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Marykatesmom

Viking Air Information

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I never book my flights through the cruise line since, as a rule we fly in early and stay a couple of days and then fly home. I have heard horror stories from other cruise lines of long flights with multiple connections and no possibility of changes to itinerary.  I also love having control of my schedule.  So I am very new to dealing with an cruise line air department.

 

 Viking was offering an air add on discount while booking onboard and the consultant recommended we add them and then if we don't want them, they can be taken off the reservation.  I have been reading the CC VO boards and it seems that generally people are happy  with VO Custom Air.  It sounds very appealing to me and Viking doesn't behave like most other cruise lines so I wanted to do some homework.

 

Is it much more expensive than booking yourself?  We normally fly Delta in business class.  I have a knee that I can not be bent for long periods and I usually drive and fly with it straight. 

 

I am currently booked economy as the consultant said he could not book business class directly and I would have to do that through my TA.  Should I wait or do that now?  I had read that waiting and check the airline prices directly and then add on the business class through Viking if they are cheaper.

 

We used the Viking airport transfer and was quite happy with how easy it was and having them bring our carry on bags directly to the cabin was a huge plus.  Are the included transfers still valid for Custom Air?

 

I have heard of a Deviation fee?  I don't see where that is applicable.

 

Am I reading it correctly?  I can add this up to 65 days prior to the cruise.

 

What have been your experiences and what am I missing in my consideration for using Viking Air?

 

Here is the information on Viking Custom Air:

Custom Air

Viking Air Plus is our exclusive custom air department, for guests who have specific travel needs or special requests. Depending upon your travel schedules, requests and flexibility, our team of experienced Viking Air Plus agents can assist with the following services whether you are traveling on economy, Premium Economy or Business Class air:

  • Deviate to an alternate destination city or stay extra time before or after your cruise or cruisetour (destinations offered for 2018 & 2019 | destinations offered for 2019 & 2020)
  • Stop over in another destination such as London, Paris, Munich, Hong Kong or a U.S. gateway (stopovers available for 2018 & 2019 | stopovers available for 2019 & 2020)
  • Nonstop flights or the most direct air service available
  • Reservations with airlines that accept frequent flyer mileage
  • Travel on specific airlines or air routing
  • Confirmation of flight schedules at time of reservation; no waiting once deposit and Guest Information Forms are received
  • Coordination of family, friends or groups traveling together from the same or different cities

Please note: Viking Air Plus is not offered 65 days or less before departure. Based on the itinerary, $50 to $150 per guest non refundable fee applies, as well as any additional fees based on the difference between the selected air and the air price paid. Date or city deviations and stopover fees are typically between $100 and $300 additional. Airlines have advised that seat assignments are subject to change therefore are not part of the Air Plus program.

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I’ll give you two tales of Viking Air.

First up, we were on a Midnight Sun cruise in July 2017, London to Bergen, we are in the Atlanta area.

Since the cruise ended in Bergen we could not customize the Viking Air arrangements and we accepted the Vikings flights in business class.

 

For the Atlanta to London segment we were routed to Amsterdam and then to London. A little inconvenient but not bad, plus this was right in the middle of Wimbledon so availability was limited.

 

For Bergen to Atlanta were routed to Amsterdam, then to Paris to Atlanta. This was annoying because there were numerous non stops from Amsterdam to Atlanta, but we survived the experience.

 

Current Viking Air for Southeast Asia, April 2019. We payed the $50pp fee and selected our flights .

Atlanta to Bangkok.... non stop Atlanta to Seoul, then Seoul to Bangkok, business class.

Return leg Hong Kong to Seoul, Seoul to Atlanta.

All flights on Korean Air business class.

 

Sounds good, but there was a catch. The flights we wanted were not on Vikings contract, though the carrier was. The result of all this was us paying $1500pp extra on top of the business class fare advertised in the brochure.

The total charge for 2 was still approximately $5k less expensive than if I had purchased from the carrier, we have no miles at this time.

 

Whether Viking Air works for you depends on your variables. I just wanted to give you an example of our experience.

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I have used Viking Air for most of our cruises with Viking (for varying reasons) and I always pay for Custom Air ($50pp). I don't wait for Viking to assign my flights before I decide to pay the fee because by then the good choices are already gone.

 

Around 300 days from departure, I start researching flights and prices. Too much earlier than that and the information available might not be complete. I book, either with Viking or with the airlines, around 275 days prior to sailing. Sometimes the Viking price is a good bargain (like free air fare or flights to Europe for under $500) and sometimes it isn't--but you don't know that until you do the research. Viking Air fares include transfers.

 

The Viking Air deal does not guarantee you any flights you want at that price but it does give you choices--and the earlier you book your flights, the better the choices. If you wish to stray from there offerings at the price, you can do it but the price will go up. Don't blame Viking; it is the airlines who are setting the prices.

 

Sometimes we want to extend our stay and this is where the deviation fee comes. If you want to arrive early or stay late and aren't doing a Viking extension, you can still book through Viking but you will pay a $100pp deviation fee and you will lose the Viking transfers on any leg that deviates. There is also a stopover fee if you want break your travel in a stopover city. (Like of you want to stay a few days in Paris on a USA-Paris-final destination flight plan).

 

Marykatesmom, you are interested in flying business class, so pricing for you will differ and you may very well find that you can do much better price-wise if you book your own--or, as it worked out for tubeamps, not. One way or another, you know you are getting a good deal on the fare.

 

At the least signing up for Viking Air when you book is a no-brainer since it can be cancelled any time up until x many days before departure--and I say x because I'm not sure how many days prior it has to be done, so better that those who want to know get that detail directly from Viking.

 

 

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My VIking custom air business class booking experience to Bergen with a return from London has been good. The Viking price is about 30 percent less than the airline website prices (Delta and KLM.)

 

Your TA can get the Viking contract price for business class for your trip. What you want may or may not be on their contract. In order to really discuss details you have to pay the custom air fee. I think it is refundable if you elect not to use it.

 

My TA’s assistant, a Viking air rep, and I did a conference call to choose our flights. The assistant introduced us to each other and said thank you when we were finished. 

 

What I had chosen was not on their contract, but the Viking rep was very helpful. I gave her my must haves: 1) lie flat seats; 2) no more than two connections, preferably one (our airport is a regional airport); reasonable connection times; and prefer to avoid Atlanta.

 

She offered me options at their contracted price as well as others that would have required me to pay extra. We chose flights at their contracted business class price. We have a longer layover (4 hours) in Minneapolis coming home than I’d like, but it is not Atlanta or Dallas. The alternatives were not much better, anyway.

 

We have not taken this trip yet, so we haven’t had to deal with late or cancelled flights, rerouting, et al. 

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We did Viking custom air for our upcoming Auckland to Bali. We are staying 2 extra nights in Bali (at our own expense). We wanted AA and we got Tucson to Los Angeles to Auckland, then on the way back Bali to Tucson, but they couldn't get us back to Tucson from Bali in a timely manner I guess so they booked us from Bali to Hong Kong at 4 PM in Bali our 3rd day and they are putting us up in a hotel in Hong Kong (arriving after 9 PM) (at their expense) that evening, then our flight from Hong Kong doesn't leave until 7:00 PM the next night. So we get an accidental day and night in Hong Kong. Luckily it is on a weekend so I don't have to worry about work. We are going to look for a day tour..someplace we never thought we would be. I had FF miles and I looked at all possible routes, and for this itinerary the air special was worth it. I think it was $1350 but I could be wrong. So, yes, it just all "depends"!!

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When cruising with Viking we have booked their air - the airport transfers are included and having that transfer can make life much easier than you trying to figure out how to get to the port with all your luggage or from the cruise ship to the airport which may not be very close to the port.  I have found the Viking air costs comparable or better than what you can book on your own, even for business class.  As others have noted, pay for custom air ($50 pp is inexpensive to be able to work w/ the custom air department and have some 'control' over your flights) and have your TA work w/ the air department to book your flights.  Do the flights as early as you are allowed by the airlines.  We booked our own flights with other cruise lines(Crystal & Oceania) - On Crystal we were able book the transfer from the cruise to the airport through Crystal.   I think we could have done the same with Oceania but had made our own arrangements.  It was a challenge doing the transfer in Hong Kong from a hotel near the Hong Kong airport, even though the hotel staff told the cab driver to take us to the port, he took us to the Ferry port and not where Crystal was berthed.  Luckily we had 4 wheeled luggage & it wasn't raining.   Similar to Stretchcruz, we are headed to Auckland (though from Dulles) and coming home from Bali via Hong Kong, spending the night in Hong Kong before heading to LAX, LAX to IAD.  Interesting enough, as expected, the flight from Dulles to LAX is economy, not business (domestic travel can be economy for business travel, they only guarantee business for the international travel), business from LAX to Auckland.  However we are flying completely business - Bali to Hong Kong, Hong Kong to LAX, LAX to IAD, for the trip home.  Viking airfare cost was $5,390 pp - not sure how expensive it would have been if we tried booking on our own but the one way business flight from Bali to Hong Kong via Garuda Indonesia is over $1600 according to my reservation that I got off of the Garuda Indonesia website.  Flying from Bali to Hong Kong is five hours. All the other flights are on AA.  

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We booked on board and got the 6 months final due date.  However, someone mentioned in passing that in order to use custom air and book your flight, the cruise must be paid in full at around 10 months instead.  Is that correct?

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Good question!!

 

Under the old rules, I regularly booked my flights through Viking Air around 10 months out including choosing seats, well before I paid in full. I'm not looking for any upgrades or using points to upgrade or anything like that, which may be different circumstances and thus have different rules.

 

What they are requiring under the new rules, I have not yet heard anything here, so maybe folks will report their experience (and it may be too early to hear recent experiences since the rules just changed) --or even better, perhaps Viking will chime in with an answer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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As I have experienced for this NZ Australian Indonesia cruise, to have the flights ticketed you have to pay in full.  My TA at the time did not advise me that the booked flights would not be ticketed until I paid the Viking cruise in full.  I only found out that my flights were not ticketed was when I went on the AA website and I got a 'warning' message about the flights and needing to contact my TA.  So we paid in full to avoid losing the booked flights & seats.  I think you can book the flights & seats without ticketing but you have the chance of losing the flights & seats.  I was not willing to take that chance since it was business class & flying to New Zealand & back from Bali to Dulles.  Also, Viking overcharged me for the cruise by several thousand which I knew immediately.  They wouldn't void the transaction and it was a mess trying to get the funds credited back.  This is the one thing that is a major annoyance w/ Viking, if a mistake is made and they need to credit you back, it takes several days, bordering on weeks.  I have found w/ Oceania that if there is a mistake or you are being refunded for any reason, the credit appears immediately (as it should).  Needless to say I am not using that TA anymore.  For us, these cruises are very expensive and I would hope that our TA would be on top of every aspect of booking w/ Viking or any other cruise line.  We are still newbies in cruise traveling so we are still learning what is best to do.  That's why I take the time to review these posts on CC - I have learned so much from the more experienced cruisers.  We really appreciate it. 

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I'm hoping some of you who've experienced Viking Air can provide me with some answers/advice.  We are looking at a transatlantic that includes air, but only economy.  I'm 6'-7" tall so can't do an Econ seat for 8 hours but would consider an exit row since it's a daytime flight back to the US.

 

Do you know if one is able to purchase exit row (or main cabin extra/comfort plus/etc.) seats if ticketed by Viking?  

 

Also, if we do the deviation to stay longer after disembarking is that $100 on top of the $50 custom air?   Or does doing custom air get you part of that $100 paid for?

 

Thanks in advance!

Clay

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4 minutes ago, Clay Clayton said:

I'm hoping some of you who've experienced Viking Air can provide me with some answers/advice.  We are looking at a transatlantic that includes air, but only economy.  I'm 6'-7" tall so can't do an Econ seat for 8 hours but would consider an exit row since it's a daytime flight back to the US.

 

Do you know if one is able to purchase exit row (or main cabin extra/comfort plus/etc.) seats if ticketed by Viking?  

 

Also, if we do the deviation to stay longer after disembarking is that $100 on top of the $50 custom air?   Or does doing custom air get you part of that $100 paid for?

 

Thanks in advance!

Clay

Using custom air we were able to book "Delta Comfort," at additional fare of course.  We have found the air department very accommodating and easy to work with.  They have had to reroute us twice due to airline schedule changes and it has not been a problem.  We also added days to the end of our cruise and did pay the additional $100 deviation fee besides the $50 for the custom air.   

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12 minutes ago, Ready to Sail! said:

Using custom air we were able to book "Delta Comfort," at additional fare of course.  We have found the air department very accommodating and easy to work with.  They have had to reroute us twice due to airline schedule changes and it has not been a problem.  We also added days to the end of our cruise and did pay the additional $100 deviation fee besides the $50 for the custom air.   

Thanks!  If you don't mind me asking what did the delta comfort upgrade cost? I would expect under $200 pp?

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2 minutes ago, Clay Clayton said:

Thanks!  If you don't mind me asking what did the delta comfort upgrade cost? I would expect under $200 pp?

$298 each round trip.  It covers 2 of our 3 flights from Sacramento to Athens.  Our main concern is having the extra room on the long leg-no pun intended (10+ hours).  Delta comfort not available Amsterdam to Athens and Venice to Amsterdam but when I go in to check our seats I see we can upgrade those flights also for a minimum additional  cost.  

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2 minutes ago, Ready to Sail! said:

$298 each round trip.  It covers 2 of our 3 flights from Sacramento to Athens.  Our main concern is having the extra room on the long leg-no pun intended (10+ hours).  Delta comfort not available Amsterdam to Athens and Venice to Amsterdam but when I go in to check our seats I see we can upgrade those flights also for a minimum additional  cost.  

Since we will only have a long flight one direction here's hoping the cost will be 1/2 of your round trip cost. Thanks for the info!

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5 minutes ago, Clay Clayton said:

Since we will only have a long flight one direction here's hoping the cost will be 1/2 of your round trip cost. Thanks for the info!

And I should add we usually always book our own flights but even with the added $150 each to Viking and the upgraded seats we couldn't do it for any less, and actually more, especially for the Delta Comfort.

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6 minutes ago, Ready to Sail! said:

And I should add we usually always book our own flights but even with the added $150 each to Viking and the upgraded seats we couldn't do it for any less, and actually more, especially for the Delta Comfort.

Same here, we usually fly biz due to my height but with this cruise offering "free" airfare we really want to take advantage. 

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1 minute ago, Marykatesmom said:

Do you have to be paid in full to use the Custom Air?

 

Yes, see my post: #10

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2 minutes ago, SM77 said:

Yes, see my post: #10

 

Thanks.  I reread your post.  How far in advance can you book the flights?   I have until 6 months out to pay for my vacation.  I pay a portion every month to break things up.   I'm worried my TA (who is new to Viking) isn't going to handle the "Custom Air" very well.  

 

I need to upgrade to Business as well.  I booked on board and they could only book economy.  When should I upgrade?  Should I look at the flights first to see if it is a good deal? 

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1 minute ago, Marykatesmom said:

 

Thanks.  I reread your post.  How far in advance can you book the flights?   I have until 6 months out to pay for my vacation.  I pay a portion every month to break things up.   I'm worried my TA (who is new to Viking) isn't going to handle the "Custom Air" very well.  

 

I need to upgrade to Business as well.  I booked on board and they could only book economy.  When should I upgrade?  Should I look at the flights first to see if it is a good deal? 

I think the earliest the airlines will book flights is 270 days out.  You should go ahead & try to cost out the business class tickets already.  You should have your TA ask Viking Air how much the business class tickets will cost and then you can decide.  I am not familiar w/ the Viking rules on when you need to decide on whether you want business class or not - the sooner the better.  I have always decided when I booked w/ Viking whether to do business or premium economy.  The Viking Air department is very good.  

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I understand the standard Viking business class offering only guarantees business class on the over ocean portion of the itinerary and economy class is used for domestic connections and connecting flights in Europe.  Do the domestic and European connections get hit with bag fees?  International business class flights generally allow two checked bags. Does that allowance extend to the economy fare connections potentially on different airlines if it is all one itinerary?

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7 hours ago, dwlmg said:

I understand the standard Viking business class offering only guarantees business class on the over ocean portion of the itinerary and economy class is used for domestic connections and connecting flights in Europe.  Do the domestic and European connections get hit with bag fees?  International business class flights generally allow two checked bags. Does that allowance extend to the economy fare connections potentially on different airlines if it is all one itinerary?

 

I fly economy and there is an allowance of one bag plus carry on and personal item on International flights, all legs.  You may get 2 bags with International business  but then aren't you paying more for your ticket, regardless of if you are using points or whatever, in the first place?  My two trips have always involved 2 different airlines.

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8 hours ago, dwlmg said:

I understand the standard Viking business class offering only guarantees business class on the over ocean portion of the itinerary and economy class is used for domestic connections and connecting flights in Europe.  Do the domestic and European connections get hit with bag fees?  International business class flights generally allow two checked bags. Does that allowance extend to the economy fare connections potentially on different airlines if it is all one itinerary?

I have never had a problem on the outbound, even if the first leg is domestic & in coach, you check-in at the business counter & since the international segment is business, your two check bags pp go through easily.  However, on the return leg, I have encountered issues with Lufthansa with the first leg being in economy.  I went ahead & checked both pieces(carry-on & larger piece) & she wanted to charge me for the second suitcase even though the international leg was business.  I told her to retrieve the carryon & I will bring it on board(she had already ticketed the suitcases & sent them down the conveyor belt) - she then waived the fee.  I think she was just trying to get extra $$ from us.  I think there is some regulation that allows the business class limits if the longer flight is business.  If you pay the $50 Air Plus fee, you can work with Viking Air (& if need be your TA) to negotiate business seats for all segments.  On our most recent trip, we had business for both legs going home on two different airlines.  Unfortunately going out we were in coach from IAD to LAX, then business for the LAX to AUK flight.  Hope this helps.

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Another item worthwhile to mention.  We just came home from Bali last week.  We had business seats on all three legs of our flight home, Bali to Hong Kong on Garuda Indonesia, then Hong Kong to LAX, LAX to IAD on AA.  Due to the 737 MAX situation, AA emailed that they canceled one of our flights, either Hong Kong to LAX or LAX to IAD, two days before leaving. AA emailed us to 'work with our TA' - I emailed our TA (15 hour time difference between Bali & West Coast US) who immediately contacted Viking Air - luckily I woke up to to the emails at 2:30 AM Bali time - I spent the next three hours working with Viking Air directly to rebook the flights.  As it turns out, we were able to fly home the same day that we flew into Hong Kong from Bali (before we had to spend a day & night in Hong Kong) and we were on a nonstop to IAD from Hong Kong business class!  It was Cathay Pacific (w/ AA flight number as well) - best business class we have flown - great service & food - got home the same day (crossing international date line) - I was very thankful to have Viking Air in my corner dealing with AA on this.  If I was just a regular consumer, I'm not so sure I would have been taken care of so well (ie., the email from AA telling me to work it out with my TA).

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