When your flight is delayed and you miss your connection, or your flight cancels and you’re stuck in the airport on the way home, your airline will often provide you with a hotel room. Most airlines have committed to the government that they will do so when the reason you’re stuck in the airport is their fault – like lack of flight crew or mechanical problems, but not weather or air traffic control issues.
The truth is, though, you’re probably not going to like the process. You’re getting what you pay for.
- You may have to way in a very long time to get a room, eating into the time you’re able to sleep
- Even airlines that will provide you a room automatically through their app may not have any rooms available (at their discount rate) to provide you
- Or they may overbook the hotel they’re sending you too
- And it’s probably not a place you’d want to stay to begin with
I was reminded of what you get – not everyone has higher standards but many readers do – with this person sharing their room near the Charlotte airport.
Hey @AmericanAir you canceled our flight and then put us up in the Clarion hotel in Charlotte. It’s one of the filthiest hotels we’ve seen. Broken lamps, smells, stains, gross furniture. Disappointed to say the least. @ChoiceHotels pic.twitter.com/mT2mPxQGBC
— Caseydilla🌻 (@CaseyWade03) February 7, 2023
This is what you get after waiting an hour in line.
In line for flight info and voucher at #albuquerque airport. Our flight disembarked 2 hours ago. Just 1 service person. Help @AmericanAir I’ve been here for hours #stuckintheairport pic.twitter.com/34QSwA29lq
— Allie Plihal (@allie_plihal) September 1, 2022
And the quality of accommodations is hardly an outlier.
— email@example.com (@rawafalrawaf1g1) July 28, 2022
Along with a constant running toliet, i had the pleasure of having this AC Unit at the hotel American Airlines put me in bc my flight was canceled yesterday bc they didn't have a crew. Needless to say, I didn't sleep good 😕
— Samantha Smith (@CoachSmithIAm) July 28, 2022
American Airlines flight attendants have complained of being stuck sleeping at the airport and a pilot was stuck sleeping in a hotel lobby. What chance do you think passengers have?
Yet this isn’t just a U.S. airline issue. Air Canada has sent a man and a woman, who didn’t know each other, to a hotel to share a room. And in China, Hainan Airlines put passengers up in an S&M-themed hotel.
So what do you do instead?
- Rely on your credit card coverage. Pay for your ticket with a credit card that offers trip delay coverage, book your own room and save receipts for it, along with ground transportation and meals. If the airline is offering you a room that could obviate coverage, but if they never offer…
You’re assured the property you are comfortable staying in. You won’t wait. And you can look farther afield if need be. Sure, airport hotels might well all be booked. But if you aren’t spending an hour in line to get the room is a 20 minute drive away from the airport (also billed to trip delay coverage) so bad?
- Request a distressed passenger rate. If you don’t have credit card trip delay coverage, and you can’t find a good rate on your own that you’re willing to pay, one alternative to the long line may be the baggage office. Ask there about distressed passenger rates for hotels. If the line is long at your airline’s baggage office, or it isn’t staffed, be friendly and ask at another airline’s baggage office.
- Use points. Airline hotels often are great deals on points, with reward costs based on a hotel’s average daily rate which tends to be brought down by large airline contracts for housing crew. A few thousand points from your stash can get you a far better night’s sleep, more quickly, than relying on the airline.