Friday, July 1, 2011

Another reason to join hotel, airline loyalty clubs

    One of the rules for frequent travelers and not-so-frequent travelers is to join every single airline and hotel club that you can earn points in, although you should try to restrict your earning to just a few clubs. In other words, even if you only fly an airline once a year, go ahead and earn the miles. They add up over time.
    Jinny had a couple of nasty experiences recently that point to an additional reason to join the loyalty program of the airline or hotel that you are using. When things go wrong, loyalty club members are often treated better than non-members.
    On a recent visit to Birmingham Jinny made the mistake of booking a room at the Birmingham Sheraton. She had a pre-paid reservation for two nights (not guaranteed, mind you, but pre-paid!). When she arrived, they had sold her room, which she had already paid for, to someone else. The Sheraton is connected to the Convention Center and there was a big concert in town. Jinny feels that they just decided they could rent out her room at a higher rate, send her down the road and make more money. She was attending a trade show, and being forced to stay at an inferior hotel far from the convention center was not a little inconvenient for her.
    Jinny is a Starwood Preferred Guest member, but she didn't have her number on her reservation. It was her intention to look it up and give it to the hotel after her arrival. But that was too late. In deciding whom to walk or bump, the hotel almost certainly started with those who weren't SPG members, a group to which Jinny appeared to belong. Clearly the Sheraton Birmingham is a sleazy operation, but if Jinny had had her number on her reservation, chances are she wouldn't have been walked.
    A week later she flew U.S. Air, an airline she never flies. She didn't bother putting her loyalty number on her reservation. Things went horribly awry, and she probably got far more shabby treatment than she would have had her frequent flier number been on the reservation -- even if her number identified her as a flier with no status. She says there is no need for me to try to find her U.S. Air number; she won't be flying them again.
    The moral of this story is simple: Always join the loyalty club of whatever airline or hotel you are using, and always include your loyalty number! Not only will you earn points, but that number might keep you from being treated like dirt.

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