Old March 13th, 2011, 01:21 PM
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We've flown LAN once before to Peru and thought it was a great experience. Actual metal flatware and linen napkins for dinner service in economy (and that was on a 10 pm flight where I didn't even need a meal!).

What I was hoping to book was an AA ticket with the Miami to BA leg operated by LAN. I could've done that last week on the LAN site but for some reason thought booking through AA would be preferable; don't know why

Maybe the situation in Libya is to blame for prices shooting up. I was truly thinking the AA prices would be at or lower than the others that were already released last week. That's what I get for thinking...
My next mistake will probably be waiting for someone to lower theirs.
South America/international flight prices shot up tremendously in the last couple of weeks. I just arrived Santiago a couple of hours ago for work and I can't believe how much the prices have increased. Am so thankful our office spent an entire day booking flights through next January for myself, employees and customers the first day the oil prices started climbing.

IF you are looking to book an AA codeshare, they are sometimes considerably higher than booking direct on LAN. Makes no sense to me and I have asked the question repeatedly at the AA EXP desk when I wanted the codeshare.

Grab what you think is a reasonable price. I see no chance in the near future prices will go anyplace but up. US domestic capacity is being reduced again to raise prices to cover fuel.
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