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.