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MamaToMany

Free air for a family of 7. Are we crazy to try it?

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***I’ll preface this with the disclaimer that I have searched the boards and read the other threads about this topic.***

 

Our family (2 parents, 5 kids) just booked a sailing on Joy for spring break next year.  Free air was an offer, and we took it.  It is truly free if we fly out of Albuquerque, which is 3 hours from us.  

 

What I can’t decide is whether we want to gamble on everything working out if we fly out the same day as the ship leaves. I understand that we can pay a $25 deviation fee and opt to fly out the day before sailing? Is this true? If so, how do we set that up? 

 

I’d lean towards flying out the day before sailing, simply because weather can be quite touch and go at that time of year, even though it is generally very nice and should be easy for traveling. 

 

We should have enough CC points to completely cover plane tickets if we want to purchase them separately, so that could be an option too.  

 

Or or we could drive 15 hours to the port. 

 

What would you do? Why? (This is our first cruise as an entire family, and I so badly want it to go well!!)

 

Thanks in advance for all of your input!

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Just remember the free/discounted airfare is only for passengers 1 & 2.  You can see if your flight is free or discounted here: https://www.ncl.com/cruise-deals/choice/air-offer

 

As to flying in the night before, yes, I highly recommend it. Just call the department for the link above and they can make that happen.

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That’s true- we are paying $199 for our 3 youngest kids. Thanks for the link- I’ll give them a call.

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I would definitely pay the deviation fee and fly the day before. My extended family has had way too many close calls with delayed and cancelled flights causing them to almost miss cruises.

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Are you comfortable with possibly not all sitting together, how well do you deal with stress if you have flight issues the day of?

 

I would definitely fly in the day before and pay the deviation fee. Not one to trust others controlling my flights and ALWAYS fly in the day before. You are more relaxed/rested and can actually enjoy Day 1 on the ship.

 

 

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17 hours ago, MamaToMany said:

Or or we could drive 15 hours to the port. 

 

What a choice.......driving 15 hours with 5 children or dealing with NCL Air!  Sorry, but I would definitely look for a third option. 🤨

 

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The deviation fee is probably the best thing your money can buy on that cruise. 

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No stress, fly in the day before.  Would not be good to run into travel issues on your first cruise.  LOL on driving 15 hours with 5 kids!

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Hi MamaToMany!

 

It's really easy to add the air deviation to your booking.

 

If you booked through a TA, just advise them that you want to purchase the air deviation to come in the day before and you will be charged the $25 fee per person. You may also want to cancel their transportation at that point (assuming it was charged automatically at time of booking). 

 

Hubby and I are going on a solo cruise on the GEM in December and we did this, no problem. In fact, we were given our flight information for that cruise already (Toronto - Newark) and realized a savings of over $1000 CDN for the two of us so it was worth giving up control of picking flight times (they are good, but not the ones I would have chosen).

 

We also have a cruise on the books with our four kids for March break 2021, taking advantage of the free air.

 

We are split 3 per cabin in two oceanview cabins so we will be paying $199 for pax 3 in each cabin for the air. As of now, we have not purchased a deviation but will likely do so in the future.

 

By the time that cruise rolls around, our kids will be 16, 14, 11 and 9 so I'm not overly concerned with us all being seated together as I would have been when my kids were little (one flight they had moved our then 3 year old on her own for a six hour flight if you can believe that!)

 

Enjoy your cruise!! 

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With that many people I would be the person to drive the 15 hours to the port.

By the time you pay the deviation fee, the luggage fee and possibly the seat selection fee it would be cheaper to drive. 

Parking at the airport would be a similar cost as parking at the port.

Use your credit card points for hotel stops on the drive down and back.

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19 hours ago, pixiedust777 said:

With that many people I would be the person to drive the 15 hours to the port.

By the time you pay the deviation fee, the luggage fee and possibly the seat selection fee it would be cheaper to drive. 

Parking at the airport would be a similar cost as parking at the port.

Use your credit card points for hotel stops on the drive down and back.

If the air is free you have already paid for it, use it. Split the group 3/4 and pay for the 3 that aren't free. Use the deviation feature for $25pp and book your own hotel in the port city. Fly back same day as your return. 

 

There's no reason to drive 30 hrs to and from a port. Squeeze the budget somewhere else to make flying work.

 

Keep in mind that as two cabins you are not guaranteed the same flights. Keep that in mind as you group your travelers in each cabin. 

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We looked at free air for our party of 5 and it was not worth it.  If my math for 5 didn't work, I can't think yours for 7 would be better.

One:  we have to take NCLs transport to the port...which is more expensive for one person than Uber for all of us.   So that was $240 that I wouldn't have paid except for taking the free flights.

Two: The free air is for pax one and two and what they wanted for pax 3-5 was more than what I could book air on my own.

Three: without knowing airline, I don't know what the baggage charges are so that increased cost was one I didn't know how to budget for.  And you are probably flying non stop, but if you aren't, you might end up with a layover that is not optimal (too short, too long, too far away in the wrong direction).

 

You can leave the air on for now, but make sure you use flights.google.com and check Southwest when they release their spring flights to see if you can do it cheaper on your own before final payment.

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Just wondering if they guarantee all 7 will be on the same flights being as you have 2 cabins booked? That's also something I'd take into consideration. 

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23 minutes ago, FitchburgWIFamily said:

We looked at free air for our party of 5 and it was not worth it.  If my math for 5 didn't work, I can't think yours for 7 would be better.

One:  we have to take NCLs transport to the port...which is more expensive for one person than Uber for all of us.   So that was $240 that I wouldn't have paid except for taking the free flights.

Two: The free air is for pax one and two and what they wanted for pax 3-5 was more than what I could book air on my own.

Three: without knowing airline, I don't know what the baggage charges are so that increased cost was one I didn't know how to budget for.  And you are probably flying non stop, but if you aren't, you might end up with a layover that is not optimal (too short, too long, too far away in the wrong direction).

 

You can leave the air on for now, but make sure you use flights.google.com and check Southwest when they release their spring flights to see if you can do it cheaper on your own before final payment.

Pretty sure you can opt out of the NCL transfer...

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3 hours ago, moosecrouse said:

Just wondering if they guarantee all 7 will be on the same flights being as you have 2 cabins booked? That's also something I'd take into consideration. 

We just inquired on the air Monday and was told we are not guaranteed to be on the same flight nor are we guaranteed a direct flight.   We were told it could be several layovers meaning it could possibly be a indirect flight.   

Traveling with kids I couldn’t chance that.  

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12 hours ago, Mom2kmo said:

We just inquired on the air Monday and was told we are not guaranteed to be on the same flight nor are we guaranteed a direct flight.   We were told it could be several layovers meaning it could possibly be a indirect flight.   

Traveling with kids I couldn’t chance that.  

That would just add to my reasons of not using that perk. I used Disney once to book our airfare for our first DCL cruise and it was a nightmare that we had to pay for. Don't think I'd ever give up control of my flights again

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20 hours ago, FitchburgWIFamily said:

We looked at free air for our party of 5 and it was not worth it.  If my math for 5 didn't work, I can't think yours for 7 would be better.

One:  we have to take NCLs transport to the port...which is more expensive for one person than Uber for all of us.   So that was $240 that I wouldn't have paid except for taking the free flights.

Two: The free air is for pax one and two and what they wanted for pax 3-5 was more than what I could book air on my own.

 

Exactly what I did for a trip of 9.  Since NCL is arranging it, I took a look at the city (Chicago) and found all flights on that day to Miami...of the 9 or so, 3 leave at 600am, 615, and 645.  Arrive at 930-1100...  the rest all arrive after 5.

After dividing up the cost of airline ourselves (2700 on a good day) the average price for all 9 people came out to about 125ish.

They promise same flight, just not near seats, but for that savings its cool.

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16 hours ago, Mom2kmo said:

We just inquired on the air Monday and was told we are not guaranteed to be on the same flight nor are we guaranteed a direct flight.   We were told it could be several layovers meaning it could possibly be a indirect flight.   

Traveling with kids I couldn’t chance that.  

Someone posted the terms and conditions of NCL air the other day and I read the entire thing and they state that domestic flights are no more than one connection and international flights are no more than 2 connections 

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I’d do it and fly in the day before for sure. Make sure you check daily for when you’re ticketed, so you can make sure you’re all sitting together. 

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5 hours ago, cruisequeen4ever said:

I’d do it and fly in the day before for sure. Make sure you check daily for when you’re ticketed, so you can make sure you’re all sitting together. 

If the flight is full, and you're originally not seated together, you are likely out of luck and stuck with the seats assigned.

 

i think most airlines fly pretty much full nowadays

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For those of you who have used NCL's free air and paid extra to fly in the day before, how does NCL handle the mandatory transfers?  When I look at free air, they add $40.00 per person for the airport to port transfer which they say is required if you take the free air option.

 

Does NCL take those transfers off your booking when you ask to fly in the day before?  Or are you paying extra for the day before + paying for a transfer you can't use?   Or do you have to get yourselves back to the airport the day of the cruise to use their transfer?

 

Here is a sample booking for a January 2020 cruise out of LA flying in from ORD:

 

Pricing Details

Item Guest 1 Guest 2 Guest 3 Guest 4
Cruise Fare $1,149.00 $1,149.00 $0.00 $0.00
Govt Taxes, 
Fees & Port
Expenses
$125.51 $125.51 $125.51 $125.51
Free at Sea Offer Gratuities: $114.80 $114.80 $0.00 $0.00
Transfers $40.00 $40.00 $40.00 $40.00
Air $0.00 $0.00 $299.00 $299.00
Total per Guest $1,429.31 $1,429.31 $464.51 $464.51

 

 

If I booked air independently and flew non-stop from Ohare the evening before it would be about $183 pp or $732  for the 4 of us plus the cost of an Uber or a hotel shuttle.

 

If I  take the free airfare, the cost of the other two PAX plus the transfers is $758, plus $25.00 per person to fly in a day early or $858.  I don't save any money (I actually pay $126 more...which is way more than an Uber). But if they waived the transfers I would save about $60.00.

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, FitchburgWIFamily said:

For those of you who have used NCL's free air and paid extra to fly in the day before, how does NCL handle the mandatory transfers?  When I look at free air, they add $40.00 per person for the airport to port transfer which they say is required if you take the free air option.

 

Does NCL take those transfers off your booking when you ask to fly in the day before?  Or are you paying extra for the day before + paying for a transfer you can't use?   Or do you have to get yourselves back to the airport the day of the cruise to use their transfer?

 

Here is a sample booking for a January 2020 cruise out of LA flying in from ORD:

 

Pricing Details

Item Guest 1 Guest 2 Guest 3 Guest 4
Cruise Fare $1,149.00 $1,149.00 $0.00 $0.00
Govt Taxes, 
Fees & Port
Expenses
$125.51 $125.51 $125.51 $125.51
Free at Sea Offer Gratuities: $114.80 $114.80 $0.00 $0.00
Transfers $40.00 $40.00 $40.00 $40.00
Air $0.00 $0.00 $299.00 $299.00
Total per Guest $1,429.31 $1,429.31 $464.51 $464.51

 

 

If I booked air independently and flew non-stop from Ohare the evening before it would be about $183 pp or $732  for the 4 of us plus the cost of an Uber or a hotel shuttle.

 

If I  take the free airfare, the cost of the other two PAX plus the transfers is $758, plus $25.00 per person to fly in a day early or $858.  I don't save any money (I actually pay $126 more...which is way more than an Uber). But if they waived the transfers I would save about $60.00.

 

 

 

 

So for a $60 savings your thinking of letting someone besides yourself control your flights? You have found a non-stop at a very good price for 4 people, book your own flights.

 

Shouldn't even be a question what to do. 

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We are flying out day of 9/29  Chicago to LaGuardia.  I was a nervous wreck until alas the air arrangements came.  Non stop 8/30 a.m!!  HOWEVER, we booked this with our friends and told NCL my girlfriend is handicapped and needs assistance in bathroom and on the plane.  We linked our accounts, again since FEBRUARY.  Our friends fly out 1 hour before us!!!!  We are on the same place going home.  I have called, been put on hold for 45 minutes only to be told by a supervisor that there was nothing they could do now that the flights have been booked and in the fine print it shows that people travelling together (I'm sure not your kids) can not be guaranteed to fly together.  I called the same day the tickets were booked, within hours (I was checking every couple hours).  My travel agent also tried to get them to change the tickets but they just won't!!  I have written a complaint pre cruise to NCL in hopes someone reads it and does something about it.  It's 5 weeks away now.  I also called the airlines (AA) explained and they indicated that at the 7/30 check in (my friends, that we should ask if we can go with them or they with us.  She also said they may waive the $75. ea. change fee and wrote a whole bunch of stuff on line so the check in people could see we really need this, but she guaranteed nothing but that's what I have now).  NCL customer service is truly the worst.  From the time it takes to get to a rep to be told they could not do anything and sends you to a supervisor who I waited45 minutes to speak to and then they tell you they will be back to you in 3 business days (which they may or may not).  This is probably my last cruise with them for the above reasons.  Bottom line, go in a day early even though we lucked out, I would not trust them!!!!

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