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Lisa & I are flying Delta to Grand Cayman on Delta Points, low level naturally, and look forward to an upgrade to 1st class (if not EC will be fine for a short 3ish hour flight). I have blogged about amassing and using a large portion of my Ultimate Rewards point balance for a very special trip for our 25th anniversary. The process has for the most part been smooth and simple, but not without a few small hiccups along the way that I thought would be good for you to know in advance if you are not just simply sending your UR points to United to fly Lufthansa 1st class!
As I said, the phone reps at the Ultimate Rewards Travel Services department were all extremely pleasant and helpful through the entire booking process. Part of my package we have booked includes a SCUBA diving package and they added that to my reservation easily. But, some problems have developed as we approach our departure date for the trip. One fine day I received an email from my UR Travel Services rep asking me to contact her to schedule the dives I had booked. No problem, right? Wrong!
With SCUBA diving, as with many other specialized activities likely to be booked with a vacation package, there are certain requirements and certifications necessary for participation in the activity. In addition, there are many technical terms those not familiar with the activity could, perhaps, stumble over and get wrong. This is where my frustration began with my trip. My UR Travel Services rep was, as is her job, attempting to act as my liaison with my dive center at my vacation destination. My multiple requests to have the dive center contact me directly went unanswered. After no less than 7 interchanges with my UR rep by phone and out of sheer frustration, I searched my reservation materials and came up with the name of the dive shop myself. A quick Google search and presto, I was on the phone with them getting clarification and confirmation on everything. The dive shop was delighted, I was relieved, and the UR rep was out of the equation!
My experience revealed an additional requirement for my SCUBA package that cost me an additional $400. My UR Travel Services rep informed me that I would not be allowed to use points to cover this cost since my reservation was already booked and finalized – RATZ! When I argued that the questions should have been asked at the time of booking so the arrangements could have been made then, I was told that was correct and she was very sorry things had worked out this way instead. So, I got on the secure message side and complained and was given 10,000 UR points to make up for this situation.
My tip for you? Do your own homework and do not trust the reps to know all the bases that need to be covered. I am a certified PADI diver. I took steps to be adequately prepared for my trip including getting all my “gear” serviced at my local dive shop, yet the dive center had further requirements. The UR Travel Services reps are frequently arranging trips and packages of activities they are completely unfamiliar with and will not know the details to cover with you in advance. If something gets left out that you have to book later, you will not be able to use your points to cover it. So find out the names of the third party shops involved in your trip and activities and call them directly. Ask all the questions before you book so you have no surprises when you arrive except the delightful kind. Oh, and while you are at it, don’t forget to grab the 50,000 point INK UR cards before they are gone! – René
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