The Best Thing About Each Travel Provider

This is a lightning round, I’m going to give one quick thing that overwhelms everything else and I’m not going to offer a detailed explanation — just a simple statement of the one best thing about an airline, a hotel chain, or a rental car company.

In a few cases I may mention a runner up, but largely to emphasize that the one best thing is even more significant than that runner up.

These choices are, of course, influenced by my idiosyncratic preferences — but I think they stand up:

  • Delta: IT meltdowns and recent operational debacle notwithstanding, they arrive on time and cancel fewer flights.

  • United: Star alliance award availability with no fuel surcharges (followed by plan for new business class seats that leave enough on the plane for upgrades and awards — we hope).

  • American: very good (albeit varied) international business class seats (followed second by Etihad and Qatar award redemptions).

  • Alaska: the last US distance-based rewards program (followed second by operational reliability).

  • Southwest Airlines: Their flight attendants have fun.

  • Spirit Airlines: cheap prices (followed by great humor if you’re a 13 year old boy)

  • Hyatt: the best top elite tier program.

  • Marriott: scale, footprint — when people tell me why they love Marriott Rewards they say “wherever I go I can earn my points.”

  • Hilton: easy Gold status

  • Starwood: unique special hotels (e.g. Cala di Volpe in Sardinia, Al Maha Desert Resort, Mystique on Santorini)

  • IHG: strong points-earning

  • National Car Rental: Emerald Aisle

  • Silvercar: cars don’t suck

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I like the format, especially the pointers with one of your photos to go with it. Like a string of instagrams in one post. Plus you can reiterate things you post in regular posts and trip reports. You might even try and do something that features your photo story telling a bit more too, you know one of your famous sunrise with mimosas on the beach pics. Like.

  2. Hotwire: Nice hotels with predictable ancillary features at very reasonable prices.

    Southwest Airlines: No fees to cancel or change any trip, whether booked with cash or points.

  3. Agree with all except Hyatt, since that is now in the past. The new World of Hyatt has folks defecting in droves. I’m a Diamond member but probably not a Globalist after this year. The glorious breakfast in the photo is real, but only complimentary for two adults. Used to be for 4 and at some properties like Regency in Houston was for SIX adults.
    Even though I’ve booked a two bedroom suite for 4 adults next to Disneyland this summer, that suite only comes with two comp breakfasts, even though Hyatt is being paid for four guests.
    All this to illustrate the brand’s downgrade to their loyalty program.
    Suggest the best thing about them is still the beds/bedding.

  4. Southwest: free checked bags. Companion Pass is an unbelievable deal.

  5. Can the next article be cons? Id love to see hotel plan cons, since Im new to them (airBnB fot life!….except when there are points available)

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