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Author: jayge

Joined: 3/10/2010
Posts: 147
Trips Taken: 11
Traveler Since: 2004

July 10, 2011

This past summer we were sent from Atlanta to Paris to Bucharest.

Our return trip was from Prague to Paris to Atlanta.

There were several other people on the same trip who live in the same area as we in Atlanta environs.  They were sent from Prague directly home to Atlanta but paid no special fees to do this.

At my husband's and my ages, early 80's, this was quite difficult.  We had only about l-l/2 hours to get from our plane (in Charles De Gaulle) to the one we were taking back to Atlanta.  Going through security was taking so much time we were going to miss our plane and had to appeal to someone to get through security faster.

 The reason it took us so long from our plane from Prague to the one in the Paris airport is the great distance within the airport itself; we had to take a bus around to the departure area which was the farthest one.

Needless to say, it was not a pleasant situation rushing around the Paris airport; it is quite spread out.

I do not undersand why Grand Circle could provide direct transportation to some from our hometown and others had connecting flights.

I am reading that you can now pay for direct flights but we are not in a position to add any more costs to our trips with Grand Circle which we take each year.

Author: luisa

Joined: 3/13/2010
Posts: 534
Trips Taken: 8
Countries Visited:

Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Canada, Mexico, Spain, France, Monoco, Croatia, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Chile, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji

Traveler Since: 2006

July 10, 2011

I relate to your problem. I had a similar experience returning from Istanbul to Atlanta through CDG. One and a half hours sounds reasonable, but as you state, the airport is large and the busing eats up a lot of the time. The security line was long and slow and my flight was boarding while I was still in line. I did make my flight but it was a nerve-racking experience.

I have a similar situation with my upcoming trip. After three conversations with customer service reps about a terrible air itinerary with too many flights and long layovers,  I decided to take care of it myself. Getting non-stop flights (direct flights do have stops) is not costing much more than the credit I got for canceling the air portion with GCT.

If you cancel the air before the final payment, or decide to take "Land Only" when you register, you will get a deduction for the air portion -- you won't be paying double. 

Since Atlanta is your home airport, there should be several options for non-stop flights. You have to make your own transfer arrangements but for me, that's a small price for a better air itinerary.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 970
Trips Taken: 11
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

July 10, 2011

I'm starting to feel the same way about making my own flight arrangements, in spite of having to take care of my own transfers.

Last summer, I had barely two hours at Heathrow between flights on my way home from St. Petersburg.  Fortunately, everything was in the new Terminal 5 and I did ask for a wheelchair since I was having some problems.  That trip as originally scheduled for 2007 would have meant changing terminals at Heathrow which BA insisted was a legal transfer.

This year, last month, I asked GCT to change my flights from Delta to Aer Lingus.  I flew to Shannon direct a day early and made my own hotel reservations.  Returning home on Aer Lingus was also a direct flight.  If I had stayed with the GCT plan, I would have flown Delta both ways with a change at JFK both ways, adding several hours to the total trip.

My only concern has been if something goes wrong with the flights.  If GCT has made the reservations, they will take care of new bookings.  If I do it myself, I'll be on my own.  But looking back, I realize that the two times I missed a connecting flight, I did get myself on another one.  Once was in Frankfurt on my way to Warsaw in 2001 when the train broke down between the two terminals.  Lufthansa put me on the next one, and I called GCT's emergency number to let them know.  The other one was in Miami when I had my first ever asthma attack rushing through the terminal to make my flight to Guatemala City.  Again, I got myself on another flight.

I've already booked next year's trip to England, Scotland and Wales.  Someone from the GCT air travel department is supposed to call me next month to talk about flights.  Of course, this is very early since airlines don't make up the final schedule until closer to the time.  But I can get an idea of possibilities and made up my mind whether or not to do land only.

I'd like to hear from someone who has done that traveling solo.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 970
Trips Taken: 11
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

July 10, 2011

Also, look at recent postings under Airlines to China. 

Author: janice!

Joined: 3/18/2010
Posts: 277
Trips Taken: 7
Countries Visited:

many

Traveler Since: 1999

July 10, 2011

I do not believe that GCT will take care of new bookings if somehting goes wrong with your flights.  In the Final Document Booklet, they instruct you to work with the airline on which you are ticketed if your flight is delayed/cancelled or you miss your connection; then you should call GCT to advise them of your new flight arrangements and they will tell you how to meet up with your group on your own..

In April of 2010, I was in Dubrovnik for a pre-trip extension when the volcano erupted.  The majority of people in our group who did not come for the extension were delayed in route for as much as five days.  I heard from many of them that GCT did provide any assistance with rebooking.  Some gave up on flying and arrived in Croatia using trains and/or buses.

Janice

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 970
Trips Taken: 11
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

July 10, 2011

Yes, you're correct, Janice.  I was thinking about transfers when I made that mistake. 

When I missed my connection in Frankfurt, I called the GCT emergency number to tell them what my new flight was.  The person who answered told me they would contact the Warsaw office so I would be met.  Well!  I got to Warsaw, retrieved my luggage which had arrived on the earlier flight (they don't do that anymore), and went through customs.  When I got out, there were people holding signs, but none that said GCT.  I looked around and asked around and finally went upstairs to the information desk.  They paged the GCT person who happened to be in the airport, but he was not there to meet me.  He was there to meet 6 people coming from San Francisco.  That plane arrived, but they were not on it.  So we went to the hotel.  When we had our introductory drink, I saw some people who had been on the same plane from Frankfurt.  They, not being solo, had taken a taxi.  I was just too nervous to do so, since I don't speak Polish and I was hesitant about using German there.  While we were introducing ourselves, our PD's mobile phone rang and it was the 6 people from San Francisco who had just arrived.

But all that was right after 9/11, and it was understandable that mistakes were made.

One person on the Ireland trip last month missed her flight and came a day later.  But with airport delays and sitting on tarmacs, we were almost finished with the Galway portion by the time she arrived.  GCT did make sure she had transportation from Shannon to Galway.

Author: luisa

Joined: 3/13/2010
Posts: 534
Trips Taken: 8
Countries Visited:

Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Canada, Mexico, Spain, France, Monoco, Croatia, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Chile, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji

Traveler Since: 2006

July 11, 2011

If you want a flight with NO stops, request a non-stop flight, not a "direct" flight. Direct flights often do make stops. The following is from Wikipedia.

"The term "direct flight" is not legally defined in the United States], but since the 1970s the Official Airline Guides have defined the term simply as a flight(s) with a single flight number. (In earlier years "direct" in the OAG did mean "no plane change".) While so-called "direct" flights may thus involve changes in aircraft, or even an airline[3] " Sorry, can't change the blue type.

One itinerary for my Ireland trip has a flight to Atlanta, then  Delta flight 122 from Atlanta to New York and flight 122 from JFK to Shannon -- same flight number but it is a different plane and there is a five-hour layover in JFK.

The last rep I spoke to said they are not using Aer Lingus -- only Delta now I'm making my own reserations and looking for as few connections as possible to avoid delays.

I think if there is a problem you have to deal directly with the airlines whether GCT makes the reservation or you do it yourself so I'm not concerned about that.

When I've traveled on my own, rather than take a taxi on arrival, I've made transfer arrangements for airport pickup (sometimes shuttles) through the hotels. I've done it in Paris, Rome, Istanbul and Prague and it worked out well.

 

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 970
Trips Taken: 11
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

July 11, 2011

@luisa,

It looks as though GCT is somewhat encouraging us to make our own flight arrangements these days.  I don't know why they should not be using Aer Lingus or where this sudden preference for Delta came from.  I can make assumptions.

I've already received the information booklet for my trip next year, and that contains the details of the new customized flights program.  But that's for 2012; it may not apply for this year.  And I have a telephone appointment for August with someone from the flight department.  Since airline schedules change a lot, I doubt if I'll have a definite reservation at that point.

From the little bit I've been able to find out, British Air flies direct from Boston to Heathrow every day.  And my American Airlines miles would take care of that.  It's unfortunate that United doesn't, because I have enough miles for Business Class on an international flight, but that would mean a change in either Newark or Dulles and involve Continental for part of it.  And I don't trust them either.

I think you're very wise to make your own flight arrangements for your trip to Ireland.  It worked for me, as I've told you.  And if you have to stay overnight in Shannon, the Park Inn is perfectly fine and just across the airport parking lot.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 970
Trips Taken: 11
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

July 11, 2011

And another thing.   And this is advice for everyone.  Don't assume that when GCT gets your seat assignments from the airlines, that those seats are the best you can do.  Call the airline or use Seat Guru and try to get a better seat.

Author: luisa

Joined: 3/13/2010
Posts: 534
Trips Taken: 8
Countries Visited:

Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Canada, Mexico, Spain, France, Monoco, Croatia, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Chile, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji

Traveler Since: 2006

July 11, 2011

I think Pauline is right on both posts. I don't remember which trip it was, but I always check the seat assignment on Seat Guru and my GCT assigned seat was identified as "Worst," right in front of the lav with limited recline. I called and got it changed with no problem.

I'm wary of Delta too but my problems have been with flights from my regional airport. When I took the Australia trip, two morning flights were canceled or delayed for "maintenance" and the airport was full of passengers trying to get on the next flight. I missed two flights from Atlanta to LAX and if I hadn't been spending one night at an airport hotel I would have missed the Qantas flight to Australia.

Pauline, I hope you get a good itinerary for your next trip, you did well on Ireland.

Author: dondaro

Joined: 6/10/2010
Posts: 21
Trips Taken: 9
Traveler Since: 1999

July 21, 2011

If you are staying more than one day at the starting city of your tour it might be worth booking your own  flights if they are avaible. On our recent trip to China with GCT we booked a non stop flight to Shanghai a day ahead of time and stayed a hotel at the airport to unwind. Our flight took 14 hours. By looking at the airport website or contacting the hotel you can check out the various transportation options from the airport. Other travelers on our tour traveled for 20 hour or more. GCT wouldn't even give them a non stop flight from LA. We did the same thing going to Ireland with GCT. We booked non stop to Shannon instead of going to London to change planes to Shannon. Our flight took less then 7 hours, others traveled for  12 hours. Of course living near NYC gives us an advantage for getting non stop flights. You can arrange flight with longer connections on your own.

Author: dondaro

Joined: 6/10/2010
Posts: 21
Trips Taken: 9
Traveler Since: 1999

August 04, 2011

Anyone has had experiance with GCT "True Choice" policy? Was this helpful in booking flights with less lay overs?

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 970
Trips Taken: 11
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

August 04, 2011

Someone is supposed to call me next Tuesday morning.  I reserved the trip in April, but the dates were not posted until the middle of June.  This is for England, Scotland and Wales in June of 2012.

I know what flights I want to be on between Boston and Heathrow and back.  I'll have to make other arrangements for a domestic flight between Aberdeen and Heathrow after the post-trip extension in Scotland.  I'll also try to find out about airport transfers.

This should work, and as soon as I have some answers I'll post again.

 

Author: porkchop55

Joined: 2/6/2011
Posts: 70
Trips Taken: 11
Countries Visited:

Great Britain, Israel, Italy, Spain, Turkey, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Tunisia, China, Peru, Canada, Japan, Philippines, Thailand, Fiji, American Samoa, Australia, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea

Traveler Since: 2004

August 25, 2011
Since I live in the Washington/Baltimore area and have 3 major airports to pick from I have always let CCT make my flight arrangement and the price always seemed to be comparable or better than what I could find on my own.   Having them book it has the advantage of having someone to pick you up at the air port.   However, on my last trip they changed our flight about 6 times. First we were booked through Atlanta, then we had several different flights through Chicago and finally they booked us through Boston. The Baltimore to Boston leg was on Jet Blue who would not transfer baggage to Atalia so we had to drag our begs between terminals. 
I have now changed my strategy.  I now look at the prices of the trip leaving from what I call their gateway cities. The ones that have the lowest advertized price. For example for trips to Europe it is often Boston and New York.   I then look for fares from home to those gateway cities and compare the price to what GCT has from my home city.  For my next trip to Spain I found that we could fly to Boston on our own and save about $150 per person.   By doing this I have a direct flight from Boston to Madrid and I still get picked up at the airport.  
 One disadvantage of doing this is if they change flight arrival or departure times you may have to change your reservations. This happened to me this trip, but since I had picked Southwest for my Baltimore to Boston flight I was able to change my flight at no cost. Many other airlines charge for changing flights so make sure the savings is over $100 per person.
An advantage of this strategy is you are more likely to get a direct flight from a gateway city because those cities are served by more international airlines. My experience on flying to Europe from New York or Boston is that I get a direct flight and arrive at my destination city early in the morning.   I would rather spend that day looking around a European city than sitting inside a European airport waiting for a conntecting flight.

Author: dondaro

Joined: 6/10/2010
Posts: 21
Trips Taken: 9
Traveler Since: 1999

August 25, 2011

Guess what. ii live in the New York area and I still can't get direct flights. On one occasion on a trip to Greece GCT booked me from Newark to Atlanta then to Athens, Another time they booked me from Newark to London then to Shannon. For that trip I booked my own flight. This summer we went to China. You wouldn't believe the routing GCT tried to give me for that trip. We ended booking our own direct flight  to Shanghai and returned direct from Beijing. Maybe with their new flight policy they can do a better job. On our China trip it took people 20 hours plus to return to LA and San Francisco while it took us 14 hours to return to NJ. We were the only ones on the trip who had direct flight and that included people from California.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 970
Trips Taken: 11
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

August 25, 2011

I now have Version 1 of my air transportation for next June.  This is for the England, Scotland and Wales trip.  I say Version 1, because based on experience it can change several times in the intervening months.

I had a telephone conversation with someone in the air travel department, by appointment, on August 9th.  I told him that I knew British Air had several daily flights from Boston to London, either their own or operated by American Airlines.  At that point, they had not posted flights for July15th of 2012.  So after saying that I wanted a direct non-stop flight from Boston to London and return, preferably BA or maybe Virgin Atlantic, we agreed to have another conversation on 8/23.  I also mentioned that I'd need transportation from Aberdeen to London on the 15th.

Tuesday, someone else called and she had the flights I wanted ready for me to choose.  Boston to London on June 27.  Aberdeen to London and London to Boston on July 15.  Two hour layover in London on the way back, but that's supposed to be all right.  I assume I can check my luggage all the way through from Scotland.

Not only are my flights confirmed, so are my seat assignments.  Although I have asked her to see if I can upgrade to premium economy.  And I'll check Seat Guru to make sure the seats are acceptable.

 

Author: kyran

Joined: 8/30/2010
Posts: 10
Trips Taken: 2
Traveler Since: 2010

November 20, 2011

Can someone enlighten me as to what the Delta concerns are.  My mom and I have flights with Delta in April for the Belgium and Holland Springtime trip....Do I need to be concerned?

 

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 970
Trips Taken: 11
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

November 20, 2011

I guess I'm the one who's the most negative about Delta.  And I really have nothing to base it on.  Except that for the last couple of years, every time you heard about a plane veering off a runway or coming too close to another plane or other problems, it was a Delta plane.  Of course, they're now one of the largest, if not the largest airline companies in the world.  I've had little occasion to fly on them, maybe fewer than half a dozen times in my life.  Until recently, they never flew anywhere I wanted to go.

Maybe someone else can give you a less biased opinion.

Author: nanaandpapa

Joined: 3/30/2011
Posts: 492
Trips Taken: 15
Countries Visited:

Aruba, Austria, Australia, Bermuda, Belgium, Botswana, Canada, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Rep., Egypt, England, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, South Africa, Spain, St. Marten (fr), St. Martin (nd), Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, USA, Vatican, Zimbabwe

Traveler Since: 2002

November 20, 2011

I would recommend that, before you talk to GCT's travel department that you use a search engine such as http://matrix.itasoftware.com/ to check out what your options are. This site does not sell tickets, so it is not biased by who pays the biggest commission. In this way, you have the facts in front of you, including fares, so that you know if the GCT price is a fair one. Use GCT where they can help you. We just booked a trip for March, and, when they assigned the flights and called. I found that they had booked our first choice for the outbound trip and our second choice for the return, at $100.00 less that we would have had to pay on our own. Having this information in front of you can save time and effort for both you and the GCT staff.

Also, to help make your way through the airports, including security, if you have ANY mobility issues, request assistance, in advance through GCT or with the airline directly, if possible, or at check-in. We have encountered situations where we could not have made connections on our own, but with the assistance of mobility aides, or whatever they call them, it was no problem at all. They will hustle you through security without standing in line and through customs, usually through crew lines. You do not need to be wheelchair bound, but to have some mobility issues. A significant percentage of the GCT travelers fall into this category. There is generally no charge for this service, but we normally tip about $5.00. Sometimes they transport you in a wheelchair and sometimes in a golf cart. There are terminals such as Heathrow's terminal 5, that it would be very easy to miss your flight trying to walk from check-in to the departure gate. At Heathrow, they generally park you at a staging area first, as gates are not asssigned much in advance of boarding, so it makes it doubly difficult to do on your own,  In the staging area, there is someone who watches the status of the flights, and, when the gate is assigned, calls an aide to transport you. They will also usually put you in a seating area at the gate for priority boarding.

Jack Donoghue

Author: almaruth60

Joined: 1/2/2011
Posts: 10
Trips Taken: 2
Traveler Since: 2011

November 21, 2011

I have traveled with Delta for the last 6 or 7 yrs now and haven't had a problem. I booked thru GCT April 2010 for the Tulips in Springtime tour and left from West Palm Beach, Florida (where I'm from) and changed planes in Atlanta. Had no problem either from Amsterdam to Detroit (don't know why not back to Atlanta?) and made connections easily.  I was traveling solo and there were 23 people going on the cruise changing in Atlanta and we got a start getting to know one another. 

I've booked the Paris to Normandy Cruise on June 16, 2012 and went thru GCT, using Delta and Air France. GCT will also have a Rep. contact you regarding the traveling plans if you book the Air thru them.

Have a great time and don't worry about the Airline.

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