As she paged through Viking River Cruises’ glossy brochure one recent afternoon, Diane Moskal noticed a new way to save money: If she booked the Waterways of the Tsars itinerary sailing from Moscow to St. Petersburg with something called an e-check, the cruise line promised to knock $100 off the fare.
An e-check is an electronic debit to your checking account, and it’s billed as a quick, convenient way to pay for your vacation that is “as easy as providing your credit card number,” according to Viking.
But like any smart traveler, Moskal wasn’t content with that explanation. “I see that the cruise lines advocate consumer savings if you pay by e-check,” she says. But she also found several complaints online, which made her hesitate. She wondered: Are e-checks safe? Continue reading…
As Ralph Santopietro sees it, Delta Air Lines had him over a barrel when he tried to change the dates on a flight from Myrtle Beach, S.C., to Hartford, Conn.
A ticket agent in Myrtle Beach offered to rebook Santopietro, a retired high school teacher, on the new itinerary. But his $238 ticket credit would be all but consumed by a $200 change fee, and then he’d have to pay a $538 fare difference.
How about transferring the ticket to his cousin, who would take the flight as originally planned? Nope, said the agent, citing security restrictions on ticket name changes.
Answer: Viking River Cruises seems like it’s being needlessly rigid. So I asked Joost Ouendag, the company’s vice president of marketing, why they weren’t accommodating your requests. “We do not, as a rule, allow diversions from our scheduled itineraries,” he told me. “This is not the result of an inflexible approach on our side, but rather an inescapable reality of organized group travel.” Continue reading…