We received more news yesterday than we typically receive in a month or even a quarter, as several loyalty programs announced or put into place major changes.
It will be a while until the dust settles and we all understand what these changes mean in the big picture, at first glance, who seems to escape rather unscathed, and which superfans took the biggest hits.
World of Hyatt
The day that Hyatt loyalists have been dreading for the past year has finally arrived. Hyatt has introduced Off-Peak, Standard, and Peak pricing for award stays at all of its properties. This follows a trend started by Marriott Bonvoy which most affects those who want to visit properties at the most popular times of the year. Beach properties or ski locations in the winter, look to pay extra. For example, the Hyatt Centric Key West used to cost 25,000 points a night, which was already too many points for this hotel. After the changes, if you’d like to visit in March 2022, it will cost you 29,000 points a night except for a few random Monday or Tuesday nights still available at standard prices.
BTW, the calendar function on Hyatt’s website is now active so you can see which nights are available at each price level, a small consolation prize if you’re hunting for cheap nights.
It’s not all bad news as I thought the Grand Cypress just outside Disney World would be priced at peak levels for most of the summer but that’s not the case. In fact, many nights in July are listed at Off-Peak pricing and no nights, including the 4th of July, are listed as peak.
While this isn’t great news for those looking to stay at popular destinations at peak times, it’s not bad news for everyone. I’m going to list this one at MILD TO MODERATE PAIN.
Marriott Bonvoy announced a flurry of changes today. Some of them are helpful to members who haven’t traveled much during the pandemic, while others are a gut-punch to loyalists of the program.
First, the good news. Despite some signaling that they weren’t going to extend loyalty benefits, Marriott announced that all loyalty status will be extended into 2022, regardless of when you earned the status. We’d already earned Platinum status through 2023, so this doesn’t impact us but I’m sure others will welcome the status bump for another year.
Marriott also extended Suite Night Upgrades, Free Night Certificates and points expirations for members.
The bad news is that Marriott Bonvoy also announced that they are doing away with points charts and going to a dynamic pricing model with no cap on how much award nights could cost.
I’ve already seen how this works with Hilton Honors, where this was the price for a Hampton Inn in Key West this past March.
Imagine how many points Marriott will charge for the Residence Inn in Manhattan that’s on the Thanksgiving Day Parade route. I doubt I’ll be able to book it again for 40,000 points a night.
The current points charts will remain in place until March 2022, but after that, expect to see reward stays more closely match the cash prices of hotel rooms.
Marriott wasn’t so bad when they implemented Off-Peak and Peak pricing so I’m hoping they don’t go too overboard with the prices. But this is Marriott we’re talking about and they’ll Bonvoy you any chance they get. I’m imagining that pricing levels aren’t going to get better. I’m gonna look to burn points whenever I can until next March.
Pain Level – DEEP HURTING!
A major change in the American AAdvantage program was rumored for the past several weeks but the details were announced today. While a significant devaluation of award tickets was expected, causing some to make several speculative bookings, the changes were limited to the ways members would earn status in the program.
Most airlines only counted miles flown, segments flown and amount spent on airfare to determine your status. Certain credit cards could augment those totals with bumps based on spending thresholds or eliminate specific barriers (like amount spent), but credit card spend rarely counted towards earning status.
Those days are no more and American announced a change for 2022 where you will earn “Loyalty Points” based on a combination of the amount you spend on airfare and how much you spend on a co-brand credit card. They’re going back to a model like one dollar equals one point, which is easy to understand but a major shift from the past program metrics.
Some people will like this new program and I’m sure some will hate it. That’s the same thing that happened when American changed its program several years ago making it harder for those who flew far distances on cheap tickets from earning status, limiting but not eliminating the mileage run.
Based on what we were expecting, which was a total obliteration of the partner award chart, I will rate this one as INITIAL RELIEF WITH ONGOING TREPIDATION.
We knew the Hyatt changes were coming and they are only for stays after March 1, 2022. Hopefully, you were able to lock in any stays you wanted (and the price for your award stay went down, Hyatt will automatically refund you the difference in points.)
Marriott’s change was the most surprising as there were no whispers that it was coming. It’s particularly shocking since Marriott seemingly just introduced Peak and Off-Peak pricing. But that’s Marriott Bonvoy for you. There’s no reward they can’t devalue. #Bonvoyed
American Airlines played this pretty cool by leaking the news that changes were coming and everyone thought the worst. That way, when the changes to status earning were announced, everyone was relieved that they would still be able to use AAdvantage miles for First Class on JAL or to book QSuites. American AAdvantage is playing chess, not checkers.
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