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Beware of Viking's "not so free" air promo ...


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We recently received a special 2020 Viking river catalog promoting FREE air on 95% of Viking's river cruise itineraries including short cruises. All the pages with the exception of just a handful have "NOW FREE AIR" big red circle on them. And it says the major gateway cities like Boston, Chicago, Dallas, LA, NY, .... all have FREE air special (former brochure price was $1,299 per person which was crossed out). But then when you go into Viking's website there's really no free air promo at all. Sure on a very few selected 2-week long river cruise, they do offer free air but not on the majority of the river cruises as advertised in this special catalog. Just be aware of Viking's very sneaky and to us, dishonest "free AIR" advertising. Also called Viking reservation just to verify. Reservationist says only very few selected dates in March and April in some sailing may provide free air for this "free air" promo that ends Nov 30, 2019. She says most "free air" will be priced from $399 to 699.

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7 hours ago, YWW said:

We recently received a special 2020 Viking river catalog promoting FREE air on 95% of Viking's river cruise itineraries including short cruises. All the pages with the exception of just a handful have "NOW FREE AIR" big red circle on them. And it says the major gateway cities like Boston, Chicago, Dallas, LA, NY, .... all have FREE air special (former brochure price was $1,299 per person which was crossed out). But then when you go into Viking's website there's really no free air promo at all. Sure on a very few selected 2-week long river cruise, they do offer free air but not on the majority of the river cruises as advertised in this special catalog. Just be aware of Viking's very sneaky and to us, dishonest "free AIR" advertising. Also called Viking reservation just to verify. Reservationist says only very few selected dates in March and April in some sailing may provide free air for this "free air" promo that ends Nov 30, 2019. She says most "free air" will be priced from $399 to 699.

If you read carefully it says 95% of the itineraries (emphasis mine) not 95% of the sailings. So they can get away with making only a few of the sailings of each itinerary available with free air.

Edited by gnome12
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16 hours ago, mhb1757 said:

Just an FY I if you read the brochure it very plainly gives the months where free air is offered for each itinerary. It’s right under the price box for the airfare. 

No such verbiage or notations anywhere in our special "Free Air" catalog. We picked out two "free air" voyages we were interested and since we couldn't find any free air offers in these two voyages in Viking's website, we called Viking reservation. Reservationist couldn't find any free air offers at all and verified with her sales team and confirmed that no such "free air" was offered in any dates contrary to what the catalog says. She says typically free air is only offered on low season sailings in March and April but no such "free air" offer in any of the sailings at all which surprised her too. In previous Viking catalogs, they were clear on the promos and special dates or notations were included in the advertising but not on this one. Two of our friends also received this "free air" catalog and they too called Viking reservation when they couldn't find any free air dates on their specific voyages. This is very deceptive advertising. We have no problem if the fine prints or notations describe details about the specific "free air" dates and conditions but none were found in this catalog.

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We received a Free Air offer via email. There was a link to the Viking website that showed the sailings that offered free air. We called Viking, gave them the emailed offer code, and booked our cruise with free air.  This was just two weeks ago. We also paid for Viking Air Plus, and we already picked our flights. No issues what so ever. 

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16 minutes ago, Jeff in Torrance said:

No such thing as "free air."  It's just INCLUDED air.  In other words, you paid for the "free air" with possibly a higher overall price.

 

Or you got lucky and got a discount price and free air, because the sailing wasn't selling well.  There IS such a thing as free air, just not always.

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49 minutes ago, Jeff in Torrance said:

No such thing as "free air."  It's just INCLUDED air.  In other words, you paid for the "free air" with possibly a higher overall price.


Not always true for Viking - air is quoted separately and special offers I’ve looked at really do give free air when at other times quote a price for the air. 

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  • 1 month later...

We booked  with Viking from Budapest to Amsterdam months ago for travel September 2020. It includes free air. but we will be staying 8 days in Budapest before the cruise, and 8 days in Amsterdam afterwards. By the  time we add in the charges for flying early/late,  looking for upgraded seats so we are not stuck in the middle seats, and wanting to select trips with less connections and/or time waiting for connections, the cost for using Viking airfare and upgrading would actually be MORE than independent booking through a consolidator for business class for both flights. 

I'm not sure i would ever book a cruise with included airfare. This time the price was the same with or without the air, so it really would be free if we are willing to accept whatever they give us. But if you want any changes or personal selection regarding the flights I would strongly recommend not looking for free airfare.

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We booked Lyon to Avignon last summer with free air and just paid the extra $100 to change the arrival date.  We booked Amsterdam to Antwerp for July 2020 and I called Viking to add air plus yesterday.  $50 per person and I told them exactly what flights I wanted.  Both cruises were also cheaper than they typically are.   

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To upgrade to business class, change dates coming and going, and get air plus to have a say in flight selections I was told that it would cost about additional $2500 each over our free airfare. My agent at alphaflightguru got us exactly what we wanted for just over  $2000. I suppose its the upgrade to business that put Viking Air over the top.

The cruise however was at the lowest price I've seen yet even with the unwanted free air. I just wish they would allow another perk instead of airfare since i would rarely use included airfare.

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12 hours ago, herbanrenewal said:

To upgrade to business class, change dates coming and going, and get air plus to have a say in flight selections I was told that it would cost about additional $2500 each over our free airfare. My agent at alphaflightguru got us exactly what we wanted for just over  $2000. I suppose its the upgrade to business that put Viking Air over the top.

The cruise however was at the lowest price I've seen yet even with the unwanted free air. I just wish they would allow another perk instead of airfare since i would rarely use included airfare.


We use Viking air as offered as we would rather use our money for pre and post excursions. We prefer to forfeit a more comfortable flight for extending our trip with Viking as they make it too easy - never handling luggage, assurance if anything goes wrong, etc. We wish Viking would offer an alternate perk to free wine and beer as we don’t drink - but it is what it is.

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I used Viking Air and shelled out for Air Plus and the diversion fee. I think you're right that the business upgrade was where the value potentially evaporated. I had enough miles with United to upgrade ourselves to business on the way over and Lufthansa quoted me a decent cash price to upgrade on the way  back, as well. 

 

I'm wary of any third-party consolidator, too, that buys and sells other people's miles - I don't know if the one you use does this, either, but it's a topic that comes up from time to time on the cruise air boards. If the airline catches wind that you're on a ticket booked with miles that were sold, you may wind up completely SOL. 

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53 minutes ago, Squawkman said:


We use Viking air as offered as we would rather use our money for pre and post excursions. We prefer to forfeit a more comfortable flight for extending our trip with Viking as they make it too easy - never handling luggage, assurance if anything goes wrong, etc. We wish Viking would offer an alternate perk to free wine and beer as we don’t drink - but it is what it is.

I wish i could accept economy or economy plus seating - i'd be able to travel even more. But between my history of blood clots in my leg, and my friend's knee replacements, and both of us being tall with long legs the only safe way to fly longer distances is in business class. My last economy class trip led to several days hospitalized and months on blood thinners.

Its ironic that we can happily enjoy cheaper cabin classes, including interiors on ocean cruises, and we find some great deals on airbnb  - our 8 days pre and post cruise will cost less than the few days extensions from Viking. But business class airfare isn't a splurge but a necessity.

Years of experience makes us very comfortable using public transportation and handling the single 22" suitcase so i don't need that service.

What i love most about travel is that despite our differences we can all thoroughly enjoy sharing experiences and getting to know and enjoy our world.

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13 minutes ago, 3rdCoastFan said:

I'm wary of any third-party consolidator, too, that buys and sells other people's miles - I don't know if the one you use does this, either, but it's a topic that comes up from time to time on the cruise air boards. If the airline catches wind that you're on a ticket booked with miles that were sold, you may wind up completely SOL. 

My agent at alphaflightguru (not a consolidator who sells FFmiles) has saved me from 300 to over 1000 for each trip he booked over any deal i could find with extensive searching. When we flew to New Zealand and returned from Sydney Australia our business/first class tickets were less than economy class could have cost us. I think the important thing is being comfortable enough to thoroughly look at possibilities. When i fly to Brazil next month my credit card concierge came up with the best deal - free with accumulated points.

Edited by herbanrenewal
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14 minutes ago, herbanrenewal said:

I wish i could accept economy or economy plus seating - i'd be able to travel even more. But between my history of blood clots in my leg, and my friend's knee replacements, and both of us being tall with long legs the only safe way to fly longer distances is in business class. My last economy class trip led to several days hospitalized and months on blood thinners.

Its ironic that we can happily enjoy cheaper cabin classes, including interiors on ocean cruises, and we find some great deals on airbnb  - our 8 days pre and post cruise will cost less than the few days extensions from Viking. But business class airfare isn't a splurge but a necessity.

Years of experience makes us very comfortable using public transportation and handling the single 22" suitcase so i don't need that service.

What i love most about travel is that despite our differences we can all thoroughly enjoy sharing experiences and getting to know and enjoy our world.


Totally agree - great that we all can travel as much as we do and get to explore our world. My wife and I love both Viking river and ocean cruises. You might want to checkout Viking ocean - airfare is rarely free and generally more expensive than Viking river - and you won’t have to settle for an interior cabin as the cheapest cabins are 270 sq ft with verandas.

 

Regarding Viking extensions, what we have found, in most cases, is if we did it on our own and stayed with the same hotels and amenities, there would be little savings. Thing is we would never book a first class hotel with a lavish breakfast for 450€ on our own - so it is a bit of a splurge for us. But both of us need to travel with CPAPs and other necessities which require under the plane luggage. It’s nice to pass off your luggage when you get it off the carousel and not wheel it again until you’re at the airport going home.

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59 minutes ago, herbanrenewal said:

My agent at alphaflightguru (not a consolidator who sells FFmiles) has saved me from 300 to over 1000 for each trip he booked over any deal i could find with extensive searching. When we flew to New Zealand and returned from Sydney Australia our business/first class tickets were less than economy class could have cost us. I think the important thing is being comfortable enough to thoroughly look at possibilities. When i fly to Brazil next month my credit card concierge came up with the best deal - free with accumulated points.

 

Do you earn miles with the booking from alphaflightguru?

Anyway, it happens frequent enough that it doesn't make sense to do it anymore.  You could be at the airport with denied boarding.

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1 hour ago, herbanrenewal said:

My agent at alphaflightguru (not a consolidator who sells FFmiles) has saved me from 300 to over 1000 for each trip he booked over any deal i could find with extensive searching. When we flew to New Zealand and returned from Sydney Australia our business/first class tickets were less than economy class could have cost us. I think the important thing is being comfortable enough to thoroughly look at possibilities. When i fly to Brazil next month my credit card concierge came up with the best deal - free with accumulated points.

Fair enough! Always a trade-off between booking flights through the cruise, a third-party or directly with the airline. As long as you're comfortable with the flight itself and how you get the tickets, flying up front is definitely the best way to start off a vacation!

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34 minutes ago, kent9xxx1 said:

 

Do you earn miles with the booking from alphaflightguru?

Anyway, it happens frequent enough that it doesn't make sense to do it anymore.  You could be at the airport with denied boarding.

Even double  - miles from airlines and charging on my chase card get points. I'm not booking with points or miles  - its a credit card transaction.  A lot of the negative reviews I've read complain about difficulty with changes needed in last 72 hours -I think everyone knows that non-refundable tickets are cheaper even when booked directly. Always read the contract before committing to know the terms you are agreeing to.

 

I guess my primary point is that shopping and exploring alternatives can be worth the time and effort - especially since i retired and have more time available. Before I accept a package deal I want to know what my alternatives are, and can compare prices.

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2 minutes ago, herbanrenewal said:

I guess my primary point is that shopping and exploring alternatives can be worth the time and effort - especially since i retired and have more time available. Before I accept a package deal I want to know what my alternatives are, and can compare prices.

👍 Precisely our strategy. We shop around, compare and then make our decision. In all cases thus far, booking our airfare independently rather than through the cruise was our best option.

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  • 1 month later...
On 1/4/2020 at 5:32 PM, herbanrenewal said:

We booked  with Viking from Budapest to Amsterdam months ago for travel September 2020. It includes free air. but we will be staying 8 days in Budapest before the cruise, and 8 days in Amsterdam afterwards. By the  time we add in the charges for flying early/late,  looking for upgraded seats so we are not stuck in the middle seats, and wanting to select trips with less connections and/or time waiting for connections, the cost for using Viking airfare and upgrading would actually be MORE than independent booking through a consolidator for business class for both flights. 

I'm not sure i would ever book a cruise with included airfare. This time the price was the same with or without the air, so it really would be free if we are willing to accept whatever they give us. But if you want any changes or personal selection regarding the flights I would strongly recommend not looking for free airfare.

I booked the Grand European cruise for Oct Nov Budapest to Amsterdam with free air. I was able to book direct flights both ways and from my home airport with no extra fees on KLM. The only fees I paid was for Viking Air Plus and $100 per person to extend the return air by 2 days in Amsterdam. So for me, the free air cost me only $100.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Then I suggest that Viking should say:

"Free Air***" 

*** Free Air only if you input the correct code, travel in the correct Months of the offer, with the correct itinerary, in Economy class.  Any slight deviation will cost extra.  Air Plus is $50 per person if you want to pick your own Air schedules.  We offer this Free Air discount, possibly in lieu of any other possible discounts available...

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No such thing as "free air."  Air is bundled into the cruise fare in  what you cannot break it out to find the actual cost.  Several months ago did a river cruise booking and took the cruise line up on their offer to arrange air.  The end result was that their air fare was $5 more expensive than booking direct with the airline.  Major ocean cruise lines use consolidators to offer good international fares (no so good domestic US fares).  Why European river cruise companies can't (won't) do this is beyond me.

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