FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: Can we take food and drinks on the charter buses?
A: Yes, food and drinks are permitted. We request you do not use glass for safety sake, and that you use the provided trash receptacles to keep the bus clean.
Q: How about alcoholic beverages?
A: Yes alcoholic beverages are permitted. We ask you do not bring glass on board for safety sake. If alcohol will be served, we do require a $250.00 cleaning & damage deposit per bus which is refundable if the coach is returned clean and undamaged. Cleaning deposits are applied to wine tours, weddings, and any other “party” situations where a mess could be an issue. Additional release forms will be required if there are any persons under the age of 21 on your charter trip where alcohol will be served. Please notify your charter sales agent if there may be alcoholic beverages on board the charter coach at the time of booking to avoid any last minute paperwork.
Q: How long after my trip will my cleaning & damage deposit be held?
A: We make every effort to return your cleaning & damage deposit within two weeks of your trip. If you will not be receiving the full amount back, we will contact you to let you know. Generally, the deposit will be returned as a check to the name and address that was on the original payment (on the check or on the Credit Card Authorization form). If payment was made with a credit card, we can refund that same credit card upon request.
Q: Is smoking allowed on the charter coaches?
A: No. Smoking is prohibited in every area of the charter coach.
Q: Is a tip for the driver included in the price? What is customary?
A: Gratuity is not included in the price of the trip. Tipping is entirely voluntary and discretionary. According to industry information, “customary” tips are $2 per passenger, per day, or about 10 – 15% of the total trip price. AmericanStar Tours is able to add gratuity onto the price of the trip at the customer’s discretion prior to departure. We encourage groups who wish to tip their driver do so directly after the completion of the trip or mail a check made out to the driver to our company mailing address and we will pass it on.
Q: How are trips priced?
A: We price each of our trips individually, based on a number of factors including (but not limited to): mileage, hours, season, and referrals. We give discounts where we can, and often do, but we generally do not disclose the actual amount of the discount. We strive to give all our groups the best possible price for their needs, and do our best to work within budgets and tailor pricing to accommodate each client.
Q: Is the group responsible for meals and lodging for the driver?
A: Generally, drivers can provide their own meals. For overnight trips, the groups are usually responsible for the driver’s room. We will tell you as part of your quote if you are responsible for the driver’s room so there are no surprises. Many hotels will provide a driver’s room free if you book a large block of rooms so be sure to check with the hotel at the time of booking. Be sure to also ask about bus parking at the hotel as not every property can accommodate a 45-foot long charter coach and bus parking is very important to the ease of each trip.
Q: Why do we require an itinerary for overnight trips, and a confirmation number from the hotel?
A: As part of a legally required waybill, our drivers need to have destinations expected during on-duty times. In addition, we provide as much information as we can to our drivers, prior to their departure, so they can be well-informed about their group and the locations they will be visiting (including information such as parking availability). An itinerary prior to departure helps us provide the best service possible to each of our clients and allows us to take care of our drivers to make sure their driving hours are within legal limits. We require a confirmation number for the rooms to ensure our drivers will have no issues at the end of the day, when they need to get much-needed (and legally required) rest. Additionally, many hotels are unwilling to provide information to anyone other than the person making the reservations, so it is difficult, if not impossible, for AmericanStar Tours to get reservation information directly from the hotel. If you happen to be staying at a hotel that only has a group number and rooming list (rather than a confirmation number), we request you provide group number and rooming list to us in the office, and the driver with his or her room key when you check the group in.
Q: Why do you need to talk to someone in the group a few days before the departure?
A: Plans frequently change! As the trip date closes in, groups may end up with a different chaperone or contact person, a larger or smaller group than anticipated or even different pickup locations, destinations and/or departure times. To make sure your trip goes as perfectly as possible, we want to verify all of our information is accurate and up-to-date prior to departure. We strive to give each of our clients the smoothest, most hassle free trip as possible!
Q: Do you have a lost and found?
A: Yes. We do our best to find items left on buses and put them aside; however, we cannot be responsible for ANY lost items. We are more than happy to take your contact information in case your lost item turns up. This is a good reminder to look all around your seating area and make sure you retrieve all your personal belongings before exiting the charter coach for the last time.
Q: What is your cancelation policy?
A: Each client reserving charter bus service with AmericanStar Tours will receive written confirmation and a contract for service outlining our terms and conditions, including our cancellation policy. This contract is a legal and binding agreement that is designed for your protection as well as ours.
Q: How much of a deposit will I need to hold my bus?
A: Deposits will vary from charter to charter. Generally, a deposit is determined by availability and the cost of the trip. Your contract will outline the deposit amount and when it is due. We will work with you to ensure your bus remains held, but during busy times we reserve the right to release the bus to other customers if we have not received a deposit by the specified due date. We will contact you first in the event that your deposit has not been received before releasing your bus.
Q: What forms of payment does AmericanStar accept? When are payments due?
A: We accept Visa and MasterCard as well as personal, company checks, cash and money orders. It is policy that we require payment in full a month before the trip if possible, however don’t hesitate to ask and we will be happy to try and work with you if this is an issue.
Q: Do I need to pay for parking and tolls?
A: Yes. Our customers are responsible for parking charges as well as any tolls that may be incurred along the route. Please keep in mind that it may be necessary for the driver to seek out secured parking at your destination; you will be responsible for any charges associated with parking.
Q: How many hours can I use the bus? How about for school trips?
A: By federal law drivers may drive for 10 hours, or be on-duty for 15 hours, during a 24-hour period. After 10 hours of driving or 15 hours on-duty, the driver is required to stop and rest for 8 consecutive hours before he or she is permitted to drive again. Drivers are allowed to go on and off duty throughout the trip however, so the 15 hours is rarely an issue. For S.P.A.B trips (School Pupil Activity Bus), the driver can drive 10 hours or be on-duty for 16 hours. On-duty hours are from the time the bus leaves our yard until the group is dropped off at the end of the day (or reaches their overnight destination).
Q: Can I request a specific driver?
A: Yes. Please let us know as soon as possible if you would like to request specific driver. We do not guarantee that the requested driver will be available during your specific dates and times of travel, but if he or she is we will make every effort to assign him or her to your trip and accommodate your request.
Q: Can I request my driver’s contact information?
A: A few days before your trip, our reservation specialist will confirm all trip details including your drivers contact and emergency dispatch information.
Q: Why do I need to sign an AB-45?
A: California state legislature passed Assembly Bill 45, also known as the Brett Studebaker Law, requiring accountability for underage drinking.
Q: How large of a group can you transport?
A: There is no group too large or too small for us to accommodate. With the hard work of our dedicated and experienced staff, we’ve moved groups as large as 7,500 people on a single event. Let us know what your event entails, and one of our customer support staff will be able to assist you every step of the way.
Q: Are your drivers and equipment SPAB certified?
A:Yes, all of our drivers and equipment are SPAB (School Pupil Activity Bus) certified by the California Highway Patrol the highest safety standards in all of the USA and Canada.
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