Whine Wednesdays: Unstaffed Elite Check-In Counters At Hotels (All Chains)


This weeks Whine Wednesday is about something that is truly annoying: Hotels that don’t staff their check-in desk properly, especially the elite check in line.

Having a dedicated Elite Check-in and then no staff at all to attend to it just adds insult to injury compared to waiting in line like everybody else.

This matter goes like a red line through all the chains, I just happened to see it again at a Hyatt property last week. Just a week before I stayed at a Starwood hotel and had the same experience upon check-in.

I think the Elite desk should always be staffed no matter what. Associates can gladly call people over from the general line but at least whoever shows up with Elite status then doesn’t have to wait and look out for staff to be available.

How to solve this?

Usually I just wait a few minutes and see what happens (already lost time, the point of having a hotel loyalty membership is to simplify the check-in) but if it becomes apparent that there is no staff attending to me at all I approach whoever works the other customer and interrupt to ask the associate if it’s possible to call someone to attend to the Platinum/Diamond Check-In. I have (on occasion) also called the hotel and asked for the Manager on Duty.


As mentioned before there is no excuse for the hotel to not have a counter staffed that is specifically for their own loyalty customers. It’s not even for top tier only as most chains now allow pretty much any alite level to check-in at the separate desk which also becomes a problem at busy hotels where pretty much any business traveler holds at least a mid tier status.

The other alternative would be to check-in at the Club Lounge but that often requires someone to use a key card to get you to the specific floor.

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  • Ry Wong

    Oh, well.. Intercontinental is the same, but they’d get someone to help when I ask. There is no need to feel unhappy for every single thing happened since check-in. Isn’t it?

  • Peter

    That’s not only hotels. Permanently in Prague Airport after arrival the Lost baggage SKY PRIORITY/ Business class counter is open. But both other economy passengers counters are permanently closed. Everyone with baggage issue must proceed this single counter no matter what class/status they have. really annoying Sky priority experience

  • Baqa

    Honestly, what I would prefer at hotels and airports would be to have no dedicated counters, just dedicated lines. Then, draw from the elite line when someone is waiting there. No need to staff a special desk. I have waited, frustrated, while checkin takes longer in the elite line than if I had just stood in the regular line way too many times.

    • matthewsf

      Exactly! What’s worse is when they do have this and the person behind the desk see a line of folks in the ‘regular’ non-elite line and continues to take people from there, while Elites with a dedicated check-in wait for the next desk agent that happens to be closest/nearest to said line.

  • Gaijinsan

    I so rarely see these counters staffed that it seems to be the norm. The problem is though, even the hotels that do properly staff them, the signs for Elite are so small or unpronounced that everyone uses it them same as a general line anyway. It’s something that all the chains could do so much better.

  • Clive

    I had the same at the Marriott Marquis in Doha a few weeks ago, so not only Hyatt.

  • colin

    Hotels can’t afford to overstaff or nightly rates increase, especially outside the lowcost-labour countries, and there is also question of how many elites will be checking in. No hotel can man an extra elite-checkin-desk for 1200-2200 waiting for the 3x booked elites to turn up .

    More likely
    o two frontdesk agents at normal checkin desks
    o If an unmanned elite desk, simply queue, and first agent to finish should move across when free, deal with elite(s), then return to standard checkin.
    o I’d certainly use if stuck behind coach/tour party (20plus) checking as group hogging all checkin agents, and even interrupt to ask overworked checkin staff to get a manager to help with manning elite checkin (only needed to do the once in all my travels though)

    And yes, sometimes I use normal queue if 2-3agents versus 1-agent elite queue as quicker

  • ShaneM

    Totally agree it is extremely frustrating ,especially at Hyatt properties . World of Hyatt is a loyalty program in name only the benefits are rarely provided especially at Globlist level.Following my last six stays with Hyatt my loyalty has waned and I now support SPG which at least is consistently good towards member benefits.

    • John Everett

      Amen to that. I have burned through my points with Hyatt and moved to SPG, where I got Platinum status because of my Marriott standings.

  • Lee

    I never have gotten the nerve to move up to the unoccupied elite desk and wait for service. Seems like it could elicit angry comments from non elites? The signage is too small for people to understand why you are standing there. I have received angry comments as I moved forward at airline gates to do execute priority boarding in crowded gates.

    Convention hotels are the worst for large numbers at the check in!

  • MKB

    Am I the only one who feels uncomfortable using these lines? It’s just queue-jumping. It’s not like I’m paying a premium rate for this service (cf. business/first lines at airports). I much prefer a single line feeding all desks so that people are served in the order they arrive. This is fair to everyone.

    • agpb

      There’s a simple solution. Just wait in the non-elite line.

      • MKB

        ,,,which is what I do (obviously). Why would I do something that made me feel uncomfortable?

        • agpb

          No reason to. A lot of folks would rather complain about a problem than just work around it. Always great to see someone who doesn’t.

  • vsevolod4

    When I see an unstaffed Elite position or queue at a hotel or rental agency, I will typically stand in it, particularly when the “normal” queue is very long. Like at airlines, the people working the desks will typically see you next — if you catch their eye. You may get a puzzled stare or two, but remember you’re giving this hotel/chain much more business, and that’s why they have an elite line for you. Oh, and it will probably take only a few seconds to check you in. No need to be snotty about it, nor feel entitled nor uncomfortable. Be gracious and friendly.

    • Ridoncularious


      Elite guests are only taking advantage of the benefits of the chains’ programs. It wasn’t the customers’ idea to have elite check-in, it was the chain. No elite guest should feel bad or guilty or uncomfortable for affording themselves of the benefits available to them.

  • Jamo

    Normally I avoid them and approach a normal desk as there isn’t a need with it being quiet, and then I’m walked over to a desk (which is very polite) – something has normally been printed out already so they cannot check me in there.

    But when the queue is long, they never seem to be open and I need to ‘get in line’, so Sod’s law I guess.

    I don’t think this is down to the scheme. It’s more down to ththe prestige of the individual hotel. The best ones care and the others don’t. My experience being from Hilton and IHG.

  • Dr.Florida


    • Ridoncularious

      That’s true but isn’t that what this whole blog is about?