Monday, October 19, 2009

How To Get Cheap(er) Hotel Rooms When Travelling

Last weekend, with essentially no one to blame but myself, I got stuck at Chicago O'Hare.  It was a standby flight situation in which I didn't have a confirmed seat.  Basically, it's a great deal (almost or nearly free) that an employee in the airline industry can get you, (I have such a relative) but it comes with some potential drawbacks.  The first, is the schedule is somewhat unpredictable as you can only fly when there is availability.  The second, is that when you find a flight with availability, you have no status whatsoever compared to the revenue passengers.  Thus, in my situation, it took a day or so to leave Chicago to get on the next available flight due to other passengers being re-booked, etc. ahead of me.

But, the really cool thing I learned was about "distressed" traveller hotel rates.  So, if you know you are going to be stuck over night at an airport (or even nearby), forget about sleeping on the bench and trying to be comfortable, ask a Customer Service Rep about how you can get these rates.  They are bargain basement deals at major hotel chains.  They win because they have an empty room and need revenue.  You win because you get to stay at a potentially posh place for a lot less than you would normally.

I am curious if you can get these rates "normally" at the last minute.  You need a code from the Airport Accommodations company that arranges these rates, and alas, I don't have them as they vary by airport.  (A hint for O'Hare, look for these pink sheets at any large Customer Service Center.)  But other than that, when I called to book my reservation, I didn't have to explain my situation at all.  I just called, gave them the code, and off I went.