PSA: Do not fly the day of your cruise

TiggerBouncy

DIS Veteran
Joined
Mar 4, 2013
Not directly cruise related, and this is generally good advise at any time, but I just wanted to repeat it now that cruising is stating back up and it's especially true now with the pandemic and flight cancellations.

My son was flying home this weekend (thankfully not getting on a cruise) and his flight was SUPPOSED to take off at 11:30 and land at 1:30. Due to engine trouble, the flight was delayed until 5pm. There were no other flights he could get on. Had he been trying to get on a cruise, he would have missed his ship.

I have seen it a few times with cruisers too. You think it will not happen, but IT DOES.

Please, Please, PLEASE never plan to fly into port the day of your cruise. Plan to fly in at least one day prior and stay locally.
 

RedHead0186

Mouseketeer
Joined
May 6, 2021
I totally agree, even pre-COVID. But especially now with so many airlines having staffing issues/delays/cancellations, the chances right now of your flight going off perfectly are slimmer than ever. That will hopefully even back out, but I still wouldn't do it even then. I did fly in the day of (earliest flight out of Chicago) for a 3-night cruise quite a few years ago, and while the flight went fine, my luggage did not make it on the flight (despite being checked in with plenty of time and the luggage of everyone else in my group making it). Suuuuper stressful way to start a cruise. Southwest was great in helping me and letting me know they would compensate me if I had to go shopping to have things to wear on the trip, but even having to think about making an unscheduled stop for clothes/toiletries/etc. was stressful. In the end, it turned out okay, because as we were driving to the Port I got a call from SW that my luggage was on the next flight from Chicago and they would ensure it made it to DCL to get on the ship (which it did). So all okay in the end, but it could've easily gone the other way, and regardless, still a few hours of stress I would've preferred to avoid. Since then, I always fly in the night before, at least.

To each their own, of course, but for me just too many variables and chances for things to go wrong, I'd rather have the peace of mind of getting in ahead of time and knowing I'm good.
 

Dug720

See the line where the sky meets the sea?
Joined
Feb 16, 2012
And also, once you book, take the responsibility of checking on the flight yourself. I personally check my scheduled flights at least weekly. Airlines are not being proactive about notifying you of changes - at least not in a more timely manner when you have more options. I check at least weekly because I figure the sooner I see that there's been a change, the more options I will have as I'll be ahead of all those who don't check as often (or at all and then get the shock of their lives at check-in) when I call them to adjust things.
 

jrabbit

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jun 13, 2002
And also, once you book, take the responsibility of checking on the flight yourself. I personally check my scheduled flights at least weekly. Airlines are not being proactive about notifying you of changes - at least not in a more timely manner when you have more options. I check at least weekly because I figure the sooner I see that there's been a change, the more options I will have as I'll be ahead of all those who don't check as often (or at all and then get the shock of their lives at check-in) when I call them to adjust things.
Several years ago when DCL first did some cruises out of San Juan, I had booked a nonstop flight from the Pacific Northwest to JFK, then the next leg was to San Juan. Later on while looking for flights for another trip, I decided to check on this flight --- to see how many hours things had changed. Boy Howdy!! Was I Surprised!!! My non stop changed from JFK to Minneapolis, then they booked a second flight to JFK that arrived several hours after my San Juan flight. I called customer support and for 45 minutes I had to explain and re explain many times what I had booked. Their response for that 45 minutes was "Why did you book a flight to Minneapolis when you next flight was out of JFK". Took them long enough to figure out that THEY had rerouted my plane.

So yea, be sure to constantly check your flights!!!
 

belle032

DIS Veteran
Joined
Apr 6, 2011
Agreed - we have a flight booked in September for a wedding (and then a cruise!) and SW emailed me that our flights had changed. I took a look and saw the take off and & arrival times still worked, so I didn't think too much of it. But I was looking at my account the other day and noticed that the 2 legs of our flight were overlapping! SW had us arriving into our layover airport at 1:05, but leaving the airport at 12:45. No idea if it would have been caught or not, but I had to call and change the flight altogether.

Agree w/all the other posters - check your flights often!
 

PrincessShmoo

DIS veteran
Joined
Feb 12, 2009
Please, Please, PLEASE never plan to fly into port the day of your cruise. Plan to fly in at least one day prior and stay locally.
Good plan, unfortunately, it's just not do-able on occasion. We've cruised 25 times, 6 times we've flown in the day of the cruise, with no problem. Now, "day of cruise" may be a bit misleading, as we usually take the red-eye flight arriving early, early in the morning of the cruise, but, still, the day of the cruise.

The other cruises were local departures, or included pre-cruise plans, so no problem with those.
 

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  • tvguy

    Question anything the facts don't support.
    Joined
    Dec 15, 2003
    Been cruising since 1980 and flying in the day before if you lived more than a certain distance from the departing port not only was a requirement, the cruise line also threw in a free hotel room the night before. This was on both NCL and RCCL. We took a break from cruising to start a family in 1988 and when we resumed cruising in 2002 it was no longer the practice. Of course, the cost of cruises also had dropped dramatically as more ships had come into service and it was more common to cruise.
     

    cvjw

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Dec 22, 2005
    My son and his partner had flights from Atlanta to JFK and then on to Athens last Saturday. Got to the Atlanta airport only to find a 3+ hour line to CHECKIN with American Airlines. They missed their flight to JFK while waiting in line. Which also meant they missed their flight to Athens because there were no other flights to NY to put them on. And then they would also miss their flight to Santorini. It was a nightmare scenario.

    After first being told they were SOL, they managed to find a more reasonable American Airlines customer service rep who put them on the nonstop delta flight from Atlanta to athens. At no charge.

    It ended up taking them almost 6 hours to check in and go thru security. While this is the exception, thank goodness, it could happen to others trying to get to a cruise.
     

    Heather07438

    WDW Apprentice
    Joined
    Oct 20, 2015
    Last week my niece had the craziest time with the return flight from FL back to EWR. American cancelled her flight on Fri out of Key West and rescheduled for Sunday. On Sat they say the flight will be going out of Miami. Sunday comes and the flight delayed to weather and they start talking about it might be tomorrow afternoon. At this point she’s made friends with other people from the flight and they’re all trying to rent a van together to drive back to NYC area. Then American says maybe we can get you to Philly. Finally they were put on a flight to LaGuardia and American bumped them to first class. Boy oh boy… at least they made it to work on Monday. Barely.
     

    Cheburashka

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2020
    To each his own. We've sailed six cruises, and for 3 of them we arrived a day or more prior, and for 3 of them we flew in morning of. We are low risk because we only fly nonstops, are only 2.5 hours flying hours away, and are from a part of the country that doesn't typically ice over in winter. We always carry good travel insurance and are prepared in case the worst were to happen. I would never choose a flight scheduled to arrive at 1:30pm, which was the OP's example, btw. We only fly first thing in the morning flights, where the plane typically starts the day from our (efficient) airport. These flights are always scheduled to arrive in Orlando by 11am at the very latest (usually more like arriving at 9am), so that if it were a few hours late, we would probably still make the cruise. We're early risers & my son actually likes the excitement of getting up early for a morning flight, so that's fine. Early morning flights are also typically the most reliable and on-time flights of the day. We always carry necessities in our carry-on bags (even if coming in the day before) so that misrouted luggage won't ruin the cruise.

    It's always worked for us with no close calls. The times we've done it, it's either due to inflexible scheduling due to shared custody & school/work, or due to flying into Miami during ultra-pricey Christmas week, when the cost of a nice hotel is truly prohibitive. You need some comfort with risk and a back-up plan ready if you fly in day-of, but I wouldn't go so far as saying no one should ever do it. Plenty of people do it every cruise with no issue. I usually prefer coming in a day or more before, but sometimes that isn't possible. Not everyone has the time.
     
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  • Dug720

    See the line where the sky meets the sea?
    Joined
    Feb 16, 2012
    We are low risk because we only fly nonstops, are only 2.5 hours flying hours away, and are from a part of the country that doesn't typically ice over in winter.
    Only flying non-stops is great until the airline realigns their schedule and the first non-stop of the day is not until 4:55pm. (It's now happened with American out of NYC - the first non-stop to Nashville in the main 3-airports (JFK, LGA, and EWR) went from 6-something in the morning to noon-ish to 4:55pm which is CRAZY. And getting to Orlando is pretty crazy too. NYC - not some little smaller city airport!)

    And as for "a part of the country that typically doesn't ice over in winter" - storms in other parts of the country can affect EVERY flight region. Both in getting equipment there and in getting crew in and in so that they can get their mandated rest. (That rest one is a big bugaboo that strikes first flights out disproportionately.)

    I'm glad it's worked for you so far. I just hope you're ready to deal with the time it doesn't and you're stuck on land as the ship sails without you. I understand the scheduling thing - I teach and we are not allowed to take the day before or after a break off, so there are some awesome itineraries (on other lines) I would love to take, but it would mean flying in the morning of and I'm not willing to risk my money on that. Sometimes you have to make the tough choices - and be prepared to accept the consequences if you take the risk and it doesn't work out.
     

    Cheburashka

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2020
    I'm glad it's worked for you so far. I just hope you're ready to deal with the time it doesn't and you're stuck on land as the ship sails without you.
    That's why I stated in my post that I always travel with good insurance and have a back-up plan in case the worst were to happen.
     

    RedHead0186

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    May 6, 2021
    Only flying non-stops is great until the airline realigns their schedule and the first non-stop of the day is not until 4:55pm.
    Or, you book a non-stop and the airline turns it into a connection. Usually when that happens you have the option to change, but if they're changing non-stops to connections that usually means non-stop options are limited. And even non-stop flights can get delayed. I had a heck of a time trying to fly to Orlando a couple months ago-there were storms in the northern part of FL that were essentially 'blocking' all flights from getting into the state. My original flight kept getting delayed, and delayed, and delayed, and then cancelled. Was able to book on another flight, then that one got delayed, and delayed, etc. I know that was weather so not the airlines fault, and thankfully I had no particular reason to be in Orlando at any specific time, but it was still stressful and I can only imagine if I had had specific timed plans what that would've been like.
     

    Dug720

    See the line where the sky meets the sea?
    Joined
    Feb 16, 2012
    Or, you book a non-stop and the airline turns it into a connection. Usually when that happens you have the option to change, but if they're changing non-stops to connections that usually means non-stop options are limited. And even non-stop flights can get delayed. I had a heck of a time trying to fly to Orlando a couple months ago-there were storms in the northern part of FL that were essentially 'blocking' all flights from getting into the state. My original flight kept getting delayed, and delayed, and delayed, and then cancelled. Was able to book on another flight, then that one got delayed, and delayed, etc. I know that was weather so not the airlines fault, and thankfully I had no particular reason to be in Orlando at any specific time, but it was still stressful and I can only imagine if I had had specific timed plans what that would've been like.
    Oh for sure. I was initially booked non-stop to and from Nashville. First change, the return got changed to a connection - not a huge deal as it actually gives me a little more time at home (even if by a couple of hours only) - and the outbound got backed up from 6am-ish to noon-ish. It stunk, but not a huge issue. Then I happened to look and suddenly it was 4:55pm - the first non-stop out between all of the three major NYC airports! So I made the call to change it to a VERY early connecting flight rather than lose a whole day.
     

    DIS_MIKE

    DCL Commodore
    Joined
    Feb 2, 2015
    I could not agree more with this. A few years ago we were just doing a WDW trip (no cruise) in July and looking forward to a week at Disney. We ended up choosing a late flight and it ended up being canceled due to storms over the Carolinas. Rather than driving all the way home and having to wake up at 2am, we chose to stay over near the airport and fly out early the next morning. That flight ended up getting delayed until 2PM due to aircraft maintenance issues and a situation where the crew needed to rest. After the long delay, we finally made it to our connection in Philadelphia.

    Everyone boarded the plane and the captain came on and said there was some sort of issue with the aircraft. 30 mins later some maintenance guys came on board. At this point they said they needed a part and it would be 45 mins but they didn't want us to deplane. So being that it was July and the aircraft needed to be powered down to perform the maintenance they tried to bring over some sort of AC truck to keep us cool. Wellll that truck had some sort of issue so they made everyone get off the plane. 3 hours go by and they bring us sandwiches and drinks. My initial thought was "this isn't good." They update us that the flight has been canceled and there were no other flights to Orlando for the evening. Had to pay to stay over at a hotel on our dime.

    So all in all it took us two days to get to MCO! Sometimes even one day before isn't enough! I'm just glad we didn't have a cruise booked because we never would have made it.
     

    AquaDame

    DCL
    Moderator
    Joined
    Jul 7, 2010
    Had to pay to stay over at a hotel on our dime.
    Since it was a mechanical issue wouldn't the airline normally give a voucher..? Both times we've been delayed overnight we've been compensated in some fashion to cover hotel and food. (The food vouchers were a joke - $15 apiece usable only in the airport that was supposed to cover two meals - but we did get something..)
     

    HappyontheLake

    Five cruises down, fingers crossed for Jan 2022
    Joined
    Oct 6, 2010
    Not directly cruise related, and this is generally good advise at any time, but I just wanted to repeat it now that cruising is stating back up and it's especially true now with the pandemic and flight cancellations.

    My son was flying home this weekend (thankfully not getting on a cruise) and his flight was SUPPOSED to take off at 11:30 and land at 1:30. Due to engine trouble, the flight was delayed until 5pm. There were no other flights he could get on. Had he been trying to get on a cruise, he would have missed his ship.

    I have seen it a few times with cruisers too. You think it will not happen, but IT DOES.

    Please, Please, PLEASE never plan to fly into port the day of your cruise. Plan to fly in at least one day prior and stay locally.
    I am not even flying to Galveston, but driving there from Austin. Houston traffic is a nightmare so we are leaving Austin at noon the day before to drive to Galveston, checking in to our hotel to enjoy a nice dinner and a drink (or two …) sleep in a bit, get up have a cup of coffee, drive to port parking (already paid for) and enjoy our cruise.
    Every other cruise we have always arrived the day before or Alaskan cruises two or more days before
     

    OKW Lover

    Retired and living 2 miles from The Castle.
    DIS Lifetime Sponsor
    Joined
    Apr 29, 2004
    Just adding another voice to the warning about not flying to the cruise port the day it leaves. A few years ago a small group of folks were flying from here (MCO) to Venice via ATL for a cruise that left Venice on the day we arrived. We knew that was a bad decision when we made it. Sure enough, the day we needed to fly to ATL there were severe thunderstorms around MCO and our flight was delayed. and delayed. and delayed. We finally got to go and when we arrived in ATL there were more delays getting to our gate because so many flights there had ground stops.

    We kept watching our watches and seeing the time get closer and closer to when they would close out the VCE boarding process. Texted a friend who was meeting us in ATL for the second leg of the trip to let the gate agent know of our plight. Anyway, we finally get to a gate. Two of our party need wheel chairs because of the long distance involved. Fortunately they are waiting for us when we get off. A rush to get from terminal A to F in ATL. We just barely made it to the VCE flight. Last ones to board before the door was closed. Whew!
     

    sabrecmc

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 31, 2009
    I know it isn't feasible for every family, but I honestly love flying in to MCO the night before and staying at the hotel there. It's so relaxing. I like to have some wine out on our balcony and watch the people go by. The rooftop pool is cool. Breakfast is good. And then you are off to the port! It's sort of a nice way to ease into the cruise without all the stress of an early flight.
     

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