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When hotel changes flags or is reflagged, it is rebranded as other chain hotel, or the hotel is becoming independent non-affiliated hotel. This happens numerous times per year at all chains. Both the individual hotel in question and the chain are often contractually not allowed to inform about possible change before it actually happens or at most couple of weeks prior.

Here’s what you need to consider if you are holding a paid or award reservation at a hotel that is changing flags/reflagged.

Status benefits

The status benefits that you might have had with the original brand no longer apply. If the hotel is reflagged under other global brand with which you have status with, there is no necessarily change i.e. Starwood affiliated hotel moves to Hilton chain and you have Hilton Gold/Diamond status.

Reservation

If you no longer wish to stay at the hotel, you should work with the hotel and request them to cancel the reservation without any cancellation fees. You can always argue that the reason why you chose them in the first place was the affiliation with the previous global brand, and that the change thus is significant.

Prepaid Reservation

This could be bit trickier as the hotel already has your money, but they tend to be flexible if you decide to cancel. You need to work this out with the property. If the reservation department is inflexible, I would escalate the issue all the way to the General Manager of the hotel.

Award Reservation

This is somewhat trickier and there are really two different ways how these are normally handled:

1. Your award reservation is honored, but you won’t receive any possible status related benefits.

2. Your award reservation is canceled, but the chain is trying to accommodate you at their other nearby property. If the number of required points is higher, this is usually waived.

Conclusion

Normally the first sign, that something is going on, is when your reservation disappears from your upcoming reservations display. You might also get a call from the customer service regarding the award reservation you have.

Personally, I do care about the miles and points and the benefits that I receive from the programs that I participate to i.e. suite upgrades, club access, early & late checkouts. I really have hard time staying at hotels, where I don’t get any of these benefits.

You have to consider all the options on hand and proactively suggest options that suit you best. Hotels and chains are normally very eager to work with you to find an acceptable solution for both parties in a situation like this.

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US Airways has been very predictable of running continuous promotions for buying, gifting, transferring, or converting, money or points to Dividend miles. Their latest offer is 50% bonus for points conversions from number of hotel programs. US Airways run identical offer last year.

Please note that according to the Terms and conditions you can only earn the conversion bonus ONCE.

us-airways-conversion-offer

The beauty of Dividend miles program are the rather generous routing rules, competitive award chart, ability to earn and burn on all Star Alliance carriers and then some, and these continuous offers from Dividend miles.

Essentially, US Airways is selling miles at a reasonable rate that enables the travelers like you and me to experience international business and first class at a fraction of the cost.

But, as always when you are dealing with award space, you need to be flexible and often book either well in advance or at a very last minute. I tend to typically do the latter. When airlines realize that they have unsold business and first class inventory, they often dump it to the award inventory few days before.

There are some drawbacks with US Airways Dividend miles as well. You will end up paying some fees unless you are top tier on their program. There is a booking fee (up to $50) as these cannot be booked on the web, and a quick ticketing fee ($75) if you book less than 21 days in advance. There are no fuel surcharges, however. The US Airways may not be the most stable of the airlines, and there has been some chatter lately of some changes to come. I would do a transfer or buy miles without hesitation, if I know how I would spend them in the next 6 to 12 months.

Look at the conversion partners

The conversion partners this time are Best Western, Choice Privileges, Club Carlson, Hilton HHonors, Hyatt Gold Passport, Marriott Rewards, Priority Club, Starwood Preferred Guest, Wyndham Rewards, and La Quinta.

us-airways-conversion-offer-partners

I am only concentrating on Club Carlson, Hyatt Gold Passport, Marriott Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest conversion possibilities. I don’t believe that the other options provide too much value unless you just need to top off your Dividend Miles account for small number of miles.

Club Carlson

club-carlson-us-airways

This is very straightforward offer. 100K Club Carlson points would transfer with the 50% conversion bonus to 27K Dividend Miles.

Hyatt Gold Passport

I don’t think that this is a good use of Hyatt Gold Passport points, but this is the last opportunity to transfer them to US Airways and earn the conversion bonus. You cannot earn Dividend Miles or transfer Gold Passport points to Dividend Miles after March 15th, 2012. Hyatt announced their discontinuance of this and some other airline partnerships on February 23rd.

hyatt-gold-passport-us-conversion

50K Hyatt Gold Passport points would become 37.5K Dividend Miles after Hyatt’s and US Airways’ conversion bonuses. It is actually not that shabby at all.

Marriott Rewards

I transferred close to a million Marriott Rewards points when AA was running somewhat similar conversion bonus before their partnership with Marriott Rewards ended. It was the major push to take me over 2 million lifetime miles in AA’s program and granting me a lifetime AA Platinum status.

us-airways-marriott-packages

The key here is to use Marriott Rewards points for travel packages that have a miles component as well. You can get a seven night award category 1 to 5 Marriott Rewards property and 120K (180K with conversion bonus) US Airways Dividend Miles for 270K Marriott Rewards points.  This is what I did few years ago with AA. The hotel part of this is valid for a year. I was, however, able to extend them by an additional year, but it is no longer possible. There aren’t that many interesting cat 1 to 5 in North America, but there are quite a few in Asia.

Starwood Preferred Guest

This is my favorite hotel program when it comes to transferring points to partners. Starwood has a nice list of partner airlines where you can dump points when needed.

us-airways-starwood-conversion

For every 20K Starpoints you transfer, you will receive a 5K miles bonus from Starwood. With the US conversion bonus 20K Starpoints becomes 37.5K Dividend Miles. Note that you can transfer only 60K Starpoints per day to US Airways if you want to maximize the bonuses. This would be 112.5K Dividend Miles.

Here are the Terms and Conditions of this offer that can also be found here.

Eligibility: Offer void where prohibited by law. No registration required. Only miles converted with an activity (‘eligible activity date’) date between March 11, 2012 and March 31, 2012 will earn a bonus. Earning bonus miles: Bonus miles are in addition to Dividend Miles awarded by hotel partners for points conversions. Only hotel points that are converted into Dividend Miles from March 11, 2012 – March 31, 2012 are eligible. Hotel bonus miles do not count towards Preferred status. Bonus miles will post 6-8 weeks from date of the eligible activity date. Dividend Miles members will earn only one bonus when they transfer hotel points into Dividend Miles during the promotion. Dividend Miles members will earn a 50% bonus. Eligible activity date: Eligible activity date is based on the date the qualifying partner records the mileage transaction, and not necessarily the date on which the transaction occurred. US Airways assumes no responsibility for how qualifying partners record activity dates. Check with the applicable partner to confirm policies and procedures for recording activity dates. The last date that activity from a qualifying partner can be received by US Airways for bonus miles consideration is April 10, 2012, regardless of the eligible activity date for such activity. General terms: All US Airways Dividend Miles terms and conditions apply. You may opt out of US Airways emails at any time. US Airways is not responsible for the quality or delivery of goods and/or services provided by Dividend Miles partners. All Dividend Miles partner terms and conditions apply. Partner offers are subject to change without notice. Hotel transfers (points to miles conversions) are subject to terms and conditions as stipulated in your agreement with your hotel program.