Delta Upgrades – Separating Passenger Records

Yesterday, I realized I had not seen any first class upgrade emails for my upcoming trip even though I was only a couple of days out from departure.  Given my Diamond status and my record for clearing up to five days out, it raised a red flag for me.  After checking my reservation, it was pretty obvious what the problem was…I had booked a passenger with me on the same record.  Technically, we were both in the same PNR.  This stands for Passengere Name Record.  This occurs when you book two or more passengers onto the same flights in the same reservation.

This happens to me fairly often.  In this case, it was my VP of Operations.  Other times, I might book up to six flight reservations at one time.  The advantage of doing this is to ensure we are all on the same flight.  However, it also affects my status on the upgrade list.  Since my colleague is a Delta Gold Medallion, my chances for upgrade are lowered.  This is partly due to the fact that looking to upgrade two passengers instead of one obviously reduces opportunity and partly due to the fact that my priority is lowered to his level.

By calling Delta, I was able to split the records and go back to clearing on my own merits.  Voila!  Within a couple of hours, my upgrade for the second leg of my flights (the first leg has no first class) cleared but my colleague’s did not.  Now, with his status, he might clear within the 24 hour window or at the departure gate, but his inclusion in my record was clearly hurting my chances at the upgrade.

Hilton/Delta 2,012 Promotion

There has been a lot of chatter about the status of Hilton promotion in conjunction with Delta about their 2,012 promotion.  In a nutshell, they have been offering 2,012 DL miles for a two night stay at a Hilton property valid through March 31, 2012.  However, there have been many reports of registered participants getting notification that this offer has been rescinded effective January 23rd.

I had a qualifying stay at a Hilton property about 10 days ago.  It posted to my HHonors activity right away and it has posted to my Delta account tonight.  I have not received any notifications, emails, or letters indicating this promotion has been rescinded and I guess the test will come in about 10 days when I have another qualifying stay at Hilton.

I will keep you posted.

Westin Crown Center – Kansas City, MO

Hotel Review

I was anxious to try out my new Starwood Gold status that I recently activated for free via my AMEX Business Platinum benefits.  I have not stayed at many SPG properties having been a very loyal Hilton traveler with occasional stays at Marriott properties as my back up.  However, having read so many rave reviews of Starwood and having had a really nice stay at the W Mexico City last year, I decided to give some of their properties a try this year even though their small footprint (at least relative to Hilton) eliminates them as an option on many trips.

In this case, the Westin was the hotel of choice due to their proximity to my client I was meeting.  On arrival, check-in went smoothly with a very proficient front desk clerk.  He informed me that I had been upgraded to the Preferred floor.  Translated, this means a pretty basic room on a high level floor (16) with a decent view.

After check-in, I headed downstairs to catch the second half of the Kansas Jayhawks basketball game at the lively brassiere on the lobby level.  A bit more character than the typical hotel bar and an attentive wait staff. This was probably the best service experience of the stay.

Nice, spacious lobby area

This property is connected to the Crown Center, a quirky shopping mall owned by the founders of Hallmark Cards who are headquartered in the same complex.  At some point, it was obviously one of the premier hotels in the area, but it was a disappointment to me.  It was built in the late 1960’s and, as is noted on many review sites, it is tired and has the problems associated with age – slow running bath drains, pitting and rust on brass fixtures, ancient mini-fridges, etc.

From an amenity perspective, I was surprised there was no newspaper for me at my door in the morning but found one at the front desk so no big deal.  However, there is no free Internet at Gold status, no breakfast, and no free business center.  In fact, other than being able to print my airline boarding pass for free, there was a charge to use the business center computers.  A rate of $5.95 per 15 minutes plus $.40 per printed page at black and white and $1.00 per page color seems outrageous to me.  When you add in $15 for self-parking or $19, you start to feel like there are a lot of extras that have to be paid that are not included in a fairly high room rate for the area.

Final Grade:  C

Points and Dollars

I spent $293.84 and earned 627 SPG points due to my Gold status (valet parking, taxes, etc. do not count towards points).  In addition, I will earn another 882 SPG points because I used my SPG Amex card which earns at 3x points for dollars spent at SPG properties.

Delta Airlines – LEX – ATL – MCI Rountrip

Flight Review

After 10 weeks of being off the road due to some shoulder surgery, I feel like I have not been in the air for ages.  This week took me on the road for some meetings in Kansas City starting with flights on Delta Airlines.

Heading out of LEX, our airplane was a MD-88, which is pretty unusual out of this airport for the hop down to Atlanta.  The flight was completely full and I was happy to have my first class upgrade clear about 5 1/2 days prior to departure.  Due to bad weather, there was extremely limited service but we departed on time and arrived a few minutes early into Atlanta.

In Atlanta, the Sky Club by A17 was very crowded but they have obviously updated it in the past year and had a nice, spacious feel to it.  Refreshment stand on upper tier was out of stock on many items including coffee cups.   Only other criticism would be small number of restrooms relative to capacity and the extremely slow wireless service, which I am sure was due to the number of people on-line at the time.

I popped into the Sky Club in the center of the A concourse (upper level by Chilis) to check it out.  As usual, it was less crowded and I enjoyed a nice cup of coffee and toasted bagel with Peanut butter before heading to the gate.  I would always check this out first on a long layover since it seems to be “out of mind” for most flyers.

From Atlanta, we had another MD-88 that was also completely full.  My first class upgrade cleared about 5 days before departure.  The first class seats looked brand new and also had power ports for each seat.  This is the newly configured MD88 cabin that was done to aircraft acquired from other airlines so the seats were like almost brand new and I found them to be very comfortable.

All looked on time despite a line of storms coming through the area, but, unfortunately, the ground crew unplugged power to the plane prematurely.  This resulted in about 25 minutes of delay in pushing back from the gate.  Surprisingly, during this entire time, there was no on ground drink service in FC.  The rest of the flight went smoothly and we ended up in Kansas City about 30 minutes late.

On the return trip, we got another of the newly configured MD88’s.  Once again, my first class upgrade cleared about 5 ½ days before departure.  We boarded and departed on time with good on-board service from a highly competent flight crew.  After a brief visit to the Sky Club in Concourse A on the second level in Atlanta, we boarded for Lexington on a CRJ200 (EV), a pretty standard part of their fleet with no FC and no Gogo wifi.  

Final Grade:  B

Points and Dollars

For my first Delta flights of the new year, I spent $467.20, had 100% upgrade success, and was on time for three out of four flights.  I earned 2,386 MQM miles plus another 2,386 Diamond bonus miles. In addition, I will make another 934 miles from my AMEX Delta Platinum card for a total mile rake of 6,302 on this relatively short roundtrip itinerary. 

Hilton Garden Inn – Mason, OH

Hotel Review

An easy 90 minute drive brought me to Mason, OH where my crew and I were scheduled to do a video shoot with a client.  All told, we had four hotel rooms plus our client’s.  As a Hilton Diamond VIP, I stay at Hilton Garden Inn’s quite a bit as they are usually fairly new, serve a great breakfast, and have dinner and a bar for the evenings.

This particular hotel was adequate, but disappointing on a couple of small details.  Our first substantial interaction was with Ken, the bartender, who was really pleasant and engaging.  He was probably the highlight of the staff during our stay.  On the other hand, there was no cooked to order breakfast on Weds. morning.  Since I did not eat until 9:00, the food was pretty lackluster.  Servers, two young ladies, seemed to be commiserating with each other relative to something work-related.

On arrival back to hotel on Wednesday night around 11:00 p.m., we were disappointed to find the bar closed.  I understand that customer traffic dictates how late they stay open, but having a bar is one of the reasons you stay in a HGI instead of a Hampton or Homewood.

However, the front desk clerk was helpful in doing multiple charges to the room and garnering a bottle opener and some wine glasses for us as we sat in the lobby and had drinks from the pantry.

Thursday morning breakfast was cook to order and back to the quality experience I expect from HGI.

Final Grade: B-

Points and Dollars

Total spend for the stay (excluding client’s room which his company paid for) was $1,204.  

As for points, I hit pay dirt.

For my spend on my room and the charges to it, I earned 6,044 base points.  I received my Diamond 50% bonus of 3,022 and another bonus of 3,022 because I have selected bonus Hilton points as my earning preference.  I also got 2,000 points for th Q1 offer of 1,000 points per night.  I received 500 points for booking on-line with my AMEX HHonors Surpass card.  I also received a 2,500 point bonus from AMEX use that I think is tied to a card promotion.  Plus, I got 2,012 Delta miles for their Q1 promotion with Hilton.  All told, that comes to 17,088 Hhonors points plus the DL miles.  However, I will also earn another 10,836 points for charging it all on my AMEX Surpass which accrues points at 9 points per dollar spent at Hilton properties.

I could have earned even more, I think, if I had transferred the folio from one of the other rooms to my primary room.  I just recently read about that in Hilton’s T&C and I’m going to start following that practice.  That would have increased my base points and, as a result, increased the bonuses that are based on that as a starting point.