We have extensively discussed the Galapagos Islands’ beauty and the best ways to discover this archipelago. Yet, we haven´t talked about one common mistake that our partners and guests have when traveling to the Galapagos Islands: the flights in and out of the islands.
It´s widespread for travelers or our travel agency partners worldwide who want to book flights to the Enchanted Islands by themselves, even though our recommendation is to book the flights through local tour operators. So, it´s time to explain the X reasons to book the Galapagos flights through your local tour operator in Ecuador, especially when the traveler is booking a cruise trip.
1- Cheap flights online but not for international travelers
On some online platforms, such as Expedia, travelers can find low airfares while collecting travel rewards points. So, some of them decide to arrange their tickets to Galapagos alone.
However, most of the time, those airfares apply only to Ecuadorian citizens and residents. Thus, it’s pretty usual to see some travelers beginning their journey to the Galapagos Islands arguing with the airline about their ticket and trying to understand why they must pay around $150-$200 per passenger to get their boarding pass, which lets them a sour taste in the end.
That’s not the best way to begin a dream trip to the Enchanted Islands!
That’s why our first piece of advice for travelers or international travel agencies starting to commercialize trips to the Galapagos is to book the flights through the local tour operators.
2- Local tour operators won’t be able to help much in case of any inconvenience with travelers’ self-issued flights
The second reason for booking the flights with the local tour operator is to get covered and always assisted by the local staff in case of any issue.
The other common problem at the airport is regarding issuing the flight ticket or any misspelling of the traveler’s full name. However, when the passenger or the international agency has bought the ticket, the local tour operator staff at the airport or on duty can support the traveler. Still, it can’t solve the issue because they don’t have access to the booking record nor change the booking in the system.
Also, it’s important to remember that sometimes cheap flights are not refundable and can’t be changed if the traveler needs to reschedule the flight because of an error in the date of travel or the flight hour.
3- Cruise operators have special agreements with airlines.
Many local tours and cruise operators have agreements with domestic airlines to guarantee a spot for their travelers. That’s why booking the Galapagos flight through your local tour operator is, most of the time, a guarantee to get the right flight at the right time.
That’s also why most cruiser groups travel together on the same flight in and out. It’s the best way for tour operators to ensure a smooth journey. So, for example, if there is any flight delay, everyone is delayed. Thus, this is the third reason to book the Galapagos flight with the Cruise/Tour Operator.
4- Avoid missing the cruise trip.
Another issue, very usual, is that people book different flights to the ones they need to join the cruise group, or their luggage doesn’t arrive on time, and maybe they cannot board the flight due to overbooking.
Because tour/cruise operators have these agreements, their passengers are a priority for the airlines and are considered a group. So, in case of any delay, the whole group land simultaneously. The individual traveler that bought their ticket can be picked not to check in when overbooking and rescheduled for a later flight, making them miss their cruise.
In case of any delay, the traveler must arrange the logistics to join the cruise group, and even though cruise staff inland will help them as much as they can, guests may assume additional costs as well as experience a stressful situation of joining the group on time before the cruise ship departs.
Tour and Cruise Operators are always keen to assist passengers as much as possible. Indeed, most of them have customer service staff at the Quito, Guayaquil, and Galapagos airports to help passengers during their check-in process with the Galapagos National Park Authority and the airlines.
We know flying is stressful for many, especially in a new country and in a different language. We also know that travelers or novel travel agencies selling the Galapagos Islands may not be aware of the logistics and distances in the Galapagos Islands and decide to get the flights done as soon as possible without asking the local tour operator. However, our responsibility is to support and explain to them how everything works within the archipelago and to help travelers live and enjoy their dream trip to the Galapagos.
That’s why we hope that you consider these recommendations that will make visitors worry only about getting the best picture of the uniqueness of the Enchanted Islands.