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linda1453

Airline Flights Through Cruise Line

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Is it worth getting airline flights through the cruise line, or is it better to book yourself? 

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Depends.  Through the cruise line you'll probably get transportation to and from the airport(s).  It might be less expensive.  It might be a longer transit time.  You might not have a choice of seats.  On your own it might be more expensive.  You'll have to figure out and pay to get from and to the airport.  You get to pick the route and can opt to minimize the transit time.  You get to pick your seat, although if the airline changes equipment you might not get what you pick.  Like I said it depends.  

 

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I booked my flights thru Uniworld on all 3 of my river cruises, and couldn't come close to their prices on my own, especially since none of them were round trips.  I did get to pick my seats on all 3 flights.  When I arrived late in Bucharest, it was nice to see the Uniworld rep holding up her paddle. 😉

 

I don't live in a major city like Chicago or NYC, so my options are limited.  

 

Roz

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We've sailed with Viking River twice and booked flights through them both times.  We paid the extra $50 per person to choose our own flights, though, which we feel was well worth it.  Having ground transfers included was another reason we chose to book through them - getting off a long flight, jet lagged, no sleep, and only needing to find the Viking representative was much less stressful than having to negotiate ground transport ourselves.  I don't think we saved any money, but it was worth it to us for other reasons.

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When we booked our Avalon cruise with a TA, she let them know that we may be interested in their flight.  I kept an eye on pricing, and so did she.  When I saw the price get to a (fairly) decent level, she checked her "connections" (I was looking directly at the airline), then she called Avalon.  They beat every price, and I was able to book my seats & add on my pre & post cruise dates with no charge from Avalon and directly through KLM.  We had to pay KLM's charge for booking the seats, but that would have been done anyway.

 

  Because I had purchased the cancel at anytime insurance through Avalon, our flights were covered as well.  We didn't require transfers to the hotel as the hotel provided transfers itself, and we hadn't booked the hotel through Avalon so probably wouldn't have received them anyway.

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1 hour ago, CarolynFH said:

Having ground transfers included was another reason we chose to book through them - getting off a long flight, jet lagged, no sleep, and only needing to find the Viking representative was much less stressful than having to negotiate ground transport ourselves.  

 

I agree 100%.

 

Roz

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The only time we have booked our air with the cruise line for a river cruise was our last cruise with AMA.  I provided a couple of itineraries I was O.K. with and they provided business class at half the price I could get on my own.  They also do not charge extra for customizing the itinerary.

 

We frequently take Crystal Ocean cruises  and I always have my TA check with them for pricing on select air itineraries.  Have gotten great pricing a few times, but not always.

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11 hours ago, Roz said:

I booked my flights thru Uniworld on all 3 of my river cruises, and couldn't come close to their prices on my own, especially since none of them were round trips.  I did get to pick my seats on all 3 flights.  When I arrived late in Bucharest, it was nice to see the Uniworld rep holding up her paddle. 😉

 

I don't live in a major city like Chicago or NYC, so my options are limited.  

 

Roz

For the life of me, I cannot find air prices on Uniworld web page...any idea where? Viking has a separate column for air fares 'from' and of course it is selected cities. We have cruised with both so I know what I'm getting once on board but I'd like to check out what air fares each can offer...but I cant find it! help?!

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10 minutes ago, remydiva said:

For the life of me, I cannot find air prices on Uniworld web page...any idea where? Viking has a separate column for air fares 'from' and of course it is selected cities. We have cruised with both so I know what I'm getting once on board but I'd like to check out what air fares each can offer...but I cant find it! help?!

 

They're not on the website.  About 6 months before my cruises, my TA would contact Uniworld and then get back with me on a choice of flights.

 

Roz

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thank you for the quick reply...I don't use a TA altho I may have on my last Uniworld. I tend to do things on my own now when booking travel..control freak that I am...If I decide on Uniworld again I will just phone them and see how it works now.

Thanks again.

 

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Sometimes the cruise lines offer so called free air in their prices or deals on business class.

We always check details and then make a decision.

The included transfers can sound attractive but sometimes can mean waiting for other passengers and a long delay, if they have lost luggage to sort out.Not attractive if flying long haul.

Taxis are generally ok or prearranged transport.

If you fly business with Emirates they include home/airport/hotel/home in most destinations. 

 

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We bought air through Viking and paid the $50 to pick our flights.  With Viking's air promotion is was still several hundred dollars less than anything we saw on our own.

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17 hours ago, tipsygirl said:

The only time we have booked our air with the cruise line for a river cruise was our last cruise with AMA.  I provided a couple of itineraries I was O.K. with and they provided business class at half the price I could get on my own.  They also do not charge extra for customizing the itinerary.

 

We frequently take Crystal Ocean cruises  and I always have my TA check with them for pricing on select air itineraries.  Have gotten great pricing a few times, but not always.

We also booked our business class air through AMA for our cruise next month.  It was significantly cheaper than anything I could find online.  I told them what flights I had found that I liked and those were fine with them.  Also picked seats and have been able to go in and change them after the airline changed the flights a couple of times.  Ama was very good about notifying us of changes and one of the times we even switched to a different flight that didn't have a 4 hour layover.  

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Posted (edited)

The common wisdom here on Cruise Critic is to never book air thru the cruise lines.  That may or may not be true for ocean cruises, but that's not the advice I would give a European river cruiser.  Based on my own experience and what others have posted in the River Cruising forum, you almost always get a better deal booking with the river cruise line.  

There can be other benefits.  Last year my Uniworld cruise was overbooked.  The cruise line contacted my TA and offered me a cabin upgrade if I changed dates, and since I booked air with them, they also took care of getting me new flights and paid the change fees.  Fortunately the new dates worked with my work schedule, and I was able to sail in a suite with a butler.

 

Roz

Edited by Roz

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Thanks to all your answers! I have always used air from river boat cruises and even with Vikings $50 custom air found the prices great. My issue was not being able to get a ballpark idea from Uniworld’s webpage until closer to cruise dates.. so I may have to go back to Viking to get more assurances.

thanks Again.

 

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Uniworld has gotten me better prices than I could get myself, and I check a lot. I have a rep at Uniworld that I use instead of a AT.

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Oooh I gotta get me a Uniworld agent! Did you just use one who answered the Uniworld phone?

 

i never use a TA a d my so called ‘personal cruise agent’ at a big crude company didn’t help me in any way that was special that I couldn’t do on my own.

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Remember that you can’t mention cruise line agents by name (part of the ‘no TA’ rule)

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On 7/21/2019 at 6:46 AM, linda1453 said:

Is it worth getting airline flights through the cruise line, or is it better to book yourself? 

3 trips with Vantage.  Every one we let them do the flights.  They're very good with flights.  On our first trip, about a month after being told what flights we were going to be on for our trip (not really great as we were scheduled for a flight from Germany to LA via Vancouver BC), they called and asked if we wanted to do a non-stop from Germany to LA.   Duh.

 

Our upcoming trip, I don't really like the fact that, in order to make the connection to our non-stop flight, we have to take a short flight that departs at 6:20 in the morning.  That means we'll be up at 4 am (European time) until noon (same day, Pacific time) that day.  I'm not sure what they can do about that.  

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Thanks all for the info. I will look into using cruise air when I book a river cruise (still deciding where to go). I did it myself for ocean cruises, had heard horror stories about cruise air, but seems if you are diligent and do research, cruise air can save money, or at least be convenient. 

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Linda, to give you an example of Uniworld airfare, my Nashville to Amsterdam and Basel to Nashville flights were only $651 total.  I thought I got a good deal.

 

Roz

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If you book air through the river cruise line, before talking to cruise line or TA, do your homework and have some flights in mind to suggest.  Have more than one carrier on your list in case your cruise line doesn't work with particular airlines.

 

To do this on Viking is called AirPlus and costs $50 per passenger.  Well worth it.

 

We got BOS--ZUR--AMS, then ZUR--BOS nonstop back home thru Viking for $599 (+$50) pp.

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This is why everyone needs a good TA.....We always look at the air from the cruise line, but in the end we book our own....my TA still finds less $$ business class air, and the transfers are always less, and we are not waiting for other people.....To have control, choices and spend less is great....plus we are always doing pre and post, so sometimes their air won't work.

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I used to do all of our flight booking because being a control freak, I like being able to view my choices and make decisions without someone just telling me what I'm doing.  I prefer to be in control of my booking process.  However, I learned from personal experience that with a cruise on a different continent, it is better to have the cruise company book it.  That way they are responsible for rebooking flights and getting you home and even supply a hotel room in the case of any delays or other problems.

 

We had a situation on an ocean cruise in May this year where our cruise ship got delayed due to environmental protests coming into its final port in Copenhagen so our flight home had to get rescheduled.  Luckily, this was the 1st time I'd let them book my flight so they rebooked the flights for the following day and put us up in a hotel.  Can't say it was fun (stuck in hotel near airport) to be delayed, but at least I wasn't scrambling to rebook the flights while still sailing.  I learned a valuable lesson.

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I have a family group going May 2020 and this is a big topic.  Thanks for all the input.  Somehow I have become the point person.  First river cruise for all of us.  I was thinking i'd book my own air but i may give the TA my preferred flights and see what they can do.  Then hotel is next decision.  

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