Q – We booked a Silversea cruise from Athens to Venice and just learned, sixty-thirty days before we leave, that our air schedules have been changed because Delta canceled one of our flights. Our travel agent says she cannot speak to Delta to help us but they are trying to work this out directly with Silversea. I see Delta as the one who canceled the flight and I think they are the ones who ought to make this up to us by offering us a better connection – not a worse one. Should we go around the agent and call Delta directly? If so, what department? I don’t quite understand why I used a travel agent to book this if they can’t help me with Delta.
A – We will infer from your note that you are booked on an air program that is part of your Silversea booking. Your travel agent is exactly correct. Your ticket was purchased by Silversea as part of a group contractual arrangement with Delta. This gives Silversea access to tickets at special pricing but they must adhere to the terms of the contract. Delta will not, legally, be able to speak to your travel advisor because your travel advisor is not the official “ticketing agent”. That would be Silversea’s Air Department.
Your agent can contract Silversea on your behalf because the agency acts as your “advocate” in situations like this. This, by the way, is one primary reason why you should always use a travel advisor. That, and the fact that, even if you don’t use one, you will end up paying their commission anyway because it is always built into the cruise line’s price matrix.
It is highly likely that calling Delta will be a waste of your time. The cruise lines go through special group departments and you will likely not be put through to that office as they do not work with passengers directly.
There is one essential point here we want to be certain we make clear. Let’s imagine that your Business Class ticket actually cost Silversea $2800 based on their negotiated confidential contract with Delta. If your original flight is canceled, Delta must, working with Silversea’s air department, find you an alternative way to get to your destination. But what they will not do is put you on a flight where the Business class tickets are currently priced at $4500 Per Person. They must operate on their agreed-upon price of $2800. They are not going to east the difference – neither is Silversea. So what you will be getting on a cruise line-supplied air offer is alternative routing within the same general price range. There could be a non-stop available – but you won’t get a $4500 ticket.
So what to do about it? You can always decide to take the available air credit and do your own air every time you take a cruise abroad. But studies show that 90% of the time you will be spending more, often thousands of dollars more, to do your ticketing independently. And, always remember that when do do not use the cruise line’s air program your transfers from and back to the airport are not included. In most European capitals that can easily amount to additional charges of several hundred dollars.