BEWARE of Grand Circle Travel SCAMS!!!


May 2nd, 2013, 07:48 AM
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Join Date: May 2013
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BEWARE of Grand Circle Travel SCAMS!!!

Grand Circle Travel (GCT) seems to play a few nasty games, and cheating its customers!!!

1. When flying on a commercial airline, booked through GCT, they negotiate a deal (to increase their profit margin) which PRECLUDES the traveler from getting FREQUENT FLYER credits!!

Moreover, GCT has a ploy to award a small number of point i.e. around 5% of the total mileage, in order to elude 'getting caught'. After all, most people (we did) see frequent flyer credit and don't bother to check how many points they actually received!!!

2. Forced (credit card charge) for tipping!!!

Upon boarding the Yangtze river cruise boat, we were informed that our credit cards will be charged a flat fee of $150.oo each for tipping. We protested that we need to experience the service first, then determine how much to tip (more or less) but they INSISTED!!!

NASTY, and GREEDY !!!!

GCT is not a choice we will ever make, or recommend.
BenStone is offline  
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May 2nd, 2013, 10:52 AM
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Well, I certainly would never travel with Grand Circle or OAT (one disastrous trip with OAT was enough), but your complaints are not entirely reasonable.

1. It is quite common for consolidator tickets not to carry FF miles. I am not surprised that the bulk buy that GC makes for its tickets means no FF miles. My problem with them was a bit different. Along with most of the other passengers in my group, I had paid for business class upgrades. On the return trip we found that we were only on stand-by for the upgrade, and it was only confirmed minutes before push-back.

2. I do not take cruises, but from my reading (see or the cruise board here) enforced tipping is now normal practice. Of course, it is especially egregious in China, which is (or was before the influx of "must tip" Americans), a non-tipping country. And $150/person for what I presume was a three or four night cruise certainly seems excessive.
thursdaysd is offline  
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May 3rd, 2013, 01:00 AM
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To elaborate on thursdaysd's point in #1 a little, not all fare codes give FF miles and some only give a fraction. You will need to visit the airline's website to see what fare codes award FF miles. And to further muddy things, if you are flying on an alliance member (for example, you are an Aegean Airlines Miles&Bonus member and you book a flight on Star Alliance partner Lufthansa) your mileage accrual may go by a different award chart.

If you want to accumulate FF miles, you are better off booking the flight yourself.
sparkchaser is offline  
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May 3rd, 2013, 07:50 AM
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I've been on a few trips with them and always found them to be a good value.....
JaneB is offline  
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May 10th, 2013, 05:19 AM
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I too have traveled with Grand Circle several times and found them a good value. In fact, I just returned from a trip with them about 2 weeks ago. I booked my flight thru them and my full FF miles have already been posted to my United account.
Bgale is offline  
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Jul 30th, 2013, 11:37 AM
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Thanks for explaining what had happened with you. I have no experience yet but I will keep in mind whenever chossing Travel agent.
John_Allex is offline  
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Jul 31st, 2013, 09:29 AM
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I beg to differ! I have always had OAT and Grand Circle make my flight arrangements, and I have always gotten credit for the air miles. I always chose a United States based company who was a member of an alliance whenever possible because I knew I had a better chance of using the miles, but even when I didn't, I always got credit with someone.
PIPERPAT is offline  
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Jul 31st, 2013, 09:33 AM
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I should add that it has never been partial credit.
PIPERPAT is offline  
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Aug 1st, 2013, 11:39 AM
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Did the tour company tell you in advance about #2? Wasn't it written somewhere in your contract with them?
suze is online now  
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Aug 14th, 2013, 04:37 PM
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I was doing a Google search for Grand Circle as I plan to take a Christmas river cruise with them. -- When the heading for this forum caught my eye. I was so compelled to write - I registered - the whole business!

I had a FABULOUS - over the top - WONDERFUL experience with GCT! I am not even shopping around for another company for the Christmas Market cruise. My mother has traveled into the double digits with GCT and has never been dissatisfied. (and she can be hard to please )

I just wanted to put my two-cents in on GCT - for as is often the case -- Debbie-Downers often flock together!

I can not wait for my tour in 2014 -- saving my pennies now!
kmsmith11 is offline  
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Oct 8th, 2013, 12:27 AM
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I have traveled with GCT once and never experienced getting cheated by them. In fact, I was very satisfied with their service. Since I dropped by here, I will ask more opinions from people I know who registered on this tour company and see if they encountered similar problems.
marartin is offline  
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Oct 12th, 2013, 07:06 PM
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We have never had any issues with Grand Circle,Viking or Vantage. OAT had a bad trip but it was brand new and they gave us 500.00 credit towards another and totally reworked the orginal trip. Lessoned learned: don't take a new trip until kinks are ironed out.

Scam is a strong word and I'm not sure it is even used correctly in this case.

Life is to short to sweat the small things and in my opinion the complaint is a small thing. I can't imagine losing ff points ruin your entire trip or tipping fairly. Large cruise ships do that frequently.
Best travel independently so that you can be totally satified and in control of your ff points and tipping.
southeastern is offline  
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Jan 7th, 2014, 08:05 AM
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This kind of post is what makes technology so wonderful, and horrible, all at the same time. The good side of this is the fact that you can share this kind of information with us. I really appreciate that you have shared, by the way. I am looking to book a cruise for this year sometime, but wanted to do my research first, so I appreciate the advice in whom to avoid. The bad side of technology is that this kind of thing is easier to execute. I really appreciate you taking the time to make this post. It makes me want to look deeper into various other companies before I actually make any final purchases or decisions.
PaulLanders is offline  
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Jan 7th, 2014, 09:05 AM
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This poster registered in May, 2013, at the time of this ONE post and never returned........
tenthumbs is offline  
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Feb 16th, 2014, 09:52 AM
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you can check here an useful article about travel scam
CarolMoris is offline  
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Mar 8th, 2014, 08:22 AM
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Once again I will post a positive note about GCT. We've been on eight of their trips so far, both river cruise and land cruise, and planning another to Spain-Portugal in October.
Ozarksbill is offline  
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Jan 9th, 2015, 11:13 AM
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You joined Fodors just to post that? Don't work for them do you?
thursdaysd is offline  
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Mar 24th, 2015, 07:35 PM
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We've taken over a dozen trips with GCT/OAT and they do NOT try to trick customers. In fact , it is one of the few companies that post all the unedited comments about a trip. This is very helpful in deciding whether a trip is right for you, what special things you might pack, and what optional activities you should consider. Most companies post only a few edited comments and some that post unedited comments (RoadScholar) seem to have very few travelers who write comments. If you're looking for scammy travel companies, look elsewhere.
LarryFranklin is offline  
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Mar 26th, 2015, 12:57 PM
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Oh, this is one of those unnecessarily repeated postings. Yes, we are also GCT customers 10 time over. Let's not post any more on this one way or another.
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