If Your Flight Gets Cancelled, Marriott Will Charge You Cash For Your ‘Free’ Award Stay

A Marriott Bonvoy member writes about a recent award redemption experience – a flight delay caused them to miss the first night of their award stay, so they got the free night certificate back and the hotel charged them cash for the missed night. They were fortunate the cash amount was only $153. I’ve seen it as high as $2000.

If you book an award stay and your flight diverts on the way to your vacation, and you can’t check in as scheduled, call your mortgage broker for a second or third lien on your house if it’s a luxury property – quick!

Hyatt, like Marriott, charges you cash in an undisclosed amount (rather than points) if you have to cancel an award trip inside of the cancellation deadline for your stay.

  • Starwood Preferred Guest used to have a friendlier feature where you’d choose the cash forfeiture or just to lose the points you used to book the stay which is what most people assume they’re on the hook for anyway.

  • But Marriott charges you cash instead – they do not keep your points.

Three years ago I wrote about the St. Regis Aspen charging points guests $1000 a night for cancelling reservations within 60 days of arrival. Even customers whose flights were delayed or diverted, and showed up the next day, were getting hit with $1000 charges for their missed nights.

  • When a guest doesn’t stay on an award, the program doesn’t pay the hotel for the award stay
  • The hotel instead goes back to the guest to charge them a forfeiture instead
  • Nowhere is the threatened amount disclosed to the customer when making their booking, which is even more egregious

I’ve written about Hyatt’s Andaz Papagayo in Costa Rica, which has non-cancelable rates during certain peak periods. Since those rules apply to paid stays, they also apply to awards. One guest booked nearly a year in advance, several months later needed to cancel, and was surprised by a $7000 cancellation fee. I brought the issue to Hyatt’s attention and they intervened to reverse these charges. However the policy remains in place.

This is something that needs to change – surprise rack rate charges destroy loyalty. A customer may expect to lose their points for a late cancellation, even when the reason is beyond their control (like a flight cancellation or diversion). But to penalize them a second time, after missing part of their vacation, with a cash penalty rate as well (and a secret one at that) is beyond improper.

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