[Resolved] Viking River Cruises / flight scheduling
This is unusual for me to be writing a negative review of Viking Cruises since my wife, Elena, and I thoroughly enjoyed two previous river cruises (Bordeaux and Rhine) and are scheduled to take our third in France (Provence 7-day Cruise with post extension in Dijon) initially flying October 27, 2018. The reason I am complaining is how horrible Viking scheduled our flights, and their stubborn refusal to rectify at no additional cost. One of Viking's selling points is their low airfare, but apparently unless one initially pays an extra $50/person to purchase Viking Air Plus, all scheduling is done by a computer. Apparently, the computer selects the cheapest flights from airlines with which Viking has contracts, and this means the cheapest for Viking and NOT ANY consideration for reasonableness for the travelers. Yesterday, I received our flight itinerary. Viking had booked with United, and the flight from San Diego thru Washington (Dulles) DC thru Brussels to Marseille, France was reasonable and OK with us. HOWEVER, the flight home was TERRIBLE! Viking's computer had scheduled our first leg home @ 8:30am from Lyon, France. Because of our Viking post extension in Dijon, which is 132 miles or so north of Lyon, arriving at the Lyon airport 2 hours ahead of time, or near 5:00am, would require we leave Dijon at 2:30am by bus or 3:00am by car. This means we would have to wake up at 1:00am or so, thereby eliminating our last night's sleep in the expensive hotel. If that was not enough, the return from Lyon thru Brussels thru Newark, NJ, to San Diego had a near 4-1/2 hour layover in Newark! Because this return flight itinerary was so unreasonable, I assumed (incorrectly) that Viking would correct the situation by rescheduling us on more reasonable flights, at no cost. HOWEVER, my AAA Travel agent, who was managing our trip, and I, after at least three phone calls, were unable to get Viking to waive the $50/person Viking Air Plus they insisted upon before changing my return flights to ones that are more reasonable. My wife and I finally gave in, and now we leave Lyon at 1:20pm (allowing us plenty of time to get there from Dijon after having a full night's sleep). We get home in San Diego late at 11:10pm, but I guess that cannot be avoided. The AAA Travel agent told me that even after paying $50/person for Viking Air Plus, that not all flight options are available without paying an additional $150-$250/person for better flights if these flights are not included in Viking's contracts with the airlines. So, in summary, either initially pay the extra $50/person for Air Plus to give yourself a better chance of not being surprised and infuriated by a totally unreasonable schedule as happened to us, or be prepared to pay this later if/when your luck runs out and you get a crappy schedule. I know it is only $50 X 2 = $100, but I am so angry with Viking! Their service up to this point has been outstanding, so I just cannot accept their unwillingness to correct at no charge their totally unacceptable flight schedules. I definitely will tell this story to anyone who asks about my trip or about Viking cruises, so I assume that Viking will suffer far more than $100 in bad marketing. Good luck to you; but be forewarned. - John
Customer care service did everything in their power to resolve this complaint. All attempts to contact the complainant have failed. Therefore, this complaint has been annulled and must not be considered where image of the company in question and it's services are concerned.
Viking River Cruises Customer Care's Response, Jul 26, 2018
While we regret to hear of your disappointment, John, we appreciate the opportunity to address your concerns. Accordingly, an Air Guest Relations Agent will contact you within the next 24 hours to further assist you. We look forward to speaking soon, John, and wish you a great day.
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