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Author: judylee

Joined: 8/19/2011
Posts: 15
GCT Trips Taken: 15
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2000

February 23, 2012

Just an idea for Singsling regarding flights & night driving, we book a hotel for the night of our return & spend the night there.  We leave our car there on the day we leave, and stay the night we return usually no charge for parking & free shuttle to and from airport.  Check nearby airport motels that offer a free shuttle.  Works well and often less than paying to park!

Author: luisa

Joined: 3/13/2010
Posts: 540
GCT Trips Taken: 6
OAT Trips Taken: 2
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. Ireland

Traveler Since: 2006

February 24, 2012

Just wondering about that $100 transfer charge. Is that for the trip or for each airport transfer? If for both it's not so outrageous but probably more than it would cost a couple taking a taxi.

The airport in Prague is not that far from the center. I took a taxi by myself a few years ago and think it was $20-$30, probably higher now, but can't imagine in costing $100. Arranging a shuttle (which I do in Paris) is a good idea. because it's a flat charge and not affected by traffic.

Author: rwhansen

Joined: 3/5/2010
Posts: 66
GCT Trips Taken: 5
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2010

February 24, 2012

CaptainLarry,

I beg to differ, but you have misinterpreted my commentary which ended with a question, "What is wrong with this strategy?"

It is clear from your "rantings" and "whining" (your words) and the comments of others that GCT has a serious disconnect when informing their travelers on the airline portion of their trips.  The result is great confusion.  I proposed a strategy to avoid this and also provide a means to possibly obtain the best arrangements and lowest cost.

GCT is a great company, we love traveling with them, and if you've read the Lewis' book, Driving With No Brakes, they clearly hold themselves to a higher standard.  As an aside, if you've not read their book, I commend it to your reading.  The actions they have taken to build their business reminds me of the case studies in organizational behavior I studied when working on my MBA.  The bottom line is that I suspect they will "get their act together" in addressing this issue.

Perhaps they have already taken a first step.  In reading the Enter the Inner Circle article in their First Announcement Holiday European River Cruises brochure last night, I learned of a new opportunity: NEW! Customize Your Air--No Service Fee.  Inner Circle members, utilizing GCT's True Choice Program, can customize their air arrangements and the service fee will be waived.

In my previous post, I was not being being critical of you or your lengthy dialogue.  Instead, I proposed a strategy for comments that addressed the broader issue expressed by you and others. 

Author: singsling

Joined: 6/23/2010
Posts: 242
GCT Trips Taken: 11
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 1995

February 24, 2012

Thanks to Judy for your advice on staying at hotels when arriving late at night. 

Judy, that is exactly what we do.  We book early flights so if we  have to wait in an airport, we are at the gateway airport and not waiting in Phoenix for the airline to get us a substitute flight--3 out of 4 flights did not leave Phoenix on time or were cancelled, so we  had to miss out on a day or so of the tour in Europe, mostly waiting in airports due to airline re-connections.

We book a hotel for the night before departure, use the park and fly program.  We can book a  hotel on the return from overseas, but would rather just go to our home since we are only 50 miles from  home.  Remember, we've been in a plane or terminal for 19 plus hours already.  On top of tour price, extra hotels just to catch a flight, we also  have other expenses to contend with that jumps our vacation allotment up another 800 or so dollars.  Besides, we've stayed in Phoenix for many nights just to have dinner with our son on a special occasion, or to attend a medical appt early the next day.  We would rather not keep staying in Phoenix hotels for the last day of a tour when we've been away already.  We've seen enough of Phoenix that we don't need to stay another night.  If there are flights available, we don't see why GCT and the airline can't get us on one. 

 

For our June return,  all first class seats are available except  2 leaving earlier than the flight GCT schedled secondly (not initially), but instead of negotiating with the airline, GCT just accepted the later flight for our return from the East coast and upon my inquiry, informed me  if we wanted to get the earlier flight, we could work with the airline and pay for that flight our of our pocket without a refund from GCT.  After all the tours we took with GCT, I think a little more negotiating on their part is in order.   

Author: singsling

Joined: 6/23/2010
Posts: 242
GCT Trips Taken: 11
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 1995

February 24, 2012

With regard to hansens response to captain larry, some of us like to have things in order long before 60 days before departure. 

I for one like to know I have a seat on a flight in a section of the plane I like, as opposed to "the last row".   So, when I book my GCT tour, I have already looked at the air schedules and give that info to GCT Air Dept.  If they have this info ahead of time, they try to work with the airlines to get the flights I want.  I just object to them not informing me that the flights are changed or cancelled (by the airlines) and they didn't inform me.  There are flights and seats available in my time frames, but not available to GCT by the airlines.  As a company, GCT can negotiate further with the airlines and that didn't happen in my case.  The airline apparently won't open up those flights to GCT's contract.

Since I am particular, I book early for river cruises, and I do the same for the other cruise lines, just to get the cabin location where I want.  I try to cover all bases.  But to be told long into the tour/cruise (60 days) before departure of a change, we can see it doesn't   sit well with a lot of us travelers.

 

Author: janice!

Joined: 3/18/2010
Posts: 277
GCT Trips Taken: 7
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 1999

February 24, 2012

Luisa, the $100 charge is for both transfers at the beginning and end of the trip.

Author: captainlarry

Joined: 4/24/2010
Posts: 425
GCT Trips Taken: 10
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2002

February 25, 2012

I guess I was once again guilty of transferring my "philosophy of life" to everyone else and assuming that everyone thinks and acts like I do. Aren't we all tremendously happy that is not the case!

When I decide to pursue a potential travel destination, or when I see one advertised that piques my interest, I do extensive research. Once I have arrived at the decision that I want the tour, I immediately book and pay for it. That may be 60 days before departure or 360 days. My action is the same.

Once I have the tour booked, my research then moves to the "planning" phase, and I prepare a "script" of the tour. Now, obviously, the trip does not always follow my script. In fact, it seldom does. But my scripting has me better prepared for some of the surprises. I plan what I am going to do if the airplane arives on time. But that helps me to be prepared for those frequent occurrances of a delayed flight. I know what I need to do to catch up.

So, my concern about the inconcistencies in communicating the preliminary air itinerary has much more to do with my planning activities than it does with the trip itself. I am well aware that even the published itinerary carries the disclaimer that it is subject to change, and that does not bother me at all. When I am told conflicting things on different pages of the web site, that does bother me. Perhaps that is just a psychological hang-up that I have, but I've had it a long time and grown rather comfortable with it.

Author: luisa

Joined: 3/13/2010
Posts: 540
GCT Trips Taken: 6
OAT Trips Taken: 2
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. Ireland

Traveler Since: 2006

February 25, 2012

"When I am told conflicting things on different pages of the web site, that does bother me. Perhaps that is just a psychological hang-up that I have, but I've had it a long time and grown rather comfortable with it."

You're not alone. Conflicting information is confusing and annoying.

Janice, thanks for the information on the transfer price.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 972
GCT Trips Taken: 11
OAT Trips Taken: 0
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

February 25, 2012

Of course, you're not alone, Captain Larry.  If you see conflicting statements on different pages of an OFFICIAL WEBSITE, you start wondering which one is right.  And if they're making mistakes on one of these pages, how much of all the information is correct?

Like you, I am a planner.  And I find that a great part of my enjoyment of travel is in the planning and the research about the places I am to see.  If I have to start worrying about whether this trip is what I expect it to be, I'll lose some of that enjoyment.

Author: captainlarry

Joined: 4/24/2010
Posts: 425
GCT Trips Taken: 10
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2002

March 22, 2012

Just thought I'd post a quick note to say that nothing has changed in the past month. The air itinerary I received on February 21 is still available on March 22. I still check periodically...I have not completely shed my paranoia. But I'm feeling a bit more comfortable now that we have gone this long without any surprises. As I stated previously the itinerary is probably the best I could have hoped for and better than I expected. As a reminder, the flight that begins the tour is on June 15.

Another piece of "gee whiz" information: I am posting this at 7:30 PM (Eastern Daylight Time) on March 22, 2012, but the date at the beginning of the post is 3.23.2012. In what time zone is the server?

Author: captainlarry

Joined: 4/24/2010
Posts: 425
GCT Trips Taken: 10
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2002

March 26, 2012

Coincidence!

A couple of days after posting the last message above, I went to My Account on line and looked again at the Preliminary Air Itinerary. What I saw was the following message (formatting changed to fit this post):

Air Itinerary
Your preliminary air itinerary is not yet available. Certain reservations may require additional time to process, including:
• Reservations made outside of 330 days
• Business Class requests
• Itinerary changes requiring quality assurance review
• Other contractual obligations with our air partners.
As soon as your air itinerary becomes available, we will post it here. If your air itinerary is not shown by 6/1/2012, please call our Air Service Department toll-free at 1-866-802-4758, Mon-Sat 9am - 5pm EST.

I immediately checked with the United Airlines web site and found that our previous reservation was still in place and confirmed. Today the Preliminary Air Itinerary is back in place on GCT's web site. There was a change, but had I not looked on the United web site I would not have been able to discover it. It seems that United and Continental are now well enough integrated that they are using one common set of Reservation Confirmation Numbers. All previously assigned confirmation numbers were cancelled and replaced with numbers from the common set. So my itinerary was taken down for a day in order that the new Reservation Confirmation Number could be inserted.

No harm done. I was mildly ammused by the whole thing. But I ascertained the reason for the change through my own research on another web site and not directly from GCT.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 972
GCT Trips Taken: 11
OAT Trips Taken: 0
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

March 26, 2012

Oh my!  After you first posted about the problem a few months ago, I've been checking my air itinerary for July more frequently than normal.  And it's still the same, even though my trip has been changed to a week later.  The reservations and the seat assignments.  That's British Air to London and back.

Author: rogerdawhip

Joined: 6/22/2010
Posts: 16
GCT Trips Taken: 15
OAT Trips Taken: 7
Countries Visited:

OAT trips taken: Egypt, China, Ireland, Guatemala, Thailand, Peru and Adriatic Cruise. Nine GCT river cruises: Great Rivers(3 times), Rhine& Mosel (2 times), Eastern Europe to the Black Sea, Rhone River, Holland & Belgium, Seine. Other: Russian river cruise twice.

Traveler Since: 2001

March 28, 2012

I have read thru these posts regarding the "preliminary" air itineraries.  Everything I have read says these are "preliminary" and are not final until you receive your documents.  On most of my 18 GCT/OAT trips the "preliminary" air has not changed but a few times it has and I had to roll with the punches. 

Author: captainlarry

Joined: 4/24/2010
Posts: 425
GCT Trips Taken: 10
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2002

March 29, 2012

Roger, Roger. I agree with you whole-heartedly. Even now I anticipate changes although I continue planning as if the published itinerary is the "real thing". My complaint has been not with the timing or the accuracy of the preliminary air itinerary but with the conflicting information being published at different spots on the web site and in the paper documents sent to me. That plus the fact that only through somewhat in depth research do I find the changes that have been made. I'm just looking for a more "user friendly" approach to information presentation.

Author: captainlarry

Joined: 4/24/2010
Posts: 425
GCT Trips Taken: 10
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2002

April 02, 2012

In my last post here I said I anticipated changes. I guess I was being prophetic. On Saturday, March 31, I noticed that the air itinerary had once again been removed from the GCT web site. Without any grumbling or whining, I just went to the United Airlines site to see what had happened. Our return flight from Seattle to Washington Dulles on July 1 has been changed. We have a new flight number, a different type of airplane, and different departure and arrival times. It is still non-stop and the departure is just 20 minutes later than before, although arrival is 24 minutes later. Must be a slower airplane. We still have the same seat assignments, however. Our flight is still confirmed and UAL indicates that it was booked and paid for on February 25. That indicates to me that our original flight was cancelled by UAL and the new one is the replacement. It will be interesting to see how long before GCT has the new itinerary up on the web site, and how long before they notify me by email and/or snail mail.

Author: singsling

Joined: 6/23/2010
Posts: 242
GCT Trips Taken: 11
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 1995

April 04, 2012

Capt Larry,

We are traveling to Ireland later this summer.  We, too, were changed by United Airlines.  Our original air itinerary was for Continental, but due to the merger, all flights have been renumbered with UAL's, but two changes occurred.  The first one, not a big deal, just 30 minutes later departure from Phoenix.  But the second change, we didn't like at all; departs from our interim US port (Newark) 2 hours later than first schedule, getting us in PHX after dark,causing us to have to stay over in a hotel (again) because we can't drive the 50 miles in the dark.  I talked with United, and they said they had cancelled our earlier flight out of their system, so this was the next best non-stop flight they could give us.  I guess it beats going from Newark via Charlotte, Houston, Denver, or San Francisco, to Phoenix.  It took about 7 days to get our schedule back on GCT's air itinerary, but there was no notice email to us.  One funny thing, though, in the midst of confirming our preliminary flight schedule, when they took the air itinerary off our account page, they mailed us a letter with our preliminary air schedule, all on Continental; a few days later, the United schedule was  up on our account page.  Crossing hands and "clouds" gets confusing, which is why I called United myself.  Hope all is settled with your flights now.

Author: anitabg

Joined: 4/1/2010
Posts: 7
GCT Trips Taken: 3
OAT Trips Taken: 2
Traveler Since: 2000

September 10, 2012

We're flying Lufthansa to Russia in 10 days.  I know there is a strike and planes have been delayed.  I don't want to sound neurotic since we aren't leaving until the 20th, but I did call GCT to get an update from them.  They said not to worry, they'd rebook if necessary.  Of course, no one knows how long any of these strikes take to be mediated, but it would be nice if someone would contact me from GCT and give me a 'heads up' instead of me having to discover this myself on a news crawl.  Also, we're going on a river cruise, so the air cannot be delayed.  Is there so much flexibility on other airlines that we can get flights leaving the same day as our original flights?

As a long-time traveler, I know anything can happen, but still.... 

Author: rwhansen

Joined: 3/5/2010
Posts: 66
GCT Trips Taken: 5
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2010

September 10, 2012

I have two suggestions that may calm your fears.  First, go on line to see what airlines, other than Lufthansa, fly to Russia for the date you are to depart and their availability.  Second, even if you are delayed, your ship does not depart either St. Petersburg or Moscow for three or four days after your scheduled date of arrival.  For the later, it would be unfortunate of miss a day or two of the tour, but better that than missing this wonderful tour altogether.

Author: garyrr

Joined: 8/25/2012
Posts: 118
GCT Trips Taken: 1
OAT Trips Taken: 16
Countries Visited:

Tanzania, Botswana, Zimbabwe, S Africa, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Belize, Panama, Peru, New Zealand, Greece, Turkey, Albania, Croatia, Montenegro, Czech, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, India, China, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Italy, Ireland, Great Britain, Netherlands, Belgium, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Zambia

Traveler Since: 2000

September 10, 2012

Lufthansa and their flight attendants reached an agreement to go to arbitration -  NO further work action for at least 6 weeks

Author: anitabg

Joined: 4/1/2010
Posts: 7
GCT Trips Taken: 3
OAT Trips Taken: 2
Traveler Since: 2000

September 10, 2012

I'm so glad to have joined this forum and to have gotten those quick responses from you guys about my Lufthansa question. 

So, yay.  I'm really very happy to hear they've reached the mediation stage.  I didn't find that out from my GCT call, however.  I was told I should be patient and not worry until there is something to worry about, like having our flight actually cancelled.  Well, ok then.  I wish I had that kind of advice for every other worry!  (Except the agent added it would be MY responsibility to call Lufthansa if that happened because even though I bought the entire package -- air included -- GCT has a contract with the airlines and GCT travelers need to get in touch with the airlines and if we don't get satisfaction, that's the time GCT would get involved).  This surely does not please me, but as I said before, I will not worry!!

 

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