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Old September 6th, 2018, 07:03 PM
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First, it sounds to me like your agent is not all that familiar with international airfare, nor how booking airfare with AMA Waterways works.

IF, and that's a big if, this was something that needed immediate attention, you should definitely not have to hurry up and drive to your agent's office. There's absolutely no reason why you could not have done this on the phone to say yourself time and trouble. In 16 years of owning my own agency, I have NEVER required a client to come to my place of business, unless they want to.

This is what I hate about alot of agents in that they either pretend to know something they don't know or they don't know how to provide good customer service.

Anyway, back to your problem; it's really too early to look at airfare, unless of course there really is a great deal that shouldn't be passed up. Experts will tell you that the best time to book airfare is 57 days prior to departure. Personally, when I'm flying to Europe, I'm not one to prescribe to this way of thinking. Normally, I'll book about 3 months or so before flying, but I'm also watching fares to see what's going on. I use Hopper, but there are several good ones out there.

A couple of things to keep in mind; the river cruise companies are known for offering 'free' airfare, but this is a gimmick to get your attention and make you think you're getting something for nothing. There is nothing 'free' about any of this. Call them up and ask them what the cost is for a cabin with airfare. Then ask them for the same cabin without airfare and you'll find that rate to be cheaper. So, where's the 'free' part?

Another thing to think about is that most airlines do not pay commissions. So, any agent selling airfare by itself is going to charge you a booking fee. If you're booking a cruise or tour, then usually they won't charge you that fee. However, some cruise lines, including river cruise lines, will pay the agent a commission if they book the airfare through the cruise line. Usually, that airfare is going to be more than independent air, so it encourages some agents to tell you it's better to book the air through the cruise line, when in actuality it isn't. Just one of those 'tricks of the trade' that some agents use to make more money.

I'm not saying that there is anything wrong or not, but just trying to give you some information to help in your search. I like to use kayak.com for my research on airfare - there are others that are easy to use as well. After I find what I'm looking for, then I'll normally book it directly with the airline.

Sometimes it's cheaper/better to book two one-way flights instead of a round-trip flight. For example, if you live in an area like Washington, DC, there are 3 airports to consider, so check them all. It may be better to fly out of one airport and then fly back into another airport on your return trip. Obviously, not something that's available to everyone, but the same holds true when flying to Europe, among other places. We once flew to Frankfurt and then took a train to Amsterdam, instead of flying directly into Amsterdam. Saved us about $500.

Yes, sometimes you can find a really good deal that's too good to pass up. If you do, the by all means go for it. If the price goes down, notify the airline and most of them will refund you the difference in a future air credit.

But the bottom line is that when booking something like this, it's always best to use a reputable agent, because if you have any problems, their assistance can be invaluable. Plus, it makes your life much easier and may even save you money.

Good luck and let us know how it goes.

Pete
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Travel Agent/Cruise Specialist w/16 yrs exp and 51 Cruises on 12 different cruise lines in many parts of the world! VIETNAM VETERAN OWNED & OPERATED. Certified Accessible Travel Advocate. Specializing in unsurpassed personal service to insure you have a hassle-free vacation!
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