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View Full Version : Do you book your own airfare?


Jeanny
01-03-2003, 03:57 PM
I booked our cruise (for January 2004) yesterday through DU. When Bob & Donna answered a few questions I had, they suggested I may want to book my own airfare, as I want to leave at a specific time and want a non-stop flight. They gave me a price of +$400 from PVD to MCO, but I don't know which airline etc, until 30-60 days before. I think I may have a much better chance of getting a lower price and the exact flight if I do it myself. Has anyone else done this too?

We usually take the 7:25 a.m. Delta flight out of PVD, which gets us into MCO around 10:15 a.m., I think that would be in plenty of time to transfer to Port Canaveral.... I wouldn't want to take the chance of getting a flight that would have to change planes somewhere and/or getting delayed, especially in January and coming from a snowy state!!

But if I book it myself and we're delayed because of who knows what, would DCL wait for us????
Of course, maybe we could always fly down the day before the cruise and stay at an airport hotel??? How would I get the DCL bus then?? just some nervous questions!!
Thanks everyone for your help!
J. :-)

AmyM
01-03-2003, 04:17 PM
Since we think so much alike...trip last Thanksgiving and together on this cruise...I thought I would share what we are considering. We will book own airfare (I want to fly direct from Minneapolis) and will probably fly out the day before. I haven't decided if we will use Disney transfers or book a limo, I am leaning on booking a limo for the 6 of us (4 adults and 2 kids). I want to be to the ship by 11 or 11:30am and it is just not possible without flying down the day before. As far as the airfare, I have been able to book close to $200/person by watching fares. I can't justify the extra $$$. I did however take out trip insurance. That way if something happens with our flights being delayed (who knows with MN weather) we will at least be covered. Hope this helps. 364 days and counting!

Seņor Ferrari
01-03-2003, 04:28 PM
We used to book our air through DCL, as it was not too much more expensive than if we did it separately. In the past year or so, it's been a few hundred dollars cheaper to do it ourselves. There are plusses and minuses to both. This, of course, will vary depending on where and when you are flying.

Plusses:

-As we live on the west coast, when we book our air, it includes a night at the Hyatt in MCO before the cruise. This is very convenient, as you check in for the bus in the lobby the morning of the cruise, and they will collect your luggage from outside your hotel room door and transport it to the ship. If you booked this on your own, it would probably cost between $79-$149, depending on how early you booked it. I don't think that they offer this option when flying from Massachusetts. For us, we have the choice of arriving the day before, or taking the red-eye. Since both cost the same, we opt for the night before and hotel room.

-DCL is responsible for getting you to the ship and then back to the airport. If your flight is delayed, they may hold the ship (or they'll fly you to the next port). In either case, it's their responsibility. I think this is most important when returning home. On rare occasions, the ship could be late arriving back at Port Canaveral. In this case, they would be responsible for the hassle of re-booking your flight. Note that this doesn't happen that often, but is a consideration. If they did not book your air, you are on your own.

-It's convenient. They send your air tickets with your cruise documents and make all of the reservations.

Minuses:

-They make your reservations. There will often be a stopover/flight change. It's not always the best connection you can make. There is a charge ($50/person, I think) for air deviation if you want them to "customize" your air travel. This has never been a problem for me, as we usually have only an hour stopover in Dallas, which for me is only slightly worse than a non-stop flight. I actually don't mind getting of the plane and stretching my legs.

-You don't know your flight times until 30 days before you leave. For some people, this is uncomfortable. They actually won't tell you until your cruise documents arrive, but you can call the DCL air desk (I no longer have the number, but you can probably call the main reservations number and have them transfer you) 30 days before your departure to ask for your flight info. I recommend doing this so you can then call the airline and get seat assignments.

-Usually more expensive, as noted above. I believe part of what you pay for is convenience and part the assurance that they are responsible for getting you to and from the ship.

You'll get lots of opinions on the topic. This was my somewhat long-winded take. In your case, my advice would be to fly in the day before, since you're traveling during winter. You don't have to book the Hyatt. There are many hotels near the airport which have free shuttle service to and from. You could easily get back to the airport the morning of the cruise to meet the bus. Also, many people will rent a car from Avis and drive to the port that night. The Radisson at the Port has an Avis desk where you can drop the car with no drop-off charge. Both Avis and the Hotel have a shuttle to the cruise terminal.

Oh, and if you do book your own air. The transfers are $46/person, I think. You'd have to purchase them separately, so factor that in to your price comparison.

thebecka
01-03-2003, 04:28 PM
This will be my 5th cruise and we always booked the airfair ourselves. (Often because we use DH's frequent flyer miles.) We normally arrive the evening before because we just don't trust the weather. Based upon the snow and ice this year it looks like a good decision. By booking ourselves we have the ability to change flights and make sure that our seats are together. I remember a few posts last year about folks who booked their air through DCL and weren't seated with their young children. One positive to booking air through DCL is that if the flight is delayed and enough passengers are on the flight they will wait for the flight to arrive.

cathy59
01-03-2003, 04:28 PM
We also debated this and finally decided to book our own. We knew we could get a pretty good deal just watching for air specials. We definitely would fly in the day before and get a hotel. Too scary to think of weather and other circumstances that might make you miss the ship.

We booked the cruise in April, kept watching the fares and in October we found a great bargain. We are staying 2 nights at WDW before the cruise (on our own, not through DCL).

One more thought about getting air through the cruise -- yes, they guarantee to get you to the ship, but they don't exactly hold it for you. DCL told me that if you miss the ship they will fly you to the next port to catch it there. (Not good enough for me!) I suppose it depends on how late your flight is?

Good luck!

Jeanny
01-03-2003, 04:31 PM
Thanks Amy, I'm going to check out Dave's site now and see what hotels, etc, he suggests. I'm leaning towards flying down the day before just to be on the safe side. We do have the trip insurance also, so I guess that would cover any snowstorms/delays.

At Thanksgiving, we left in a snowstorm. So far this winter has really been bad. As a matter of fact, it's snowing right now and we're expecting 8-12" tonight & tomorrow morning. So if next year is anything like this year, I really don't want to take any chances.

Seņor Ferrari
01-03-2003, 04:36 PM
A note on holding the ship: Since DCL is booking your air, it is likely you'd be scheduled to arrive at MCO on the morning of departure. At the latest early afternoon. While boarding usually begins at about 12:15pm, the ship doesn't actually leave until around 5:00pm. If your flight is an hour or two late, they will probably still get you to the ship before its scheduled departure. I believe that they have held the ship for people for as much as an hour or two. Their ability to do this would depend in part to the port traffic and any Naval activity in the area. I've never heard of someone being so late that they were flown to the next port, but it could have happened.

BTW, I heard that they held the ship for over an hour for one of the Bush family last week.

Jeanny
01-03-2003, 05:03 PM
I know my cruise is a year away, but I'm very anal about things and have my "notebook" started for my trip. (My daughter thinks I'm crazy, but she'll have a great trip too!!)

I'm just researching all of my options, I know I have plenty of time, but I'm glad to know I'm not the only one in the same "boat" HA!!:D

Thanks for everyone's help!!
J. :-)

pigelet
01-03-2003, 06:10 PM
When we booked our first cruise, we got air thru DCL and yes it was expensive but we really didn't know not to. We went the first week in March and flew out the day before to be safe. DD was in preschool so it didn't matter how long she was out. This time, we are cruising on 1/25 but are leaving on 1/24 at 3:40 will take her out at 1:00 so it will be considered a full day.
We booked our flight in Oct. when rates dropped. They went back up but now they are at their lowest. Actually called Delta today and received a $20 credit/ticket. We will use it since we fly Delta enough. Check out the airfare now and consider staying the night before because as I look out my window in the sleet/snow I would be crying if it was the day of my cruise. We are staying in the Radisson by the port for $99 for a double king suite and renting a car from avis for $37 and taking a limo back to
MCO

kasar
01-03-2003, 08:42 PM
Jeanny: We also fly out of PVD when we can! We just went on Christmas Day so I'll tell you what we did. Since we were using points/frequent flyer miles we did our own airfare. Tried Southwest for the first time and thought it was a great deal. One of our tickets was not points and I think it was under $200 with no stops! Of course, you don't get frills or any special service but it's only a 2+ hour flight.

We stayed right at the Hyatt (told them we were w/cruise and got a $99 rate. Not sure if that's always the rate or if we were lucky.) The best thing about staying there is that you just put your luggage outside your door at 9:00 am and you don't see it again until it's in your stateroom. They also have DCL reps in the lobby and they escort you to the buses and get you on the first bus out. It was very easy.

I would recommend using Disney transfers, getting insurance just in case. And if you have an AmEx card, use it for points if you can in the next year - we saved a bundle! Southwest doesn't require as many points as other airlines do. Have fun planning!

Jeanny
01-03-2003, 11:00 PM
thanks for those options. That's what I love about these boards. I would never have known about the Hyatt or Radisson if not for Dis.

It's too early to get airfare this far out, so I guess I'll have to wait a little while to get prices. But at least I know what to do now.

thanks, J. :-)