How Airlines Book Hotels For Distressed Passengers

When I wrote about the big mistake passengers make when sleeping at the airport, talking about when an airline is supposed to provide them with a hotel as a result of a controllable flight delay or cancellation, I colloquially offered some of the problems with those hotels: airlines often book rooms of low quality, it can take a fight or very long line to get the reservation (eating into precious sleep time at 1 a.m. when a rescheduled flight is at 6!), and sometimes those hotels even wind up overbooked.

A reader who works in the lodging industry, with properties near an airport, wants to make clear that it isn’t exactly the airlines doing the overbooking of hotels during issues with your flight – and shares how each airline handles these reservations.

  • Airlines use a third party to source lodging
  • And they book into inventory that appears to be available, it’s the hotels often providing misleading inventory that leads to overbooking

That’s certainly correct. Then he offers “a run down of how most airlines provide hotel room accommodations (at least in the US).”

[United, American, Delta, Frontier, Alaska, Spirit, Air Canada, British Airways, and Volaris] – They use Travelliance’s StormX portal provided by a company called TA Connections. Hoteliers can adjust soft or hard blocked inventory and rates in real time. It is up to them to take said inventory off market to the general public. That can be done near instantly.

[JetBlue] – Hard room blocks thru a company in NY called API.

[Sun Country] – has passengers front their own room, reimbursement up to $199.00 (at least I know of at [a specific airport]). I’d imagine other SY line stations are similar.

[Southwest] – hard blocks, direct bill, Net 30, usually pays within 24 hours of pax checking out.

American Airlines flight attendants have complained of being stuck sleeping at the airport and a pilot was stuck sleeping in a hotel lobby. So it’s not just you running into problems getting accommodations from an airline that cancels or significantly delays a flight due to mechanical or crew issues.

But it’s also not the airline itself sourcing the rooms – for passengers, or usually even for crew. And those systems don’t always talk well with hotels, sometimes it’s the outsourced provider and sometimes it’s the hotels.

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. Who remembers the pink slip for ‘Airport’ and the code ‘JSTRK’ to book it on their site

    Wonder how they got muscled out of this, thought they were around not that long ago

  2. @Gary: Didn’t you say that will find hotel rooms before the hotels are built? Marvellous program.

  3. @L3 No, but they are apparently working on their next release called point.minority that will read the minds of idiotic blog commenters and automatically ban them before they have a chance to make stupid comments. We’re all very excited about that version.

  4. No matter what, it’s always the airline’s responsibility for sourcing the rooms.

    Whether they do it via phone, fax, traveling pigeon or a third party makes no difference: the buck stops with the airline. If your room doesn’t exist, it’s the airline’s fault. Full stop.

  5. Now we know the “real” reason so many poor-quality hotels with horrible service, slow shuttle service, and dirty rooms stay in business near airports.

  6. My best experience was with Delta in Atlanta. At the hotel we had to wait more than a half hour while a line of hookers and their Johns checked in. So the airline did their job getting us a room, but………

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