Hotel Check-In Clerk Secretly Records Customer Demanding An Upgrade

A man checking into a Holiday Inn Express in Bloomington, Minnesota became irate when the front desk agent wouldn’t upgrade him to a room type he had refused to pay for, and she decided to record it.

He had booked a room with one king bed and a sofa bed through online travel agency site But – he objected – there are four of them, including two kids, and it would be “ridiculous” for them to sleep in that room. (The two adults could have taken the bed and two kids the pull out couch, as another guest pointed out.)

The problem was the hotel was sold out, and only had the room he’d reserved. In fact, he originally booked the room with two beds but it was more expensive and he cancelled it deciding it seems that he’d just ask for what he wanted at check-in and save the difference. It seems like he even showed the agent the cancelled booking as though it was his live one claiming that he was entitled to the more expensive room. The desk agent offered a fee-free cancellation, provided of course that would process it that way.

“Are there any other Holiday Express hotels you could check us into?” he asked, hoping that she could somehow help them into another room at another hotel, but she stood her ground and claimed that it wasn’t in her power to do so.

…“Who hasn’t checked in and what else is available with more beds?” he asked, hoping to get a room that someone had already reserved.

When that other guest offered up that the king bed and sofa bed would probably work for four guests, the man told him to “shut it” and threatened him. So the desk agent decided to “just go ahead and cancel” the man’s reservation. He spit on the floor multiple times.

It turns out the guest – insisting aggressively on an upgrade – was basically this character from the ‘frequent flyer famous’ Diamond Guest video of 2011.

I love how the desk agent at a Holiday Inn Express remained calm and professional, and stood up for not just herself but also for another guest. Here’s video and the agent’s commentary:

@localtumbleweed WWJD #karen #karensgoingwild #karensoftiktok #hospitality #hotel #frontdesk #caught #travel #fyp #wwyd #customerservice #problemsolved #war ♬ original sound – 4 4 4

@localtumbleweed Replying to @jamye98 pt 2 #karensgoingwild #karen #hotel #hospitality #hotel #travel #fyp #travel #problemsolved ♬ original sound – 4 4 4

@localtumbleweed Replying to @wnhb_tinkerbell pt 3 #karensgoingwild #karen #hotel #hospitality #travel #fyp #problemsolved #storytime #trial #karensoftiktok #wwyd #war #customerservice #caught ♬ original sound – 4 4 4

People have their phones – and they’re bored – on planes and we get all sorts of ‘passengers gone wild’ viral videos. But we have very few meltdowns at hotels, even though these same people stay in rooms. They’re pushy. And while they’re not stuck inside a metal tube for hours, jerks are jerks whether they’re sitting next to someone inflight or confronting agents at the front desk. We need more front desk agents with cameras – who use them.

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 don’t know why you write “the problem was the hotel was sold out”. There was no problem other than a boorish self entitled customer who thinks the world owes him something.

  2. What an incredible front desk young woman….handled it perfectly….Wish their would be more like her.

  3. First mistake was Get their rate and hold the hotel to their rate guarantee policy. Second, if you want/need a certain kind of room high up/ocean front just book it. My recent travels have found upgrades far and few between even w/ status. Marriott’s ‘Suite Upgrades’ were a joke. Third, know when ur not going to win and let it go.

  4. @B Wood – agree completely but want to add one thing on Marriott Suite Upgrades. I’m lifetime Titanium which probably helps but staying 5 nights at Westin Excelsior in Rome starting 11/1. Booked a nice king room (used points but requested to use a suite upgrade for all 5 nights). Exactly 5 nights before the booking I got an email my upgrade was confirmed for a Grand Luxe Suite (which is a really nice room). I even included the junior suite as an option so they upgraded me above the minimum request.

    IMHO you are treated a lot better (as Marriott Titanium or Hilton Diamond) internationally than in US. However I have had great success w the suite upgrade and will use my 50 night award to get 5 for 2023.

  5. I wasn’t going to listen to the whole thing, but it seems like he did reserve what he wanted but sent it to the hotel wrong? In which case he’s right to be upset but he’s being upset at the wrong person. I realize this doesn’t match the written summary, but it seems correct since he says it’s clear on the phone what we booked at she confirms, but says it’s not how it came to us from

  6. Why do people feel they are entitled to something that they did not pay for or work towards?

    Too much entitlement mentality in US,

  7. Why do people feel they are entitled to something that they did not pay for or work towards?

    Too much entitlement mentality in the US

  8. I was expecting an epic meltdown by the customer but he was relatively calm (other than the end when he told off the bystander and in the later video when he spat on the floor). He was a self entitled jerk but at least he wasn’t threatening the front desk agent.

    The front desk agent was amazing. Hope she doesn’t get in trouble for posting the video.

  9. So this is the problem folks. Too many people in the USA are elite in hotel programs. It’s a combination of us being a country where the majority of hotels are chain hotels and a large very rich country which necessitates and generates lots of overnight business travel. When you leave the USA especially for Asia you get better upgrades, because there are fewer elites in those parts of the world. Partly, that’s because there is less overnight business travel, but my experience is there are more proportionately more independent hotels outside of the USA. So when I’m going to Asia as a hotel elite, I kind of expect (but not demand) and upgrade and full buffet breakfast. In Murica, I expect no upgrade and hotels to try and weasel out even providing Continental breakfast (HHonors basically carved out Murica). If everyone had that mentality, far fewer would be disapointed.

  10. This is one video thread that I actually enjoyed watching. Why is the guy spitting on the floor on? garbage person.
    Favorite line:

    “When that reservation comes in from don’t you guys take a look at it and say hey this doesn’t make sense” LOL

  11. caffeine and SICKphones….we’ll learn one of these days. DIGITAL radiation….– not a natural waveform.

  12. That clerk is awesome! Eff that entitled jerk. He booked that room that’s what he gets. I feel sorry for his family stuck with him. Curiously he didn’t throw out the “I have status card” over and over. Did he even have that? Even if he had status it’s “when available.” Pound sand dude!

  13. The hotel agent must be fired IMMEDIATELY AND PROSECUTED FOR BREACH OF CONTRACT AND PRIVACY of the customer. Whether you personally like the customer or not does not grant you the right to record on a personal phone with no data protections, and then to post publicly, a video ESPECIALLY ONE THAT MAY DAMAGE the reputation of your customer.

    I am appalled that this blog would take a different position. Of course a bunch of incel neckbeards will show up in the comments attacking me and defending the agent. We don’t have the customer’s side of the story not that it matters because THE CUSTOMER must always be respected and treated as such. The customer is king.

    Amazing that a commenter has mentioned the excellent service in Asian hotels with flat out disregard of the fact that Asian cultures of subservience toward the customer are the driving force of that.

  14. Freedom of the Press ……… you can record anyone in public.
    Lesson learned. Don’t be a jerk in public unless you want to be highlighted on View From The Wing.

  15. An interior hotel lobby is NOT a public space.

    Who decides whether somebody is a jerk? We have laws and civil procedures for the purpose of maintaining a civil society. Being a jerk is not illegal precisely because it is subjective.

    Being an incel is very much objective and confirmable, Alan, by how much WAP you’ve been slaying (zero) and how out of shape you are (highly, as you’re not posting comments from the gym, I surmise).

    If you want to fire a customer, then do so. Do not violate their rights.

  16. Moreover, while I do not practice in Minnesota, many states do prohibit audio recording without the consent of BOTH PARTIES and in any case, this is morally proper. Should you want to record, you should get everyone’s permission.

  17. From a business angle, IHG must reassure customers they won’t be recorded and plastered online by a front desk agent with no data privacy controls on said recording.

  18. @Fauci – how did she “damage the reputation of [her] customer?” What’s his name? What’s his business? How have his personal or professional reputations been harmed? You don’t even know who he is. None of us do!

    “The customer is king?” No, not when the customer is jerk. He was in a place where he had no expectation of privacy and was pulling stunts to try to put one over on the desk agent. I don’t blame her one bit for trying to preserve the facts. Because, given his behavior up until that point, it was reasonable to expect that he was a complaint in the making with his version of the story likely to be laced with heavily stretched truth and downright falsehoods. The recording was legal; I’d have done the same, even if my boss fired me for doing it. Putting up with jerks just isn’t worth it.

  19. @Fauci – are you seriously saying that a hotel lobby is NOT a public place? Really? And, in particular, THAT hotel lobby? It’s wide open. People coming and going all the time. One would be hard pressed, indeed, to try to preserve any illusion of privacy in a hotel lobby. And, watch the recording again. There were THREE people at the counter. This wasn’t a whispered conversation in a confessional. Mr. Jerk was talking across a hotel desk counter to a desk clerk. And, within earshot, was ANOTHER GUEST on HIS side of the counter. He had absolutely no expectation of privacy in that very public place.

  20. The customer is ALWAYS king. That is an expression. Maybe more accurate to say the customer is like a DIPLOMAT OR CONSULAR OFFICIAL.

    Law enforcement officers are trained specially to show unfailing deference to a diplomatic or consular official during any encounter. The canonical example is a drunk driving stop. Diplomats and consuls must be shown respect and must never be handcuffed. “Persona non grata” may be declared but the diplomat or consul cannot be arrested or prosecuted.

    In the same vein, a hotelier ought to treat every customer with respect or fire the customer. The hotel agent in these TikToks should wait in line for unemployment, then be DENIED BECAUSE THE UNEMPLOYMENT WAS FOR JUST AND REASONABLE CAUSE.

  21. Hotels are not public establishments. They are privately owned properties. They are open to customers. The public cannot gather in a hotel lobby the way they may at an actual public space, like a park, or the library.

  22. Hey @Alan! I’ll bet this was actually you—not some democrat on a rampage. Which bunch of rampaging people tried to overthrow the government of the US? Not democrats. GFY, you douche.

  23. Fauci: not debating your points (I’m not a lawyer) but maybe someone should check if that property has security cameras and signs that say “you may be recorded.” Most businesses that host the public have those. I (and their insurance company) would be shocked if they didn’t…..

  24. She would have understood she needed to walk somebody if he said he had a giraffe waiting in the car that hasn’t slept in days

  25. Oh well, at least there is a complimentary breakfast the guy and his two kids can snarf up on. Do you think he is planning to grab a bunch of sugar packets and a dozen oranges for the trip home?

  26. I guess Fauci is a pretty poor lawyer who doesn’t even know how not to contradict himself.
    Firstly saying we go by laws. “Being a jerk is not illegal precisely because it is subjective.”
    Then saying something absolutely subjective, his morality, should be imposed on everyone. “many states do prohibit audio recording without the consent of BOTH PARTIES and in any case, this is morally proper.”

    As a logical, rational creature, that means anything this poster says is rubbish and there is no point spending any time listening to this trash.

  27. Upgrades at a HIX by the Mall of America is a thing? An upgrade to a different parking lot view?

  28. @alan the hotel was in republican land so most likely a stuck up uneducated republican at best. Democrats do not go to places were there are small minded idiots like you who bring politics into travel

  29. Is James the dumbest guy living under a rock? Fauci is a MEDICAL DOCTOR not a lawyer. What a moron. Jesus Christ!

    There is no contradiction and to declare something morally proper is not to impose morality but to express an opinion.

  30. How did the clerk violate his privacy? Did u see the guests face? No!! Did you hear his name mentioned? No!! Did u hear his address or phone number mentioned? No!! So where is the violation of his privacy? Im confused about that!! Ive been in the hotel industry for many years and she is better than me. I would’ve NEVER debated with him for that long. He wouldve been asked to leave or the police wouldve been called. Its not her fault his cheap ass cancelled the reservation for 2 queen beds, assuming that he could get what he wanted when he got to the hotel. Who does that?? That was stupidity on his part. If he has to sleep in the car he only has himself to blame.

  31. 1) Minnesota is a one-party consent recording state, meaning that only the clerk needed to consent to the recording. She did not break the law, as she had no malicious intent. We also have no idea who the man is, so she did not do any harm to him in a way that publicly hurts his reputation.

    2) Even if he has IHG status, he is not entitled to use it because he booked through a third-party. When we book through and other providers for better rates or to obtain AA Loyalty Points, etc, we sacrifice the right to earn our status benefits, which is one of the things I dislike about the AA (and other) booking portals; however, if I use it for re-obtaining any gaps in my status, and then I check into a hotel chain where I currently have status, I can try to add my hotel status number if I charge F&B, for example, but expecting upgrades or anything else is not a perk included, even if I would normally get it.

    This man was in the wrong. Period.

  32. Plane and simple, the young lady did a remarkable job handing herself against a moronic idiot. Geez, what a pathetic excuse for a human being. This loser tried to save a buck booking with a discount operator and then that was not even the final issue. His family easily could have stayed in that room. He is a moron to say the least. Too bad that he could not be pepper sprayed right off the lot and to a Motel 6.

  33. Suz, you are absolutely correct. The prospective guest having booked using a third party site forfeited any status he may have had with this particular chain. The man is lucky that the hotel even held the reservation if they were sold out, as many times the third party sites will sell rooms that they were not allotted by the property. Booking being one of the absolute worst of the third party sites. He booked a lower rate room to try and get into a higher rate room for free. People do this all of the time with car rentals and hotels. She was correct that he would have to contact Booking for his refund, the hotel does not handle this if he used a third party site.

    The customer is not always right nor king. This clerk started recording most likely to preserve any and all evidence that she handled herself in a professional manner and she may have felt threatened by the man, not knowing what he may have done or capable of doing. She was protecting herself, good for her! The hotel lobby is a public space per most every single government entity. Anyone may walk into a hotel lobby to inquire of a room, visit the properties restaurant, bar, their shops, attend an event, conference, etc or even visit their spa. It’s open to the public. There are definitely cameras recording in the lobby, as well as the elevators, and hallways, all places where one is NOT afforded privacy.

  34. Some hotels do confer status benefits, at least in part, when you book third party and even if the loyalty program officially does not provide for it. I have been granted late checkout expressly on account of my loyalty status on a Priceline rate. I have received room upgrades and breakfast vouchers. What I have never received is points, but the lower rate I paid makes up for that.

  35. I dont defend misconduct but hotels are abusing their best customers by denying upgrades and benefits when they have space. This creates an environment where customers are frustrated and on edge.

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