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Author: skipjack

Joined: 6/12/2010
Posts: 7
Trips Taken: 10
Traveler Since: 2008

December 14, 2013

Is this a new policy?  I booked two trips on December 6, paying in full.  I was contacted by the airfare department on December 10 and made the flight arrangements.  I was told that to lock in those arrangements and that price that I would have to pay an extra $50.  I have never had to do that before.  I declined. I thought when I paid in full that I wouldn't have to face these extra costs.  My airfare schedule was posted later on that day, saying confirmed, and listing the seat assignments.  Great.  Two days later I received another confirmation statement.  This one was for the same airline but a different layover city and much longer layover time.  I called GCT.  They said that because I had not paid the extra $50 that they could change the schedule all the way up to booking because they will always take the cheapest fare.  So much for confirmations and agreements.  I understand how airlines can change times in their schedules.  I'm familiar with that.  But to change layover cities and to tell me I need to pay another $50 is not the good service I have found on my other 9 GCT trips.  Has anyone else had this happen?

Author: tpreminger

Joined: 5/14/2011
Posts: 46
Trips Taken: 5
Traveler Since: 1999

December 14, 2013

 

One thing I've learned about GCT/OAT is that the base tour price may be reasonable, they look for any and every way to up their profit with fees and extra charges.  This was a major topic of discussion on my last trip. I'm told it wasn't always this way, but things have gotten out of hand the last few years.

What happened to you sounds like "bait and switch" and I'd contact the Director of Operations at GCT/OAT  for clarification and PROOF that they have the right to charge you extra AFTER you've paid in full.  It wouldn't be the first time that one of the phone people got it wrong.

Then I'd write a letter to the Mass. Attorney General's office and complain.

While I understand GCT/OAT in is business to make a profit and that's fine, what you describe is underhanded and deceptive and should not be allowed.

 

Author: garyrr

Joined: 8/25/2012
Posts: 116
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

Traveler Since: 2000

December 14, 2013

I think you'll find that GCT/OAT can change your air arrangements as often as they want if you take their "standard" air and don't buy a specific air deviation.   The materials all say that air is subject to change until ticketed (45 days before departure).

Author: singsling

Joined: 6/23/2010
Posts: 232
Trips Taken: 11
Traveler Since: 1995

December 14, 2013

This is interesting.

We paid in full including business class on our trip for next year.  The Air Dept called me a few days ago concerning the routing she got for me.  It was totally unsatisfactory.  In the past, as I have written in this forum, I always had some flights/itineraries that I like and let the Air Dept know when I called.  In all of those times, I got more or less what we wanted--airports, times, routing, because GCT had made contracts with these carriers.  This time, guess Florence Italy is not one of the major cities most airlines go to direct, so there aren't enough choices.  First, there is a change of airport/planes in Europe, which we rarely have to do.  None of the airlines I got when I searched Kayak, and airlines websites had direct non-stop to Florence.

The Air Dept told me that after the first of the year the airlines will probably get their schedules out, even it's less than the 330 days for publishing their flights/prices/routing.

GCT told me if we wanted different routing, the ones that she found, we would have to pay $1000 extra per person (in addition to the business class upgrade we already paid for--that's the $1900 from our departure city and the bus. class upgrade).  That is $2000 more for the business class tickets.  I  had never encountered this type situation, and am not real happy.  I agreed to wait until after the holidays and hopefully most of the airlines will have posted new routings/times, airports, etc.  I have to say, though, that when I did my research, the schedules/routing/airlines were mostly over $7000 per person for business class EXCEPT for the undesirable ones.  GCT was going to book us on these latter type scheules/carriers/airport, the undesirable ones.   I have faith in GCT Air, so am waiting patiently for better flights.

Author: skipjack

Joined: 6/12/2010
Posts: 7
Trips Taken: 10
Traveler Since: 2008

December 14, 2013

 GCT chose the first flight that I was booked on so it must have been one of their contracted flights.  Why then would they change to a completely different contracted flight that I had said I didn't want?  And why would I have to pay an extra $50 to lock in that price and schedule?  I never got a satisfactory answer from them.  I understand that GCT can make changes but in all my trips they have never made such dramatic changes.

Author: garyrr

Joined: 8/25/2012
Posts: 116
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

Traveler Since: 2000

December 14, 2013

They changed it because they got a better rate.   The $50 is only if you want to "lock it in" - and not stay with their "contracted rate".   I don't like it either - but they've always had that option in their written policies, they seem to have started using that option more often lately.

You're free to book your own air.  We've never done that in our 16 trips - but will probably do so for our upcoming trip. Because we can get a MUCH better airfare than they are charging us - and use some of the savings to get Economy Plus - which you can't do with their fares.

Author: luisa

Joined: 3/13/2010
Posts: 511
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

December 15, 2013
If it is policy, it's not a good one. Charging $50 to someone (Inner Circle at that) who has fully paid for two trips sounds like nickel and diming. It might make sense if there was a good savings but lately that has not been the case. I saved a couple of hundred dollars on my last trip by making my own for the same route.  

However,  I don't recall ever being asked to pay more to lock in my reservation, so maybe it's been policy but not implemented before..

I don't know why there is big difference in the text. I'm on chrome since I get post anything using IE.

 

Author: captainlarry

Joined: 4/24/2010
Posts: 381
Trips Taken: 10
Traveler Since: 2002

December 16, 2013

Interesting discussion. For four of my last five trips (two with GCT) I've booked my own air itinerary. the $ savings have not been great, but I got what I wanted by booking directly with the airlines. Of course the airline web site advises me that it will cost me to change the itinerary, and I understand that. But once I had an itinerary booked it only changed if a flight I had booked was canceled or changed. At that point I was notified by the airline and, on at least one occassion, upgraded from economy to economy plus at no charge.

The last (probably forever) time I purchased air fare from GCT I had many and significant changes in the itinerary. I would watch the air itinerary on My Account and find it would suddenly not be there. Then a few days later it would reappear but with modifications. I documented this in a thread on the North America forum a little over a year ago. I didn't take the time to look up the reference, but at the time I was not a happy camper. I have booked my own airfare exclusively since then.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 951
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

December 16, 2013

 Ever since you posted your ongoing saga, I think I'm not alone in making a point of checking my flight reservations on a weekly basis.  They never changed, but your experience made me aware of the possibility.

I think I've been lucky with my flight reservations.  I tell the OAT flight department what flights I want to be on and what seats I want.  So far, they have cooperated.

Pauline

 

Author: grandcircle

Joined: 3/5/2010
Posts: 263
Trips Taken: 0

December 16, 2013

Dear Skipjack,

Please accept our apologies if there has been a misuderstanding about your air.  We will be contacting you off line within the next 24 hours.

Sincerely,

Annmarie

Forum Moderator

 

Author: cliodoc

Joined: 8/13/2010
Posts: 3
Trips Taken: 9
Traveler Since: 2005

January 22, 2014
Grand Circle has announced that beginning in 2015, tips for stepon guides and daily bus drivers will be included. Although this might seem to eliminate a headache it raises some questions. A tip is an additional amount given for outstanding service. If the tip is prepaid, why should the stepon guide do a great job? I prefer to determine the level of service to me and tip accordingly. I have always wondered about tipping a bus driver used on a daily excursion. What is the tip for? Getting the travelers to the destination safely? Isn't that his job? What did he do above his job requirements to deserve a tip? Tipping is a personal decision and I prefer to make that decision myself.

Author: patmckinney

Joined: 3/11/2010
Posts: 50
Trips Taken: 8
Countries Visited:

29 countries

Traveler Since: 2009

January 22, 2014
This thread has made me paranoid about my flights. Had to check them again [and in big red letters it said "confirmed"] so I am praying that unless the airline changes the time, we are ok. I am used to slight airline generated changes...usually five minutes earlier or later on start time. That's not a big deal. The other stuff I read about is a big deal. GCT needs to understand how important these things are to travelers. We have enough to think about never mind worrying about drastic flight changes. If we are happy with the arrangements, they need to leave well enough alone. When traveling we have enough to be thinking about--planes are pretty important!

Author: franniepat

Joined: 3/11/2010
Posts: 49
Trips Taken: 10
Countries Visited:

Ireland, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Austria, Portugal, Costa Rica, Peru, Bolivia, Columbia, Mexico, Alaska, Canada, Western US parks.

Traveler Since: 2008

January 23, 2014

I called about upgrading to "economy plus" for a trip next fall and was told that they couldn't do that until 120 days out and I pay $50 to "lock" in the selected flight arrangements and I guess until then they can change my fights. Even though the posted fights say "confirmed" in my account. A little surprised at this.

Author: skipjack

Joined: 6/12/2010
Posts: 7
Trips Taken: 10
Traveler Since: 2008

January 23, 2014
An update from my original post. I did get a call from Ann Marie with an apology for my misunderstanding their policy?? I have to say that I still don't understand what happened but I think I know how it happened. I can fly out of four airports--Dulles, Richmond, Baltimore, and Norfolk. I usually pick Dulles. This time Baltimore was $100 cheaper. When I signed up for the trip, I was asked what airport I wanted. I said I wanted to wait and see which one had the best connections. The agent said that I had to pick one. I picked Baltimore, again because it was the cheapest and I thought I would just pay more if the connections were better elsewhere. This time when the airline called, for some strange reason, the connections were better out of Richmond. So I told the airline person that I wanted to go out of Richmond because of the schedule she had given me. That is when I was told the first time that I would have to pay $50 to lock in that schedule. I declined. Two days later I had a different schedule going out of Richmond, which was not as good. I think the problem arose because GCT looked at my change from Baltimore to Richmond as a special request and it really wasn't. I was just trying to find the best connections with their standard airfare out of each airport.

Author: musicmajor

Joined: 7/13/2012
Posts: 17
Trips Taken: 13
Traveler Since: 2005

January 23, 2014

 Last June we booked, and paid in full, for the OAT trip to Bali/Java/Komodo, including OAT air.  Our original flights had us connecting through Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific.  We were all set, with confirmed seat assignments.  I always (!!!) get the airlines' booking code(s) so that I can track my own reservations for changes.  Yesterday, just on a whim, I decided to check out my reservation.  And, surprise!!  Our confirmed air reservation had disappeared from the OAT site.  Cathay Pacific's site showed us on China Air, connecting in Taipei.  I've telephoned the OAT air department and am in the process of getting it all sorted out, and it will work out just fine.  The message is this.  OAT can (and might) change the flight arrangements.  It is up to us to monitor our own reservations.  Because of the complexity of this trip, we wanted to use OAT/GCT air.  But we're keeping our level of control as high as possible.  

Author: merleo

Joined: 4/23/2012
Posts: 31
Trips Taken: 12
Traveler Since: 1996

January 23, 2014

Musicmajor:  Last November I booked the Java/Bali (w/o Komodo) and like you paid in full.  After reading your post I decided to do what you did.  Lo and behold, OAT does not have my air itinerary online but has a message saying that if it doesn't appear by 7/17 I am to call and the trip starts on 7/31!!  Luckily I had a booking code and looked up my Cathay Pacific reservations (confirmed by them) and they still indicate the connecting flight in Hong Kong departing out of LAX.  While making the reservations I was never asked for money to lock in a reservation but I do remember being told if I paid by a certain date, I could save a certain percentage of the total cost of the trip, which I took advantage of. And, the only time I would have to pay extra would be if I, myself, made changes to the air itinerary. So, if GCT/OAT has a new policy about locking up a reservation with $50 it should be announced to all rather than wait for trip reservation time.

Author: garyrr

Joined: 8/25/2012
Posts: 116
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

Traveler Since: 2000

January 23, 2014

Essentially "locking it in" is an air deviation, which always comes with a fee.  Essentially, you're picking your own flights and "locking them in" (even if they are the original flights OAT would book).  If you let OAT book it, they have the right to change it up until they send you your final documents.  

Author: grandcircle

Joined: 3/5/2010
Posts: 263
Trips Taken: 0

January 24, 2014

Hello Musicmajor,

We apologize for what seemed to be a sudden change with your air.  I  will contact you off-line regarding your fligt situation. 

All the Best,

Annmarie

Forum Moderator

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author: musicmajor

Joined: 7/13/2012
Posts: 17
Trips Taken: 13
Traveler Since: 2005

January 24, 2014

 This is a follow-on to my earlier post.  I just found out this morning that China Air does not permit advance seat assignments!!  We had wonderful seat assignments on Cathay Pacific, and now we'll have to wait until airport check-in.  In our 12 previous trips with OAT/GCT, we've never had this situation.  Have any of you?  How did it work out?

We'd consider, for the first time, doing our own air except that this is a trip with a complex air itinerary.

Not happy right now....

Author: merleo

Joined: 4/23/2012
Posts: 31
Trips Taken: 12
Traveler Since: 1996

January 24, 2014

Thanks, garyrr, for letting me know what the 'lock in' term refers to.  That explains why I'm never asked. I let OAT air handle my air reservations and all they require of me is a departure date. Since I live close to a major airport LAX, transportation by domestic air is not necessary.

Musicmajor:  I asked OAT air why my air itinerary is not up and the reason is they are changing all airlines reservations from Cathay Pacific to China Air with connection in Taipei. The trips that are departing in the near future are being changed over first so you must be leaving pretty soon. Cathay Pacific still has my reservations on their site.  My trip is in August so hopefully my itinerary will be up in 2-3 weeks.  I've never been to Taiwan and am looking forward to that stopover even for just a few hours going and on the return a possible overnight,. If seat assignments are not given in advance, looks like I'll have to check-in extra early. I intend to check out the seating charts once I find out the equipment model of the plane. I had great seat assignments on Cathay Pacific and I'll keep my fingers crossed that China Air will be comparable.

 

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