Frustrating experience with Road Scholar

I wanted to share frustrating experience as a customer/traveler of Road Scholar:

 My upcoming trip has not started yet, but the experience working with RS has been frustrating and disappointed.

 * When RS office was open, I’ve been waiting on the phone for at least 30 minutes, and no one is available. RS offered call back feature, but they don’t understand that not everyone can use the call back feature.  It's impossible to spend another 30 minutes to hold the phone either.

 * I cannot access my own PIF online for more than 48 hours after I’ve already enrolled to a trip and paid the deposit. Because RS Office is closed on Sat. and Sunday, I cannot reach anyone to resolve the problem.  (I was able to access my PIF online earlier.)

 * The CSR (customer service representative) who answered the call or, who answered the chat, not familiar with the program I've enrolled.  I was holding the phone for 30 minutes, but still cannot get my questions answered.

* RS cannot match the flight price that the airline is offering.

On an identical flight itinerary, RS flight price is TWICE higher than the airline is offering.

 * RS policy: On the international trip, you may not join the airport-hotel group transfer if you did not purchase flight ticket from RS regardless if your flight schedule aligns to RS's group transfer schedule or not.

On my case, my flight schedule is identical to the flight schedule which RS is offering.

This is a 12-person only international program and it's already full. In another word, I am one of the 12 enrolled travelers.

But, RS won't let me know if I can join the group transfer or not until much closer to the start of my program. 

* Taxi is not recommend due to safety reason on my upcoming trip. Although by paying at least $50, RS can arrange an individual transfer. However, the destination is a totally different country, for anyone, a group transfer would be much safer than any individual transfer.

* Suggestion: Why RS cannot simply offer the option to Program Only travelers that by paying additional fee, the Program Only travelers can also join the group transfer between airport and hotel as long as traveler’s flight schedule aligns with the group transfer?


** For privacy reason, I won't disclose specific information on the name of the program I've enrolled. Sorry! ** 

It's my understanding that RS policy on airport-hotel group transfer and purchasing flight tickets from RS are the same across the majority of RS's international program .  That being said, my frustrated experience and suggestion could apply to another RS's international program.

  • Hello,
    First of all, we apologize for the long wait times you've experienced when you have called us.

    We do want to let you know also that although the Road Scholar Travel airfare might be more expensive than the non-refundable fares you might find online there are the following benefits with scheduling your air with us:

    - airfare carries low or no cancel fees
    - held but not booked until closer to start date
    - very competitive business class upgrades
    - 24 hour emergency number
    - Careful flight monitoring
    - Group transfer is provided between airport and hotel when flying on group travel dates

    Also please keep in mind that you would need to make your own arrangements to arrive at the first site on your program and depart from the last site unless your flight schedule aligns with and you are able to avail yourself of the designated program only group transfers (at least one of the scheduled group transfers at the beginning and end of the program will be available for program only participants at no additional cost). These group transfer times will not be known until approximately five (5) weeks prior to program start and will be announced in the Final Information Packet.

    We hope this helps to clarify things a bit for you and if you need any further assistance feel free to reach out to us.

    Your Friends at Road Scholar
  • I have experienced some of the same frustrations you have in my dealings with RS. In the past (I have been traveling with them for close to two decades), I got through with only a few minutes' wait and the representatives were always well informed and helpful. However, in recent years, I have had less satisfactory experiences. Once I encountered a representative who did not seem to know the geography of Europe and kept asking me about going to Cuba. I had already told her that I had no interest in going to Cuba. Since she seemed to be working at home, she was unable to or did not offer to check with colleagues for help. That experience reduced my confidence in RS drastically.

    However, I do want to say that if you are persistent enough (e.g., call several times until you reach someone helpful), you might get that airport-hotel transfer worked out. Don't let these frustrations spoil your trip.

    I think RS should have more extended hours, especially on weekends.
  • In reply to Road Scholar:

    We are planning our first trip on RS and would like to use RS for "custom flight arrangements" to ensure we book the most optimal routes to and from our destination. If we book with RS, are we guaranteed transfers to/from airport on the specified begin/end dates? On the last leg of the trip, the transfer back to the airport is 1.5 hours away and the planned flight leaves 9:30am -- that means we need to leave hotel at 5:30am to be at airport by 7:00am. Would this be a problem (any risk of missing our flight)?
  • This in in reply to Patny's question. Yes, as long as your flights are on the designated begin/end dates of the program, RS assures you the transfer, no matter how early or how far. (On my last RS program there was a transfer that left the hotel at 3am!) I wouldn't worry but if you want it from the horse's mouth, ask RS Travel dept.
  • You are NOT alone. I have also been experiencing many of the similar problems! Especially annoying was the long waits on the phone to speak with someone.
    I also resent the fact of being stranded in Quebec City after the program and having to find my own way back to Montreal. Previous trips ALWAYS returned us to our original starting point.
    And, yes, my flight was also double the airline's cost.
    When I was in the process of deciding to sign up for this trip, these reviews were not accessible. I have been on many Road Scholar trips in the past and EVERYTHING ran unbelievably smooth. It's disappointing to say the least.
    I could say more, but you have done it for me. I thank you.
    AND, BTW, my original $1700. trip is now over $3.000.
    I tried to 'Like' your post, however it was not being counted.
  • In reply to m.erdem111314:

    Thank you for bringing your experience to our attention, m.erdem. We are concerned with what you have described, and would like the opportunity to discuss with you in more depth. Would you be open to a phone call or email from a member of our team?

    For quick clarification – our programs occasionally are designed to start and end in different cities, because of the destinations/distances covered through our itinerary. When our participants book their airfare through RS, we will assist with the transfers to and from the airport. If a participant chooses to arrange their own airfare, as you have, we provide multiple choices on the best options to get back to the airport.

    We hope to speak with you soon!

    All the best,
    Your Friends at Road Scholar
  • In reply to patny_8013048:

    Patny, only some of the trips include transfers to and from the airport. I believe all international trips do include this feature if you book your air with RS, but some domestic programs do not. I am taking my granddaughter to Florida this summer and will have to arrange our own transportation to and from the airport. RS will get you to your international flight no matter what time it departs.
  • I’m unsure but are you going to Quebec in May. If so I’d like to correspond further

    Eileen Ryan
  • In reply to eryan28042925:

    I've had the same bad experience. No response at all from travel after 6 weeks of putting down deposit. I called and was told they were overwhelmed. They suggested I write them an email and indicate my travel preferences and to give it a couple weeks for a reply. After more then a couple weeks I never got a call or email back. I called them and did have success with the call back. The flights that worked for me did not get there within a time frame that was set so I was told I would not get the transfer from the airport and actually the activity starts at the airport and they take you to eat then to another activity and finally to the hotel. So I would miss all that. I said I wanted to think about that before I booked the air. I was thinking I would go a day early then meet up with those activities. I looked at the info on line to see and it was not clear to me that those activities start at the airport. I called the main line to ask them. They agreed it was not very clear and told me to hold while they checked with someone else. Came back and said they did not know the answer. So, they said they would write a request to travel department to get a clarification and someone would get back to me. They said give it a week. After more than a week with no response I called travel. They had the request but I had to start all over explaining my question. I think I got an answer about that so I am going a day early. I knew the flight I wanted but their price was 60% higher than what I could get myself. Plus since the flight got me there a day early I would not get the transfer to the hotel anyhow. Their explanation of why it was higher made no sense. They essentially said for me to just book it direct myself. This will be trip number 25 with Road Scholar. I have been satisfied with other trips but, this experience has had so many missteps that I will be scrutinizing RS on trips overseas where booking the transportation with them may not be the best deal. I have traveled with other services and not had the poor service nor the ridiculous price difference with air that I got on this RS program.
  • In reply to kasaunders012643:

    Kasaunders, last time I bought international air from RS (4 months ago) the process went very smoothly. I always check the flights I want and the price before even talking to RS. Their price is either usually very competitive or even a couple of hundred dollars less than I can find on my own (based on my 7 RS international trips.) It sounds like their travel department is overwhelmed.
    For what it's worth, I think many travel companies are facing the same challenges. A few months ago I was on hold with Overseas Adventure Travel for 45 minutes before I hung up.
  • In reply to kasaunders012643:

    It does not lift my spirits that other travelers have similar experience with the lack of service from RS. My last contacts were finally successful and all questions were answered, but it took a lot of persistence and many contacts including the group leader in Switzerland to accomplish my satisfactory solution. It shouldn't be that difficult and RS has some serious management issues by is not listening to their customers and following up. It would be nice to see some improvements in that area. Are you listening RS? We are looking forward to our trip to Switzerland and exploring the country by rail. We are leaving a day early to insure that we meet up with the group. We booked our airlines ourselves to get a lower price and a more convenient routing.
    fitnessfreak in NM
  • In reply to eryan28042925:

    Yes I’m off to Quebec. Where will you be coming from. Have you traveled with RS before
    Thanks for responding. Eileen
  • Hello mandyandarion030100 and Mary_A,
    We apologize for the difficulties you have encountered while working with us. Would you be open to a member of our team reaching out to discuss?

    Please let us know and we will gladly follow up with you via phone.

    All the best,
    Your Friends at Road Scholar
  • In reply to Road Scholar:

    RS, thanks for the reply but my original post said that I have NOT had difficulties with RS Travel. In fact, I've been quite pleased with it.
  • In reply to Road Scholar:

    I have enjoyed RS trips very much but only after getting there. Travel booked through the company has been a nightmare on two trips last year. Both times I was booked on airlines that refused to pre-assign seats. I have a physical problem and need to be on isle seats. The airlines were not sympathetic because they said I had not booked with them. Then, on one flight I was on standby with no guarantee that I would make the start of my program. So, next time I booked to come in early, and was told I would have to make and pay for my own transfers. Well, I didn’t mind that until I discovered that RS had arranged for and paid for transfers for two other people that arrived on exactly the same flight as myself. Yes, they both got a free transfer while I paid.
    Although you list benefits, I must question your information. On both trips I have asked about business class and been told that RS doesn’t handle that and that I would have to contact the airline after RS booked economy tickets. When I called the airline they said I would have to cancel my tickets and rebook, for which there was a hefty additional charge. Also, when the airline changed my flights, they notified me, but RS did not. When I called to check RS said, “Gosh, I guess that’s right.”
    I won’t be booking travel through RS in the future.