I contacted the foreign carrier at several numbers and two offices (east coast/west coast). One office finally returned the call today. The two offices I spoke with yesterday, both said I needed to contact the agent. One said the other office held the contract and he couldn't help. The other insisted they didn't know the terms and the agent was the one to deal with.
I persisted with the booking agent and copied in the dive shop. I suppose she finally realized that her blaming the dive shop for the arrangements was going to her customer, the dive shop. I phoned the dive shop owner to tell him about the problem and said I would handle it. We are good friends and I have finally learned to cut out the middle man. Late yesterday, I finally received the minimum I feel is acceptable.
The foreign carrier has cancelled the initial domestic legs and my ticket with them begins at the US gateway. I had to buy the domestic ticket for $84 plus tax. Instead of leaving at 8:30 am Sunday, I am leaving at 4:25 pm Sunday. The travel agent's flight arrives at the gateway at 4:00 pm for a 9:15 pm departure. My flight arrives at 6:20 pm. There is another flight that arrives an hour later. Never take the last flight that will get you where you need to be.
For $84, I have saved myself 8 hours of needless travel time for what will end up being 32 hours in transit across 12 time zones.
I do not get a refund or credit for the cancelled segments. I may have to pay excess baggage for the domestic flight. At this point, whatever it costs is worth it to avoid being at the airport at 6:30 am, avoiding 8-10 hours of domestic hassel and avoiding a major US airport for an extended layover on the way to another major US airport, where my baggage and dive gear might take a walk, or simply fall through the cracks. The agent's threat of cancellation fees has seemed to disappear.
Warning-Never allow anyone to book point A to point Z without specifying the details. Book your own flights. It seems the value of the leisure travelers time is rountinely under rated.
I will not say who this is until I am satisfied with the resolution. I will say that it is a well known dive travel agency booking travel on a major liveaboard operation. I didn't think it was necessary to babysit "professionals." I was wrong about what I needed to do or who I was dealing with. I wrote an UnderCurrent article years ago and feel another one coming on. I'm glad I have the emails to refer to.
Oh, the booking agent is a member of ASTA but holds no certifications according to the ASTA website. Most of them seem like window dressing anyway.
Thanks for your good wishes. A $6,000 trip should go much more smoothly than this.