What are the different air programs that Grand Circle offers?
- Standard Air: With Standard Air, we will automatically make the necessary reservations for the U.S. domestic/international air arrangements that are included in your trip. You will fly economy class on regularly scheduled airlines. Every effort will be made to arrange the most direct flight schedule for you. Grand Circle reserves the right to choose the air carrier, routing, and city airport from each departure city. In some cases, your routing may involve connections and layovers. Occasionally, flight schedules will require an overnight en route at your expense.
Tickets are issued as a group for your departure. This means that travelers who book after the group has been ticketed may not be on the same flights as the rest of the group—even if they are departing from the same city, and even if they are traveling as a companion to a traveler who booked earlier.
With Standard Air, you have the most flexibility if you need to make changes to your departure city, pre- and post-trip extensions, tour date, or destination. As long as the changes are made within the timelines allowed by Grand Circle—up to 90 days prior to departure for a Land Tour, up to 120 day prior to departure for a Small Ship or River Cruise—there is no penalty fee. We will automatically take care of rebooking your flight(s) under the same Terms and Conditions as when you initially booked. Changes inside 90 days prior (for a Land Tour) or 120 days prior (for a Small Ship or River Cruise) may incur a service fee or may not be allowed; see Terms and Conditions for more details.
- Personalized Air: Create the GCT vacation that’s right for you with other options like making your own international flight arrangements (with or without airport transfers from GCT); selecting the airline and routing you prefer; staying overnight in a connecting city before or after your trip; requesting to arrive early to get a fresh start on your vacation; choosing a “breakaway” before or after your trip; spending additional days or weeks on your own; combining your choice of GCT vacations to maximize your value; upgrading to business or premium economy class; and more.
Personalized air is available beginning 24-48 hours after your initial deposit has been received, and all requests must be received by no later than 71 days prior to your departure (with the exception of breakaways, which can be requested up to 46 days prior to departure.) All flights are subject to availability and pricing at the time of the request. This means that two travelers who reserve or make their request at different times may not have the same flights available to them—even if they are departing from the same city, and even if they are traveling together.
- Custom Air Requests: Includes requests to fly to your destination early or to break up your flights by stopping over at a connecting city. Also includes the option to enjoy a breakaway at the beginning or end of your stay. (In essence, a breakaway is when you book an earlier departure flight or a later return flight home that enables you to travel independently before or after your trip.) We do not assist in making ground arrangements—hotels, rental cars, tours, etc.—for custom air requests. Grand Circle does not assume any liability for any activity or trip you take independently, and certain restrictions to our Travel Protection Plan apply.
- Contract Air: On certain Grand Circle vacations, you have the option to choose your carrier and routing from a pre-determined list of flights contracted with Grand Circle. This option is available beginning 24-48 hours after your initial deposit has been received, and all requests must be received by no later than 71 days prior to your departure. There may be additional fees or costs from the airlines. The additional airfare (if any) is due at time of final payment.
With Contract Air, if you make a change to your trip that affects your air travel (such as change your tour date, or a switch to a different destination) your previous requests will need to be re-submitted to the airlines. Requests that were confirmed before the changes were made are not guaranteed after changes have been made. (If the new airfare costs less than what you had been previously billed, you owe less or are due a refund. If more, then you owe more.)
- Published Air: With Published Air, you have the option to choose any carrier and any routing at the airline’s published airfare. This option is available beginning 24-48 hours after your initial deposit has been received, and all requests must be received by no later than 71 days prior to your departure.
With Published Air, your ticket is issued once payment is received. All sales are final. This means that your ticket will not be refunded by Grand Circle, and if you make a change to your trip that affects your air travel, there is no guarantee that your flights can be changed or transferred. A change to your trip might be accommodated by the airline(s) for additional fees or might necessitate purchasing another set of flight tickets. Should you need to cancel your Grand Circle vacation, any refund from Grand Circle will not include the cost of the Published Air tickets. (If you purchase our Travel Protection Plan, you can claim the ticket cost under that program.)
- Land Only: Your trip price does not include international air (or U.S. domestic air) as you will be making those arrangements on your own. Because the tour itinerary can change, we strongly recommend that you wait until approximately 60 days prior to your trip before purchasing your flights. We also suggest that you check with us prior to reserving your flights, in case there have been any changes.
No matter when you purchase your flights, you should avoid tickets that carry high penalty charges for changes. Some airlines will charge steep fees to change your reservation. In some cases, tickets are not changeable and nonrefundable. Make certain you are aware of all change and cancellation fees before you purchase your tickets. Grand Circle cannot be responsible for airfare penalties or any loss resulting from unexpected changes in your flights, cancellations, or changes in travel dates.
You are responsible for the airport transfers during your trip. This means you must arrange your own transportation to your first hotel/pier at the start of your trip, and from the last hotel/pier at the end of your trip. Airport transfers may be purchased separately as an optional add-on from GCT; see the next section for details. Grand Circle is not responsible for flight delays or cancellations.
Airport Transfers: Airport transfers may be purchased separately as an optional add-on from GCT. Whether traveling on your own or with friends, you’ll enjoy the added comfort, security, and peace of mind knowing that GCT has arranged for transportation from the airport to the hotel or pier where your trip begins. And when your trip is over, we will arrange your transfer to the airport in time for your flight home.
The cost of your transfer starts at $25 per person one-way based on your GCT vacation. The deadline to request your transfer is 45 days prior to your departure. Transfers are only available the same day that the group arrives or departs (see the next page for details). To add a transfer to an already existing reservation, please fill out a transfer request form.
My name is misspelled on my invoice/air itinerary. Will this affect my airline tickets?
Yes. In the event you need to change the spelling of your name as it will appear on your tickets, please make your request more than 46 days prior to your departure date. You will be responsible for any applicable charges imposed by our vendors. We regret that you may not request changes within 45 days of departure. Please note: Traveler substitutions are considered reservation cancellations and are subject to cancellation charges.
Can I request seats in advance?
Although Grand Circle will forward your request for preferred seating to the airline, the airline will not always give you a seat assignment in advance. You can check for confirmation of your seat requests in My Account on the Air Itinerary page in the section named Special Flight Requests found at the bottom of the page. Please note: You do have a confirmed reservation even if you do not see a seat assignment on your air itinerary. If the airline is able to pre-assign seats, this will be indicated on your final air itinerary. If the airline does not assign your seat in advance, we recommend that you check in early at the airport to request the seating you prefer. On select Grand Circle vacations, you may be able to request a seat in My Account. When this is possible, you'll see a "Modify" button in the upper right corner of the Special Flight Requests page. Clicking this button will give you the option to select your seat assignment. Note, however, that the allowance of these requests is still at the discretion of the airline. If the airline chooses not to allow requests for a particular flight, an error message will appear. Otherwise, you may select your seat assignments from a seating chart of the aircraft. Special note: Bulkhead seating and emergency exit seating cannot be pre-assigned - the airlines need to qualify passengers for these seats at the time of check-in. If you prefer bulkhead or emergency exit seating, please check in early.
What should I do if my flight is delayed?
Once you depart for your trip, Grand Circle is available 24 hours a day to assist you with your travel needs, including unanticipated flight delays or cancellations. Please work directly with your ticketed airline to rebook your flight before calling Grand Circle with your updated flight information. If your flight is delayed or you miss your flight during business hours (Monday through Friday from 9am to 8pm and Saturday through Sunday from 9am to 7pm Eastern Time), call our Customer Service department toll-free at 1-800-321-2835. If your flight is delayed or you miss your flight outside of our business hours, call our Flight Watch staff at 1-800-866-2034 or 1-617-346-6090 (collect calls accepted) to report the schedule change. Grand Circle is not responsible for flights delayed or cancelled, portions of trips missed due to such issues, or additional expenses incurred prior to joining your trip.
What should I keep in mind if Grand Circle makes my air arrangements?
Grand Circle strives to offer you the best value possible. In order to provide you with the lowest cost airfare we can, Grand Circle negotiates special airline contracts that may contain certain restrictions affecting availability and choice of seats, flights, routes, and/or specific arrival times. You will receive a preliminary air itinerary approximately 75 days before your departure. This itinerary is subject to change. You will then receive a final package that will include your Final Document Booklet approximately 15 days prior to your departure date. Please contact Grand Circle immediately if your first and last names do not appear exactly as they do on your passport.
Can I make my own arrangements for air travel?
If you decide to reserve your own air travel, please be aware that you are responsible for all flight arrangements before and after your tour's itinerary. If your itinerary is unexpectedly altered, you will be responsible for flight changes and costs. By reserving your own air travel, you forfeit any benefits and travel protection otherwise offered by Grand Circle.
If you book your own airfare, you are also responsible for all transfers to and from the destination airports of the first and last stop of your itinerary. Grand Circle now offers optional international airport transfers to and from your hotel or ship at an extra cost. Upon arrival in your destination, Grand Circle will arrange for transportation from the airport to the hotel or small ship, where your trip begins. When your trip is over, we will arrange your transfer to the airport in time for your flight home. The cost of your transfer starts at $25 per person one way based on the trip you reserve. You must make your transfer request at least 45 days prior to your departure. To add a transfer to an already existing reservation, call Traveler Support toll-free at 1-800-321-2835. Download a PDF with full instructions on adding airport transfers.
Can Grand Circle arrange my airfare to accommodate independent travel either before or after my scheduled trip?
On certain Grand Circle vacations, you have the option to enjoy breakaway travel at the beginning or end of your stay, subject to flight availability. This option enables you to travel on your own wherever you choose. On the dates of your ticketed departure from/return to the U.S., it is your responsibility to arrive at the proper airports for your flights. Additional air charges may also apply. You will be responsible for confirming your international flights and for your own transfers to the airport. All arrangements for breakaway travel must be requested no later than 46 days prior to departure. Confirmation information will be available approximately 45 days before your departure. Consult our Travel Counselors for more details. Please note: Grand Circle does not assist in making travel arrangements during breakaway travel and does not assume any liability for any activity or trip you take independently while on this program and not under the direct supervision of Grand Circle. This would include liability for any changes made by an airline that affect your air arrangements for a period of time when you are traveling independently of your group, whether we handled the air ticketing or not. Also, if you have purchased Travel Protection and assistance through Grand Circle, only your medical coverage is extended for the duration of your breakaway. You will not be covered for trip interruption or delay. All traveler requests, including breakaways, preferred air schedules, and special accommodations are subject to availability and are not guaranteed, and charges may apply.
Can I upgrade to Business Class?
If you would prefer more comfortable seating and extra amenities when you fly on the transatlantic/transpacific portion of your flight, Grand Circle offers Business Class seating on most Grand Circle vacations at a substantial discount from the airlines' retail fares. If you haven't yet made your reservation, you may purchase upgraded seating when you do so. If you have already reserved your trip, please call our Customer Service line to upgrade your flight arrangements. Business Class upgrades are subject to availability.
Do you have any tips to help ensure a smooth check-in?
Though Grand Circle sincerely hopes you experience smooth travel from start to finish, it’s a good idea to plan for the unexpected. For starters, you can help ensure that your time at the airport is stress-free by arriving early, leaving plenty of time for check-in, security, holiday traffic, and other unanticipated delays. Grand Circle suggests you contact the airline by telephone or online for recommended check-in times at your departure airport. Also, you may be traveling on an airline other than the one listed on your ticket. If your air itinerary identifies an Operating Carrier, be sure to check in with that airline for your flight. Tip: Many airports have websites that offer real-time information on airport security delays.
Can I view my air routing online?
If an air itinerary has been created for you, you can view your current air routing when you visit My Account. Remember, Air Itineraries are subject to change until your tickets are issued. If your itinerary is changed and you are within 120 days of departure, we will notify you by mail. If you are within 45 days of departure, we will notify you by phone.
I want to take two trips in a row without flying home. Will you arrange my air travel between the two trips?
If you purchase Grand Circle’s airfare for both trips, and both trips are on the same continent, we will arrange your air travel between the two trips. You will be responsible for any additional costs, if applicable, for the flights connecting your trips. In addition, you will be responsible for transfers, accommodations, and any other expenses incurred during the period between your two trips.
Will I be on the same flights as my traveling companion?
We want you to enjoy your trip as much as possible. So if you begin and end your trip on the same date and at the same airport as a companion under a separate reservation and wish to travel together, let us know. Grand Circle will make every effort to make these arrangements within 120 days. Please do not call for confirmation outside of 120 days from your departure. We appreciate your patience and will work to accommodate your request, which will be reflected in your final package.
Please note: If you and your companion are starting/ending your trip at different airports, we are unable to book you together on international flights. To provide each of you the best combination of price, availability, and connections, we must make your air arrangements individually.
How can I be sure that I have enough connection time between flights?
Whenever possible, we arrange your flight schedule so that you have at least one hour between connecting domestic flights and international flights. In some cases, your connecting time could be two hours or more. These Grand Circle guidelines allow you more time than the minimum required by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.
Can I earn Frequent Flyer miles on my Grand Circle flights?
Frequent Flyer programs with any airline are maintained and operated solely by that airline, and mileage accrual is awarded at the discretion of the airlines. Because we’ve contracted special group rates to provide you with the best value for your tour, the airline may impose restrictions related to earning miles, and in many cases even prohibit mileage accrual. To earn any frequent flyer credit that the airline might grant, present your frequent flyer account number when you check in for your flights. Also, save all of your boarding passes and your passenger receipt from your airline ticket package. You may need to present these directly to the airline (not to Grand Circle) to claim any credit allowed.
Keep in mind that Grand Circle does not keep copies of your air tickets on file. Also, because we've contracted special group rates with airlines, you may not be able to redeem frequent flyer miles toward any portion of your Grand Circle flights or toward upgrades.
Will a Grand Circle representative meet me at the airport when I arrive?
U.S. Departure: If you are among a group of ten or more GCT travelers who depart the U.S from your international gateway city, a GCT Airport Representative will assist you at the U.S. airport with the check-in of your flight. The Representative will be at the check-in counter three hours before your departure time and at the gate one hour before your departure time (security permitting). Please note: If you are arriving at your international gateway city via a connecting domestic flight, the Grand Circle Representative will be stationed at the check-in counter for your departing international flight, not at the domestic arrival gate. International Arrival: A GCT Representative will meet you at the airport after you exit customs and escort you to a private motor coach for your transfer to the pier or hotel. U.S. Return: At the end of your trip or post-trip extension, you'll be transferred to the airport for your return flight to the U.S. If you are among a group of ten or more GCT travelers who return to the same U.S. gateway city, a GCT Airport Representative will meet you as you exit customs and help you find taxis, buses, hotel accommodations, or connecting flights. Important Note: Please remember to wear your Grand Circle name tag when you exit customs, upon arrival and when you return to the U.S., so that you are readily identifiable as a GCT traveler.
I’m traveling as part of a group. Will the whole group be on the same flights?
If your group consists of ten or more passengers traveling from the same city on the same day, we will do our best to accommodate you all on the same flights—but we can’t guarantee that this will be possible. Your preliminary air itinerary and its accompanying seat assignments may change. This is due to contractual obligations with our air partners. Your Group Leader will be made aware of your group’s flight itinerary as your departure date nears.
How many pieces of luggage can I bring?
Luggage restrictions vary from trip to trip, so we suggest checking your Travel Handbook for specifics. If you're traveling to Australia, Africa, or China, you may encounter additional restrictions due to size and weight limitations on flights within these areas. For other destinations, you can generally bring luggage meeting these specifications: One piece of checked luggage, weighing up to 50 pounds and not exceeding 62 inches in the total of height + width + depth. And one smaller carry-on bag up to 15 pounds, not exceeding 45 inches in the total of height + width + depth. (Please note that the popular wheeled carry-on suitcases are often prohibited, due to size limitations on motorcoaches.) Again, these are only general guidelines and we highly recommend that you check your Travel Handbook for trip-specific information. For more information on airline baggage requirements for your flight, please click on the question “How can I get in touch with my airline?” below to see a list of airlines and their contact information.
Will I receive a complimentary meal on my flight? If so, will the airline accommodate special dietary requests?
Most flights within the U.S. and to destinations in North America (Canada & Mexico) or Central America (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala) no longer provide complimentary meals. On some flights, food may be available for purchase on board. Meal prices, quantity, and quality may vary. For this reason we recommend that you bring your own food items.
Complimentary meals continue to be provided on most international flights to destinations outside North America. If you prefer a special airline meal on your international flight (salt-free, low-calorie, kosher, etc) please call the airline directly to reconfirm your requests after you receive your airline tickets.
Can I bring an oxygen canister with me on my flights?
You are responsible for contacting your airline to find out restrictions and requirements for bringing oxygen canisters onto a plane. Airlines require advance documentation from your doctor and most will NOT allow passengers to carry their own oxygen on board without assistance. Advanced Aero Medical, Inc. can assist in arranging for oxygen. You must provide a minimum notice of two weeks for U.S. locations and four weeks for international locations. Call toll-free at 1-800-346-3556 on Monday through Friday from 9am-5:30pm Eastern Time for more information. Please note: While oxygen canisters are allowed onboard all Grand Circle River Cruise ships, Grand Circle is unable to assist in making special arrangements. It is recommended, if possible, that you travel with compact shoulder or backpack oxygen systems. Larger systems that require a separate wheeled cart may prevent you from taking part in off-ship portions of the trip.
Do I need to reconfirm my flights before I depart?
We recommend that you call your scheduled airline or visit their website within 24 hours of departure to verify and reconfirm that your domestic and/or international flight times have not changed.
How can I get in touch with my airline?
Aer Lingus 800-223-6537
Air Canada 800-247-2262
Air China 800-882-8122
Air France 800-237-2747
Air India 800-223-7776
Air New Zealand 800-262-1234
Alaska Airlines 800-426-0333
American Airlines 800-433-7300
Austrian Airlines 800-843-0002
British Airways 800-247-9297
Cathay Pacific Airways 800-233-2742
China Airlines 800-227-5118
Copa Airlines 800-359-2672
Delta Airlines 800-221-1212
Iberia Airlines 800-772-4642
Japan Airlines 800-525-3663
Jet Airways 877-835-9538
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines 800-225-2525
Korean Airlines 800-438-5000
LAN 866-435 9526
Lufthansa German Airlines 800-645-3880
Qantas Airways 800-227-4500
South African Airways 800-722-9675
Swiss Air 877-359-7947
Taca International Airlines 800-400-TACA
TAP-Air Portugal 800-221-7370
Thai Airways 800-426-5204
Turkish Airlines 800-874-8875
United Airlines 800-241-6522
US Airway 800-428-4322
Virgin Atlantic 800-862-8621