Is this enough compensation for my canceled cruise?

By | May 8th, 2012

Oh no, my ship has sailed! / Photo by Liam - FlickrIn a world of conglomerates and conflicts of interest, sometimes you have to report on yourself. So when Franz Schneider asked me about his ill-fated National Geographic cruise, my first reaction was to cringe. After all, I’m National Geographic Traveler’s ombudsman.

But then I listened to his story. Last October, he’d seen an ad in National Geographic for a Sea of Cortez cruise via Linblad Expeditions. It looked like an adventure, so he made a deposit.

Early this year, he went online to book seats on Linblad’s recommended flight from Los Angeles to La Paz in Baja California, where he would start the tour.

Oops. The flight was fully booked, and had been for some time.

“It seems our tour coincided with Spring Break for a number of schools,” he says. “I suspect we would have had the same problem if we’d booked the cruise for one, two, or even three weeks later, but who knows?”

With only a few weeks before his departure, Schneider was getting nervous.

I called an AAA travel agent. After a lot of work she found us a route via Guadalajara, Mexico.

It involved a midnight flight to Guadalajara, a four-hour layover, and a six-hour wait in the La Paz airport, but it was the only option.

We showered the agent with thanks, made the reservations, bought the tickets, and made the final payment on the cruise itself.

He also made sure he bought travel insurance, just in case something went wrong. That’s always a good idea when you’re booking a cruise, which can have extremely restrictive terms.

And you can probably guess what happened next, right?

For a variety of reasons, including a some codeshare confusion, delays, immigration problems and other logistical snafus, he missed his connecting flight.

A United agent gave him more bad news: There was absolutely no way he could reach the ship before it sailed.

Linblad was “very sympathetic” and told Schneider he could file a claim for with his trip insurance carrier when he got back to California.

“When we got home we notified TripMate, the travel insurance carrier. We submitted the necessary forms and copies of our flight itineraries,” he says.

TripMate denied his claim. His loss: $14,468.

I suggested he appeal the denial, and he did. He also mentioned that he was in touch with the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler, which he says may have affected the outcome.

(I hope he means that in a good way.)

Although TripMate’s denial stuck, the cruise line offered him a voucher for the full amount of the cruise. So he’s only out $1,584 in airfare.

Is that enough?

Schneider’s insurance turned him down because he missed his cruise for a reason that wasn’t covered in his policy. Lindblad’s actions are exceptionally generous, considering the fact that other cruise lines routinely adopt the “too bad, so sad” approach to refunds or credit — by which I mean, if you miss a cruise, you’re just out of luck.

Then again, Schneider took the precaution of insuring his cruise. Shouldn’t he get all of his money back?

I don’t know. Maybe in this case, I’m the wrong guy to ask.

  • bodega3

    If I am reading this correctly, he read about the cruise in Oct but didn’t get his flights until a couple of weeks before the cruise?  Why?  It also appears that he didn’t arrange to fly in a day or two before the cruise which is always highly recommended due to airline delays.  His air is reusable for a fee, so it sounds like he will be able to use the air and the voucher for another trip.  He lucked out but he should use a travel agent for future trips as he did a lousy job handling this one!

  • I’m going to have to agree with Bodega on this one.  A cruise is a different animal than air fare or a hotel.  If you are not a sophisticated traveler I wouldn’t recommend doing a cruise by yourself, especially if you are laying out that kind of money.

  • Bruce Burger

    The obvious question: What does the insurance policy say? Travel insurance, like all types of insurance, covers some losses and not others. Without this info, we’re just wasting our time debating this. 

    In any case, the passenger should have planned to arive in La Paz at least 24 hours before the cruise to increase the chance of successfully rescheduling in case of flight problems. The AAA travel agent should have suggested that.

  • Lots of people who cruise wait to get airfare, hoping the flights will go down. But in this case, it’s not like he was going to Miami and there were a gazillion ways to get there. If you’re going to shell out 6K+ per pax on a cruise, why scrimp on the airfare? He’s lucky that Linblad is giving him a re-do. Hooray for a decent company that helped out an inexperienced traveler.

  • CarolinaLannes

    I´d really like to know what were the problems he faced. Immigration problems sounds, to me, like he didn´t have all the necessary paperwork for a travel to Bolivia.

    Plus, I think the question is wrong here. The cruise company did all it should do – plus more. The one he should be going after is the insurance company, as long as the terms of his insurance should cover this kind of situation.

  • TonyA_says

    Who sold him the travel insurance?
    If AAA sold it to him knowing he was on a cruise and they also sold his air travel, then shame on AAA for selling an ‘ineffective’ product.
    If the OP bought the travel insurance on his own then it’s his fault.
    Whenever one buys insurance, one needs to know what exactly that insurance will cover. Travel Insurance is not a panacea or a cure for ignorance. You cannot make assumptions, you need to read the (long) policy.

    It actually takes some skill and experience to put together an international or multi-modal itinerary. I often have to explain to my clients that my real job (and value) is to minimize risks and to provide backup plans. Anyone can plan and buy travel from an internet vending machine. But a flight arriving or connecting on time is never certain, the results are probabilistic. A real pro should be able to point risks out to you and help you minimize them.

  • TonyA_says

     La Paz, Baja Callifornia (Mexico) not La Paz, Bolivia.

  • emanon256

    I’m not sure his airfare would be reusable because he did fly, perhaps part of it would be?  This opens more questions for me, if the airline never got him there, and did eventually get home, what happens?  If did he miss the connecting flight because of immigration problems, I don’t think the airline would be responsible, but should give him credit for the unused portion with the change fee.  Did he try to get Insurance to reimburse the airfare?

  • emanon256

    I didn’t vote yet, but I am leaning towards voting yes.  After all the cases where the cruise line doesn’t reimburse someone anything when they missed their cruise, I think it’s great that they are giving him a full credit towards a future cruise.  I think the question should be with the insurance company and AAA, not the cruise line.  So Chris, you are off the hook on this one.
    I am also surprised that he waited until the last minute to book his flight, if I were booking a cruise, I would take care of the flight as far in advance as I could.  But that’s neither here nor there.  Also, I feel like the insurance should cover it, but I don’t know all the details of the policy.
    What gets me, is it sounds like he did everything right or at least tried to.  He hired an agent, and had a 4 hour lay-over for his connection, that sounds like ample time and I would trust an agent.  I am curious what exactly the code-share confusion, immigration problems, delays, and other logistical snafus were.  Also, does the 6 hour wait in La Paz mean he was arriving 6 hours before the cruse set sail?  That’s cutting it way to close in my book, I find it hard to believe an agent would book someone’s arrival that close to a cruise departure. Also, I would think the agent would have explained what documents he needs and explained about code share. With the information presented, I think either the agent dropped the ball on this one, or the OP didn’t want much wiggle room and demanded to arrive soon before he left, which didn’t leave room for anything to go wrong, and it did.

  • JPainis

     Or just get the flight with/from the cruise company and they’ll get you there. Much easier.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    I thought that the story said that he *did* use a travel agent – AAA.

  • john4868

    Something doesn’t smell right here and I don’t think we’re getting the entire story so I didn’t vote.

    What were the “immigration problems and other logistical snafus” that caused him to miss the flight?

    Why was he denied coverage by his carrier? Was it because he failed to purchase a policy with trip interruption or because they determined that his issues rose from the undescribed “immigration problems and other logistical snafus” that weren’t covered?

    The cruiseline did the right thing here and no he doesn’t deserve his money back from them. If they have the standard cruiseline contract, they owe him nothing so he should be happy with the voucher. The issue is with the insurance carrier and if his cancellation was due to a covered reason.

    As a final appeal, he can always appeal to agency in his state that handles insurance companies. They almost always have an independent appeal process.

  • I have a short answer and a long answer — a very long answer.

    His claim wasn’t honored because it wasn’t covered under the policy, which is a common problem with highly restrictive insurance policies.

    And the various snafus I refer to? Well, here’s the long version, which comes directly from him.

    We arrived at SFO three hours early for our flight to Guadalajara.  In the check-in line I noticed that the departures screen showed our flight as delayed until 1:37 am. But we still had a 2 ½-hour time-cushion in Guadalajara.  At check-in we received boarding passes for both the Uniter SF-to-Guadalajara flight and the Aeromexico Guadalajara-to-La Paz flight.  I didn’t notice at the time that the boarding gate for the second leg was not specified.

    In Guadalajara we were last off the plane and on to the buses that took us to the terminal.  There we found that we would be going through customs and immigration in Guadalajara after all.  Not a big surprise, though we had been told otherwise.  Because we weren’t pushy enough, we were last in line.  Our bags were scanned, and then they asked Mary to push a button.  That resulted in a red light (this was a random process, I understand) which meant that our bags would be examined manually.  The guy right before us was having some kind of problem which required two or three different customs agents to change positions, always after they finished what they were currently involved in.

    When we finished that we had about 35 minutes before the La Paz flight was scheduled to leave.  But our boarding passes didn’t specify a gate, and no Aeromexico flights appeared on any of the departure screens.  We started asking people at random and were ultimately directed to a rather distant wing.  We discovered this meant going through airport security (remember, we’d gone through security in SF and customs in Guadalajara already) with the bags that we had checked in SF.  No time to go back to the check-in counter and recheck the bags.  My mouthwash and hair crème (both new) were confiscated.

    We arrived at the departure gate extremely frazzled, but it was still only 9 am and departure time was 9:20.  But there was no one there except one young Aeromexico agent.  We showed her our boarding passes and she said, oh, too bad, the plane had already left.  What?  Turns out that this airline habitually closes their flights 40 minutes before actual departure time.  So the plane was still at the airport?  Didn’t matter, there was no way we could get on it.

    I don’t know if something still doesn’t “smell” right to you, but I do try to spare readers excessively long narratives because I know their time is valuable. Maybe more detail was necessary here.

  • According to the story of their delays, it seems many small things added up to them missing the flight. The terms of the policy probably cover missed connections for the following reasons:

    due to: a) any delay of a Common Carrier (the delay must be certified by the Common Carrier); b) a documented weather condition preventing You from getting to the point of departure; c) quarantine, hijacking, Strike, natural disaster, terrorism or riot.

    Aeromexico sis not necessarily delay the flight, they just closed the door very early. You might argue that the security checks and gat confusion are delays, but they are not caused by the common carrier. In short, this is just some very bad luck. For goodwill, it wouldn’t hurt the insurance company to take another look, especially when the cruise line has already taken the bulk of the loss.

  • john4868

    Thanks Chris… Actually makes better sense now entirely. Those two vague terms could have meant visa or passport issues. Could have meant that they went to the wrong gate or the wrong airport.

    If his policy didn’t cover delays and interruptions, he purchased the wrong policy. I couldn’t tell from the narrative if AA sold it to him or he chose it. If AA sold it to him, they need to step up and cover his flight. If he chose it, he learned the lesson that the current Allstate commercials allude to, if you buy cheap you might lose out.

    Thanks for the additional info

  • Was the insurance purchased via Linblad? Or did he purchase it from Trip Mate to cover the cruise and airfare?

  • john4868

    The inbound flight was delayed by 1 1/2 hours. If delays were covered, that should be enough.

  • S E Tammela

    Hm, not allowed to delete a comment or replace it with nothing? Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Vivamus sed magna neque. Pellentesque erat libero, aliquet et lobortis ac, consectetur sit amet nisi.

  • I’ve taken Lindblad trips in the past. They offer comprehensive travel assistance as part of their whole package – specific flights are designated for each trip and listed in the information packet provided. Lindblad agents will even book the flights for you. If this gentlemen did not take advantage of the booking services provided by Lindblad, he put himself at risk for missing a connection and/or being unable to book his preferred flights.

  • lorcha

    Hehe. Good catch. I love the knee-jerk reaction of travel agents here. Whenever anything goes wrong, “Should have used a travel agent! Nothing goes wrong when you use a TA!”

    Oh well, here you ago, TAs: “I called an AAA travel agent. After a lot of work she found us a route via Guadalajara, Mexico.”

  • lorcha

    WTF? She did use a TA: ”
    I called an AAA travel agent. After a lot of work she found us a route via Guadalajara, Mexico.”

  • Michelle Bell

    I think his unused tickets should be refunded or retain their value for rebooking, but he should have read the terms of the travel insurance. Some companies, although more expensive than TripMate, would have covered it (it seems, anyway, from the facts presented). He did use some portion of the tickets, so I don’t think that should be re-usable. As someone who has had terrible problems with United, and know how anti-customer-service they are, I seriously doubt he’s getting anything back from them. I don’t think Lindblad owes him anything else, however.

  • User921394932

    Why didn’t he just drive from LA to Las Paz?

  • Cassondra Monique

    I just love how “buyer beware” is the reasoning most commentors on your stories use as the reasoning for the buyer to be screwed over.If someone is not a travel genius it doesn’t mean they should be screwed. It means they are like most people in the world and do the best they can with the information available. I think this person did everything to the best of their knowledge and they shouldn’t be penalized for that. The insurance needs to cough up the rest of what they are owed (and that includes the flight from SF to Guad, since even though they technically “used” it, it was completely worthless to them and just caused them a lot of headache and disappointment). 

  • $16635417

    But did they use a TA from the beginning? It sounds like they tried to book the cruise and air themselves a la carte and then failed at the air…at that point using a TA?

  • severnwatcher

    I think this guy is unbelievably lucky (& Nat Geo extremely generous) – the cruise line covered their fare with a full credit, even though not oligated to. 

    As for the airfare, the end of the story says it all, “Schneider’s insurance turned him down because he missed his cruise for a reason that wasn’t covered in his policy.”  Since he used the airfare and only wants a refund because he missed the boat (for a reason they don’t cover), they’re not obiligated to do anything. 

    So, he’s out about $1500 because he didn’t read the fine print – he coulda been out $14,000, like I said, LUCKY!

    End of story. 

  • lorcha

    To me, it also sounded like they only involved a TA once it was clear that they couldn’t get air on their own. 

    I’m not sure how that matters, though. I’m assuming TA knew that traveler was trying to make a cruise and should have gotten them in the day before the cruise sailed to account for snafus. What if the leg to Guadalajara had been canceled for some reason? Traveler would almost certainly have missed the connection to La Paz and missed the cruise.

    Looking at the letter again, what it really looks like happened is that traveler waited way too long to book the air, which resulted in the sail-day arrival in La Paz being unavoidable. TA probably pushed insurance pretty hard, knowing that the itinerary had zero margin for error. 

    Traveler wisely bought insurance, but the reason for the interruption wound up not being covered. Not knowing what type of TripMate policy traveler had (some of them are more restrictive than others), it’s hard to know if a different policy would have covered his loss. Reading below, it sounds like his connection in Guadalajara was cursed!

  • lorcha

    “In any case, the passenger should have planned to arive in La Paz at least 24 hours before the cruise to increase the chance of successfully rescheduling in case of flight problems. The AAA travel agent should have suggested that.”

    Rereading the OP a bit, it looks like what really happened is that traveler waited until just a few weeks before sail-date to book his international air ticket, severely limiting his options. Arriving on his sail-date was probably unavoidable, and his TA probably pushed travel insurance pretty hard because the itinerary was so risky.

    That is my current reading of the situation, anyway.

  • TonyA_says

    Covering what exactly? A missed connection? Well, if so, the max payout is ~$750. He couldn’t practically use that to catch up with his cruise since it was visiting a bunch of small islands in the Sea of Cortez. What’s he gonna do – rent a dinghy and try to catch or meet up with the National Geographic Sea Bird? :-)

  • EvilEmpryss

    I’m torn on this one.  On the one hand, he did buy travel insurance.  On the other, the incident wasn’t covered by the insurance.  If it wasn’t covered, I think he got a very good deal and is probably as good as it’s going to get.

    I’m taking a trip soon and for the first time purchased travel insurance, and even though I know better I haven’t had a chance to read over everything in the policy yet…   The problem is all the “gotchas” that can be buried in there, or extremely flexible interpretations of the policy restrictions that almost always seem to go to the company’s (not the traveler’s) benefit.  I’m hoping that I don’t have to use the insurance, but if something goes wrong, I don’t think I would try to hold the insurance company responsible if the problem was something specifically excluded from the policy.  Buyer beware with the insurance, I guess.

  • lorcha

    Chris posted more info from the traveler in the comments. Traveler had a 4 hour layover in Guadalajara, which I’ve never been to personally, but sounds decent for an international transfer. Basically, he was delayed by a combination three things:
    1. 90 minute delay out of LAX. 
    2. Needing to pass through customs and further needing a manual search of his luggage.
    3. His flight to La Paz closing the doors early.

    Insurance should have paid out for a delay out of LAX, but probably decided that the 90 minute delay was not sufficient to cause him to miss his connection due to a 4 hour layover. Their position is probably that the missed connection was caused by customs, and therefore not covered by his policy. 

    Since you do this professionally, do travel insurance policies typically cover customs delays? 

  • Joe_D_Messina

    The OP’s actions confuse me. In October he hears about the cruise and puts down money to go. Yet despite the fact they had a recommended flight he wanted to take, he waits until “early this year” before trying to book it. And it’s interesting he is specific about it being October, but then gets vague on when he tried to get airfare.  Was “early this year” just a couple weeks prior to the March cruise?  

    I guess maybe the recommended flight info was part of the cruise packet, but shouldn’t that have arrived pretty soon after he booked? It looks to me as if he dropped the ball by waiting too long to get plane tickets.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Thanks for the added info. I agree it is lengthy, but it does add to the picture and they come out looking more favorable to me than the short version.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Guessing because it is over 1,000 miles one-way and a 19+ hour drive according to Google maps.  And with some of the issues Mexico has been facing lately, I don’t think I’d be loading up the family truckster for an extended drive all by my lonesome.

  • bodega3

    You are right.  He did use the air, my error.

  • ExplorationTravMag

    The article says they tried to use the flight recommended for/by the cruise and it was booked solid.  I suppose they could have checked themselves as cargo.

  • emanon256

    Thanks Chris, this info really helps.  It sounds like the perfect storm for the poor traveler.  I am glad he got a cruise credit, but I would hope the insurance could cover the airfare.

  • bodega3

    Only weeks before his departure date did he use a TA.  With it being spring break time period and so close to travel, he was left with the least desireable flights and connections. It doesn’t state if he mentioned to AAA the reason for his air needs. 

  • Michael__K

    Sounds then like the policy that Linblad itself sells is completely inadequate for their own cruises.   It has a $750 max payout — $150/day up to 6 days — for a missed connection.

    The interruption insurance appears to be useless unless the air carrier completely ceases operations for 12+ hours.

  • Michael__K

    It sounds like they still had a 2 1/2 hour cushion even after accounting for the 1 1/2 hour delay!

    Pretty absurd if 2 1/2 hours is not enough time to make a connection.

  • TonyA_says

    The relevant coverages would fall under Trip Delay and/or  Missed Connection.

    I assume that the delayed departure from SFO did not result in a violation of Minimum Connection Time at Guadalajara (GDL) which is 90 minutes.

    Using Travel Guard’s (which I sell) definition, IMHO, delay caused by custom’s inspection is not a valid reason unless the pax was quarantined (in Mexico).

    The Insurer will reimburse the Insured up to the Maximum
    Limit(s) shown on the Schedule for Reasonable Additional
    Expenses until travel becomes possible if the Insured’s Trip is
    delayed 5 or more consecutive hours from reaching their
    intended Destination as a result of a cancellation or delay of a
    regularly scheduled airline flight for one of the Unforeseen
    events listed below:
    (a) reasons listed under Trip Cancellation and Interruption;
    (b) Common Carrier delay;
    (c) the Insured’s or Traveling Companion’s lost or stolen
    passports, travel documents, or money;
    (d) Natural Disaster; or
    (e) the insured being involved in or delayed due to a traffic
    accident while en route to a departure as substantiated by a
    police report.
    Incurred expenses must be accompanied by receipts.
    This benefit is payable for only one delay per Insured, per Trip.
    If the Insured incurs more than one delay in the same Trip the
    Insurer will pay for the delay with the largest benefit up to the
    Maximum Limits shown on the Schedule.
    The Insured Must: Contact Travel Guard as soon as he/she
    knows his/her Trip is going to be delayed more than 5 hours.

    If while on a Trip the Insured misses a Trip departure resulting
    from cancellation or delay of 3 or more hours of all regularly
    scheduled airline flights due to Inclement Weather or Common
    Carrier caused delay, the Insurer will reimburse the Insured up
    to the Maximum Limit shown in the Schedule for:
    1. additional transportation expenses incurred by the Insured
    to join the departed Trip;
    2. pre-paid, non-refundable trip payments for the unused
    portion of the Trip.
    The Common Carrier must certify the delay of the regularly
    scheduled airline flight.
    Coverage is secondary if reimbursable by any other source.

  • Actually if you read the terms of most travel insurance policies, for a delay to be covered you usually must have a 4-6 hour delay (or longer).   So a 1.5 hour delay would not be covered under most policies.  

  • reasonedthought

    That was to get the flights after the OP couldn’t find any on his own.  He booked the cruise directly with the cruise line.  Had he done the entire thing through the TA the odds are that the air would have been booked at the same time the cruise deposit was made and not 3 or 4 months later.

  • TonyA_says

    That’s why I tell people the Travel Insurance is NOT a panacea.

  • Joe Farrell

    My gosh, you can drive from LA to Baja California Sur . . .

    Did he look for first class tickets?  You know – spring breakers rarely fly first class –

    And – perhaps he could have also found an air taxi service.  Its only a 2 hour flight even at 160kts to La Paz . . .

    There is ALWAYS a way – it just depends what kind of money you want to spend –  if I’m going to lose $5k for a cruise I think I’m a lot more likely to spend $1000 for an air taxi service than simply hope and pray that insurance is going to cover me –
    I can make the cruise and fight over the cost of the travel to get there later.

    I will say that you should never never never never – did I say never? – leave for a cruise the same day that that the cruise leaves unless you can get a ride over there from friends = you ALWAYS leave the day before so that airline problems and car problems can be fixed.

    Next, if the reason why he missed his flights was because of ‘code share confusion,’ thats on the TRAVEL AGENT. AAA needs to step up here – because they screwed it up most likely.

    FREE TIP: If you EVER purchase a ticket using a code share – you MUST ALWAYS after you have a ticket number [not just a reservation but a ticket number] call up the code share airline and make sure you actually have a paid for ‘OK’ status reservation in their system.

  • MikeInCtown

    I’m wondering why in the world is he not upset with AAA for pushing an insurance policy which would not have covered missing the cruise because of flight problems?  Unless he went out on his own and bought the insurance?? A few unanswered questions here.

  • Michael__K

    didn’t get his flights until a couple of weeks before the cruise

    Actually the article states that final cruise payment was made immediately after the flights were booked.

    And we can verify that Linblad requires final cruise payment 60 days before departure 

    So the “few weeks” in the article probably corresponds to at least 8 1/2 weeks.

    But if your objective is to make the traveler look as bad as possible, then I suppose those facts aren’t relevant.

  • lorcha

    Traveler stated that the 90 minute delay reduced their connection time to 2.5 hours. Definitely legal. 

    I can see traveler’s position because he didn’t cause the missed connection. I can also see the insurance carrier’s position, because the cause of loss was not covered. The 90 minute delay out of SFO did not cause the loss. It was Murphy’s Law in GDL that was the cause.

  • TonyA_says

    As I said in my other post, the solution here is problem minimization or avoidance. I’m working on a longer post about that topic. We can all learn something from this case.

  • lorcha

    Chris posted more info from the traveler. Basically, the 90 minute delay out of SFO resulted in a 2.5 hour connection window in GDL. As per TonyA, minimum connection time in GDL is 90 minutes. So traveler had a legal connection (with an extra hour of buffer), even with the delay on his inbound.

    Really, a combination of customs delays and passenger not being able to navigate GDL are what caused the missed connection. As TonyA pointed out above, these causes are not typically covered.

  • Michael__K

    Is it unreasonable to expect that if the cruiseline provider itself sells an insurance policy, that this policy should be appropriate for the most obvious intended purposes?

  • lorcha

    I agree. Root cause here is that passenger waited too long to book his air, forcing his TA to book him a risky itinerary.

  • TonyA_says

    If you buy trip protection and air travel from the cruise line they can always give you another cruise. If you buy your own insurance and air travel, then you are on your own. The OP was lucky Lindblad was very, very nice to accommodate him.

  • SooZeeeQ

    “So he’s only out $1,584 in airfare” – for me, that is a ton of money.
    And if I understand this correctly, he has a voucher and has to take a cruise with them and could experience all of the craziness again and money back in my account would be a whole lot better.

  • Michael__K

    If he booked air at the same time as the final cruise payment (which is what the article states) then that would imply he booked his air *at least* 60 days in advance.  (That’s Linblad’s deadline for final payment).

  • Michael__K

    How do you know he didn’t buy protection from the cruise line?

    We know he bought a TripMate policy and we know that the policy Linblad sells is from TripMate.

  • MikeInCtown

    After reading what Chris posted, I would then be looking for a statement from the airline as to when their doors officially close and nobody is allowed on board. if the airline crew closed the doors too early and would not let him on, that would ultimately be the cause for his missed flight as he would have been on the plane, even with all the other screw ups.

  • Michael__K

    Note that the October deposit was probably for $500 and probably the airfare was more than double that amount even at that point.  

    The final payment to Linblad was not due until 60 days before departure (which appears to be when he booked the flights).

    I could see the logic of waiting until just before the 60 day deadline to purchase flights if you’re worried about something cropping up earlier that might prompt you to cancel (better to lose a $500 deposit than $2000 in deposit + airfare).

  • J

    That’s a 20 hour drive.

    (This was supposed to be in reply to a comment below suggesting the OP could have driven. Disqus put it somewhere else instead.)

  • Lindabator

    Yes, and he STILL couldn’t make his connecting flight, even with a 4 hour layover?  I think Chris needs to explain just what the logistical problems and immigration snafus were here!

  • bodega3

    Well he screwed up on his decision.  He was traveling at a high travel period.

  • lorcha

    Doors were closed 40 minutes before departure. Even if we assume that doors should be closed the instant before departure (which I realize is impossible), then that still leaves a 110 minute connection, or 20 minutes over and above the minimum connection time.

    Airline did not cause the missed connection.

  •  call up the code share airline and make sure you actually have a paid for ‘OK’ status reservation in their system

    Very very true. My very first international trip was on American from San Francisco to Boston to Heathrow, then Athens the next day on British Airway. Sure enough, AA screwed up and didn’t do something that was needed for BA to release my ticket .  But being uber paranoid I arrive at Heathrow six hours before my flight. to Athens.  Good thing because I had some hellacious walking, fully laden, from BA to AA and back to BA. (I didn’t know about Left Luggage) at the time.

    But knowing I had plenty of time allowed for a much more relaxed, stress free morning.

  • bodega3

    I don’t normally make negative comments to other posters, but you are a piece of work.  From the article:
    With only a few weeks before his departure, Schneider was getting nervous.
    I called an AAA travel agent. After a lot of work she found us a route via Guadalajara, Mexico.

    He screwed up on his decisions.  He shouldn’t have waited when traveling during a high travel period.

  • bodega3

    Bad move on his part.

  • Michael__K

    they’re not obiligated to do anything

    While you’re at it, you can tell Raven that he’s not obligated to get any refund when he pays $59 for that aisle bulkhead when an FA demands he relinquish it to another passenger….

  • Lindabator

    But their problem was on the CONNECTING flight, even with a 4 hour layover.   And since this was never originally booked with an agent, he only had limited options available at the late date he booked the airfare.  I’d be interested in WHY he had Immigration snafus/ogistical problems, and what those were! 

  • Lindabator

    But if the client doesn’t WANT to travel in a day early, they can’t beat them over the head about it – and he really didn’t say if that was an option – or even WHY in heaven’s name he would wait so long to book to such an important airfare to begin with.

  • Lindabator

    Perhaps you should read this again – he clearly states that with only a few weeks before the departure, he was becoming anxious about the flights.

  • Lindabator

    Actually have booked this for clients in the past – Lindblad doesn’t book the flights, they just recommend which ones to book for them. 

  • Lindabator

    HAHA!  Yes, and that is why he NEVER should have waited so long to book those flights – they are smaller capacity, and very limited.  (I know, I’ve booked them many times before) 

  • ExplorationTravMag

    I agree, Linda.  People will play the odds their chosen flight will have lower fares the closer they get to the date and things like this happen.

  • lorcha

    I don’t see how it matters whether the sail-date arrival was as a result of the traveler’s procrastinating the air booking or his preference not to arrive a day in advance. Either way, passenger forced TA’s hand.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Unlikely he’d experience as many problems the next time. He’ll now know to book the preferred flight way ahead of time and he’ll undoubtedly be more careful about reading the fine print of whatever travel insurance he buys. 

    And the cruise line was amazingly generous with him. They didn’t even owe him a credit, so they darn sure weren’t going to give him his cash back.  None of this was their fault; no reason they’d take a loss on this deal.

  • SooZeeeQ

    Thanks for the comment – this site has a lot of polite peeps!

    Still want to know what insurance company will actually take care of their “insured”.

  • TonyA_says

    He should have followed Lindblad’s recommendation via LAX-LAP

    I tried to simulate Schneider’s problem. This post is rather long but it will show you his predicament.

    Schneider has practically 3 routing options from SFO to LAP.
    (1) Alaska Air (AS) via SFO-LAX-LAP; preferred
    (2) AeroMexico (AM) via SFO-MEX-LAP
    (3) United (UA) and AeroMexico (AM) interlined  via SFO-GDL-(AM)-LAP

    Route #1 SFO-LAX-LAP (recommendation of Lindblad) was in IMO the best option. I prefer NOT to connect in [unfamiliar] foreign airports. He could either take a 615A or 640A flight out of SFO. Here’s a sample:

       AS6661   SFO LAX    640A  1  802A    5  CR9
                PSGR CHK IN – DELTA AIR LINES
       AS2603   LAX LAP   1000A  6  140P       DH4   LAX   DI   90

    But let’s suppose there were no more seats on this flight, would he take the AeroMexico flight to Mexico City or the UA flight to Guadalajara?

    Let’s take a look at Route #2 AeroMexico’s route via MEX:

      #AM 665   SFO MEX    110A  I  720A    2  737
      #AM2070   MEX LAP    910A  2 1039A       EMJ   MEX   ID   75

    There’s 110 minutes scheduled between flights with a minimum connection time (MCT) of 75 minutes. The standard MCT [within Terminal 2] in MEX for Int’l to Domestic is 120 minutes but Aero Mexico’s (exception) is only 75 minutes.
    Even if you have never connected in MEX you can at least read this

    On-time performance of AM665 is 86%. Average Delay 30 minutes.

    So what if your flight AM665 is delayed by 30 minutes, what would likely happen? That will shorten your connecting time to 80 minutes, almost about the same as the 75 minutes needed to make a legal connection.

    If you miss your connection, what is the next flight?
    AM2072    MEX LAP- 405P 525P    ERJ RR0
    You might miss your cruise and the whales at Bahia Magdalena.

    Now let’s take a look at Route #3, United’s route via Guadalajara:

      #UA1270   SFO GDL   1225A  I  605A    1  738
      #AM2120   GDL LAP    915A  2 1050A       ERJ   GDL   ID   90

    There’s 190 minutes scheduled between flights with a minimum connection time (MCT) of 90 minutes. Ok so it seems like you have 100 minutes to spare.
    Even if you have never connected in GDL you can at least read this

    If the OP did, maybe he would have given the custom’s button a good, firm and long press as the locals recommended.

    The United flight from SFO to GDL used to be UA1244. That had a horrible on-time performance rating of 17%. Ave delay 38 mins, Max delay 141 mins.

    If you miss your connection your next flight is:
    AM2311   GDL LAP- 400P 535P  *  ERJ 1E
    You, also, might miss your cruise and the whales at Bahia Magdalena.

    Please note that there are NO market fares for United for SFO-LAP. The UA fare is from SFO-GDL. To sell a ticket SFO-GDL-LAP, the travel agent will have to combine an Aero Mexico fare GDL – LAP. That alone should be a ‘warning sign’ to the travel agent that something could go wrong with this routing.

    Alright, so it seems unless you take the via LAX-LAP route you are faced with a short connection time in MEX, or a perennially late UA flight into GDL. Both airports do not have a viable backup flight to LAP that will take you there on time for embarkation.

    I think the foregone conclusion is –  leave a day earlier and spend the night somewhere in Mexico. I hear the food is good there.

  • Michael__K

    You prove my point.  If the facts are what’s important, then you wouldn’t need to exaggerate and make incredulous assumptions.

    “a few weeks” becomes “a couple of weeks”
    “8.5+ weeks” becomes “so close to travel”

    “called an AAA travel agent” becomes “he should use a travel agent ” and “It doesn’t state if he mentioned to AAA the reason for his air needs.”

  • Lindabator

    I was responding to your comment that the agent should have known to get them in a day early.  Again, we cannot FORCE someone to do so, even when it makes the most sense.  And yes, by waiting this long, the TA didn’t have many options left to offer him.  too bad he waited so long.

  • Lindabator

    Don’t bother – you were right the first time – he IS a piece of work!

  • Lindabator

    I know – and if he had used an agent he would have gotten the sense of urgency in all this.  As I said, I have booked this for several clients in the past, and ALWAYS book as soon as the cruise is booked – and with a pre- and post- option to boot.  Just think he got VERY lucky that Lindblad will allow him the opportunity to try this wonderful cruise again!

  • Lindabator

    But after the client booked the cruise DIRECTLY with Lindblad, he waited several months to booked the recommended flights, and then found everything sold out.  That was when he approached the AAA agent, so we don’t know if he even would have had a day early available (those flights could have also been sold out by then).  He should never have waited so long to book into a smaller airport like that during peak season.  Just glad that lindblad is giving him the opportunity to try this marvelous cruise once again!

  • Lindabator

    Yes, Lindblad went above and beyond in this case.  He’s VERY lucky he’ll get a second bite at that apple.  Just needs to book the air as SOON as he books the cruise this time!

  • Lindabator

    And to a destination with limited airlift.  Not the best decision.

  • Lindabator

    Wasn’t going to Bolivia – was La Paz, Mexico for a Sea of Cortez cruise.  But yes, Lindblad went above and beyond in this case – and if he missed his connection due to immigration problems, insurance would NOT cover that.

  • Lindabator

    Unfortunately, as AAA members know, they have TRIPMATE (their own insurance).  I think the comment about immigration snafus may be the sticking point, though.  IF that was why he could not make the flight, insurance does NOT cover it. 

  • TonyA_says

    Read my post carefully. I said “AND” air travel from the cruise line. According to Lindblad they can get you air arrangements for an additional $50 fee. We know he bought air tickets from AAA and he bought his cruise (separately) from Lindblad. Don’t know HOW he bought his travel insurance. Next time he really should use a good CRUISE EXPERT and follow her/his advice.

  • Lindabator

    I sell TravelGuard and TravelEx – no being held up in customs/immigration is not a covered reason – there is enough time built into that 4 hour layover, even with a delay, to cover the MCT. 

  • Lindabator

    I agree, it is not a covered reason, as you could be the cause of the delay due to improper paperwork, getting snippy with their questions, their having found something, etc.

  • Lindabator

    But they took out the airfare and insurance from AAA – NOT Lindblad

  • Lindabator

    No – he states the air and insurance were purchased from AAA

  • Lindabator

    They recommend which flights to take, and if you book, charge a booking fee.  The client may have decided to save himself the fee – BAD DECISION!

  • Lindabator

    NO insurance covers every reason – you have to know what is and what is not covered.  If his problems were due to a delay in immigration, no policies cover that.  He is very lucky the cruise line gave him a redo – next time, he should book the RECOMMENDED FLIGHTS as soon as the cruise is locked in.  Then he wouldn’t have had to deal with connections, code-shares, etc.

  • Lindabator

    MANY do – but for covered reasons – same as your life insurance policy has a clause against suicide, or your health insurance doesn’t cover you outside the system – and no one would expect THEM to.  (I do have to say that AAA’s TRIPMATE insurance is NOT one of my favorites). 

  • TonyA_says

    Here’s the seat availability display for AS2603 LAX-LAP on 02FEB 2013. That’s 270 days or 9 months from today!

    02FEB-SA-1A LAXLAP(QLALAP) PT **                           
    1  #AS2603 Y7 S7 B7 M0 H0 Q0 L0 V0 K0 G0 T0 LAXLAP 1250P 420P     DH4 0E

    Note that the cheapest seat you can buy as of today is already a B class fare.
    So this is a sample, or a good reason why the OP should book early. There are some days that will sell out fast.

  • TonyA_says

     Wise words!

  • TonyA_says

    The real reason TAs sell travel insurance is to cover their behinds. Any good lawyer will tell travel agents to always offer travel insurance to reduce liabilities. PS. the commission on travel insurance is quite small. The work to key in stuff and explain the policy is quite time consuming.

  • Sadie_Cee

    Ditto, ditto, ditto only in my case it was a codeshare between Air Portugal and Air Canada.  Air Canada operated the Toronto to Madrid leg connecting with to Air Portugal to Lisbon. 

    Good thing I am from the “overpreparation” school.  Called AC who had no record that I would be flying out with them in a few days.  Got that straightened out.  Next, on check-in at YYZ the AC agent told me that she had lost the connection with the AP computer.  She said it had crashed before my boarding pass for the second (AP) leg could be printed.  Proceeded without it. 

    Had a hellacious (love that word now and will use it often) time trying to find the AP counter in Madrid.  The shuttle bus would not take me without the AP boarding pass.  With carry-on luggage in tow I walked for 90 min. between terminals trying to find it.

    The day was not done with me yet because due to a traffic controller’s strike at CDG many flights were being diverted to Madrid.  The AP flight was delayed 2.5 hours.  Fortunately, my ride in Lisbon had waited to whisk me to my final destination which was 3 hours away.

  • Chasmosaur

    You know, I look at travelers like this and am always surprised.

    I used to do dinosaur digs in Canada.  Even though I could take non stop flights to the closest airport, I would try and get a flight that landed a solid 36 hours before I had to arrive at the point where the crew would be picking me up.  (Usually fairly close to the middle of nowhere.)  That way if Greyhound Canada had a problem, they had plenty of time to book me on a subsequent bus. Or if my luggage/gear didn’t make the flight for some reason, there was time for Air Canada to get it to me before I was deep in the middle of nowhere.

    And I didn’t have a boat to worry about.  If my flights or bus got screwed up, I could have been picked up the next day – it would have been a PITA, but it was possible.  If I had board a cruise ship, I would try to be in the port of call well ahead of time, especially if ~$15K is on the line.

    I think the cruise line paid enough.  I don’t think they should have had to, though, as others have noted the cruise line suggested flights when he booked.  Why he didn’t book the flight at the same time is beyond me.  Penny wise and pound foolish, perhaps.

  • jet2x2

    I find the headline a bit confusing.  The cruise was not “cancelled.”  He didn’t get there in time to board the ship.  Putting aside the debates about using a TA and getting insurance, it seems prudent to get to the port a day early whenever you go on a cruise unless you can afford to be out whatever you spent on it.  Too many things can go wrong with air travel these days. This is particularly true if the cruise starts in a foreign country.  I tend to view these types of situations in terms of risk – if a traveler is willing to take the risk of missing the ship to save a few bucks on airfare or take less vacation days from work, that’s his or her choice.  If something unfortunate happens, why is that the cruise company’s responsibility?  And if I purchase travel insurance, am I not solely responsible for knowing what it covers and choosing to take any risks not covered?  I know people can be misled or even lied to sometimes but this doesn’t seem like that type of problem.       

  • TonyA_says

    He himself said the good LAX-LAP route was no longer available that far ahead.

    Why do YOU think 60 days advanced is good enough for this route for Spring Break time?

    While I do not follow routes to MEXICO regularly (not my expertise), I know a number of Asian routes where the lower booking classes have already sold off for Xmas season (more than 6 months from now).

    LAP is a limited capacity destination so buy early during peak travel season.

  • Michael__K

    In other words, 4 or 5 months in advance could easily have been a challenge with this itinerary.

    But instead of saying that, it’s easy to ridicule the OP for buying his air “a couple of weeks” before travel (which isn’t even accurate).

  • Michael__K

    I made no judgement as to whether 60 days is good enough or not.

    We have several Monday Morning QB’s who want  us to believe (why?) that the OP purchased his tickets “only a couple of weeks” before travel.

  • TonyA_says

    Or arrive one day ahead (if you cannot get the non-stop from LAX).

  • Michael__K


  • Michael__K

    Where does “he state” so?

  • bodega3

    Few, couple?  He booked too late regardless.

  • bodega3

    Lindblad’s coverage is a protection plan.  AAA’s is insurance.  He states he took out insurance.

  • Michael__K

    Is there contract language somewhere stating that Linblad credits you for a new cruise if they make your air arrangements (for $50) and you no-show because of an uncovered reason (like a random customs search)? 

    Or is this still a scenario where you are relying on Linblad’s  “goodwill”?

  • TonyA_says

    Regarding the six (6) hours wait in La Paz, I also find this a bit misleading. As far as I can tell, the tour starts in La Paz and takes a long bus ride (3.5 hours) to San Carlos where the boat is docked. Embarkation was most probably in San Carlos (and not La Paz).

    This year AS2603 from LAX was scheduled to arrive before 2PM. So even with the bus ride, embarkation can easily be like 5:30 to 6PM.

    The OP’s UA/AM flight was scheduled to arrive LAP before noon. That’s why he said he had 6 hours to embark. But I don’t think he mentioned the bus ride. With the bus ride, then one should be in LAP around 2-230PM or they will miss the tour.

    Next winter season, AS2603 has a later schedule, 320 and 420PM arrival in LAP. I bet that will force Lindblad to change their schedules also for 2013 (unless they want to change their recommended airline).

  • Michael__K

    That’s a valid point, but there are plenty of prior cases on this very site where Chris and the OP referred in the article to a “travel insurance” purchase even though the OP actually purchased a “protection plan”….

    Here is one very recent example: 

  • Michael__K

    *IF* that was an option, sure.

    And in that case, I wouldn’t expect the OP to claim that his itinerary “was the only option.”

  • jet2x2

    Insurance is just a contract.  What is covered depends on the language of the contract.  Since insurance companies are betting that they will take in more money on policies than they have to pay, and they balance their risk accordingly, they usually exclude as much as they can from coverage, or they charge more than you would want to pay for coverages that will cost them more.  You can probably buy insurance that will cover you if you miss a plane flight that causes a loss on something else – but I bet it will cost a whole lot of money.

  • jet2x2

    I don’t think you have to be a “travel genius” to have avoided this.  If I spend thousands on a cruise I want to make sure I get to the port in time to board.  If that means getting there a day early in case my flights are messed up for any reason, I do it.  Or I book through the cruise company if they have a guarantee that they will get me there on time. That costs a bit more but it’s worth it to avoid losing the entire trip. And if a traveler needs expert advice because they’ve never done this type of trip before, there are plenty of people (many on this blog in fact) who can help. I trust my TA completely but I still research things myself.

  • Michael__K

    Question: Let’s assume hypothetically that the OP’s flights were 1 day earlier.

    If these flights are routinely sold out 2 months in advance, what are his prospects, realistically, of getting accommodated on the next day’s flight?

  • TonyA_says

    Michael_K, I think you need to call Lindblad and ask them about all your insurance questions. I don’t sell them so I do NOT know what they will or will not cover. All I know is generally speaking, if you want to get anything (back) from a cruise line, it is best to get travel (protection) insurance and air tickets from them directly. For travel plans that are more complex and involve more than a cruise (such as additional cities, etc.), then a travel professional is probably the way to go. Every situation is different and needs to be looked at separately, so I am definitely making a broad and sweeping statement.

    You can also do some googling and see what other people did on a similar tour. Here’s one
    Note how the writer said they were MET BY LINDBLAD staff AT LAX AIRPORT with their own check in area – a clear sign Lindblad was pushing (selling) the Alaska Air LAX-LAP flight. My guess here is if that AS flight screwed up and you had insurance form Lindblad, they will be more than gracious to help you.

    Michael, I do respect the knowledge of my fellow travel agents here like Linda and Bodega. I believe they have been in the business much longer than me and therefore have a lot more experience. For some reason, your posts come out as a challenge to their knowledge and really hurt their feelings. You do have a right to disagree with anyone and have your own opinions. But instead of questioning someone’s opinion most of the time, why not simply propose your own version of the case, and let it be? I think that will lead to a more harmonious relationship in this forum. Thanks, Tony A.

  • TonyA_says

     Kindly read my post
    It summarizes his options.
    This is a very thin route. Very few options.

  • Michael__K

    Already read it, very nice post.

    My point is simply that at 60+ days those other choices you suggest (perhaps even arriving 1-2 days ahead) may have been gone.

  • bodega3

    This is something to ponder when using FF miles on flights with limited airlift, too.  You might not get there. 

  • TonyA_says

    @Michael__K:disqus  Here is a scenario of the sellout for the LAX-LAP flight.
    On 12MAY, there are ZERO (0) available seats on the LAX-LAP segment AS2603.

    1  #AS6661 F3 U3 Y7 S7 B7 M7 H7 Q7 SFOLAX  640A 802A     CR9 0E
               L7 V7 K7 G7 T7
    2  #AS2603 Y0 S0 B0 M0 H0 Q0 L0 V0    LAP 1000A 140P     DH4 0E
               K0 G0 T0
    3  #AS1249 F7 Y7 S7 B7 M7 H7 Q7 L7 SFOLAX  615A 740A     738 0E
               V7 K7 G7 T7
    4  #AS2603 Y0 S0 B0 M0 H0 Q0 L0 V0    LAP 1000A 140P     DH4 0E
               K0 G0 T0

    So you can take the flight the day before, 11MAY on either:


     1 UA1270S 11MAY FR SFOGDL SS1  1225A  605A/O $ E
     2*AM2120Q 11MAY FR GDLLAP SS1   915A 1050A/X $ E
     ADT01       378.00           47.27            425.27
    *TTL         378.00           47.27            425.27

    -or- AERO MEXICO VIA MEX for $403:

     1 AM 665N 11MAY FR SFOMEX SS1   110A  720A/O $ J02 E
     2*AM2070N 11MAY FR MEXLAP SS1   939A 1108A/X $ J02 E
     ADT01       356.00            47.07            403.07
    *TTL         356.00            47.07            403.07
    So here I am able to show how one can salvage a trip down to La Paz buying a ticket 3 days before a flight. You will get there on 11MAY a day ahead of the target day.

  • Michael__K

    Did you miss the part where he states the sequence of events?

    We showered the agent with thanks, made the reservations, bought the tickets, and made the final payment on the cruise itself.

    My link further above points to Linbald’s terms including the final payment deadline.

  • AUSSIEtraveller

    how on earth can anyone blaim the cruise company, when the only problem was he couldn’t get himself there on time.

    Unbelieveable. I don’t know why the cruis eco. gave him anything back.

    It must be because the USA is the land of the dodgy lawyer (they’re alll dodgy) that people in USA, think, it’s someone else’s fault, never their own.

  • The flaw in your analysis is that it assumes everything went according to the paperwork.  There are any number of scenarios where that might be incorrect, including that he was late with his final payment.

  • TonyA_says

    Carver, everything could have worked out fine except some very unusual delay happened at Customs in Guadalajara. If you have to allocate time for that kind of snafu, then the only solution is to get there at least one day earlier. What else can anyone do? There’s no backup flights.

  • Michael__K

    Ideally we’d want to know what the availability looked like for the OP’s sail date (in March presumably).

    If we’re saying that booking 60 days in advance is reckless because of sold-out peak period flights, then is it fair to simultaneously imply that a missed connection snafu would be easily salvaged with an extra 24 hours?

    Genuine question: Using your example here, if someone followed all the good advice in the comments and booked the 11MAY flight and an overnight hotel 9 months ago for a cruise departing on 12MAY, how likely would they be to reach their destination in time after a connection snafu on 11MAY given the zero-availability for the 12MAY flight?

  • Michael__K

    Carver, That’s a fair point, and in my defense, I qualified my initial comment in this thread with “probably”.

    There are tons of assumptions in these comments that are predominantly (IMO) not in the OP’s favor.

    I would be pleased if we all applied the level of caution in making assumptions that you suggest with your comment.

  •  I agree.  With simple point A to B domestic flights I’ll take chances. With anything else, being conservative is a most.

  • IMHO the key is not to let our points be lost in uncivil and unnecessarily aggressive language and tone.

    Everyone is coming at it from a different point of view.  Most of the travel agents here honestly and in good faith believe that using a travel agent should be the default position for any travel.  I happen to disagree with that assessment, and proved that travel agents do not always add value though they have superior knowledge and tools. In my case I was an Exec Plat American Airlines member.  I booked a $29 ticket from the Bay area, where I have lived for the past 13 years to Los Angeles, where I lived for the 13 years before that.  I knew I would receive a complimentary upgrade because the flight was less than 24 hours out and first class was relatively empty.

    I am told a TA would generally charge $25 for that ticket.  That TA would have to find me a first class ticket for under $4.00 to add value. Also, the internet booking took 2-3 minutes.

    The TA I was discussing this with was clearly annoyed, but we were both civil to each other;

    Just my $0.02

  • emanon256

    Thanks Tony.

  • TonyA_says

     Two points I want to make clear:

    (1) Airline seat availability information is very volatile. It depends on the time you look at it. So there is no way to look behind at history. You can only talk about what you see NOW. You cannot even commit that you will see the same in the next 10 minutes. So you better grab what you see NOW or it can disappear in front of your eyes!

    There was only ONE nonstop flight from LAX-LAP and it was not even daily. Also it was scheduled on a (small) ERJ aircraft. All other options required connections either at MEX or GDL. Both which only offered one AM flight to LAP. Knowing this, one would be a fool NOT TO GRAB SEATS EARLY.

    (2) CRAFTING an itinerary requires understanding the WHAT-IFs. What if your pax gets delayed (for any reason), is there a later flight that will allow him to get to LAP before 230PM? Answer – NO. Remember you are planning under conditions on UNCERTAINTY. You are dealing with STOCHASTIC processes. You need to understand the PROBABILITY of things going wrong and plan a backup. This is the reason you build up a BUFFER. And the best buffer is to arrive at least a day early.

    Take note that all the above THEORY has to be put in context with the cost of FAILURE. In the OP’s case a $14K Sea of Cortez cruise (plus airfare). That’s a lot of money to lose for an 8 day Baja Cruise. So presumably you need to plan better.

    Ok so I ask – what was the penalty from grabbing seats early? What if he bought Alaska Air tickets in October, 6 mos early?
    Full Fare UNRESTRICTED (Y) costs $434 each way before tax.
    Why not buy 2 outbound tickets early to PRESERVE your option?
    If you change your mind, they are fully refundable. You lose nothing. If fact, you don’t even have to buy return tickets yet since I presume you can be more flexible for the return date.

    There are lots of things people can do to PLAN better. As I had indicated on my previous posts, the fact that Plan B (via MEX) and Plan C (via GDL) both looked UNRELIABLE (to me), then there was no need to wait for Monday Morning Quarterbacks to criticize what happened. So I have proposed 2 plans – buy early or arrive earlier. Both could have reduced the OP’s risk a lot. Hopefully, end of story.

  • Mel65

    Reading all the comments here has me paranoid about the cruise I’m taking in August to Alaska.  It was a gift, purchased by our parents for our anniversary so we didn’t pay for it. Can we still buy insurance for a trip we didn’t pay for in the first place? Are our rights diminished because this is a third party deal? This cruise is our dream vacation but I have to admit I’m terrified that something will go wrong and my folks will be out several thousand dollars.  Any advice from the savvy travelers and travel agents here?
    P.S. Forgive any typos, DISQUS is hiding the bottom half of what I’m typing so I’m flying blind here on the keyboard! :)

  • Michael__K

    I wholeheartedly agree with what you write about uncertainty, probability, and stochastic processes.  You picked up on *exactly* the point I was driving at.

    Many of the comments and much of the (generally good) advice here looks down upon the OP from a posture of superiority.  This couldn’t possibly happen to one of us, because we’d arrive 24 hours earlier, and we’d book 6+ months ahead, and we would have a lucky touch with the customs button, etc.

    I don’t see much balance where posters admit that following the good advice does not guarantee a better outcome.

    No one has shown that arriving 24 hours earlier guarantees anything.  It depends on the PROBABILITY of getting on the next day’s flight, which I gather from the silence to my question is way lower than 100%.  If I guesstimate the probability at 50%, then you would need to buy a ticket arriving *FIVE DAYS* in advance to have a 95+% chance of success.  And even then, there would STILL be a small chance of failure beyond the traveller’s control.

    I suppose there are other fallback possibilities, like buying a redundant set of outbound tickets (not sure if that’s what you were hinting towards with the Y tickets) or considering ground transportation.

    I just wonder: If travellers truly understood all the risks they face that could cause them to lose their $15K cruise investment through no fault of their own — even if they followed every single piece of advice, and bought the “best” insurance, etc. — how many would still make the investment and take those risks?

  • TonyA_says

    MIchael_K, it is not about fault, it is about wise choices.

    If Mr. Schneider simply followed Lindblad’s advice and bought an Alaska Air ticket early, none of this would have happened. Or to be precise, he would have minimized his risk to his $14+K “investment”.

    But life is full of choices. Including lousy ones. Most of the times, innocent people incorrectly gauge the risks or probabilities of failure associated with their choices. They (could) pay a dear price.

    If there is one message I want folks to take away with this case (and many other cases published in this blog or forum), it is the importance of planning. Travel is supposed to be a fun-filled, grand experience, but as you can see, today, the skies, roads, hotel, sea, etc can be quite unfriendly. Lot’s of gotchas and pitfalls. So measure twice or thrice and cut once. Make your first choice a good choice.

  • Michael__K

    No, I think you were right the first time.  Travellers are at the mercy of PROBABILITIES.  The word “choices” implies a false level of control.  

    If Mr. Schneider followed Lindblad’s advice, he would be arriving the same-day.  You and others are already on the record stating that following Lindlad’s own advice is a lousy choice.

    If Mr. Schneider followed your advice and arrived a day earlier, he would be reducing his risk by some percentage.  (Do you want to guess by how much?  Is 50% a reasonable guess?)  He would not be eliminating his risks.  

    If he was still unlucky after following your advice, and he wrote to Chris, what would be your takeaway?  He made great choices, but, too bad, he should have known that there was still a risk of losing his $14k anyway?

    Personally, I think that there’s a double standard in terms of things “outside the traveller’s control” and things “outside the carriers’ control” that ought to be addressed, by laws if necessary.

  • TonyA_says

    If you want a 100% guarantee, CERTAINTY. Well guess what that ain’t happening. Only death and taxes are certain.

  • Michael__K

    It’s not about “certainty,” it’s about what happens to your $14K when something unexpected and outside of your control intrudes.

    With a car rental reservation (for example) there is usually no penalty if you miss your pickup time.

  • Michael__K

    I agree with your 2 cents.

    I just want to add that civility (IMO) ought to be a multi-way street that should extend to the travellers who come to Chris for help and who generally have less anonymity than we do as commenters.

  • TonyA_says

    You risk losing your $14K. Simple.

  • TonyA_says

    First of all why do you think you can’t make your Alaskan cruise?
    What are your risk factors? Need more facts, tell us.

  • TonyA_says

    If he followed Lindblad’s advice, he would be (on the same flight) with the rest of the people who bought air tickets from Lindblad.

  • Michael__K

    @TonyA_says:disqus –
    You risk losing your $14K. Simple. 

    Exactly.  How many cruise providers and how many TA’s call prominent attention to this fact and make it crystal clear?

    How many of the comments in this thread make it clear that this will happen to some percentage of travelers even if they take every cautionary measure that we’ve ridiculed Mr. Schneider for not taking?

    How many travelers might waver or change their minds if these risks and scenarios were made more prominently to them?

  • Michael__K

    And why does it need to be this way?

    Why can’t the carrier offer insurance that has no “covered reason” loopholes?

    Figure out what precautions are needed to guarantee that passengers will arrive and embark on-time 95% of the time.

    Require that passengers take these precautions in exchange for guaranteeing their cruise payment for a future cruise if anything outside of their control intrudes.

    If 5% of passengers will miss the boat, this insurance needs to cost 5% for the carrier to break-even ($723 on a $14,468 cruise).   [This is an over-estimate actually if we factor in that some sailings will have empty cabins]

    Isn’t that how insurance is supposed to work?

    (All percentages for illustration purposes, feel free to substitute your own hypotheticals)

  • Michael__K

    Not if he got stuck in an elevator, or by a random customs process, etc.

  • Mel65

    Well, I’d say we probably are low risk. Good health, mid 40s, no know issues, moderately intelligent professionals.  But, flying to Alaska to get there, I guess we could encounter issues, although the flights were also made thru  the cruise line (Princess), and our passports/documents are in order.  But my real fear though is the stuff I read about on here: flight delays. or paperwork snafus that make getting there impossible, a fall or sudden illness on board or right before boarding,something happening to one of the kidsor parents, etc.. I’ve never missed a vacation or a flight or had an issue but I think I’ve developed “travel hypochondria” reading things on here and now I worry that EVERYTHING will happen, and since it’s Dad’s hard earned money I worry even more…

  • TonyA_says

    Generally speaking, Travel Insurance can be purchased up to 24 hours prior to trip departure date. I have had passengers buy travel insurance for themselves when their tickets were paid for by their relatives (3rd party). So what you are asking is not a unique problem.

    If you really want travel insurance or protection it is best you call Princess or BerkleyCare, their program administrator since both your cruise and air were purchased together.

    On a separate note, if you think your flight to Alaska is so-so, then call Princess and ask them to change it or arrive a day earlier. If your cruise is still far ahead, you might not have tickets yet. If you want help in evaluating your flight, post it here and tell me the date/time of embarkation.

  • jennj99738

    Just as a note regarding when to purchase travel insurance.  This is not for TonyA, obviously, but for anyone else including Mel65, there is generally exclusions for preexisting conditions meaning, if the passenger can’t travel due to a condition for which he knew he had or had symptoms of within a certain lookback period, the policy won’t cover the cancellation.  However, many if not most policies will waive the exclusion if the policy is purchased within 7, 14, 21 days of the date of the first payment on a trip depending on the policy.  So, it’s always best to buy a policy as soon as you put down the deposit on a trip. Something I learned as I started to travel with my aging mother.  Don’t tell her I said that. 

  • bodega3

    I think you forget that life doesn’t come with any guarantees…zip, zero, nada.  It is our reponsibility to figure out how to minimize our risks. As your mother so wisely told you, don’t rely on anyone but yourself and use your head.  The OP played a game with his trip and lost.  If he had booked early when better flights were available and allowed a couple of days ahead of this wonderful cruise, his risks would have been less, not completely zero.

  • jet2x2

    I am taking my fourth trip to Alaska this year.  My primary recommendation is to get to the departing port city a day early if possible.  I don’t check bags when I go on cruises because I don’t want to worry about not having my luggage when I board and I don’t want to have to shop for necessities when I’m on vacation if I can avoid it.  You should be able to get travel insurance to cover basic things like illness and accidents before or during the trip if you want it.  The other thing I recommend is to make sure you practice good hygiene from start to finish, with a lot of hand washing and so forth.  Several people in our group got the “cruise virus” at a hotel in Denali on my second trip and a couple of them ended up in the hospital.  Alaska is beautiful and I hope you have a great trip. 

  • Michael__K

    Oh, no, I not only didn’t forget; I’ve been fairly lonely in my repeated efforts to bring attention to this very point.

    Meanwhile you repeatedly refused to admit in your cocky ridicule of Mr. Schneider that he could have conceivably been equally SOL even if he followed all of your advice.

    Interesting that you responded here to a comment where I pose a question about a hypothetical insurance model, and yet your response bears no relevance to the question and makes no effort to advance that discussion.

    Also interesting that you haven’t bothered to offer any specific probability numbers in response to the “what-if Mr. Schneider arrived 24 hours earlier” scenario.  Isn’t that what gamblers need to know?  The odds?

    You may have heard of another old expression: “what goes around comes around” ?

    Some day, you might be the one losing out on a $14K cruise in spite of taking every precaution, because of the fact that risks are “not completely zero.”

    Or perhaps you will claim that this couldn’t happen to you because you would never risk that kind of money on a cruise.  In that case, maybe your clients would want to know that you feel that way?


  • bodega3

    I am not playing your what if game.  He took a risk by flying in the day of the cruise and lost.  There are a few details not provided in the article, which happens all too frequently, that makes understanding exactly what he did hard to figure out.  It would be nice to know how much the TA at AAA was a part of the entire trip and how much the OP had in making his own arrangements.  I hope he makes it to the next cruise! 

  • Michael__K

    It’s not a game for the OP, it’s his hard earned money.  He takes a risk if he flies 24 hours earlier too, especially if the next day’s flight is sold out well in advance.

    I think he deserves to be able to buy insurance against the risk or at least have the risk quantified for him.

    And if it’s too great a risk for any insurer to insure, then maybe it’s too risky a product to buy.

  • bodega3

    Did he read the policy BEFORE he took it out?  We all know that insurance of any kind doesn’t cover everything and so you take other steps to try and protect yourself on the uncovered situations the best you can.  Nothing is guaranteed but right out of the box, traveling on the same day of your cruise is placing yourself at the highest risk of missing your cruise, being delayed, not having other options in reaching the ship.  You have to think ahead.

  • Michael__K

    Did his TA — you claimed that he bought the insurance from AAA — explain it to him?

    Reading a policy word for word doesn’t tell you what the uncovered scenarios are.

    Why can’t Mr. Schneider  buy (perhaps more expensive) insurance that covers anything that is not explicitly excluded?

    Why do you expect lay people to have the imagination to think of every possible uncovered scenario and assess its likelihood, when you refuse to play that “what if” game yourself — even for a single scenario? (and insurers refuse to play too apparently)

  • Michael__K

    traveling on the same day of your cruise is placing yourself at the highest risk of missing your cruise, being delayed, not having other options in reaching the ship.

    BTW, I wonder if this assertion is even necessarily accurate for this particular cruise.

    If most of the passengers follow Linblad’s recommended itinerary and arrive on the same day, then it’s conceivable that flying 24 hours earlier could actually pose a HIGHER risk than flying the same day.

    If you fly 24 hours earlier, and your connection has a hiccup, you may not make it on the next day’s flight if it’s full.  Presumably (as TonyA hinted at), you are better off stranded with a large number of fellow cruise passengers who are flying on Linblad’s recommended (same day) itinerary.

    Of course in the very specific example of a random customs inspection delay, you are probably better off with the 24 hour buffer since your fellow cruise passengers won’t typically experience the same delay.

    You probably really need to understand the odds of getting delayed TOGETHER with your fellow passengers vs. the odds of getting delayed SEPARATELY from your fellow passengers.

  • IGoEverywhere

    Tripmate is the single hardest insurance company to deal with. 1) where was the insurance purchased? From AAA  for coverage on everything, or from the cruise, that would have had no coverage or responsibility on the air? 2) Since when, would any person be stupid enough to not book the air 1 day+ before the cruise at the time of booking? This is a $14,000.00 trip, so who cares if the air goes up or down $100.00. He went to the AAA travel agency months too late. He should have been there first! Congratulations on being my #1 worse travel planner of the year.

  • bodega3

    The cruise lines offer pre and post package, but they also provide air for same day travel.  So do tour companies but this is where research and using a good TA would be most helpful for the entire trip, not piecemealing it.  But if you peicemeal it, and then go to a TA, tell them what you are doing, so they can best advise.  We don’t know this part of his ‘experience’ so we are assuming.  Buying air is a gamble at any time regarding price.  But the earlier you book, the more options you have.  When he waited, he was limited and had to book the least desirable flights, probably basing it on price.  I have had client drive to LAX just to get nonstop flights to minimize connection risks or fly to LAX a day prior, thus breaking the fare.

    If a client wants to take out traveler’s insurance, I provide the toll free number, and website so they can check out answers to their questions from the vendor directly.  I hate insurance…all insurance and will not give answers.  I want that to come directly from the insurance company.  I do tell clients that the last thing the insurance company wishes to do and that is to pay out, so beware of what isn’t covered..don’t assume. 

  • Michael__K

    Minor quibble: the article says the flight selections were based on availability (i.e. he booked the only remaining option).

    Otherwise I basically agree with your comment, but it doesn’t address my question.

  • Michael__K

    Since when, would any person be stupid enough to not book the air 1 day+ before the cruise at the time of booking?

    If they book Linblad’s recommended itinerary, they arrive the same day.

    Maybe you could answer the question I already posed above:

    Let’s say passenger A books Linblad’s recommended same-day flights.

    Let’s say passenger B books the previous day’s flights to allow for a 1-day buffer.

    We have a pretty good idea that these flights can be routinely sold out months in advance.

    On what basis can we firmly conclude that passenger B has less risk then passenger A?

    If passenger B misses his flight, he may still not get accomodated on passenger A’s flight the next day if that flight has no seats available.

    If passenger A’s flight experiences a problem, he is likely to be delayed or stranded with many of his fellow Linblad cruise passengers, which would offer him certain practical protections.  (I’m assuming the ship won’t sail if a certain number of passengers haven’t arrived).

  • bodega3

    The recommended itinerary could be ‘recommended’ for any day of travel, not necessarily the day of the cruise. 

  • Michael__K

    I’m going by the itinerary on their website:

    How many cruise passengers will be on the Day 1 flight?  How many will be on the Day 0 (and the Day -1, etc.) flights?

    How many air-delayed passengers will they hold the ship for?

    Without knowing the answers to these questions and the others I’ve posed, I don’t see how we can conclude whether passenger A has a greater or smaller risk of missing embarkation than passenger B.

  • bodega3

    It doesn’t matter.  You should NEVER fly in the day of the cruise or a tour or any function.  You should also not wait so close to travel to get your flights if you must be somewhere as your options are more limiting in time, price and availability.   Years ago a cruise line would hold the ship but still only up to a point.  There are costs to the cruiseline for staying at dock past their departure time. 


  • Michael__K

    What are you going to tell passenger B (who booked 300 days in advance) if he misses the boat and passenger A (and dozens of other cruise passengers on his flight) don’t?

  • bodega3

    My clients don’t miss their ship so I won’t have anything to tell them.

  • Michael__K

    There we go.  Book with you and the risks become zero.

    Why didn’t you just say that in the first place 20 comments ago? Sounds like your clients have no reason to even bother with insurance.

  • TonyA_says

    I did call and talk to Lindblad  yesterday to get information.
    They have two different  8-day Baja Adventure cruises:
    a.) Baja California and the Sea of Cortez: Among the Great Whales
    b.) Journeys In The Sea Of Cortez

    The latter begins and ends in La Paz. The former flies into La Paz but you are bused to San Carlos where the boat is docked. Lindblad has a deal with Alaska Air on AS2603 LAX-LAP where they purchase blocked seats. You can see this clearly if you look at the Seat Availability on Saturdays when Lindblad has the cruise begin days scheduled. If you try to book that AS flight on your own, the lowest class you can buy is M class (after Y and B). For some Saturdays only Y class is open. Lindblad sells this flight for a fee of $50. But if you are lucky you might even get the airline seats for free on some select dates. I am not sure which Fare Basis Code (or booking class) Lindblad has their seats allocation on, but they might be cheaper than M class published fare if you buy early.

    The more I dig information about this case, the more I am convinced the OP made a mistake by not buying his airline ticket (or at least booking space) from Lindblad early while seats were still available.

  • bodega3

    Yes, he screwed up!

  • bodega3

    There you go…

  • TonyA_says

    It looks like connecting inside Mexico is a crap shot. The first day of the tour is described this way:

    Day 1: U.S./Los Cabos or La Paz, Mexico/Embark La Paz

    So an alternative was to fly into Cabo San Lucas (SJD) and meetup with the Lindblad transfer (2.5 hr) from there to La Paz.

    On Saturdays there are 2 possible nonstop flights:
    UA 805  SFOSJD-1004A 208P     320 0E
    AS 234  SFOSJD-1104A 313P     734 0E

    IMO, the decision to take a connecting flight within Mexico caused the disaster. I don’t think the OP understood the reason why Lindblad suggested the direct to La Paz or Los Cabos route from the USA.

    Well now we all know.

  • Michael__K

    My 2 cents:

    If it’s a terrible idea to fly in on the day of the cruise — even on Lindblad’s designated flight — and if we know there’s just 1 flight a day and it’s generally sold out — then it’s probably also a terrible idea to fly in 1-day or even 2-days ahead.

    ANY option that relies exclusively on that 1 usually sold out flight per day sounds like an unreliable option.  

    I would think one ought to plan to arrive far enough in advance (5+ days?) to be able to comfortably fall-back to a ground transportation plan if something goes wrong.

    I imagine that advice probably wouldn’t be great for Lindblad’s ticket sales though.

  • Michael__K

    Isn’t this where you tell us that one should “never” book the Saturday (same-day) flights that Lindblad has blocked seats for?

  • TonyA_says

    I think you need to understand that this is an ADVENTURE cruise.
    I suggest you take a look at La Paz Baja first and see if that is a city you care to overnight at. Cabo is also an option. I am not a Mexico expert so I have no advice.

    As I said in my other post this afternoon, Lindblad does bundle the Alaska Air flights if you care to buy it from them. IMO that is the “safest” way to go with this tour. I called them so I could clear some air and no longer speculate on a lot of things. Their supervisor clarified for me the flights to take. My guess was correct.

  • Michael__K

    I used to enjoy adventure trips.  I’m presently in the market for more toddler-friendly vacations :)

    I just find some of the risk issues brought up by this case to be interesting (and troubling) and maybe my questions — and any discussion they generate — will be useful to other readers.

    I’m curious how Lindblad handles major delays to their Saturday flights.  Do they offer some sort of guarantee (e.g. to hold the ship or issue a credit) even if the delay does not stem from a Covered Reason in their “insurance”?

  • TonyA_says

    Michael_K, I look at things differently. I would rely on the wealth of experience of Lindblad to tell me what is best.

    I called them and spoke to them. They recommended I take AS2603. For good reason.

    Take a look at its one-time performance rating.

    The maximum delay according to flightstats is 53 minutes.
    Historical flight information looks good

    Now pay particular attention to the DAY 1 ITINERARY of the Lindblad cruise. The passengers embark at La Paz and have Dinner. Then the next morning and the rest of the next following days they are going around the Sea of Cortez which is exactly where La Paz is. My assumption, this boat can wait for passengers if it needs to. Of course it will wait for the Linbdlad group even if they arrive at night. But arriving that late is not LIKELY given the history of the flight.

    This makes me question why the OP did not try to take the later flight of out GDL and try AM2311  GDLLAP- 400P 535P ???
    He still might have caught the boat.

    Now remember all your questions are based on protecting the OP’s 14K investment. In many situations in real life, it’s not only money. I am consulted by clients who want to make a certain VERY IMPORTANT EVENT – such as a wedding, funeral, baptism, etc. I can’t put a money amount to these events since they are PRICELESS. I painstakingly try to research flight history as well as weather history. I look at airport information, MCT requirements, Immigration/Customs requirements, etc. I also look at airport transfers, etc. etc.  Then I make a recommendation. My job is to de-risk my client’s itinerary. But. there is no way to make it 100% certain.

  • Michael__K

    Just to be extra clear: they are recommending the *Saturday* (day of boarding) AS2603 , yes?

    It appears to me that this is a twice-per-week flight (Wed & Sat) at that time of year so the only choice is to arrive same day, or 3 days early (or 7 days early or 10 days early, etc.)

    As I noted, my comment above was premised on a statement other TA’s and several commenters have made, which is that you “NEVER” (no exceptions, no excuses) fly in on the same day.


    My assumption, this boat can wait for passengers if it needs to. Of course it will wait for the Linbdlad group even if they arrive at night.

    For $14k, I would hope that Lindblad would put this in writing and not force you to assume and pray.


    This makes me question why the OP did not try to take the later flight of out GDL

    Probably completely sold out, no?  If not, doesn’t United deserve some scolding for telling the OP there were no other options?

  • TonyA_says

    I stick to my original research – where I discussed the 3 scenarios. My preferred was the non-stop AS flight. My subsequent call to Lindblad proved I was right. It pays to do good research before one opens their mouth.

    I cannot comment on your last 2 paragraphs. I can’t talk for Lindblad or United. I never read the OP saying he talked to Aero Mexico to take the later flight or to Lindblad to ask them to wait for him. Finally, people hire me to make a good itinerary that’s also economical. I can’t make a career over the blame game since I don’t work for the media.

  • Michael__K

    I thought your original research conclusion was:

    I think the foregone conclusion is –  leave a day earlier and spend the night somewhere in Mexico. I hear the food is good there.

    That might work in May, but in March — if I’m reading the schedule correctly — it means you either need to leave *3* days (or 7+ days) earlier.

    Otherwise you need to leave on the day of embarkation (which is Lindblad’s recommendation, which you now endorse, right?)

  • TonyA_says

    No, read it again, I’ve always preferred the AS nonstop LAX-LAP option:

    Schneider has practically 3 routing options from SFO to LAP.
    (1) Alaska Air (AS) via SFO-LAX-LAP; preferred
    (2) AeroMexico (AM) via SFO-MEX-LAP
    (3) United (UA) and AeroMexico (AM) interlined  via SFO-GDL-(AM)-LAP

    If he wanted to take Options #2 and 3 (since #1 is no longer an option), then arriving a day earlier would greatly reduce his risk of missing the cruise (for these options). However, remember that overnighting in Mexico introduces it’s own risks, too if you choose a bad (dangerous) location.

  • Michael__K

    We’re talking past each other.

    I am also talking about the AS nonstop LAX-LAP option.

    I believe that flight doesn’t exist on Fridays (or Thursdays) in March.  The cruise departs on Saturday.

  • TonyA_says

    OK, he should just arrive on Saturday PM the day of the cruise if taking Alaska from LAX. That’s fine, the risk should be acceptable (at least for me). He gets off the plane, is greeted by Lindblad people, and takes Lindblad’s transfer to the boat. What else does he want?

  • Michael__K

    Ok, we’re on the same page :)

    If it was me, I would want the assumptions in writing (I know you can’t speak for Lindblad).

  • TonyA_says

    Now remember, the OP could still have called Lindblad and make them sell him air tickets. (When I called they offered to transfer me to that department.) But the OP decided to go with AAA instead. Did he know that Linblad also sold an air route to Cabo which includes a transfer (bus ride) to La Paz? I presume Lindblad’s air CSRs would have seen the UA flight that AAA sold him since that would be visible in GDS. Why did he buy that from AAA then? Maybe Lindblad did not recommend it. It does not make sense to me. Something is not right in this story.

  • Michael__K

    @TonyA_says:disqus, I can think of lots of possible reasons why he might have hesitated (wrongly in hindsight) to book flights in October.  Keep in mind his deposit would have been only $500, I believe.  He didn’t owe the balance until 60 days before departure.

    As to why he didn’t buy his flights directly from Lindblad later: if their block of seats (e.g. on AS2603) were already sold out, then what’s really his advantage to doing so?  *Unless* they offer him extra risk protections in exchange?  And I don’t see anything in writing on Lindblad’s website to suggest that’s the case.

    In January, it sounds like the OP was desperate to find *ANY* flights whatsoever after he couldn’t on his own.  I’d be slightly surprised if he didn’t try to contact Lindblad for advice at that point.  Just speculating, but perhaps they told him they didn’t have anything at all because they didn’t even consider the non-guaranteed connection in GDL as an option.

  • Michael__K

    started new thread

  • TonyA_says

    Every GDS would have seen the (UA) SFO-GDL-(AM)-LAP. So I am sure Lindblad’s people saw that, too (IF they were asked). Lindblad only charged $50 fee. Last time I heard AAA charged 10% service fee capped to a certain amount. Doubt he saved money going to AAA. There are no UA SFO-LAP market fares. Any good travel agent should have been taken aback knowing that and proceed with caution, but AAA still sold it.

    It’s hard to believe Lindblad would not go out of the way figuring out how to help a customer who just paid $14K. What is this – I’ll take your full payment now but I can’t find you 2 seats to La Paz. Are you kidding? Something does not jive here.

  • Michael__K

    As I stated earlier, if you read the article closely, he paid the balance of the $14K *AFTER* he booked his flights.

    In January, his choice was presumably either to surrender his $500 deposit and abandon the trip, or else find some way get there.

    If you’re saying “any good travel agent should have been taken aback ” by the SFO-GDL-LAP itinerary, then perhaps that’s precisely the reason Lindblad wouldn’t offer it.

    But it sounds like it may have been his ONLY option, other than ground transportation, air taxi, or forfeiting his deposit and his trip.

    Of course we don’t know how many days earlier he considered in his flight search.  But if this was a peak-travel period, would it be shocking if every conceivable Thursday or Friday itinerary was 100% sold out?

  • TonyA_says

    Yeah but that timing is based on the fact that he checked and was told the LAX-LAP had no seats. Who told him? I believe Lindblad.
    He makes it sound to us like – I did my homework, found a miracle worker travel agent and bought my air tickets and then paid for my cruise.

    Really?  He knew he was screwed when LAX-LAP sold out, but he stubbornly tried to find another (non Lindblad) solution – by going to AAA. In reality, he should have been rescheduling his cruise. But he went around Lindblad, found another agent to sell him air tickets.

    I don’t understand it, when I called Lindblad they were almost forcing me to talk to their air department. So I guess they would have done the same for him. He only put $500 down, if Lindblad wanted to collect the rest of the 14K  they would have sold him the air, too. So why risk it further and put 14k on the line if Lindblad had NO flights?. Why not reschedule the cruise and go Lindblad all the way?  I don’t buy his story completely. Sorry it’s NOT LOGICAL.

  • Michael__K

    My working assumption is that his deposit was for a particular cruise and that he would forfeit the deposit if he changed dates.

    From Lindblad’s perspective, wouldn’t it be tough to sell his original cabin 60 days in advance with hardly any flights available?

  • Michael__K

    Small correction: maybe his deposit was $1,000 (he was travelling with “Mary” who pushed the infamous customs button)

  • TonyA_says

    Frankly, it’s hard to believe Lindblad could not help him. The Cabo option was not brought up either. Maybe he did not want  the  2+ hour bus ride transfer. For a boat with 62 people capacity, I’ve got to believe Lindblad has figured out a way to get air accommodations for all 62 passengers. IMO the OP was just too hardheaded. As I said all along, why not buy a Y class unrestricted ticket (fully refundable) at the time of deposit. It’s the same cost he paid  for the UA/AM ticket from AAA and that was not refundable.

    The OP reminds me of some people I’ve encountered in the travel business. They don’t want to listen and take good advice. Then at the last minute they buy a very risky option.

  • Michael__K

    The mistake was made in October.  By January it was a matter of choosing the least awful option.

    If someone indeed informed the OP in October that the March flights are prone to completely selling out 2+ months in advance, and advised him to at least get a refundable ticket, then you could criticize him for being hardheaded.

    I don’t see why you would automatically assume that occurred.  And I could sympathize with someone who — without knowledge to the contrary — expected to be able to book flights 2+ months in advance for an 836 mile trip entirely within North America.   (And in May at least, it appears that same-week flights are not hard to find).

    It’s not like the OP was traveling to the Olympics or to a remote corner of the world.

  • TonyA_says

    @Michael__K:disqus  Next time you want to have an extended discussion or argument you need to have your FACTS straight first. Without calling and talking to Lindblad, you are pretty much blind. Without downloading and reading their  brochure for Baja 2011-12, you are also pretty much blind. Finally if you can use a GDS, it would be helpful.

    FACT #1:
    The article written by Eliott did not point to the correct cruise. Chris Elliott provided a link to Journeys in the Sea of Cortez. That was scheduled for DEPARTURES: 2012: Jan. 2; Dec. 15, 22, 29. Since the OP said he departed during Spring Break 2012, then that could not have been the cruise. The correct cruise is:

    Baja California: Among the Great Whales
    8 Days/7 Nights – National Geographic Sea Bird
    DEPARTURES: 2012 Jan. 21, 28; Feb. 4, 11, 18, 25; Mar. 3, 10, 17.

    Note that departures 3/10/17 March correspond to [common] Spring Break vacations in the USA.Now that I have set you straight for the correct cruise, let me set you straight with the other facts.

    FACT #2:
    This cruise’s itinerary starts in Los Angeles. Yes, Los Angeles.

    Upon arrival in La Paz, transfer to San Carlos where we embark. (D)

    Anyone who can read in English can confirm that. But you need to call Lindblad to understand they block seats with Alaska Air on AS2603 to accomplish this. Their brochure indicates they can sell this airfare
    from $700 roundtrip economy.

    (My comment: the wrong tour mentioned in the article allowed for an optional routing via Los Cabos. That route is NOT available for the Among the Great Whales tour. You really need to start from LAX and go directly to LAP for this correct tour.)

    FACT #3:
    Final Payment: Due 90 days prior to departure.
    (My Comment: You, Michael, are mistaken. You keep on saying final payment is due 60 days prior to departure. Well guess what, you did not read the terms for the correct tour. But you kept on arguing ad infinitum as if you had the correct assumption.)

    FACT #4:
    Advance payment: $550 per person
    (My Comment: Michael did you get this right? Doubt it.)

    FACT #5:
    For Expeditions 8 Nights or Less
    Number of Days Prior  Cancellation Fee
    90 or more days         $150*
    89–60 days               Advance payment cost
    59–30 days              50% of trip cost
    29–0 days               No refund

    *You will be issued a $150 Lindblad Expeditions Travel Certificate.

    (My Comment: Assuming the OP made a down payment of $1100 (550 x 2) last October 2011. 90 days prior their March Departure (some time in December 2011) the final and full payment was due. The OP said there were NO seats for LAX-LAP. Obviously he knew that tour started in LAX because he mentioned the LAX-LAP flight even if he was from SFO. So what did he do? Instead of cancelling and paying a cancellation fee of $300 (150 x 2) which he will get back in a Travel Certificates, he tries his luck with another travel agency (AAA) to see if he could make it on his own to La Paz and join the group there rather than in LAX. Any reasonable person would have known that their luck run out when the LAX-LAP allocation of Lindblad run out. BUT HE WAS HARD HEADED. He bucked the Lindblad system went to AAA who sold him crap.)

    FACT #6 (Only a pro would know):
    If you look at GDS seat availability for both AS 2603/2604 LAX-LAP-LAX on SATURDAYS when the Lindblad tour starts and end, you will find only Y or B class seats available to the general public. For March  2013 (the Saturdays of the same tour), you will pay $860.40 for a roundtrip class B/Y ticket. That is BEFORE travel agent fees. How much does Lindblad sell the same flight for 2013? $700. One would be a fool not to buy the tickets from Lindblad. Obviously they have a great deal with Alaska Air that you cannot beat buying from anyone else.

    02MAR-SA-9A LAXLAP(QLALAP) PT **                            END
    1  #AS2603 Y7 S7 B7 M0 H0 Q0 L0 V0 LAXLAP 1250P 420P  *  DH4 0E
    09MAR-SA-9A LAPLAX(LAPQLA) ** PT                            END
    1  #AS2604 Y7 S0 B0 M0 H0 Q0 L0 V0 LAPLAX  510P 700P  *  DH4 0E
    09MAR-SA-9A LAXLAP(QLALAP) PT **                            END
    1  #AS2603 Y7 S7 B7 M0 H0 Q0 L0 V0 LAXLAP 1250P 420P  *  DH4 0E
    16MAR-SA-9A LAPLAX(LAPQLA) ** PT                            END
    1  #AS2604 Y7 S0 B0 M0 H0 Q0 L0 V0 LAPLAX  410P 700P  *  DH4 0E
    16MAR-SA-9A LAXLAP(QLALAP) PT **                            END
    1  #AS2603 Y7 S0 B0 M0 H0 Q0 L0 V0 LAXLAP 1250P 320P  *  DH4 0E
    23MAR-SA-9A LAPLAX(LAPQLA) ** PT                            END
    1  #AS2604 Y7 S0 B0 M0 H0 Q0 L0 V0 LAPLAX  410P 700P  *  DH4 0E

     1*AS2603B 09MAR SA LAXLAP SS1  1250P  420P/O $ E
     2*AS2604Y 16MAR SA LAPLAX SS1   410P  700P/O $ E
    TICKET     BASE USD                TX/FEE USD       TKT TTL USD
     ADT01       743.00                    117.40            860.40
    *TTL         743.00                    117.40            860.40

    FACT #7 (Maybe a pro should know):
    The Nat Geo Sea Bird has a capacity of 62 passengers (31 cabins). Now not everyone will travel as a pair. Lindblad has solo fares. In other words, some will be solo in their cabin and the ship will not have 62 pax. But look at the capacity of the aircraft that will be used from LAX to LAP. It is a DH4 – BOMBARDIER Q400 with 53 seats. Ask yourself a question? Where would all the Lindblad passengers fit in this flight? Probable answer – if they have lots of passengers, they will simply charter another flight from Alaska Air or AS will substitute a larger aircraft. But knowing that the scheduled aircraft only had 53 seats and the boat can take 62 passengers wouldn’t you want to book your air early?


    By now you should already have a preponderance of evidence that this passenger made an error (because he was hard headed). All the facts presented above were (or could have been) known even before October 2011 when he first got interested in this exciting journey. They were all in the brochure, GDS, and the knowledge of Lindblad customer service reps.
    It is now so clear, he forced his own way – fly a different routing and join the group at the LAP airport. He gambled and ruined his vacation. Next time just listen to and follow Lindblad – they know what they are doing.

  • Michael__K

    @TonyA_says:disqus  I’m disappointed in your comment.

    If you are concerned about people having facts straight, then:

    (a) there are dozens of comments and bold assertions — especially from your fellow TA’s in this thread — that you should be taking to task and correcting.


    (b) you might want to double check whether what Lindblad tells you over the phone verbally and what they put in a brochure matches what their web site states.

    Re: Fact #2
    You haven’t challenged any of the numerous comments stating that this doesn’t matter and that the OP should have known better than to fly on the date of embarkation.

    Re: Fact #3
    You claim I am mistaken here but you offer zero evidence for what you claim.

    If you go to Lindblad’s website (and I already provided the link many days ago) it clearly states:

    Final Payment: 
    For expeditions of eight nights or less, final payment is due 60 days prior to departure. For expeditions of nine nights or more, final payment is due 90 days prior to departure.

    We’re talking about an eight day / seven night cruise, right?

    Re: Fact #4
    What it states online (I already provided this link too) is that the deposit amount is $300 – $500 (per person presumably) for expeditions of 8 nights to less.

    I’ve repeatedly written that the OP’s deposit was “probably” $500 (plus $500 for “Mary”).

    Re: Fact #5
    You believe his tour date was March 3, 10, or 17.

    Chris’ article states that the OP found the flight sold out “Early this year”.

    I hope we can agree that this corresponds to January 1, 2012 or later.

    I hope we can agree that January 1, 2012 is less than 90 days prior to March 3 or March 10 or March 17.

    Therefore, the information you quote yourself seems to contradict your own assertion that the OP would have gotten back Travel Certificates at that point.

    Re: Fact #6
    None of the pros in this thread suggested this in the first 4 days of comments (much to the contrary actually)

    When I previously suggested the possibility that *maybe* in some cases it *might* be better to fly on the same-day with your fellow cruise passengers than the previous day without them, I received criticism and no support from anyone, yourself included.

    Re: Fact #7

    If you believe that, then wouldn’t you believe if:

    “Early this year… the flight was fully booked, and had been for sometime”


    …that Lindblad would add equipment like you suggest?

    Yet they didn’t (you can verify on for the 3 dates you think the OP travelled).


    PS – Just for kicks, I also checked flightstats for flights to GDL for your 3 Saturdays in March.  Looks like March 10 was most likely the OP’s cruise date.  UA1244 was 141 minutes late on March 10.  It was 38 minutes late on March 17.  We can probably rule out March 3rd because the SFO-GDL schedule was different.

  • TonyA_says

    Download the Baja brochure 2011-12 then you get answers for most of your questions. Also google trip reports of the same trip from the general public and you will see how Alaska Air handled previous flights for Lindblad. GDL is not in the picture, don’t bother discussing that flight.

  • Michael__K

    I looked up flightstats for GDL purely to try to figure out the OP’s cruise date (it was probably March 10th).

    If you mean this brochure:

    …it has some bearing on the discussion of “fact #3” and “fact #5” (only).

    Page 21 of the brochure flatly contradicts the official “Terms & Conditions” on Lindblad’s website re: final payments which I already quoted.

    Clearly the OP didn’t pay 90 days in advance if he searched for flights in early January and made his final payment subsequently.

    Consistent with Lindblad’s posted online Terms & Conditions, it still seems clear to me that the OP was NOT entitled to travel certificates if he cancelled in January 2012.

    The brochure does quote an “initial payment” for $550, whereas the (probably out-of-date) third party link I referenced quotes that deposits are up to $500 for trips of this length.

  • TonyA_says

    The brochure clearly states p19 $550 Advanced Payment; p21 Final payment due 90 days prior to departure.

    If you say he (was supposed to have) cruised 10MAR then the final payment was due Dec 10, 2011. So if he bought his ticket a few weeks before the cruise, sometime in 2012, then he could not have done so BEFORE the full payment of the cruise was due if he made a reservation last October. Something is not right.

  • Michael__K

    You REPEAT what I already acknowledge (page #’s included) in my comment.

    You IGNORE Lindblad’s *TERMS & CONDITIONS* which clearly state that final payment is due at *60* days for tours up to 8 nights in duration.

    If we’re going to disparage people for (allegedly) not reading all the fine print, can we at least hold the authors of fine print accountable for keeping it consistent and up-to-date?

    Something is not right with the materials on Lindblad’s own website.  And yet I’m sure we’ll find a way to blame this too on Mr. Schneider somehow.

  • TonyA_says

    @Michael__K:disqus  The brochure for this specific tour says full payment is due 90 days before departure. You keep on repeating something printed in 2007. Obviously this tour has a different stipulation for 2011-12. Also 2013. If you read the 2010 brochure is WAS 60 days. You are being too stubborn, the facts are in the brochure so take it.

  • Michael__K

    Very possibly so, but now you are back in the realm of speculation.

    Maybe they changed the policy for 2011; maybe they cut their customers some slack for some period of time after the change; maybe they don’t actively maintain their website, maybe the Terms & Conditions govern and they just don’t bother to mention the 60 vs. 90 day payment deadline discrepancy for different tour lengths in the brochure; maybe, maybe, maybe…

    Regardless, it doesn’t make a good impression that the Terms & Conditions that are (still as we speak!) one click from Lindblad’s home page are inconsistent with the brochure.

    Plus, the facts of the story are inconsistent with the 90 day interpretation.

  • TonyA_says

    No, you forget to read the next sentence in their T&Cs after what got stuck to your brain …

    Final Payment: 
    For expeditions of eight nights or less, final payment is due 60 days prior to departure. For expeditions of nine nights or more, final payment is due 90 days prior to departure. Payment schedules may vary for Holiday departures and certain longer voyages, due to high demand for these voyages.

    Oh while we are at it, go to Nat Geo and see what their T&Cs are. They don’t even offer certificates (that Lindblad does for its $150 cancellation fee 90 days or more).

    If the OP booked with Nat Geo (instead of Lindblad), he would go through stricter cancellation rules (lose more money). BTW NG also says 90 days full payment due. NG charges a lower advanced payment ($50 lower) but you will pay to be a member of NG every year.

    Now that we are clear about Lindblad and NG policies, it is obviously clear to me that the OP pushed his luck beyond the 90-day payment window (when all plans should already have been finalized especially since both the boat and airplane have very limited space). Sorry for the OP.

  • Michael__K

    Please.   Tell us which “Holiday” falls during the week of March 10th?  And which holidays *also* fall on every single other date that this trip was run?  Because the brochure doesn’t distinguish between holiday vs. non-holiday dates.

    And this was a 7-night trip, not a “longer” voyage.

    I understand that you my be jaded by personal experiences you may have had with “hard-headed” customers.

    I hope you can appreciate that I may be jaded myself by personal experiences I’ve had with sales situations where critical information was not disclosed up front for whatever reason.

    (Quick story: some months ago, I purchased a bunch of stuff for a renovation project with the clear understanding — confirmed in writing on the invoice — that everything was returnable and exchangeable.  Of course, when I tried to exchange the 1 item that my wife wanted to exchange… No!  That item was special order and exempt from the printed return policy.  How was I supposed to know it was special order when no one said so and nothing on the invoice said so?  I was supposed to guess that anything with an “S” in the undecipherable “item code” was “special order”….)

    Anyway, we don’t have enough information to apply our prejudices one way or another against the OP.  Maybe he was hard-headed and maybe nobody explained to him why he needed to book his flights ASAP (and he wasn’t born knowing that).

    Sometimes we need to admit that we don’t know what we don’t know.

  • Read closer.  My comment was about booking a cruise with a TA, which is the OP did NOT do.

  • Mel65

    This may be a stupid question, but how do you not check bags for a cruise? WE were told to bring coats and warm clothes and stuff… no way can I fit a parka and a formal dress and sweaters and hiking boots in a carry on…or wear it in August… Or do you mail your trunk or whatever ahead of you? I’m REALLY looking forward to this.  This has been our dream cruise for a long long time! Thanks for the words of wisdom to everyone!

  • jet2x2

    I go on informal small ship cruises where we don’t have to dress for dinner. This limits the amount of clothes needed.  I have not found the Inside Passage of Alaska to be that cold and I’ve been there in May and June.  (I even went snorkling in Ketchikan on this last trip, with a wetsuit of course!)  Glacier Bay will be about 10 degrees cooler than nearby locations, and it can get much colder in Fairbanks and farther north even in the summer.  Unless you are going on a glacier hike or dog sledding outing, I don’t know that you need a parka, and if you are doing that you may want to ask if they provide cold weather gear.  If you are going kayaking or white water rafting they should provide the outer wear.  I never bring sweaters or coats – I dress in layers.  Usually that’s a long sleeve shirt (moisture wicking fabric is good for this), a t shirt, a windbreaker with a hood and pockets, and jeans or khakis.  I’ve never packed long underwear.  I do bring gloves.  I also recommend a good rain hat, and a watch cap to keep your head and ears warm.  On shore I’ve had times where I wished I had shorts, even in late May or early June.  On one of the longer trips I did send some clothes to the cleaners between the land and cruise parts of the trip to reduce what I had to pack, and I also used space bags to get more clothes into the carry on.  I almost always mail purchases home if they are bulky and last time I mailed some clothes to myself when we stopped in Juneau.  I take a backpack onboard as well but that is all camera equipment and other electronics – if I didn’t take the cameras I would put clothes in it as well.  Caveat to this – I don’t get that cold, as evidenced by a photo I have where I’m in shirtsleeves on the deck of the ship one night when it was about 40 degrees and everyone else was inside complaining that it was cold.  (The wine helped lol).  So please consider that when you weigh this advice – everyone has a different tolerance for weather.  I personally would rather be a little cold than too warm.     

  • Mel65

    Great advice! Thanks.  I’m always cold, hubby is always sweating.  Somehow, we’ll make the packing work :)

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