For many international trips, making a connection in a hub city is necessary to reach an international destination. As each airport has a different layout, baggage track, and customs/immigration protocol, the recommended connecting times can vary considerably. Moreover, the preferences for each individual traveler also varies. Some prefer shorter connecting times – even with the additional risk of missing a flight – for an overall shorter trip. Others prefer longer connections for added security and peace of mind. To establish a minimum standard, the airlines indicate a “legal connection time” for each airport.
Flight availability and pricing is primarily tied to the number of seats available on an aircraft at any given time. Frequently, options that have overly short connections are less desirable and thus have more seats available on the plane. This means there can be a considerable discount in booking a schedule with short connecting times. While a short connection option can seem like a good deal initially, missing flights (especially at the start of a tour) can mean additional hotel nights, rebooked international flights, and the high cost of lost days of your vacation!
Exito agents are trained to recommend longer connections, when available, and highlight short connection windows when lower pricing becomes a factor. That being said, we urge you to err on the side of caution with your purchase.
This can vary considerably but many airlines will charge more for economy seats close to the front of the plane, and for seats located on the aisle or window. Also, emergency row and bulkhead seats are often restricted until time of check-in.
Every airline has a different procedure for securing advance seat assignments, seats in preferred locations, and/or seats with extra legroom. Some airlines, like Delta for example, offer the selection of extra legroom seats prior to ticket purchase. Other airlines require that purchase to be made on their website after a booking has been confirmed. In some extreme examples such as British Airways, a fee may apply for all seat assignments made prior to check-in, including premium economy and business class.
Given the variability of airline policies and free versus chargeable seats on each flight, Exito will review seat options on a case by case basis. Please let us know your preferences and we will do our best to assign seats accordingly, or provide instructions if they must be secured after ticket purchase.
Great! If you prefer to review the layout of a flight prior to purchase we recommend the following website:
While the website does not show which seats are available in real time, or guarantee that the flight in question will operate with the same aircraft type, it does give more information on how the seats are likely to be arranged on each flight.
We recommend checking in online for your flight – if possible – 24 hours prior to departure. If an airport check-in is necessary, be sure to get to the airport as early as possible. This will increase your chances of getting a decent seat assignment prior to the check-in rush.
Airlines offer flight schedules 11 months in advance on average, to give clients as much time as possible to plan their trips. However, after a flight is published the airline may make adjustments to the schedule, aircraft, or routes. These adjustments can include:
- Changes to flight departure or arrival times
- Changes to type of aircraft or flight number
- Changes in frequency of flights
- Discontinuation or alteration of routes
While extremely inconvenient, it is within the airline’s legal bounds to modify a flight schedule, seat assignments, and other schedule related details without guarantee.
This depends on when a schedule change occurs. For all but the most last minute changes that are primarily day of departure, Exito Travel will notify you through email of the new flight details. Should a schedule change warrant further discussion, we may also reach out to you by phone. Further, you may also receive notification directly from the airline when a change occurs.
Most schedule changes are minor and will only include slight modifications to departure, arrival times, or flight numbers. For these minor changes, our team will rework the schedule on your behalf and send you the new flight details.
However, when there is a drastic change to a schedule, we will contact you or the primary travel agent assigned to your trip to discuss possible alternatives. When there is an agent involved in your ground planning, Exito will make every effort to keep them in the loop so that they are aware of the changes and can suggest modifications accordingly.
Acting as advocates on your behalf, our agents will review possible flight alternatives and send them over for review. Our agents are trained to search for solutions that minimize the disruption to your travel plans. Should an alternative prove satisfactory, we will then call the airline to see if they will approve the alternative and if confirmed send you notification of the new flight listing.
In some rare instances, flights are canceled outright or a satisfactory solution cannot be found. If every attempt to re-protect you fails, you may be entitled to cancellation without penalty and a full refund. This may allow us to rebook on another airline should an alternative exist, however, keep in mind that if you get a refund you will also be without a flight. If this happens close to your departure date you may be stuck paying more than you anticipated for a new last-minute schedule.
If a refund is approved by the airline, it may take up to 60 days for the airline to return the refunded amount to your credit card and up to 90 days to see this reflected on your credit statement.
If you are at the airport and experience last minute flight delays or changes the best recourse is often to speak directly to an airline representative, as they will have the most up-to-date information available. Also, your ticket may be under airport control status, which means that only the airline can make alterations.
That being said, we are here to help you in any way that we can. Many times our clients will need to make changes to local in country flights when an international arrival is delayed. We will make every effort possible to assist should a last minute change occur.
Schedule changes are far from ideal. At best they are a minor annoyance and at worst they can cause major disruptions to a scheduled trip. However, here at Exito Travel, we believe that you need someone on your side should an issue occur and we will make every effort possible to help you realize your travel abroad.
What to do if I have an Emergency
A trip emergency is any major disruption of travel or change of flight plans. There are many examples of this but a few are:
- Not being able to check-in at time of departure
- Major delays or cancellations to your international flights, that would then require rebooking a new departure date for your in-country flights
- Airline strikes where flights are canceled across the board
- Injuries or sickness requiring an earlier return home
This depends considerably on the situation. On the day of departure, as you get close to take off, airlines will put tickets under “airport control”. This simply means that some functions of the ticket are locked down and moved to airport personnel for change or reissue. In many cases where a last minute delay or cancellation occurs, the airline service desk at the airport is best equipped to assist with finding alternate flight plans.
That being said, a delay of your international flights will often cause a cascading effect to your schedule. Your local flight departures – often booked on different airlines – will need to be adjusted. We can assist in getting these tickets priced and exchanged for the least amount of disruption possible.
Purchase travel insurance: While certainly optional, this can help cover unexpected delays, flight rebooking, or similar events (please contact your insurance provider for exact coverage details). Having seen every problem in the book, flight insurance has really saved the day for many of our clients.
Check-in for your flights: For most airlines, online check-in is allowed 24 hours prior to departure. While not required, checking in online can help you avoid long wait lines at the airport and alert you to any last-minute schedule or operational changes.
Sign up for trip alerts: Many airlines have a text, phone, or email-based system for alerting passengers about delays or cancelations. Where possible, it’s always great to opt-in for this service on the airline’s website or at the time of check-in.
Keep your boarding passes: It is important to keep these until your trip is complete. These can be used for proof of service should an error or argument with the airline occur.
Arrive early / stress less: The general rule of thumb for airport arrival is no later than two hours before a domestic flight and 3 hours prior to an international departure. With increasingly long lines at check-in and airport security, adding additional time is always well advised.
Overbooking is a legal (arguably unscrupulous) industry practice where an airline will sell more seats on a flight than are available. On average 40,000 – 50,000 passengers a year are overbooked (bumped) from US domestic flights alone. This can be a very frustrating part of the customer experience, especially when you book a flight so far in advance expecting confirmed service.
For the airlines, overbooking is a game of probability. On average, the number of people that do not check-in for their scheduled flight is around 5-15 percent, depending on the route, season, type of travel, etc. Airlines have collected this data over the years to determine an average percentage of passenger no shows. For the airline, every empty seat is a missed opportunity to generate more revenue, so they overbook the flights based on these percentages. As you can imagine, this is not an exact science, and when every confirmed passenger shows up this can cause an overbooked flight.
When a flight is oversold and there are not enough volunteers, airlines set their own boarding priorities — the order in which they will bump different categories of passengers in an oversell situation. Some airlines bump passengers with the lowest fares first, others the last passengers to check in. For passengers with the same ticket price, those that check in last are often the ones that are bumped. To decrease this likelihood, we recommend that you check in at least 2 hours prior to a domestic departure and at least 3 hours prior to an international flight.
As our Seat FAQ outlines, seat selection for many airlines is now an ancillary chargeable service if you wish to assign seats prior to check-in. Despite the additional costs, having confirmed seat assignments on a flight does decrease the likelihood of getting bumped. If you wait for airport check-in, there is a greater chance the flight will be oversold. While specific seat assignments are not guaranteed, having seats assigned early does increase one’s chances to avoid an oversell situation.
Every airline has different rules in regards to overbooking and compensation. In terms of a possible scenario, the first thing that’s likely to happen with an overbooked flight is the gate attendant will ask people to volunteer to take another flight, and offer a travel voucher (often $200 and up) to sweeten the deal. Take note, by accepting this voucher, you essentially waive any possibility of further compensation from the airline. Alternatively, if you end up being denied boarding and do not accept a voucher, the airline may compensate you for the loss. It’s recommended that you reach out to the airline as soon as possible to file a claim, and you can often get the process started by talking to a gate agent while you wait.
We understand getting bumped from a flight a difficult and frustrating experience, especially if you are confirmed on a tour with pre-scheduled activities. At the airport, it’s best to speak to a gate or customer service representative about alternative departure options and what they can protect you on. If we can assist with this process during normal business hours, or help with connecting flights that would be affected by the delay, please reach out to us at 1-800-655-4053. Outside of normal business hours, please contact the agent responsible for your tour.
Traveling the Exito way means the adventure begins long before you book your flight. We believe that travel is a both a privilege and a responsibility – it takes preparation to open your mind, to be ready to learn and experience, and to have awareness of yourself and your surroundings on the journey.