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Salf777

Choice Air Questions

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Hi

I always book my own flight for our cruises when we travel overseas as I always seem to get a "deal" with American Express or using some other cards miles. However, I find things getting more difficult with all these new miles transfer programs etc.?

I was just playing with a reservation I have for an August 2020 sailing on Azamara

A Choice Air option was there so I clicked and was surprised.

The fares are extremely reasonable we are looking at business class

They say refundable with fee

So I always try and book a refundable flight because I have an elderly father and I need refundable in case there is an issue with his health and I have to cancel. The fares on Choice air seem very cheap to be refundable, almost to good to be true but it seems to be letting me book it.

Has anyone used this and is it truly refundable?

How has anyone experience been with them?

Thank in advance 

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Can't speak to that, but you might want to compare the cost of cancellation insurance vs the "premium" you pay for a refundable ticket.  Depending on your circumstance, one might be a better option than the other.

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I think the kicker might be the “refundable with a fee”

what is the fee?

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The three times we've used Choice Air we didn't have the refundable option, but now it seems often the refundable is the same price as non-refundable.  Choice Air ought to be able to tell you what the fee is if you need to cancel.

The business class fare for the cruise we recently returned from was less than half the price of booking directly with the airline.  I always compare the Choice Air flights with booking direct, and we've always gotten a better price with Choice Air by hundreds (and the last time, thousands) of dollars.  
 

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And of course realize that the cruiseline provided air ticket is almost 100% certain to be NOT the same as a ticket bought from the airline - with much more restrictive underlying fare rules that can come back to bite you in cases of irregular operations.

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thank you all All good points Im just going to call them.

Good point on the cancellation insurance I have to look into that as well

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On 11/3/2019 at 11:58 PM, FlyerTalker said:

And of course realize that the cruiseline provided air ticket is almost 100% certain to be NOT the same as a ticket bought from the airline - with much more restrictive underlying fare rules that can come back to bite you in cases of irregular operations.

 

This is incorrect regarding ChoiceAir.  ChoiceAir tickets are issued through the cruise line by the airlines and are exactly the same as those purchased directly.  RCI/Celebrity have negotiated terms with the airlines (as with Princess as well) whereby they offer both refundable and non-refundable fares.  Non-refundable fares are just that and operate the same as with directly booked flights.

 

The refundable fares are fully refundable, flexible for transfer to a different flight schedule and airline if desired, and do not require a deposit and are not due for payment until final payment for the cruise.  You can also benefit from any reduced fare that may come into play after booking. The only caveat is that they need to be tied into a cruise booking reservation and will appear on that invoice.  There are no cancellation fees prior to final payment and only come into play with cancellations or changes made after final payment.

 

They also carry the assurance of being backed by the the cruise line for best available alternative transit should a delay or airline flight cancellation occur.

 

I know this from direct experience with both domestic and international flights that I have booked, with situations with both types where I made changes and have benefited by price reductions.

Edited by leaveitallbehind

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4 hours ago, leaveitallbehind said:

 

This is incorrect regarding ChoiceAir.  ChoiceAir tickets are issued through the cruise line by the airlines and are exactly the same as those purchased directly.  RCI/Celebrity have negotiated terms with the airlines (as with Princess as well) whereby they offer both refundable and non-refundable fares.  Non-refundable fares are just that and operate the same as with directly booked flights.

 

 

You just proved my point.  They are not publicly published fares, but are negotiated fares.  As you just pointed out.  So they are not "exactly the same".

 

Please provide the fare basis code, so that we can check to see what the published fare rules are.

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8 hours ago, FlyerTalker said:

 

You just proved my point.  They are not publicly published fares, but are negotiated fares.  As you just pointed out.  So they are not "exactly the same".

 

Please provide the fare basis code, so that we can check to see what the published fare rules are.

 

I guess I misunderstood your comment about not being 100% the same thinking you meant they are not real or issued tickets.  They are sometimes the same fare, other times (in particular with international flights) are at a better fare.  The negotiated terms also have to do with the flexibility and payment terms, which are as described in my previous post. 

 

However the ticket class is the same - First/Business with ChoiceAir is First/Business with the airlines, etc.  The key difference is the flexibility as described in my prior post with the refundable ChoiceAir fares.  This to me is significantly advantageous over direct bookings. The apple to apple comparison would be with any refundable or flexible fares offered by the airlines with their terms and guidelines v those indicated with ChoiceAir and at what fare to each.

 

The screenshot example attached does not show the fare code but provides a class description.(Business, standard economy, etc.). The confirmation issued with the booking includes the airline tracking number, which, when accessed as you would on the airline website with directly booked fares, does indicate the fare code with the booking.  While some airlines will delay the date available for seat selections many do not and typically you can choose your seat when the booking is made as well.

 

1306284826_Screenshot(29).thumb.png.e833b3b34347d1f1c149167c6631639a.png

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18 minutes ago, leaveitallbehind said:

I guess I misunderstood your comment about not being 100% the same thinking you meant they are not real or issued tickets.  They are sometimes the same fare, other times (in particular with international flights) are at a better fare.  The negotiated terms also have to do with the flexibility and payment terms, which are as described in my previous post.

 

And remember, in airline parlance, there is a difference between "fare" and "price".  Price is the dollar amount paid for the ticket.  Fare is the official filing of the rules, regulations, and restrictions of the tickets, along with the selling price.

 

So one could easily find tickets with the same price, while having two completely different fares.

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2 hours ago, FlyerTalker said:

 

And remember, in airline parlance, there is a difference between "fare" and "price".  Price is the dollar amount paid for the ticket.  Fare is the official filing of the rules, regulations, and restrictions of the tickets, along with the selling price.

 

So one could easily find tickets with the same price, while having two completely different fares.

 

Understood.  But in our experience the total price paid through ChoiceAir was the same as, and in several cases lower, than that shown by the airlines with the final booking amount.

Edited by leaveitallbehind

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So I found business class air on Choice Air. I called and the tickets are refundable up until the date I make the final payment for my cruise. For that matter they didn’t even bill me and just added the tickets to my cruise reservations. They told me I can continue to look on their website and others. Should I find something on their site and want to change routes etc no charge or fee up until the final payment of the cruise. I was pleasantly surprised as the rate was significantly lower than I have found by looking at all the travel sites like Expedia, google flights, etc.  I am talking a big discount. I even went directly to the airlines and tried to price it there and still couldn’t come close to the price. I called my travel agent and asked if this was legit and she said she has had very good experiences with Choice Air. There is a $200 cancellation fee that I believe is applicable if I cancel the full reservation and don’t do anything with them I need to get clarification on that. However the rates are about $1000 per ticket cheaper than anywhere else I have found honestly! 
I was so skeptical that I immediately went to the airlines website and entered in my confirmation numbers and they let me pick my business class seats on 3 of the 4 segments already. 
I don’t know if it’s because the trip isn’t until August 2020 and I booked early or what but I couldn’t be happier with the prices. I have also been told these routes are generally more expensive as I’m flying MIAMI to Stockholm (British Airways Club World) and than return Amsterdam to Miami (United Polaris Business Class). 
All seems legit but still a feeling like if it sounds to good to be true! I usually do all my air with AMX and get some type of deal but even they could get close. 
Anyone see any holes here something I’m missing or did I just happen to get a good deal for once! LOL

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I think the $200 cancellation fee doesn't apply until cruise final payment date.  As I said, we've used Choice Air several times and haven't had any trouble, knock on wood.  And like you, saved thousands on our business class flights.  I'm anxiously awaiting for tickets to open up for our South American cruise next year, hoping we can again get a great deal.

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48 minutes ago, Salf777 said:

So I found business class air on Choice Air. I called and the tickets are refundable up until the date I make the final payment for my cruise. For that matter they didn’t even bill me and just added the tickets to my cruise reservations. They told me I can continue to look on their website and others. Should I find something on their site and want to change routes etc no charge or fee up until the final payment of the cruise. I was pleasantly surprised as the rate was significantly lower than I have found by looking at all the travel sites like Expedia, google flights, etc.  I am talking a big discount. I even went directly to the airlines and tried to price it there and still couldn’t come close to the price. I called my travel agent and asked if this was legit and she said she has had very good experiences with Choice Air. There is a $200 cancellation fee that I believe is applicable if I cancel the full reservation and don’t do anything with them I need to get clarification on that. However the rates are about $1000 per ticket cheaper than anywhere else I have found honestly! 
I was so skeptical that I immediately went to the airlines website and entered in my confirmation numbers and they let me pick my business class seats on 3 of the 4 segments already. 
I don’t know if it’s because the trip isn’t until August 2020 and I booked early or what but I couldn’t be happier with the prices. I have also been told these routes are generally more expensive as I’m flying MIAMI to Stockholm (British Airways Club World) and than return Amsterdam to Miami (United Polaris Business Class). 
All seems legit but still a feeling like if it sounds to good to be true! I usually do all my air with AMX and get some type of deal but even they could get close. 
Anyone see any holes here something I’m missing or did I just happen to get a good deal for once! LOL

 

There are no holes and what you experienced is how ChoiceAir works.  Here is my previous post for you to review:

 

ChoiceAir tickets are issued through the cruise line by the airlines and are exactly the same as those purchased directly.  RCI/Celebrity have negotiated terms with the airlines (as with Princess as well) whereby they offer both refundable and non-refundable fares.  Non-refundable fares are just that and operate the same as with directly booked flights.

 

The refundable fares are fully refundable, flexible for transfer to a different flight schedule and airline if desired, and do not require a deposit and are not due for payment until final payment for the cruise.  You can also benefit from any reduced fare that may come into play after booking. The only caveat is that they need to be tied into a cruise booking reservation and will appear on that invoice.  There are no cancellation fees prior to final payment and only come into play with cancellations or changes made after final payment.

 

They also carry the assurance of being backed by the the cruise line for best available alternative transit should a delay or airline flight cancellation occur.

 

I know this from direct experience with both domestic and international flights that I have booked, with situations with both types where I made changes and have benefited by price reductions.

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On 11/9/2019 at 7:47 PM, leaveitallbehind said:

They also carry the assurance of being backed by the the cruise line for best available alternative transit should a delay or airline flight cancellation occur.

 

 

Not quite.  No where does the cruise line assure you of the "best" alternative transit.  Read the fine print of the assured arrival.  There simply act as a liaison, and there are anecdotal reports of people who have experienced great service with that program, as well as others who have simply been told to contact the airline or who couldn't even reach the cruise line during the travel day.  The full explanation has some pretty vague words in it like "work with the airlines" and "do what's reasonable."  None of that is a guarantee of getting what one might consider the "best" alternative transit.

 

21 hours ago, leaveitallbehind said:

However the ticket class is the same - First/Business with ChoiceAir is First/Business with the airlines, etc. 

 

The confirmation issued with the booking includes the airline tracking number, which, when accessed as you would on the airline website with directly booked fares, does indicate the fare code with the booking. 

 

 

1.  Are you aware that within each ticket class there are usually multiple different fare codes?  It's not just a matter of "oh my ticket is business class, same as if I booked through the airline."

2.  Getting a 6 digit record locator number simply means you have a reservation.  It is zero indication of the fare code of your ticket.

 

18 hours ago, leaveitallbehind said:

 

Understood.  But in our experience the total price paid through ChoiceAir was the same as, and in several cases lower, than that shown by the airlines with the final booking amount.

 

Great, but that still doesn't mean your full fare code was the same.

 

11 hours ago, Salf777 said:


All seems legit but still a feeling like if it sounds to good to be true! I usually do all my air with AMX and get some type of deal but even they could get close. 
Anyone see any holes here something I’m missing or did I just happen to get a good deal for once! LOL

 

I'm sure your ticket is legit, and if all goes well on travel day, you will likely never know if, or how, your ticket might be different from one purchased directly from the airline.  Your bargain price will pay off and you'll have gotten a great deal.  If you end up with drastically delayed or canceled flights, you might or you might not fare so well, depending on how you are able to get reaccommodated.  Sometimes the differences in rules and regulations of a cruise-purchased ticket are big, sometimes not, but the real differences generally have to do with how you get reaccommodated during irregular operations.  And as mentioned above, there are anecdotal stories out there that run the gamut from fantastic to horrible. YMMV

Edited by waterbug123

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Summed it up well, Meg.

 

Just because it's on the same flight doesn't mean it's the same thing.

Just because it's the same price doesn't mean it's the same thing.

Just because you could reserve seats doesn't mean it's the same thing.

 

If you have tickets with the exact same fare basis code (and that's not just the simple one-letter class of service code), then it's the same thing.

 

 

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Never expected this to be so contentious as I am only conveying information based on my direct knowledge, but I can only sum it up by saying when I have purchased flights through ChoiceAir:

  • First / Business class was first / business class in the aircraft described in the first / business flat bed seats selected at the time and the price paid which was the same or lower than the direct booking price at the time in comparison.  
  • Ditto economy and economy plus (and not basic economy).
  • I paid nothing until final cruise payment and have changed flight schedules and airlines after booking and prior to final payment with no fees or penalties and have captured reduced fares that became available after initial booking.
  • Have done so on United flights to Hawaii, United / Lufthansa code share to Rome, American to Miami, and American to Puerto Rico as recent examples.

Not anecdotal - actual experience.

 

Agree I was unclear with stating "best alternative transit" when meaning assistance with alternative flights.  Fortunately that has never happened with us so I cannot say from experience, but it has happened with others from another state with whom we were traveling and they received re-booking assistance to make the ship.

 

Have also been a high level frequent flyer on USAir/American, Delta, and United with extensive business and personal travel for over 40 years so not exactly my first rodeo.  I do understand airline booking policies and codes and understand how to compare to those booked through ChoiceAir.

 

I respect everyone's input and information as I am only doing the same, but believe as you wish.

Edited by leaveitallbehind

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21 hours ago, leaveitallbehind said:

Never expected this to be so contentious as I am only conveying information based on my direct knowledge, but I can only sum it up by saying when I have purchased flights through ChoiceAir:

  • First / Business class was first / business class in the aircraft described in the first / business flat bed seats selected at the time and the price paid which was the same or lower than the direct booking price at the time in comparison.  
  • Ditto economy and economy plus (and not basic economy).
  • I paid nothing until final cruise payment and have changed flight schedules and airlines after booking and prior to final payment with no fees or penalties and have captured reduced fares that became available after initial booking.
  • Have done so on United flights to Hawaii, United / Lufthansa code share to Rome, American to Miami, and American to Puerto Rico as recent examples.

Not anecdotal - actual experience.

 

Agree I was unclear with stating "best alternative transit" when meaning assistance with alternative flights.  Fortunately that has never happened with us so I cannot say from experience, but it has happened with others from another state with whom we were traveling and they received re-booking assistance to make the ship.

 

Have also been a high level frequent flyer on USAir/American, Delta, and United with extensive business and personal travel for over 40 years so not exactly my first rodeo.  I do understand airline booking policies and codes and understand how to compare to those booked through ChoiceAir.

 

I respect everyone's input and information as I am only doing the same, but believe as you wish.

 

Not trying to beat a dead horse, but again a few clarifications...

First, your actual experience is ALSO anecdotal now for other people.  😉

Second, the original argument wasn't that if you purchase economy or business from the cruise line it will somehow mean you are in a different class of service than if you purchase from the airline.  (Although that CAN happen when a cruise line lumps economy comfort type products in with premium economy).  And if, for instance, you are seated in business class, you'll get the same service while in flight regardless of how you purchased your ticket.   The issue is in stating that the TICKET you receive from the cruise line is exactly the same and that's where the difference can lie.  The TICKET, not the class of service which is what you were referring to, is where the big differences can be, because different tickets can all be for the same class of service but have all different rules and restrictions attached to them.   Hopefully, that clarifies it a little more for anyone who may be reading all the replies and still be confused about why economy tickets aren't all the same or why business class tickets aren't all the same.  Summary:  it's not about the class of service in which you get seated, it's about the difference in rules and restrictions attached to your particular (name your class of service) ticket. 

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