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JohnS43

Flights By Celebrity - Extremely Frustrating Experience

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I have an upcoming Celebrity cruise (my first with them) and decided to use Flights By Celebrity to book the air travel. My first flight begins on American Airlines, and then I change to a LAN (South American) airline for the final segment. The return flight begins on LAN, then the second segment is operated by American, but is a LAN codeshare.

 

I assumed that Flights By Celebrity would act as the travel agent and assist with seat selection, flight details, etc. Apparently they do nothing of the sort -- all they do is give you the flight times and take your payment. The rest is up to you. And it's been very difficult having to deal with different airlines. I was able to do a seat selection for the AA flight and the next two LAN flights on the respective airlines' websites. But neither LAN nor AA allowed me to select a seat on the final segment. I ended up calling LAN and getting a seat assignment over the phone, but well over a week later, it is still not showing on my LAN itinerary. I have called them again and received assurances that the seat is in fact assigned, but they cannot point me to anywhere that I can see and print that information. After calling them a third time, the agent offered to email a full copy of the LAN portion of the itinerary, including the seat assignments, but the email never arrived.

 

And to add the the problem, apparently there is nowhere I can go to print out a complete itinerary with seat assignments and flight information (other than times/dates/flight numbers.) I've been flying for many years and have never had this problem before. I really wish I'd never used Flights By Celebrity. I could've done this much better using a non-cruise-connected online service or a travel agent. If I ever cruise with them again, I will definitely choose that option.

Edited by JohnS43

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Do you have different record locators for each flight, or are any of the flights on the same record locator? (that is the 6 character code).

 

Also for the return flights with the codeshare, make sure your AAdvantage number is in the LAN system which should then allow the final codeshare segment to show up on AA.com.

 

If you don't have an AAdvantage account sign u p for one on AA.com.

Edited by Mark_T

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I think it depends on the individual policy of the different airlines with these discounted tickets.

 

I won't complete my trip until January but so far I have been very pleased. Allowed me to book our Asian cruise knowing we had a "worst case scenario" with flights that were not only the lowest price but also carried no risk (no pre-payment). Our flights are with United and we were able to select seats and even pay for upgraded locations (if we preferred). The price dropped about a month before the final payment was due and we easily received the price adjustment. 

 

Based on my experience so far, I am very pleased. I feel like I have even more control (without anymore risk) than using a premium cruiseline (Silversea) where the air is included in the overall cost.

Edited by mdpa

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16 minutes ago, Mark_T said:

Do you have different record locators for each flight, or are any of the flights on the same record locator? (that is the 6 character code).

 

Also for the return flights with the codeshare, make sure your AAdvantage number is in the LAN system which should then allow the final codeshare segment to show up on AA.com.

 

If you don't have an AAdvantage account sign u p for one on AA.com.

Mark -- Thanks for the info. Here's what I have (from Celebrity): Record number 1: "AA|XXXXXX (Carrier)"  Record #2: "AA|XXXXXY". I also have a THIRD record number that the LAN agent gave me over the phone. (Celebrity did not have this one.) The first record number does work on AA.COM. The second one does NOT. (It can't find a record.) The THIRD one does work, but it only shows the non-AA flights--including the codeshare final flight and it DOES show my seat assignment for that one (but not the other two), so at least one problem is resolved.  Once I was able to get into the codeshare part where it showed me the three non-AA flights, it gave me a FOURTH record locator number!

 

So now I'm totally lost. I was able to enter my AAdvantage number into those segments, and put in my traveler information like I did with the first flight. (I had to re-enter everything--passport, Global Entry, etc., even though it was already there for the first segment.) Anyway, now when I try to look at my flights on AA.com, the first record number brings up the entire itinerary, but the FOURTH number now says "We couldn’t display trip details." So I hope I didn't mess something up. Four record locator numbers seems like three too many. And again -- why isn't Flights By Celebrity handling all of this?

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If you have all 4 flights showing underthe one record locator you should be good.

 

You will find that LAN and AA have their own record locators so don't worry too much about that part.

 

The important thing is that the flights out are both on the same ticket and the flights back are on the same ticket as without that you wouldn't be able to check your bags through to the destination and if one record locator is bringing up all four flights now that seems to be the case.

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The problem is the codeshare. These can throw up all sorts of anomalies as you’re discovering. I’ve sometimes found it can be impossible to get seat assignments so you’ve done well there. You may feel that Celebrity could be helping more but to be honest I think you are better off sorting this yourself. It sounds like an agent wouldn’t perhaps be as thorough in tracking things down as there’s been so much work and would just have told you sorry can’t be done. 

 

Im sure all will be fine but yes it is frustrating. 

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I just got off the phone with American ... apparently I made things worse. Now I have two different record locators that include three of the four flights. And the second one shows that I haven't paid for anything yet! And American said they can't do anything about it because it's a LAN record locator. I cannot believe how much time I've spent/wasted on this. Never again. All I wanted was ONE printable itinerary with everything on it, and this is what I've had to deal with.

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11 hours ago, JohnS43 said:

And again -- why isn't Flights By Celebrity handling all of this?

 

Because the reps at Flights by Celebrity aren't travel agents.  They are simply order takers.

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Flights By Celebrity--previously known as Choice Air--is a subcontracted airline consolidator and not a travel agent...  Generally--and especially on international flights--their fares are lower, and sometimes significantly so, than if you were to have purchased via a travel agent or the airline itself...  For instance, I used Flights By Celebrity  in June 2018 to purchase a one-way business class ticket to travel from London Heathrow to Houston/Houston to Florida in May 2019 following Edge's Transatlantic ...  My price was $1374 [great!]; on the same day, United was offering the identical one--way flight pair for a whopping $5817...

 

You will find a brief explanation of the differences--many relate to service level--between an air consolidator and a travel agent here...

 

https://www.smartertravel.com/airline-consolidators/

 

With respect and without knowing what sort of price advantage you've likely received [I assume nothing and shop air carefully and comparatively well in advance],  I'm personally willing to handle some of the details given the magnitude of my savings...  I've used Air By Celebrity [or predecessor Choice Air] more than a dozen times now--most often on itineraries far more complex than the one outlined above and entailing transfers between US and international carriers--and have always gotten things in order with relative ease...  That said, I've also learned along the way that the practices and terminology used by most US airlines [and those are evolving too] can vary significantly---there is no world-wide standard--from those employed by international carriers ranging from class of service descriptions and associated flight amenities to baggage/carry-on allowances to seat selection ability/timing [some international airlines allow advance seat selection based upon booked class of service, some will allow it only upon check-in regardless of class of service, and others will assign seats--no self selection--at advance time intervals varying by class of service]...

 

Best wishes in achieving resolution....  As American and LAN are both Oneworld affiliates and code share, this really should not be so difficult...  

Edited by Xport

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I am taking in January a very similar trip to S.America with a stop in Miami.  I used Flights by Celebrity.  Best price and fully refundable and I did not have to pay until final payment.  My flights are also American Airlines.  When I booked, the F by C agent asked about seat selection and booked my choices at the time for all 4 flights.  No problem for my situation.

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12 hours ago, JohnS43 said:

I just got off the phone with American ... apparently I made things worse. Now I have two different record locators that include three of the four flights. And the second one shows that I haven't paid for anything yet! And American said they can't do anything about it because it's a LAN record locator. I cannot believe how much time I've spent/wasted on this. Never again. All I wanted was ONE printable itinerary with everything on it, and this is what I've had to deal with.

 

I believe one of the selling points for the flights from Celebrity is the refundable nature of the booking and the payment delay, have you actually paid Celebrity for these flights yet?

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2 hours ago, Xport said:

Flights By Celebrity--previously known as Choice Air--is a subcontracted airline consolidator and not a travel agent...  Generally--and especially on international flights--their fares are lower, and sometimes significantly so, than if you were to have purchased via a travel agent or the airline itself...  For instance, I used Flights By Celebrity  in June 2018 to purchase a one-way business class ticket to travel from London Heathrow to Houston/Houston to Florida in May 2019 following Edge's Transatlantic ...  My price was $1374 [great!]; on the same day, United was offering the identical one--way flight pair for a whopping $5817...

 

You will find a brief explanation of the differences--many relate to service level--between an air consolidator and a travel agent here...

 

https://www.smartertravel.com/airline-consolidators/

 

With respect and without knowing what sort of price advantage you've likely received [I assume nothing and shop air carefully and comparatively well in advance],  I'm personally willing to handle some of the details given the magnitude of my savings...  I've used Air By Celebrity [or predecessor Choice Air] more than a dozen times now--most often on itineraries far more complex than the one outlined above and entailing transfers between US and international carriers--and have always gotten things in order with relative ease...  That said, I've also learned along the way that the practices and terminology used by most US airlines [and those are evolving too] can vary significantly---there is no world-wide standard--from those employed by international carriers ranging from class of service descriptions and associated flight amenities to baggage/carry-on allowances to seat selection ability/timing [some international airlines allow advance seat selection based upon booked class of service, some will allow it only upon check-in regardless of class of service, and others will assign seats--no self selection--at advance time intervals varying by class of service]...

 

Best wishes in achieving resolution....  As American and LAN are both Oneworld affiliates and code share, this really should not be so difficult...  

Thanks very much for your thorough and enlightening response. I appreciate the time you took to provide this information. I had assumed that Flights By Celebrity would operate in a manner similar to an online travel agent (e.g., Orbitz or Travelocity.) Now I understand that basically they're just providing the flights and you're pretty much on your own after that. Now to call LATAM (LAN) for the FIFTH time to figure out how to deal with the duplicate record locator ...

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1 hour ago, Mark_T said:

 

I believe one of the selling points for the flights from Celebrity is the refundable nature of the booking and the payment delay, have you actually paid Celebrity for these flights yet?

Yes, I paid for the entire cruise, including the flights, several months ago. And the payment is reflected on the other record locators (for both AA and LAN)--just not the weird fourth one that just appeared.

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2 hours ago, TeeRick said:

I am taking in January a very similar trip to S.America with a stop in Miami.  I used Flights by Celebrity.  Best price and fully refundable and I did not have to pay until final payment.  My flights are also American Airlines.  When I booked, the F by C agent asked about seat selection and booked my choices at the time for all 4 flights.  No problem for my situation.

Did you make your reservations over the phone? I did everything online. The only time I spoke to F by C was when I was trying to straighten this all out (i.e., get something with all of my seat assignments -- which do NOT show on the Celebrity itinerary) and they said they couldn't do anything.

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1 hour ago, JohnS43 said:

Did you make your reservations over the phone? I did everything online. The only time I spoke to F by C was when I was trying to straighten this all out (i.e., get something with all of my seat assignments -- which do NOT show on the Celebrity itinerary) and they said they couldn't do anything.

Yes I called F by C directly and did everything through one of their agents.  I got better info and prices than when I just used their site for pre-screening purposes which I did in advance of my phone call to them.  It was pretty easy.  When I book a cruise I never do it online either.  I always just call Celebrity and deal directly with a vacation planner.  I guess I am old fashioned but I prefer to deal with a person and make sure I get questions answered and explore all options.

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14 hours ago, JohnS43 said:

I did everything online

 

 

Not recommended when you’re dealing with X - their IT issues are well documented on CC.

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Well, miracle of miracles, I got an email today (from "ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISES") that contained all of my flight information! All the seat assignments, the meal and baggage information, etc. Maybe I just had to wait until now to get it? I guess I don't understand how this process works and why it took nearly two months for it to show up. (I made the final payment for the cruise + airfare on 9/15.) Oh well ... now the only issue is that weird extra record locator that shows an unpaid ticket.

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3 minutes ago, JohnS43 said:

Well, miracle of miracles, I got an email today (from "ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISES") that contained all of my flight information! All the seat assignments, the meal and baggage information, etc. Maybe I just had to wait until now to get it? I guess I don't understand how this process works and why it took nearly two months for it to show up. (I made the final payment for the cruise + airfare on 9/15.) Oh well ... now the only issue is that weird extra record locator that shows an unpaid ticket.

 

 

Glad to hear that you got it sorted.

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Well, I'm leaving tomorrow, but now I'm concerned that the airlines might not be treating the two legs I have tomorrow (LAX-MIA, and MIA-EZE) as one trip. Do you think the fact that there are two record locators will mean that I can't check my bags all the way through to the final destination at LAX? I sure hope that isn't the case -- I only have 1.5 hours in Miami, and if I had to retrieve my luggage and go back through security, I would never make it!

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When you check in at LAX confirm with the Agent your final destination. And show them your boarding pass for your onward flight from Miami. I’ve done exactly that in situations where there were 2 separate PNRs involved. Make sure you don’t walk away from the counter with MIA bag tag receipts. 

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It's been a while since I've flown and I didn't even think about checking in online and getting my boarding passes. Well, I just did that (thanks to your post, which prompted me) and it did have my complete flight. And it gave me boarding passes for both, although the seat assignment for the second leg was different from what I had originally reserved. I guess I'll have to deal with that in Miami, since American doesn't seem to be able to do seat assignments for the other airline (LATAM.)

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John hope your trip goes off without a hitch - please let us know how everything goes✈️🛥️

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