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Using Celebrity Air to arrive day of the cruise...


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Posted (edited)

We've got an Alaska cruise booked for next year.  I found an inexpensive return option from Anchorage and booked that.

Our plan was to arrive the day before and get a hotel in Vancouver.  But, Celebrity Air has a guarantee that if there's a problem with your flight, they'll get you there in time for your cruise.  There's a non-stop that only takes about 3.5 hours and should get me in Vancouver about 9 am.  A 1-stop is slightly cheaper and gets me there 11 am.  I think the ship departs at 4 pm.  Leaning towards the non-stop because it's faster and seems less likely to have a problem.  Plus, they're offering reduced fair tickets, which doesn't make sense on the 1-stop (booking direct is cheaper), but seems legit on the non-stop (Celebrity Air is cheaper than I can book directly through the airline).

To me, with their guarantees and the minor discount, plus free cancellation up until final payment, arriving day of seems like a safe bet and seems smarter to book though them then go it on my own without that guarantee.  Do you agree and let me know if I'm missing anything.

Edited by Stockjock
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Are you sure about that "guarantee"? I know that they can try to fly you on to the first port of call, but I don't think that they guarantee to get you to the start of the cruise on time.

 

There are lots of threads on same day arrivals. The majority of posters, myself included, recommend that you fly in the day before. After spending thousands on a cruise, spending a few hundred dollars on a hotel seems like pretty good insurance against missing embarkation. And Vancouver is a lovely city to visit.

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33 minutes ago, Stockjock said:

We've got an Alaska cruise booked for next year.  I found an inexpensive return option from Anchorage and booked that.

Our plan was to arrive the day before and get a hotel in Vancouver.  But, Celebrity Air has a guarantee that if there's a problem with your flight, they'll get you there in time for your cruise.  There's a non-stop that only takes about 3.5 hours and should get me in Vancouver about 9 am.  A 1-stop is slightly cheaper and gets me there 11 am.  I think the ship departs at 4 pm.  Leaning towards the non-stop because it's faster and seems less likely to have a problem.  Plus, they're offering reduced fair tickets, which doesn't make sense on the 1-stop (booking direct is cheaper), but seems legit on the non-stop (Celebrity Air is cheaper than I can book directly through the airline).

To me, with their guarantees and the minor discount, plus free cancellation up until final payment, arriving day of seems like a safe bet and seems smarter to book though them then go it on my own without that guarantee.  Do you agree and let me know if I'm missing anything.

 

I don't care what they say the guarantees are, you know all of the options and they aren't good.  Do what's smart, fly in the day before your cruise.

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Posted (edited)

I've been to Vancouver, but my GF has a very limited number of days she can get off from work (we have a longer Europe sailing in the summer), so if she can get by taking one less day off from work, and we can get away with one less hotel booking, that would be better.  They're in the same time zone that I am, so if we are scheduled to arrive at around 9 am, 7 hours or so before sailing, I'd think that would allow some time to adjust for problems, should they arise.

The agent called it cruise assure and basically said, "we'll get you there".  Seems like a pretty safe bet given the relatively short non-stop flight (3.5 hours) and Celebrity Air aka Flights by Celebrity standing behind it.

 

PROTECTION

Celebrity Specialists have your back 24/7, so if you have flight issues on your way to your cruise or back home, we’re here to ensure you get there.

Edited by Stockjock
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Posted (edited)

Remember Celebrity Air will allow you to fly in 1 or more days prior to the cruise and return day<s> after the cruise.    You would get all the other advantages as well as have some wiggle room.   Right now there are many delays with air travel.  That non-stop that's available now may not be there next year.

 

I've just had my flight changed by 6 hrs, lucky it was the return flight from my Sept cruise.

Edited by wrk2cruise
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Speaking from personal experience they guarantee to get you to the ship but not necessarily in time for your cruise.  The guarantee also doesn't say at Celebrity's expense.   They work with the airlines (as an agent) and if the airlines have an additional  cost it is passed on to you as well as any hotels you may require. 

 

I missed a flight to Rome (my own fault as I forgot my passport).    Iain went on with the trip and all the luggage and I grabbed an Uber home but knew because of traffic there was no way I could get back in time.     I called Choice Air and they worked on it saying American didn't have a flight until the next day which would mean I would miss the cruise but they could get me on another airline for an additional $1,600.   

 

I end up declining and was able to grab a last minute Mileage Plus flight leaving 50 minutes after reservation.  With no luggage it was rather easy.    I made the flight but had to fly SJC to YYV to FRA to FCO and had to fly coach instead of business.    I ended up arriving 2 hours after Iain and a couple Valiums.     Choice Air did arrange a flight credit good for one year on American for my original fare less processing fees.   

 

All I can say is read the fine print and ask questions.  

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Posted (edited)
8 minutes ago, wrk2cruise said:

Remember Celebrity Air will allow you to fly in 1 or more days prior to the cruise and return day<s> after the cruise.    You would get all the other advantages as well as have some wiggle room.   Right now there are many delays with air travel.  That non-stop that's available now may not be there next year.

 

I've just had my flight changed by 6 hrs, lucky it was the return flight from my Sept cruise.

If the flight is not there next year, we alter the schedule to a different flight, either day of sailing or the prior day.  That said, I'd be surprised if Air Canada stops flying from San Diego to Vancouver.

Edited by Stockjock
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The only "guarantee" they make is to assist you if there is a flight disruption, which doesn't mean much (usually much faster and easier to deal directly with the airline at that point).  They cannot create flights and they cannot create seats on flights.  Supposing they can get you to the first port of call, that's often on the third day of the cruise.  Assuming this is a one-way from Vancouver to Seward, that means catching the ship in Ketchikan because the first sailing day is usually a sea day.

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6 minutes ago, Stockjock said:

If the flight is not there next year, we alter the schedule to a different flight, either day of sailing or the prior day.  That said, I'd be surprised if Air Canada stops flying from San Diego to Vancouver.

 

Sounds like you've made up your mind so I'll stop trying to help.

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Posted (edited)
18 minutes ago, wrk2cruise said:

 

Sounds like you've made up your mind so I'll stop trying to help.

Just got off the phone with them.  Haven't "made up my mind", but considering this.

One other advantage I can also see is that it essentially turns a non-refundable ticket into a refundable ticket.  Some/all of these better-priced tickets are non-refundable.  They are telling me if purchased through Flights by Celebrity, they are fully refundable up until the final payment date and then a $200 per ticket penalty for cancellation or changes after that.  So that's attractive.

Flights by Celebrity agent told me that if the delay is my fault (overslept, forgot my passport, stuck in traffic, or similar) then they'd help me, but changes would be at my expense.  However if the delay is due to last minute schedule changes, weather, delays in equipment or connecting flights, in other words, things outside of my control, then changes are at Celebrity's expense.

Edited by Stockjock
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This group is very same-day arrival averse. So there's that. But I also wouldn't go all in assuming Flights by Celebrity will solve all any and all problems because that just isn't the case. 

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4 minutes ago, Jeremiah1212 said:

This group is very same-day arrival averse. So there's that. But I also wouldn't go all in assuming Flights by Celebrity will solve all any and all problems because that just isn't the case. 

No, I wouldn't assume that.  But there are aspects of the program, regardless of date of travel, that are attractive.  I think the refundability aspect is attractive, the current $100 discount is attractive, and the offer to solve problems at their expense when the issues are through no fault of my own is also attractive.

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Posted (edited)
12 minutes ago, Stockjock said:

One other advantage I can also see is that it turns a non-refundable ticket into a refundable ticket.  Some/all of these better-priced tickets are non-refundable.  They are telling me they are fully refundable up until the final payment date and then a $200 per ticket penalty for cancellation or changes after that.  So that's attractive.

 

Ok I'll still try to help.

 

Yes there is a big advantage to the no risk until final payment.  I'm not sure you were given the absolute correct information.  There is no risk because they do hold a reservation but don't ticket it until you make payment.  Beyond payment the $200 per ticket penalty is a Celebrity Air fee.  Any applicable airline fees for cancel/change will be charged in addition.

 

As you say the flights you are looking at are non-refundable and I believe most if not all airlines are not charging cancel/change fees I believe most of what you were told in reality is mostly correct with the exception of being "refundable".   I'm 99% sure that if you were to cancel you would only be issued airline credit, not a cash refund.   

 

Oh and I wasn't trying to talk you out of using Celebrity Air, just encouraging you to leave a bit more wiggle room for things to go wrong by just entering the prior days date when doing the flight search!

Edited by wrk2cruise
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I will add one story.   Maybe 6 years ago, we had a cruise out of Vancouver.  I think we were to arrive 2 days early.  Got to the airport, everything seemed to be in good shape, and when they asked for the GF's passport, she handed them her passport card.

As you may know, the passport card is no good for air travel so we missed the fight.  We did make the next one and it cost us a few hundred dollars to reschedule and about 4.5 hours on hold with Alaska Airlines.  But we did get there with plenty of time to spare.

I was certainly less than thrilled, so I do understand the risks involved.  I also have a hotel still booked for the night before, so might still go that route.  We'll see...

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Maybe my experience is different.    I was booking flights in 1st Class SJC or SFO to FLL for a Sept cruise and all the rates are the same that I can get directly with the airlines.    If I book directly with the airlines I can change and even cancel (i'm after final payment date) and pay nothing on the same fare with Celebrity,  if I change with Flights by Celebrity I would have to pay $200 each.  

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Posted (edited)
7 minutes ago, Jim_Iain said:

Maybe my experience is different.    I was booking flights in 1st Class SJC or SFO to FLL for a Sept cruise and all the rates are the same that I can get directly with the airlines.    If I book directly with the airlines I can change and even cancel (i'm after final payment date) and pay nothing on the same fare with Celebrity,  if I change with Flights by Celebrity I would have to pay $200 each.  

Some tickets can be changed or cancelled and others cannot.  As an example, prior to May 31, Saver-class fares on Alaska Airlines could be cancelled (credited to online wallet w/one year expiration) or changed due to Covid-19 waivers.  But now, they are totally non-refundable and even seat upgrades, which are normally fully refundable, become non-refundable.  But on Main-class, cancellations are still permitted (credited to wallet) and seat upgrades remain fully refundable to the original payment source.

Seems like some of those forgiving policies are being dropped or modified in some cases, remaining the same in other cases.

Edited by Stockjock
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1 hour ago, Fouremco said:

Are you sure about that "guarantee"? I know that they can try to fly you on to the first port of call, but I don't think that they guarantee to get you to the start of the cruise on time.

 

There are lots of threads on same day arrivals. The majority of posters, myself included, recommend that you fly in the day before. After spending thousands on a cruise, spending a few hundred dollars on a hotel seems like pretty good insurance against missing embarkation. And Vancouver is a lovely city to visit.

No kidding. 

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4 hours ago, Stockjock said:

We've got an Alaska cruise booked for next year.  I found an inexpensive return option from Anchorage and booked that.

 

... To me, with their guarantees and the minor discount, plus free cancellation up until final payment, arriving day of seems like a safe bet and seems smarter to book though them then go it on my own without that guarantee.  Do you agree and let me know if I'm missing anything.

.

We do agree, "Stockjock," and we encourage you to use "Flights By Celebrity / Choice Air."  We have used it many times, over the course of thirteen years -- with no failures.

 

We are doing something that we have never done before -- posting this message immediately after reading your opening post (that is, without having read anyone else's reply).  The reason for our doing this is that, based on past experience, we feel sure that you have already heard, or will soon hear, from certain pessimists, who worry a great deal and will advise you ...

(1) ALWAYS to fly in one day early and ...

(2) to AVOID "Flights By Celebrity," if you can. 

 

We (trusting optimists) choose to ignore these people, and we advise you to do the same.  (You will thereby save money that will be available to use for purchases aboard the ship or in ports.)

 

We hope that you will have a wonderful trip!

PS:  By coincidence, our very first Celebrity cruise (a repositioner in 2008) went from Vancouver to various Alaskan ports, before turning around, stopping at Seattle, San Francisco, and Catalina Island, before ending at your great city of San Diego!

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Dear "Stockjock," we just read those other replies that you had already received. 

I wish that we could say that we were happy to have been right about our prediction ... but being happy about something so tragic would not be the right reaction.

 

We urge you not to let the "worry-warts" wear you down!  They are nice people, who mean well ... but they are not really doing you a favor.  Air Canada's record of flights from San Diego to Vancouver is surely outstanding, and they will come through for you.  You don't need to waste your hard-earned money on a Vancouver hotel.

.

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Posted (edited)

Do whatever you like. If you think Celebrity Air is that great, and you've actually read the fine print, and aren't basing your decisions on the words of an agent paid by them, then book with them. 

 

If you are so confident that nothing will go wrong, or if it does,  that another flight with empty seats will still get you there in time, then feel free to fly in the day of. Personally I think it is risky for an Alaska cruise where your next port of call would be several days later - and a good chunk of your cruise completely wasted.

 

If the only thing holding you back from the more sensible course of action is your girlfriend's work,  then why not fly out the night before after work? Surely there are evening flights.

Edited by mom says
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My opinion is that you will most likely have no problems arriving on the same day as departure. The comments you have seen mentioned here are to increase your awareness of potential problems and downsides were you to have some significant flight problems. 
Let me add another potential problem - PVSA.   Next year, if you miss embarkation in Vancouver, it may not be possible to fly to Ketchikan and board there. Celebrity Air will be helpless to salvage your cruise, unless the US federal administration decides next year to suspend the PVSA requirements. I would not count on that. 
 

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Posted (edited)

I appreciate all of the comments.  I concede that there are definitely risks that come from flying the day of the cruise.  As I mentioned previously, my GF once forgot her full passport and had we not gone up early, pretty sure we would have missed the cruise.

Still not sure what we'll do, but leaning towards getting there one day early.  Unfortunately, I can't find any evening/night flights, but I certainly wouldn't want to arrive late.  That said, I do feel the Air Canada non-stop that arrives day of at 9 am is probably a "pretty safe" bet as long as we didn't screw things up.

Edited by Stockjock
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If anyone knows a way to check fares after booking let me know.  I did book a flight (pay later), one way only, but when I try to check prices for either leg, it states that I'm already booked and won't allow me to view prices.  This includes the return flight, which is not through Flights by Celebrity.

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