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Free Air

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In this Blog last week my topic was positive changes I’ve been seeing in the way cruise lines have been improving their Air/Sea departments. This week one part that isn’t positive, and it makes me kookie…

We often see various cruise line’s advertising promoting “Free Air”. Last week, Mrs. Kuki noticed an ad next to my blog (go figure that she reads what I write. I’d best be more careful what I say).

The ad she clicked on was promoting a cruise with “free” air.

Mrs. Kuki is an experienced cruiser, as she has accompanied me on the majority of the cruises I go on. Yet, she was intrigued enough to click on the ad to look further.

This is one form of promotion that truly aggravates me, and makes me “Kuki”. I get “ticked off” when I feel any advertising of any product is less than honest, or even more egregiously, purposely deceitful.

Offers of “free air” with a cruise almost uniformly fall somewhere between those two categories.

With any such offers one sees, the simplest test is to contact your travel agent, or cruise line, and ask how much the cruise is without the “free air”.

Sometimes this is not just a test, but people wanting to know if they can save money by using frequent flyer or credit card awards points for the required air fare portions of their travel, or those who might live in or near the port of embarkation.

Either way, if yours is a valid question for a variation you are considering, or a test, it’s something you should do. In every case I have checked on costs the price of the cruise is reduced if you choose not to use the “free air”.

I am certainly not suggesting that one would always be able to find the necessary air transportation for less than the discount of the total fare the cruise lines offer when not using their air offers. In fact it’s quite possible the price from the cruise line will be less expensive than the price you could find on your  own, even if you’re planning on using any of your rewards programs, (because those awards points also have a real value).

However, quite plainly, if any type of lower cruise fare is available if you don’t use the “free air”, it clearly means there is NO “free air”. If the airfare were truly free, then the price of the cruise should be the same, if you are using the air portion of not.

Yes, reasonable, and relatively sane people  realize, and expect, there is some cost to air transportation. And though I almost fit somewhere into those two categories, the claim of “free air”, when it’s not, drives me nuts!

To my view the much more appropriate and honest description would be for the promoters to say “air fare included”. That description isn’t going to raise eyebrows, and attract attention, near as much as the  “Free Air” banners, but I, for one, would be much more comfortable knowing I am getting an honest description of the cruise line’s offerings.

Knowing they are deceiving me with the prices and descriptions in their promotions makes me uncertain about everything else they are telling me about their cruise products.

Perhaps people think I’m naïve to think everyone doesn’t realize this is just an advertising gimmick. But it’s obvious that the cruise lines doing it don’t believe that’s true. For some reason they believe it’s an effective tactic. That may be the point that aggravates me the most.

Tell me the air is included in your prices, and I know it’s an honest price, and all I’m really looking for is honesty, which will make more comfortable trusting everything else about the cruise line.

All of this talk about honestly makes me think I had better go back and rewrite or remove my various profiles on all the social media sites I’ve joined. I guess I  no longer get to be a bachelor billionaire looking for love.

– A View From The Kuki Side of Cruising.

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Comment from Kenneth Eden
Time October 30, 2013 at 5:30 am

There was, “was” as it was, a time when the air was truly FREE –

lets use an arbitrary figure for a cruise, $1499..00 per person, on a ship with a crew and sailed to ports – particulars not important here –

So, you book it, and want to alter the air, say the cruise left from Florida, so you could spend a few days with some friends or relatives there, and boom at no cost to you, you could change your flight dates. Nice, heck yeah.

OR you want to drive to whatever port the ship left from, and you get a credit for the air, say, $299.00 per person, real good.

OR you live in the port area, usually it was Florida, and the air was missing from the air sea rate. Even better. Now look at these options, and see the bottom line for the cruise per person, and add port charges etc.

So, in todays air pricing, there probably is no air as low as $299.00 r/t plus add on (depends on the air line) for baggage, snacks, seat size, priority boarding, meals – can-no-do.

So, will the cruise lines add air, on, into or at cost to the passenger, meaning, the cruise lines will eat up the air and all that $ that goes with it in todays pricing, just to get people on their ships? Probably yes, and probably at a real good price at that, a good price set with cruise line – air line negotiating , to GET YOU ON THE SHIP.

Who wins if this happens? The passenger, the cruise line (fill those over saturated berths on the way too many ships at sea) and the air lines, get ’em on at all costs.

Once you could literally fly out of a major city on a Saturday, lets say, to a Florida cruise gateway, and all day long, every plane (exaggeration) had nearly every seat taken with a person that was boarding a cruise when the flight reached Lauderdale or Miami.

Those were fun days, shuttles took soon to be passengers from Ft. Lauderdale to Miami, from airport to pier,
buses took them from selected areas in Florida to the piers for Florida residents, all at no a extra cost, buses transported passengers from the Boston – Providence and Hartford areas to New York – those were great times, Can they make a come back?

Hmm, somehow somebody will have to get to Asia for the next big thing in cruising, and I for one will NOT pay more for a cramped crappy plane ride to the ship for more than the cruise costs – will you?

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