Shenzhen Airlines – Latest Member of the Star Alliance

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Shenzhen Airlines officially joined Star Alliance on November 29, 2012, at a ceremony that took place at its main base in Shenzhen Airport (SZX). The airlines parent, Air China, was sponsoring the airline’s joining to the alliance.

Shenzhen Airlines
Shenzhen Airlines

Shenzhen Airlines operates a narrow body fleet of more than 100 airplanes and serves domestic and regional airports. According to the press releases, they are planning to order some wide body airplanes and that would imply long-haul flights sometime in the future. The airline was founded in 1992 and started operations in 1993.

shenzhen-airlines-plane

You can already earn and burn on Shenzhen airlines. The earnings rate for United (check your Star Alliance airline’s page for your earning info these are not uniform) frequent fliers are rather low on discounted economy and you don’t earn Premier bonuses on Shenzhen as you do with some other Star Alliance airlines.

shenzhen-airlines-united-mileage-accrual-chart

The award inventory is not available on United.com yet. It is, however, available already on Air Canada’s Aeroplan. So, it should be soon on United and other Star Alliance carriers websites that allow online award bookings too.

Conclusion

It is really difficult to tell any differences between Chinese airlines. I have flown China Eastern and China Southern (both are SkyTeam members), and Air China (Star Alliance member and the parent of Shenzhen). I have yet to fly Shenzhen but for sure will at some point.

Hyatt December Edition of the 48 Hour Sale – C48DEC

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Hyatt is having their monthly 48 hour sale where you can save up to 20% off of best available rates (BAR). Sometimes you can save quite a bit of money and sometimes you cannot. These rates are valid at select US, Canada, and Caribbean hotels for stays between January 1 and April 1, 2013. The promotional dates for individual properties may vary. You need to book this offer by 11:59PM CDT on December 19, 2012.

hyatt-48-hour-sale-december-2012

Sometimes it is actually better to book an AAA rate that might include some extras like a complimentary breakfast. AAA rates are also normally not prepaid and cancellable.

Conclusion

I would only book this rate if it is significantly cheaper than refundable rates as plans often change. This sale is a monthly one from Hyatt and these “sale” rates are often not that great. Have a look at your upcoming Hyatt reservations to see if there are opportunities to save.

Hyatt doesn’t seem to have a list of participating properties available, as they have in the past. You need to check city by city and have the C48DEC on the promotional code field when executing the search.

Here are the terms and conditions of this offer:

Offer valid for bookings only between 12:01 a.m. on 12/18/2012 and 11:59 p.m. on 12/19/2012 Central Standard Time, for travel between 01/01/2013 and 04/01/2013 at participating Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, Park Hyatt and Andaz properties in the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean. Reservations are subject to availability and must be made in advance. Full non-refundable prepayment required at time of booking.  Offer is for a limited time only.  Simply request offer code C48DEC when you book your reservation and pay the 48Hour Sale rate.  Discount is off the Hyatt Daily Rate for the room type requested at time of booking. Rate is per room, per night, excluding service charges, taxes and other incidental expenses. Rate is based on double occupancy. Additional guests may be subject to additional hotel charges. Additional charges apply to room-type upgrades. A limited number of rooms are allocated to this promotion.  Changing a reservation made under this offer may result in a change in the rate.  Changing to a different property is considered a cancel and re-book, and is non-refundable.  Canceled reservations and no shows will results in a charge to your credit card for your entire stay.

Promotional blackout periods may apply due to seasonal periods or special events, and normal arrival/departure restrictions apply, including, but not limited to, minimum length of stay and day of week restrictions. Offer may not be combined with other offers or discounts.  Hyatt reserves the right to alter or withdraw this program at any time without notice. Hyatt Hotels & Resorts® encompasses hotels managed, franchised or leased by subsidiaries and affiliates of Hyatt Hotels Corporation. The trademarks Hyatt®, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts®, Park Hyatt®, Andaz®, Grand Hyatt®, Hyatt Regency®, Hyatt Place®, HYATT house™ and related marks are trademarks of Hyatt Corporation. ©2012 Hyatt Corporation. All rights reserved.

Air Canada Rouge Coming in July 2013

Air Canada is introducing fourth brand Rouge next year to complement the current Air Canada, Jazz, and Rapidair brands. This new carrier is flying so called sun routes and secondary destinations not served by the airline starting in July 2013.

air-canada-rouge

 

The carrier has its own operational license and the flight attendants for the airline are working under different contract that those for Air Canada. According to the press release, the Rouge flights are flown by Air Canada cockpit crew, however.

air-canada-rouge-network

Rouge also announced yesterday the first destinations that the airline will start flying in 2013 in leisure market configured airplanes without business or first class.

air-canada-rouge-frequency

As the airline will start with only two Boeing 767 and two Airbus A319 airplanes, the frequency to destinations except Athens is about once or twice a week.

air-canada-rouge-aeroplan-earnigs

The number of miles that you can earn on Air Canada’s Aeroplan program is very limited.

air-canada-rouge-star-alliance-logo

Not sure if you can earn status or award miles on other Star Alliance member airline frequent flier plans if flying on Rouge. At least the rendered picture of the Rouge aircraft does have a Star Alliance logo that would imply that Rouge is part of the alliance.

Other airlines haven’t had much of a success with these airline within an airline brands. United’s Ted is long gone as is Delta’s Song. Singapore Airline and Cathay Pacific have both been successful with their Silk Air and Dragon Air regional airline brands.

Conclusion

Let’s just hope that this works for Air Canada. Their plan seems to be to dump the old Air Canada airplanes to Rouge once they get the brand new 787 deliveries in.

Preparing for Marriott Lifetime Status Requirement Change

As I wrote yesterday, the requirements for lifetime Marriott Silver, Gold, and Platinum status are changing in 2013 and the program becomes official.

marriott-rewards-lifetime-new-requirements-vs-old

It is important that you know:

1. How many nights you have with Marriott Rewards

and

2. How many lifetime Marriott Rewards points you have earned

It is easy to check the number of nights you have with Marriott. You just need to log into your Marriott Rewards account and click View Rewards Activity. You then have access to a summary that shows the number of “Total Membership Nights” that are used for the lifetime requirement qualification.

marriott-lifetime-points-earned-email

Founding the number of Marriott points that you have earned during your account existence is more difficult, however. This information is not available online right now, but probably is sometime next year once the lifetime program has officially kicks in. You need to either call or email Marriott Rewards customer service using the Contact Us web form. I was surprised to get a response back in less than an hour yesterday, when I inquired about my lifetime point total.

So, here’s my case

I have few stays more than 500 nights with Marriott Rewards that qualifies me for lifetime Gold status under the night criteria. I do need to fulfill the number of points earned during the membership as well. According to Marriott Rewards, I had earned 1,421,793 since joining Marriott Rewards back in 2005. I would need to have 1.6 million points.

What I will do to get my lifetime points up

Marriott counts all the points that have deposited to account for the lifetime points earned calculations. Base points, elite bonuses, possible extra points that hotel is offering, MegaBonuses, Shopping online through Marriott Mall, buying points, points earned from Marriott branded credit cards etc.

marriott-purchasing-points

The fastest way for me to get the tally up is to buy the maximum number of point allowed during the calendar year of 2012 and then again in early 2013. The price that Marriott charges for their points is rather reasonable $12.50 per 1000 points. You can only buy or be gifted 50K Marriott Rewards points during a calendar year.

Marriott is also awarding bonus Marriott Rewards points for gift card purchases. You could earn 10 points per dollar loaded for up to 20K bonus points until the end of 2012.

What you can do to get your lifetime nights up

The easiest and fastest way is to start arranging meetings at Marriott properties. You can schedule an hour long meeting and rent a space for it. This qualifies you for 10 night credit. I will write about this in the next few days.

Conclusion

The new constraint to qualify for lifetime status for many is the number of lifetime points earned vs nights.  Especially, if your average daily rates have been rather low OR you have been crediting your Marriott stays towards airline miles instead of points (crediting straight to airline miles make very little sense).

In my case, it makes sense to start buying the maximum number of Marriott Rewards points per calendar year that is allowed under the program. When I do it in 2012 and again early in 2013, I am very close to meeting the 1.6 million earned point requirement as well.

I have enough points sitting in my account that, when I add two purchases and points coming in, it would allow me to issue a Travel Package with 120K mile air component. I would wait until an airline offers significant bonus for hotel points transferred/converted before doing that, however.

Air Canada Aeroplan Introduces Oneway Awards in North America, Caribbean and Central America?

Aeroplan has a separate award chart for one ways at a higher cost than half of a return trip. Now, awards in North America, The Caribbean and Central America are pricing at half of a round trip price.

aeroplan-oneway-classic-awards

Aeroplan has not made any announcement about this change, so it could be permanent or a promotion. In either way, it is surprising that they haven’t made any announcements about this.

Here are few examples:

aeroplan-yyz-sjo

Toronto to San Jose (Costa Rica) priced at half of a RT price of 20K Aeroplan.

aeroplan-yul-ccs

Montreal to Caracas priced at the One-way ClassicFlight rewards price of 34K Aeroplan (not half of RT).

aeroplan-yyc-scl

Calgary to Santiago de Chile also priced at the One-way ClassicFlight rewards price of 40K Aeroplan (not half of RT).

aeroplan-lax-ewr

Los Angeles to Newark on business class for 25K Aeroplan is half of a RT.

aeroplan-anc-bda

Anchorage to Bermuda prices at half of a RT price of 20K.

Conclusion

It would be nice to know if this is a promotion or has Aeroplan decided to offer some one-ways at half of the round trip price. The latter wouldn’t be surprising.

Personally, I really prefer flexibility and rarely, if ever, book traditional return round trips. One-ways gives you greater flexibility to combine paid air/car/train and visit multiple destinations more easily without having to pay a higher award price.

I hope that this award pricing is here to stay and would extend outside of North and Central America.

Hyatt Properties Moving Up and Down in Award Categories 2013

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Hyatt has now released a list of properties moving up and down in award categories on Hyatt Insiders that is a private invitation only community run by Hyatt.  You can access the page on Hyatt.com here.

hyatt-award-adjustments-2013

You have until midnight February 6, 2013, to book the hotels that are moving up at the old rate and you can modify those reservations until March 15, 2013, without having to reprice them at a higher points cost. For properties that are moving down, you should see an automatic credit for the points deposited back to your account for the difference.

The changes compared to the devaluation of 2011 are minor. You have only 7 hotels moving up in categories and 10 moving down.

hyatt-deval-2013

It is not a surprise that the Hyatt Regency Incheon is moving up. It was a very good value at 8000 points per night. Now, that the Hyatt Santa Barbara has been redone, the category is going up as well. The Hyatt 48 Lex and Grand Hyatt Tokyo moving up in categories? These necessarily doesn’t make too much sense.

Conclusion

We should soon learn about category adjustments from other hotel chains as well. These Hyatt changes are rather non-event.

Here are the frequently asked questions by Hyatt about this change:

1. What changed about the Hyatt Gold Passport Award Chart, and when did those changes become effective?
Effective February 7, 2013, Hyatt Gold Passport will adjust the award categories for 17 hotels.

Hotels Shifting Award Categories
There will be some hotels that move into a higher category and some hotels that will move to a lower category.

2. How many hotels are shifting to a higher category?
Seven hotels will move into a higher award category. Free night award redemptions at these hotels will require additional Hyatt Gold Passport points effective February 7, 2013:

Hotel Current Category New Category
HYATT house San Ramon 1 2
Hyatt Place Louisville-East 1 2
Hyatt Place Pittsburgh-North Shore 1 3
Hyatt Regency Incheon 2 3
Hyatt Santa Barbara 3 4
Hyatt 48 Lex 4 5
Grand Hyatt Tokyo 5 6

3. How many hotels are shifting to a lower category?
Ten hotels will move into a lower award category. Free night award redemptions at these hotels will require fewer Hyatt Gold Passport points effective February 7, 2013:

Hotel Current Category New Category
Hyatt Place Chantilly/Dulles Airport-South 2 1
Hyatt Place Tulsa/Southern Hills 2 1
Hyatt Place Sterling/Dulles Airport-North 2 1
Hyatt Regency Albuquerque 2 1
Hyatt Regency Greenville 2 1
HYATT house Chicago/Naperville/Warrenville 3 2
Hyatt Place Las Vegas 3 2
Hyatt Regency Oubaai Golf Resort and Spa 4 3
Park Hyatt Aviara Resort 5 4
Park Hyatt Toronto 5 4

4. What are the current point redemption values for each free night award category?

Category 1 = 5,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points
Category 2 = 8,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points
Category 3 = 12,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points
Category 4 = 15,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points
Category 5 = 18,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points
Category 6 = 22,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points

5. For free night award redemption reservations made before January 3, 2013, which award chart will be effective?
All free night award redemptions booked before February 7, 2013 will follow the current Award Chart. For example, if you book an award night prior to February 7, 2013 for a stay that occurs on February 7, 2013 or after, the current Award Chart will apply. Any free night award redemptions booked on February 7, 2013 or after will follow the new Award Chart.

6. How will award nights booked prior to February 7, 2013 be impacted if the hotel I am staying at now requires more or fewer points?

Redemptions for Hotels Moving to a Higher Category
Any award night booked at a property prior to February 7, 2013 that is shifting to a higher category on February 7, 2013 and requires more points will not be affected. Reservations will remain in place at the original point level. For example, an award night booked at a Category 1 hotel for 5,000 points before February 7, 2013 that is moving to a Category 2 hotel for 8,000 points on February 7, 2013, will remain at 5,000 points.

Redemptions for Hotels Moving to a Lower Category
A member who books an award night at a property prior to February 7, 2013 that is shifting to a lower category on February 7, 2013 and requires fewer points will receive an adjustment. Hyatt Gold Passport Customer Service will proactively deposit the point difference into a member’s account. For example, a member with an award night booked before February 7, 2013 for a Category 2 hotel for 8,000 points that is moving to a Category 1 hotel for 5,000 points on February 7, 2013, will receive 3,000 points returned to his/her account. Points will be deposited into a member’s account after February 7, 2013.

7. After February 7, 2013, how will Hyatt handle modifications to existing reservations?
Any award night reservations booked before February 7, 2013, for dates after February 7, 2013, can be modified through March 15, 2013 – following the terms of the current Award Chart. Any modifications made to these reservations after March 15, 2013 will follow the terms of the new Award Chart, effective February 7, 2013.

Le Club Accorhotels Platinum Status for Signing Up (Yet Another New Link)

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I have had the Platinum status by request available for the past few months and it still is. Now, someone has (again) posted a link on a public website for instant Platinum status. These public links tend to die within a day or two.

You can sign up for the instant Le Club Accorhotels Platinum status using this link. Please note that you need to sign up using an email address that has not been previously associated with Le Club Accorhotels or A Club.

I signed up for the Platinum status last year and have had few Accor stays. The Mercure hotel in Nadi was not great, but the Novotel hotel in Lami Bay was actually nice. During my stay at the Hotel Muse, MGallery collection hotel, in Bangkok I even received a Platinum gift that was a shirt. The Pullman hotel in Bali is good one too.

Conclusion

Once this public link is dead, you can always do the request for the non-public link that I have outlined here.

Marriott Spring 2013 MegaBonus is Coming

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We are slowly starting to have a clearer picture of the first quarter 2013 hotel promotions. The registration for the spring 2013 Marriott MegaBonus (MarriottRewards.com/MegaBonus2013 the link will work on 20th) will open on December 20 and ends on March 15, 2013. The promotion itself is valid from February 1 to April 30, 2013.

I don’t have the MegaBonus options available at this time. I should have the entire list by 22nd and I will post it here.

The bonus options are likely to be very similar to those of the last couple of promotions; you can likely earn free night certificates for every couple of stays or bonus points depending of the number of nights of the targeted offer.

Conclusion

I hope that the Marriott would have something new in the coffers this time. They have had the very similar MegaBonus offers for years now.

The only recent addition is the free night certificates that are usually capped at category 4. You earn them after every two stays and are capped at two or three certificates.

Qatar National Day Offer for up to 40% Off & Double Qmiles

Qatar Airways has a special offer for flights from Qatar that are on sale today (December 18) only. You can get up to 40% discount on economy, business and first class fares for travel between December 25 and March 31, 2013. You will also receive double Qmiles for travel booked under this offer that you can access here.

qatar-national-day-offer

Usually, the fares offered by the hub carrier from their base are highest compared to competition. This up to 40% discount may bring them in line with competition.

Conclusion

If you have travel originating from Doha during the travel period, it probably pays to check to see if there are any savings to be had.

Here are the terms and conditions of this offer:

  • Sales period: 18th December 2012

  • Travel period: 25th December 2012 – 31st March 2013. Travel must commence by 31st March 2013

  • Valid on Qatar Airways operated flights. Not valid on partners and codeshare flights

  • Minimum stay: 2 days

  • Maximum stay: 3 months

  • Discount applies to instant purchases only

  • Discount applies to Economy, Business and First Class return tickets

  • Seats are limited and are subject to availability of the relevant booking class

  • Fares include all applicable discounts, fees, taxes and airport charges. Service fees may apply for tickets purchased at Qatar Airways sales offices or through travel agents

  • Tickets are non-endorsable, non-refundable and non-transferable. Changes are permitted with a fee of QAR 400 plus the fare difference (if any) for First and Business Class tickets and QAR 200 plus the fare difference (if any) for Economy class tickets. All original fare rules apply to any changed ticket

  • In case of no-show, ticket has no value for use on any other service, and it is non-refundable, non-changeable and non-bookable

  • Standard child/infant discount apply

  • Other terms & conditions apply. Please review at the time of booking

Bonus Qmiles Offer

  • This offer is valid for all Privilege Club members residing in Qatar including family members

  • Members will earn Double Qmiles when travelling with Qatar Airways on any of the promotional routes booked online as part of the Qatar National Day offer

  • Bonus Qmiles are calculated over the actual miles flown

  • To be eligible for Bonus Qmiles, members must quote their Privilege Club number at the time of booking or check-in so that Qmiles can be automatically credited. In case of retro claims requested after the promotion period, no Bonus Qmiles will be awarded

  • Members may use this offer more than once during the offer period

  • Bonus Qmiles will be credited within 45 days from the date of travel for all members

Marriott Discontinues Elite Only Gift Cheques on December 31, 2012

This product was going to be discontinued back in 2011, but this time it is happening for good. The elite only Marriott Gift Cheques will be discontinued as of December 31, 2012. You can exchange 135K Marriott Rewards point for $1000 in Marriott cheques that you can almost use like cash. These come in $50 cheques.

marriott-gift-cheques

In a true Marriott fashion, there is no other public announcement made about this change than a small footnote on the award web page and a note from a Marriott employee on their Rewards Insiders forum buried under some other announcements. Apparently, they are contemplating bringing back some sort of elite discount for buying gift cards using points, but it won’t be a year-round.

marriott-indiers-gift-cheque-michelle

We’ll see if these are going to come back as soon as the promised new BOGO (Buy One Get One) certificates for weekend use in the United States that never materialized despite numerous promises.

These gift cheques definitely work for some. You could exchange 135K Marriott Rewards points for $1000 dollars in $50 Marriott gift cheques that you could then use to pay for almost any expense like room rate and wining & dining. If you pay your room charges using these gift cheques, it counts as a regular paid stay. You will get points, any possible bonus points, and a night credit.

Urban properties are often cheaper during the weekends, yet they still require often an inflated number of points per night compared to a paid rate. If one is inclined to use points on a situation like this, it is often better to use points to get the gift cheques and pay the room using them.

Conclusion

At least the Marriott put a footnote to the award page and had the information buried on at thread on the Marriott Insiders forum, rather than just wiping them off on January 1, 2013. I would just hope that Marriott would has more communication about these program changes.

Update On: Hilton Friends & Family Offer for 50% Off Between December 14 to January 7 – Stays Posting Just Fine

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Sunday last week, I wrote about a new public Friends & Family Thank You Offer from Hilton HHonors that is open for all and is eligible for both the stay/night credit & for points. This rate is valid for stays between December 14 and January 7, 2013.

hilton-hhonors-friends-family-sale-2012

This rate returns some truly exceptional rates at many Hilton properties like 2400 THB for Millennium Hilton, 2900 THB Conrad, and 1900 for Conrad Residences all these in Bangkok. The savings are similar at many other Hilton family of hotels that have availability.

conrad-bangkok-thank-you-rate

Once I posted this piece, it spread to quite a few other blogs and internet forums as well. There has been lot of skepticism, whether rate this low would earn points and/or stay credit? I would have posted a warning had I thought that there is a chance the rate would not earn points or hadn’t been a public one.

There was couple of messages left about this rate for the comments section of my previous piece that I would like to clarify:

hilton-thank-you-ord-response

The problem calling a customer service regarding a rate like this is that when the person answering the phone just sees a “Friends & Family”, they immediately think that the rate is an internal one. The REAL Friends & Family rate does earn a stay credit but won’t earn any points.

You can call and ask about a promotion like this and likely you will receive 5 different answers over 4 phone calls. Sometimes, it just doesn’t make sense to call and trying to clarify things. The telephone customer service isn’t Hilton’s strongest point.

hilton-thank-you-corporate-employee-response

Of course, something like this is incorrect as well. Everyone can easily read the rate requirements. This was and still is a public rate.

Completed stay over the weekend with points & nights/stay credit

hilton-thank-you-offer-conrad-bangkok

Friend of mine just had a two night stay, over the weekend, booked under this rate at the Conrad property in Bangkok. The stay posted just fine within 24 hours after checkout with correct points/miles & stay/night credit. It does say pending, but the points have been added to the balance and the stay/night credit added to the yearly total as well.

Why hotels are offering such a low prices over the holidays?

This is absolutely the slowest time of the year for business travel that obviously drops off completely just before Christmas and week after the New Year. You can often find the lowest price of the year during this time period for business hotels. The rate is blocked on the New Year ’s Eve.

I think that it is a smart strategy for Hilton trying to rack up at much business during this time period by having an unannounced Friends & Family sale at mostly empty hotels.

Conclusion

You can always drop me an email (john@loyaltylobby.com) or leave a comment, if you think that the information that I have posted on LoyaltyLobby is incorrect.

I won’t post information that I think may not be right or, if it is iffy, I post it with big disclaimers. There was no doubt in my mind at any point that this rate 1. Wouldn’t be public and 2. Wouldn’t qualify for points and stay credit.

Happy bookings using this Thank You Family & Friends Thank You-offer and enjoy great savings at Hilton properties over the next couple of weeks.

New Lower Lifetime Marriott Silver, Gold, and Platinum Requirements

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About a month ago, I wrote about the changes that were coming to the Marriott’s lifetime program. At that time, it was still unclear what those would be. Marriott representative was claiming that they had never had official and published program previously (not correct). Now, Marriott’s representative posted the coming changes to their forum.

marriott-rewards-lifetime-new-requirements

Anyway, the new requirements are actually lower compared to the previous ones. The number of night requirement goes down significantly, but the number of points earned stays the same.

Note that points earned from all activities like bonuses and credit card spend count.

marriott-rewards-lifetime-new-requirements-vs-old

It is still unclear if there is going to be a requirement for how long one has been a member of the program. We probably have to wait for the official announcement early next year.

Conclusion

This is actually a surprise. Marriott is going to lower the number of night requirement at all levels. I have passed the number of night required for the lifetime Gold that you can find when logged in to your Marriott Rewards account. The number of lifetime points earned is not visible at this time, however. You need to call Marriott Rewards customer service to find that one out.

Decision of TAM Joining the Oneworld Imminent?

There was a piece on the WSJ last week, that the negotiation of TAM joining the Oneworld that was supposed to take all the way until March, 2013, is almost wrapped up according to the unnamed sources cited by the paper.

tam-oneworld

When the AviancaTaca joined the Star Alliance earlier this year and when the merge of LAN and Tam was approved, it was made clear that TAM couldn’t stay in the same alliance as AviancaTaca. The only two remaining options are SkyTeam and Oneworld. Delta bought a share of TAM’s domestic rival GOL, so it is unlikely that the alliance choice would be anything else than the Oneworld.

Conclusion

It seems rather likely that TAM will cease to be a member of Star Alliance sometime in the early second half of 2013. Obviously, all the award tickets will be honored past the exit date, but you won’t receive miles or get Star Alliance related status benefits once the airline has exited the alliance.

Pros and Cons of Hyatt Gold Passport

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Of all the hotel chains, I have spent the most nights with Hyatt. Over the past ten years, I have spent approximately two years of my life at their properties worldwide, yet I am not going to requalify this year.

Again, these points are based on my personal experience and problems I have had with Hyatt.

Leave your comments below. What do you like and not like about Hyatt and Hyatt Gold Passport.

Hyatt International Foot Print
Hyatt International Foot Print

Pros of Hyatt Gold Passport

– Four suite upgrades to Diamond members

– Breakfast for Diamond members always

– Easy program to understand

– Relatively good coverage in the United States

– Ability to earn points for dining & spa when not staying

– Using points for club & suite upgrades

– Awards for rooms/club rooms/suites

– Diamond amenity in North America

– Uniform lower end properties

– Generally good Diamond treatment

– Benefits apply for ALL bookings even when not eligible for stay credit/points

– Club & Bed type guarantee for Diamonds

– Reasonably priced top & low awards

– No blackout dates

– Lifetime elite status

– Stay certificates

– No elite guarantees

Cons of Hyatt Gold Passport

– No space available suite upgrades to Suites

– Really small chain

– International foot print very limited

– Limited award options no cash + points, no discount for multiple nights, no award savers etc

– Essentially only Diamond status worthwhile

– Diamond customer service not good

– International price point

– Diamond Amenity only in North America

– Rates which qualify for point based upgrades at non-resort and resort properties

– No Diamond amenity choice outside of North America

– No cash back

– Limited promotions

– Confusing brands Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, Park Hyatt, Hyatt House & Hyatt Place

– Unstable website

– Lack of discount programs

– Problem resolution lacking

– Award stays don’t count toward status

– Lifetime elite status requirement

Hyatt Hotel Mix
Hyatt Hotel Mix

Pros of Hyatt Gold Passport

Four suite upgrades to Diamond members

Diamond members get four suite upgrades yearly and upon qualifying for the first time. These can be used for stays up to 7 nights and don’t require you to book anything else than a qualifying rate.

Breakfast for Diamond members always

This is the only program that absolutely always guarantees a breakfast at all properties for Diamond members and you don’t have to choose it as an amenity.

Easy program to understand

The program is rather uncomplicated and thus easy to understand. There are not many earning options and burning points are limited as well.

Relatively good coverage in the United States

After buying Amerisuites and Summerfield suites, the Hyatt’s coverage in United States is acceptable.

Ability to earn points for dining & spa when not staying

You can earn points for dining & spa expenses when not staying at properties.

Using points for club & suite upgrades

You can use points for club & suite upgrades. 3000 points for Club and 6000 points for suite upgrade for up to 4 days. Requires you to book a daily rate at non-resort properties and a view room and resort properties.

Awards for rooms/club rooms/suites

You can redeem for regular rooms and club rooms right on Hyatt.com. You need to call to book a suite using points. At lower tier properties, the number of points required between a room and a club room is only 2000 to 3000 points.

Diamond amenity in North America

The Diamond amenity choice in North America tends to be very good. You can choose between a food/beverage amenity like a bottle of red wine and a cheese plate or 1000 bonus points. These are in addition to club access, if one exists, or breakfast.

Uniform lower end properties

Hyatt entered the lower end market by purchasing Amerisuites and Summerfield suites brands. Especially all the former Amerisuites that are now called Hyatt Places are identical room wise.

Generally good Diamond treatment

Diamond members tend to be treated quite well at all Hyatt’s full service properties.

Benefits apply for ALL bookings even when not eligible for stay credit/points

Hyatt is one of the few chains, where all the benefits apply regardless of how the stay was booked. All the benefits apply even on Priceline or Hotwire stays.

Club & Bed type guarantee for Diamonds

You will get set amount of points if the Club lounge is close plus a full breakfast or if your bed type is not what you booked.

Reasonably priced top & low awards

The category 6 awards are capped at 22K points per night and the lower end 5K points per night at category 1. The lower end and the higher end tend to be rather reasonable. I do have a problem with some of the awards in the middle, however.

No blackout dates

If standard room is available for purchase, it is available using points as well. This is very clear and haven’t seen any problems.

Lifetime elite status

Hyatt has a lifetime Diamond status that is based on the number of membership years and number of base points earned.

Stay certificates

Hyatt offers stay certificates that you can use to save on accommodation cost.

No elite guarantees

Hyatt is one of the few chains that doesn’t penalize properties for walking i.e. Diamond members. Both Marriott and Hilton have very clear procedures in case their higher status member is walked. Hyatt doesn’t.

Hyatt Brands Confusing
Hyatt Brands Confusing

Cons of Hyatt Gold Passport

No space available suite upgrades to Suites per terms and conditions

The terms and conditions only mention best available room that Diamond members are entitled to. Quite a few properties do upgrade Diamond members beyond what is required by the terms and conditions, but there are hotels that are following the T&C’s to the letter.

Really small chain

Hyatt only has around 500 properties worldwide. This is less than half the number of Starwood properties and about eight to tenth the number of InterContinental Hotels Group, Hilton or Marriott.

International foot print very limited

Hyatt has less than 125 properties outside of North America. The chain is absent from many international markets.

Limited award options; no cash + points, no discount for multiple nights, no award savers etc

While at the same time the program is easy to understand, the award options are very limited. There are no cash & points (Hilton, IHG & Starwood), no discount for multiple nights awards (Hilton, Starwood & Marriott) or award savers (IHG & Marriott).

Essentially only Diamond status worthwhile

Hyatt Gold Passport Platinum basically gives you a complimentary internet access and that’s it.

Diamond customer service not good

There used to be a dedicated Diamond customer service line that was manned with customer service agents that only handled Diamonds. This was dismantled couple of years ago. Now, there is a still Diamond customer service phone number and it might get you through faster, but there are no longer Diamond customer service representatives. Hyatt supposedly cross trained the reservations agents to be able to handle customer service and Diamond calls as well. For the most part, I think that this is ok as long as you don’t have any complicated issues.

International price point

Hyatt’s properties outside of the North America tend to be Grand and Park Hyatt’s at relatively high price point. Hyatt, for the most part, is missing the mid-priced options internationally.

Diamond Amenity only in North America

Internationally, the Diamond amenity points or selection is completely missing. You cannot choose between points or amenity, and there is no choice what the amenity is. My Diamond amenity has been as bad as three green apples.

Rates which qualify for point based upgrades at non-resort and resort properties

You can use points for upgrades, but you need to pay a Hyatt Daily Rate at non-resort properties or View/deluxe room at resort ones. You cannot use a discounted rate.

No cash back

You cannot get cash back for booking Hyatt hotels using online cash back sites like Ebates or MrRebates.

Limited promotions

Hyatt used to have excellent promotions, but nowadays not so. Right now there is no Hyatt promotion going on and they haven’t even announced a next one.

Confusing brand structure Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, Park Hyatt, Hyatt House & Hyatt Place etc.

Hyatt only uses other name than Hyatt for Andaz properties. All the other brands are tied to the Hyatt “mother” brand for the good or the bad. All the other major hotel chains have distinct brand identities like Sheraton vs St Regis.

Unstable website

Hyatt has the most unstable corporate website that I have ever come across. United’s website used to be bad, but even then it wasn’t down as often as Hyatt’s. It is not uncommon for the website for being down for hours on Monday afternoon US time for “scheduled maintenance”.

Lack of discount programs

There are quite a few ways to save on Hilton, Marriott, InterContinental Hotels Group and Starwood stays using number of discount problems that they offer. Hyatt is really missing on these.

Problem resolution

I have never had a very good outcome after contacting the “consumer affairs” for problem resolution. If your hotel fails to adhere to the standard or otherwise is unable to meet the guest’s need, the corporate should be able to resolve the issue expediently.

Award stays don’t count toward status

Hyatt’s main competitors Starwood and Hilton both counts these, but Hyatt doesn’t.

Lifetime elite status requirement

Hyatt’s requirement of $200K Hyatt spend that is credited towards Hyatt points is onerous compared to Starwood or Marriott.

Conclusion

Hyatt used to be my main hotel chain that I frequented. Over the past two years, the promotions that they have run have gradually become worse and worse to the point that this is the first year that I am not going to requalify since I became a Diamond back in 2004.

It is still a reasonable option for those that mainly travel within the United States, but the international foot print is very limited. The prices tend to be on the high side compared to local options and other international chains.

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