Author Topic: Group Travel  (Read 5006 times)

TravelingDiver

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Group Travel
« on: May 27, 2009, 18:43:47 UTC »
I tend to avoid group travel since I have to rely on others to make my arrangements.

Today I am reminded why that is a good policy.  I booked a trip with a local dive shop for the south pacific on a liveaboard and land extension.  When I received my electronic ticket, I discovered that the flight arrangements require flying to an intermediate city, which is out of the way, when direct flights are available on the same airline.  In fact, the fare to the gateway city is as cheap as I have ever seen it.

I asked to booking travel agent about it and requested that the flight be changed to direct.  I asked to be advised of the cost.  I am perfectly willing to pay to avoid flying to a distant city and avoid an extra five hours of flight and layover time.  Obviously, it will reduce the chances of missing the international departure and lost baggage.  This is 960 miles of air travel for no reason.

The booking travel agent has said she cannot do anything and that I must deal with the foreign carrier.  The foreign carrier says the travel agent has to handle the change.

Does anyone have any experience with something this bizarre and nonsensical?  More importantly, how do I get this fixed?

This domestic leg as booked costs $249 as of today for the travel date.  The direct flight as of today for the travel date is $84.  Last week when I first requested this change it was $75.

Thanks

DocV

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Re: Group Travel
« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2009, 12:40:09 UTC »
Hi TravelingDiver,

Pretty outrageous state of affairs, isn't it?

The booking agent, who is your representative and is making a commission off of your business, would appear to responsible for making the requested changes.  The foreign carrier probably is limited in what they can do as a group rate likely was negotiated with them.

Perhaps you might ask the dive shop who is sponsoring the trip if they would intercede. Also, you could check if the booking agent is a member of ASTA (http://www.asta.org/) or a similar association and bring the matter to their immediate attention.

Best of luck.

DocVikingo

TravelingDiver

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Re: Group Travel
« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2009, 04:51:31 UTC »
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.

DocV

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Re: Group Travel
« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2009, 11:44:30 UTC »
Hi TravelingDiver,

Glad it's been worked out mostly to your satisfaction.

Some valuable lessons learned.

Now go and have a dive circus.

Regards.

DocV

 

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