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shipmate13

Question about free airfare in booking package

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4 of us couples are currently booked for Feb 2020 cruise to Panama Canal and each couple has booked different ways. My husband and I booked directly thru the cruise line.  When picking our free choices, one was free airfare.  Being worried about that, we did not choose it and instead took other choices, however with that being said the other 3 chose the free airfare.  Has anyone done this and if so, what was the hidden catches.  I am just too scared to go that route as I am not sure what you get with it. Is it non stop, do you get separated on plane and have seats just anywhere, it is odd times, do you get there in time? what happens if the flight gets cancelled? So many concerns about this? I really would appreciate it if someone could guide me on this and if I am just being too cautious 

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If you search a little, you'll see several threads on this topic that may answer your questions better, but here's my two cents. My mother-in-law chose airfare as her studio perk to meet us for our spring break cruise. Times are good if a little conservative, there are no direct flights for this route so she has a stop each direction, but the layovers are reasonable. The tickets were booked as regular economy, not basic, on AA, so she was able to assign herself a seat with no trouble. We would definitely do it again! 

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The catch is you cannot choose your flight.  Reports vary as to if NCL would get you to the ship should there be an issue with your flight and you miss embarkation.

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I too was concerned about the "reduced air" - we got a non--stop roundtrip flight from Birminham  with AA for $99 - it was a deal.  Times were early morning going and afternoon coming back.  Would do it again for sure.  My brother booked the free air out of Detroit to New Orleans on an upcoming cruise - FREE - early morning flight one stop - to port - non-stop coming after cruise.  Transfers included.  I was nervous not knowing the flight ahead of time too.  Chances are you could look up AA or Delta flights to get an idea what NCL might book you for.

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7 hours ago, ddlb said:

I too was concerned about the "reduced air" - we got a non--stop roundtrip flight from Birminham  with AA for $99 - it was a deal.  Times were early morning going and afternoon coming back.  Would do it again for sure.  My brother booked the free air out of Detroit to New Orleans on an upcoming cruise - FREE - early morning flight one stop - to port - non-stop coming after cruise.  Transfers included.  I was nervous not knowing the flight ahead of time too.  Chances are you could look up AA or Delta flights to get an idea what NCL might book you for.

when is your cruise?  thx

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We recently took the offer of free airfare for the 27 January 2019 Panama Cruise.  This was for two flights.   ORD to LAX and then LGA to ORD.  The flights where with AA and once we had the booking, then I went onto the AA website and was able to select seats together.  It was indeed a great deal.  

However,   be very careful about the transfers , which are also included in the offer.   LGA is under major construction, and apparently bus drop offs are not accepted at certain terminals on certain days.   My own experience on 16 Feb was that the bus service dropped off 15 passengers at terminal B,  (not C which is needed for AA passengers.   When the driver was advised it was the wrong terminal, we received a great deal of NY charm and an offer to call the police on the passengers.   NCL has refused to provide a refund for the transfer or explanation for why passengers were not told in advance that they would not get a transfer to the right terminal.  

 

If you have an NCL provided airport transfer,  be sure to ask guest services on board if the transfer will take you to the right terminal.  

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10 hours ago, tokidoki said:

when is your cruise?  thx

The cruise I took was from Birmingham to Miami back in Jan for $99 plus transfer of $30.  It was a deal!

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Keep in mind that no matter what way you book, the airlines may change your flight at their discretion.  Our recent cruise changed dramatically when just a few months before AA changed our flight so we were leaving home 3 hours earlier.  This wasn't a deal breaker but the price we paid was based on being able to go to the airport at a decent hour, not 3 am for a 5 am flight.

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2 hours ago, ddlb said:

The cruise I took was from Birmingham to Miami back in Jan for $99 plus transfer of $30.  It was a deal!

great!   did u receive your tix info 60 days before?

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7 minutes ago, tokidoki said:

great!   did u receive your tix info 60 days before?

NO!!!   I kept calling  TA and was told I would get an email which I never did finally was able to print my E documents 13 days before the flight and that was how I found out.  The edocs would not print until the flight was assigned it was nerve-racking I must admit!

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Transfers are NOT included, you are paying for them.  Check "details" underneath price while booking, or ask NCL or TA what you are being charged.  I've posted before how I consider it deceptive that the transfer cost is NEVER displayed and  you have to know where to look.

 

There's a thread going on right now 

about an issue some pax are  having with their flights booked directly through NCL, along with some comments about other peoples' flights.  Read & heed!  If I were booking thru NCL and took the free air, I wouldn't commit until I found out if I could pay the $50/pp "extra" fee to arrive a day early - but then you have to add that to your base cost, and see if you are really saving $$ vs booking your own flight.

 

I'm negative based on what I have read here and also because I like to be in control of my air because my hubby is a terrible traveler.  Not saying it is NOT a good deal, but I am saying "caveat emptor"--ask all your questions and make sure you know what you are getting.  Do NOT assume that just because someone on these boards got a wonderful non-stop at the right time that the same will be true for you - or vice versa, someone else's terrible experience might NOT happen to you.

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19 hours ago, moosegrin said:

We recently took the offer of free airfare for the 27 January 2019 Panama Cruise.  This was for two flights.   ORD to LAX and then LGA to ORD.  The flights where with AA and once we had the booking, then I went onto the AA website and was able to select seats together.  It was indeed a great deal.  

However,   be very careful about the transfers , which are also included in the offer.   LGA is under major construction, and apparently bus drop offs are not accepted at certain terminals on certain days.   My own experience on 16 Feb was that the bus service dropped off 15 passengers at terminal B,  (not C which is needed for AA passengers.   When the driver was advised it was the wrong terminal, we received a great deal of NY charm and an offer to call the police on the passengers.   NCL has refused to provide a refund for the transfer or explanation for why passengers were not told in advance that they would not get a transfer to the right terminal.  

 

If you have an NCL provided airport transfer,  be sure to ask guest services on board if the transfer will take you to the right terminal.  

Thanks for sharing. We will be flying from Columbus, Ohio to LGA in NYC a week from today for our cruise, and have flights (on Delta) and transfers with NCL. So just to clarify, the issue is that due to construction the bus may not be able to pick us up or drop us off at the correct terminal? So we may need to plan to spend extra time getting to/from the terminal, both on the way there and back?  Just want to make sure I understand and plan appropriately - thanks in advance for any advice!

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I thank all of you for helping me out on the free airfare package. As expected, I knew someone would let me know this has been addressed in the past already but this is my first cruise on Norwegian and my 18 th cruise which isn't that many but I knew that some post would be helpful for this I thank you.   We will be flying out of Atlanta as we only live 45 minutes away so I would think it is a direct flight to Miami.  I gave up the drink package since we are not serious drinkers enough to make it worth while. I am hoping that it will go smooth and I have no regrets. Husband works for Delta Airlines and yes we could fly on stand by but not when we have to get to the ship on time and hoping there are seats available unless we go a day before.  I heard about paying 50.00 more to go the night before which I might look into but that means getting a hotel also..  Sounds like I don't have to worry about getting to the pier in time as long as there are no broken down, mechanical problems on the plane.  Thanks again. 

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Hello, responding to ILOVEISLANDS.  I was told by the porter that the construction was the cause of the busses being unable to drop passengers at terminal B on the 16th of Feb.  The problem is that it may change weekly as to what restrictions are in place for what terminal. And my experience is that NCL had no clue as to what restrictions are in place at LaGuardia.  Do avoid Laguardia, try to book thru JFK.   Or just pay for a taxi on your own if you don't assurances you will be dropped at the right terminal.   The shuttle between terminals does NOT have space for cruise ship luggage and passengers.  

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Hello responding to ILOVEISLANDS,    Yes to planning for extra time,  but even more so it is VERY difficult to take the airports shuttle bus with more than one small bag.  The shuttles are overloaded as everyone is trying to deal with the disruption.

 

 I assume that NCL will figure out how to get you to the ship without a lot of trouble for you.   On the return flight,  you  really should arrange your own taxi if the NCL transfer cannot get you to the right terminal.  

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9 hours ago, moosegrin said:

Hello responding to ILOVEISLANDS,    Yes to planning for extra time,  but even more so it is VERY difficult to take the airports shuttle bus with more than one small bag.  The shuttles are overloaded as everyone is trying to deal with the disruption.

 

 I assume that NCL will figure out how to get you to the ship without a lot of trouble for you.   On the return flight,  you  really should arrange your own taxi if the NCL transfer cannot get you to the right terminal.  

Avoid Newark as well if you don't have a long layover.  Ours was an hour but between the plane landing late (airport trying to accommodate too many airlines so we circled for a half hour waiting to land) and the shuttle taking forever to get us from one end to the other, we missed our connecting flight.  Had to take a much later flight to a different airport and rent a car to drive an hour back home.  Money out of our pocket and no sleep before work the next day.  Not fun!!

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14 hours ago, shipmate13 said:

I thank all of you for helping me out on the free airfare package. As expected, I knew someone would let me know this has been addressed in the past already but this is my first cruise on Norwegian and my 18 th cruise which isn't that many but I knew that some post would be helpful for this I thank you.   We will be flying out of Atlanta as we only live 45 minutes away so I would think it is a direct flight to Miami.  I gave up the drink package since we are not serious drinkers enough to make it worth while. I am hoping that it will go smooth and I have no regrets. Husband works for Delta Airlines and yes we could fly on stand by but not when we have to get to the ship on time and hoping there are seats available unless we go a day before.  I heard about paying 50.00 more to go the night before which I might look into but that means getting a hotel also..  Sounds like I don't have to worry about getting to the pier in time as long as there are no broken down, mechanical problems on the plane.  Thanks again. 

The $50 extra is only applicable if you book hotel THRU NCL!  We are using the airfare perk in March.  $99 R/T to San Juan same day - got 6:00 am flights out of Boston (20 minutes from home) and change planes in Charlotte then on to SJU and the ship by 2:30 pm.   I checked out booking the hotel and the cost was OUTRAGEOUS and negated the savings on airfare!  They wanted more than twice the price for which I could book a hotel on my own so we didn't take it.... will post back after our cruise to let people know how it went!  And as someone else posted the transfers are an added cost - $58 each

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55 minutes ago, cinbol said:

The $50 extra is only applicable if you book hotel THRU NCL!  We are using the airfare perk in March.  $99 R/T to San Juan same day - got 6:00 am flights out of Boston (20 minutes from home) and change planes in Charlotte then on to SJU and the ship by 2:30 pm.   I checked out booking the hotel and the cost was OUTRAGEOUS and negated the savings on airfare!  They wanted more than twice the price for which I could book a hotel on my own so we didn't take it.... will post back after our cruise to let people know how it went!  And as someone else posted the transfers are an added cost - $58 each

I had heard this rumour and I wanted to book my own hotel because I work for a hotel chain and I get a great employee rate on hotel rooms. My travel agent called NCL to add the deviation fee on for flying in one day early. And she asked if I can book my own hotel. At first the NCL agent said no I must book through them. But my travel agent asked her to check so she put my travel agent on hold and asked her supervisor and she came back and said sorry actually you can book your own hotel room.

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3 minutes ago, Lizabu said:

I had heard this rumour and I wanted to book my own hotel because I work for a hotel chain and I get a great employee rate on hotel rooms. My travel agent called NCL to add the deviation fee on for flying in one day early. And she asked if I can book my own hotel. At first the NCL agent said no I must book through them. But my travel agent asked her to check so she put my travel agent on hold and asked her supervisor and she came back and said sorry actually you can book your own hotel room.

Thanks great to know - I DID not get that memo from my agency!  Will check into it now!

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24 minutes ago, cinbol said:

Thanks great to know - I DID not get that memo from my agency!  Will check into it now!

 

28 minutes ago, Lizabu said:

I had heard this rumour and I wanted to book my own hotel because I work for a hotel chain and I get a great employee rate on hotel rooms. My travel agent called NCL to add the deviation fee on for flying in one day early. And she asked if I can book my own hotel. At first the NCL agent said no I must book through them. But my travel agent asked her to check so she put my travel agent on hold and asked her supervisor and she came back and said sorry actually you can book your own hotel room.

Okay - this new rule went into effect just a week or so ago so even the NCL agents are still learning the "in's and out's"... so here's the skinny - once ticketing has been done you cannot change your flights but under the NEW RULE when booking, you may pay the $50 per person for a deviation and they will book you one day prior or after and you may book your hotel on your own.

 

Too late for us as we are ticketed and our cruise is less than 20 days away but good information to pass on to anyone else considering this perk.   For us the savings by taking this perk is over $1200 - 6 months ago the flights to SJU from Boston were averaging about $700 per person and with one-stop and we paid $99/pp. Had I been able to take the deviation it would have cost me $150/pp for the airfare and the cost of a hotel for one night (avg $300 or less in SJU) so my savings still would have been almost $1000.  With this new "deviance" rule in place it's a great deal!

 

When considering the perks you want to choose you always have to price it out to see what works best for you...what you would spend VS what the cost is of the "perk" and also what the "fine print" is.

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51 minutes ago, cinbol said:

 

Okay - this new rule went into effect just a week or so ago so even the NCL agents are still learning the "in's and out's"... so here's the skinny - once ticketing has been done you cannot change your flights but under the NEW RULE when booking, you may pay the $50 per person for a deviation and they will book you one day prior or after and you may book your hotel on your own.

 

Too late for us as we are ticketed and our cruise is less than 20 days away but good information to pass on to anyone else considering this perk.   For us the savings by taking this perk is over $1200 - 6 months ago the flights to SJU from Boston were averaging about $700 per person and with one-stop and we paid $99/pp. Had I been able to take the deviation it would have cost me $150/pp for the airfare and the cost of a hotel for one night (avg $300 or less in SJU) so my savings still would have been almost $1000.  With this new "deviance" rule in place it's a great deal!

 

When considering the perks you want to choose you always have to price it out to see what works best for you...what you would spend VS what the cost is of the "perk" and also what the "fine print" is.

I just booked my cruise last week so that would make sense. San Juan is amazing and the weather is going to be awesome right now. Enjoy your cruise.

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3 minutes ago, Lizabu said:

I just booked my cruise last week so that would make sense. San Juan is amazing and the weather is going to be awesome right now. Enjoy your cruise.

We LOVE cruising out of San Juan... can't wait especially with the winds howling like crazy today here in the Boston area!

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23 hours ago, moosegrin said:

Hello responding to ILOVEISLANDS,    Yes to planning for extra time,  but even more so it is VERY difficult to take the airports shuttle bus with more than one small bag.  The shuttles are overloaded as everyone is trying to deal with the disruption.

 

 I assume that NCL will figure out how to get you to the ship without a lot of trouble for you.   On the return flight,  you  really should arrange your own taxi if the NCL transfer cannot get you to the right terminal.  

 

Thanks for sharing! That all makes sense. We will have to see how things go this week, and how the construction is going. Thanks for the heads up!

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Report on "FREE AIRFARE" experience

 

We sailed on the NCL DAWN Sunday March 17th out of San Juan.   Flights were booked thru NCL "Free or Reduced Air Fare promo".  We paid $99 round trip per person - great deal since several of my friends paid $500 per person or more!  This travel was just days after the "grounding" of the 737 MAX.  I called American to insure we were not on the affected flights and got the go ahead.

 

We left Boston on a 6:10 am flight for Charlotte - on time with no issues.  We carried on two small suitcases and checked on large one with snorkel gear and extra things we could do without if somehow that bag got "lost".  We got to Charlotte a little early, giving our connection in Charlotte gave us about an hour and we had time to stop and get a breakfast sandwich on the go!  Next flight to San Juan left on time and arrived on time.  Got our luggage and headed to the meet up spot for the NCL Transfer.  We kept that transfer just in case we were running late, but it was not well organized and we left the airport about an hour later.  Taxi would have been cheaper and quicker and YES you can decline the transfers, and YES you do pay for them - they are not included with the airfare.

 

The week was great until we started hearing the horror stories about missed connections, etc.  Keep in mind this is NOT THE FAULT OF NCL booking agents!  It all had to do with flights being changed because of the grounding of the 737 MAX - we heard that 60 ( yes sixty) people missed the ship in San Juan ( we left at 9:00 pm) and were sent to our first port of St Lucia to meet the ship on Day 3 ( we had a day at sea first).  So we started thinking about our flights home - being retired we wern't too concerned and wouldn't have minded an extra day in SJU!

 

We left the ship on Sunday morning - almost the last ones off.  As it was, we sat at the San Juan Airport for a long time... our original flight was supposed to be at 2:24 so when we left the ship we just headed to the airport ( and glad we did - security lines were crazy!) but we still had time to hang out and have lunch....and then our flight was delayed to 3:15.... and then 4:00 and 4:30 and we finally left after 5:00.  So knowing we would miss our connection in Charlotte I got on the phone and got the best available flights which were the next morning out of Charlotte with a change planes in DC.  We got to Charlotte okay and American got us a hotel and food vouchers and we were finally at our hotel about 11:45 pm with a wake up call for 6:00 am!  The connection in DC was altered slightly by changing arrival and departure gates to two different terminals but we made it with about 5 minutes to doors closing!

 

So - was the "free or cheap" airfare worth it?  YES IT WAS.  One of our group members found out when we were at the beach (by another passenger) that her Southwest flight had been cancelled and they couldn't get them out till Tuesday so they switched airlines and got a flight out at 2:00 am Monday and paid twice the price as she had originally booked.  Another couple missed their connection in Miami, spent the night there and finally got home to Tuscon at 6:00 pm the following night - these people had all booked their own airfare and still ran into mega issues so we were fine with all that went down with us.

 

Things to know as they "extend" this program - you can now arrange for a pre-hotel stay on your own and pay a "deviance" fee of $50 to have NCL book your flights the day before the cruise.  Originally you had to book hotel thru them and for us that cost would have been $280 per person for the hotel!  That's nuts!

 

Hope this helps someone else make the decision - as I stated most of the things that happened were beyond the control of NCL - the issues with the 737 caused any issues we had.

 

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