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Month: May 2017

Elite status – Likelihood of room upgrade

Elite status – Likelihood of room upgrade

How often do people with elite status that states upgrade get it?

I have elite status with a couple of hotel chains and have paid for hotels through American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts bookings.

In all these cases the booking states that there will be an upgrade “if available”.

I do not think I have travelled at particularly busy periods but it is fair to say that I reckon I have been upgraded no more than 50% of the time.

 

50% – is this good odds?

I have no idea whether getting an upgrade half the time is good or not. On some of the blogs I read I the distinct impression that some people get upgraded almost all the time, even to suites at times.

When I have been upgraded the room has been good and I, of course, have been very pleased.

 

Am I being paranoid?

I know that I am not a famous blogger, film star, rich business man, politician or an incredibly heavy user of the hotels so I suppose I do not get any VIP annotation to my booking. This must mean I am low on the pecking order of elite status holders to be offered an upgrade. Or am I being overly paranoid.

 

Keep trying

As I continue my travels I will continue to offer my loyalty and keep a running total of my successes and I will update these comments in the future.

Arrivederci Paris and Ciao Berlin

Arrivederci Paris and Ciao Berlin

I recently flew Air Berlin from Paris to  Berlin

 

Here is the Aeroplane

My German is not good but I don’t think this reads “Air Berlin”!

 

Surprise Surprise

Well yes I was surprised. When I booked I saw no suggestion the flight was to be operated by Alitalia

I wasn’t even aware of the partnership with Air Berlin when I booked.

Don’t get me wrong I have no real issue with this airline. It was over an hour late and was not very clean and was generally quite worn but that could be said of many airlines from budget to National carriers particularly when they are in a rush to turn a delayed flight around.

So weirdly I booked through Air Berlin, which has links to British Airways so received miles and tier points to fly an Italian plane.

 

Pot Luck?

I realise many companies codeshare and so you can fly a different carrier but I always thought this was announced on the booking site. Clearly not. Anyway it allows me to tick off the airlines I have flown!

 

Rare German inefficiency

Rare German inefficiency

I have just spent a few days in Berlin. I flew in and out of Tegel Airport.

 

Getting to and from the Airport

Berlin and the surroundings are covered by a network of trains; the U-Bahn. S Bahn, Trams and other rail services. The airport is not. You have to get a bus to and from Tegel.

When I arrived and found this out I purchased a cheap ticket that covered my journey and once validated was valid for 120 minutes (very efficient). The guy selling me the ticket told me where to go and change to the U-Bahn. I got it wrong and got off at the wrong stop but again was guided by helpful railway staff to the correct place. Despite getting on and off a bus and a train my single journey ticket remained valid.

 

When looking to return I found there was a bus to the airport from the center of the city fairly near my hotel so I would not have to change buses and trains. Great, I thought, and as I was travelling light it was not a problem to walk for a few minutes to the bus stop.

 

The Frustration

This is where the rather frustrating inefficiency arose. This is a bus to an airport. People using it have cases.

 

There was no where to put cases!!!

 

The bus was full and with cases and bags in the aisles being the only place to put them it was difficult to clamber over them to get down the bus.

 

Generally the transport system is efficient, and straightforward to use but why not install something so simple as a luggage rack? You would lose a few seats but so what. Perhaps this inefficiency can be corrected by the powers that be.

 

Otherwise a good time was had and Berlin is a very interesting and developing city.

Hilton – Gatwick South Terminal

Hilton – Gatwick South Terminal

I have a week off and am starting a brief trip of 3 European capitals. Namely Paris, Berlin and London. Currently London still is in Europe!!!

To start my trip I took a train to Gatwick and I am staying overnight at the Hilton Hotel – Gatwick South Terminal. My flight leaves early tomorrow morning to Paris.

 

Getting to the Hotel

The hotel state it is close to the Terminal. Indeed it is. I got off my train and walked into the South Terminal. I turned right and then right again and ended up on a travelator towards the car park. I then caught a lift down a floor and then along a covered walkway – effectively across the multi-storey car park and arrived at the reception of the hotel. All in all a 10 minute walk. All covered and quite well signposted.

 

First Impressions

As I entered the lobby it was, unsurprisingly, busy. There were restaurants and a Costa as I entered and on reaching the reception this was long and well staffed so I was dealt with very quickly.

 

 

Check in

I hold gold status through my Amex platinum card and this was recognised immediately. I was able to check in online. I thought I would try this. Perhaps my only “issue”. I had requested a high floor away from lifts. Through the online system I was allotted a room on the first floor. The Hilton system allows me to see hotel floor plans and choose my room> I was thus able to see that this room was just behind reception. Not the place I wanted. So I changed this for a 4th floor room.

 

Again this was recognised at check in and that this had 2 beds. The receptionist offered to change this to a double bed room and also said she would upgrade me. I had booked a basic room so was expecting as a gold elite member a one category upgrade. However to my delight I was offered an executive room. This was in the new wing and I see from other comments this is the recommended area of the hotel to be in. I was very pleased.

 

The Room

My new room was on the third floor so I caught the lift up and then walked though the older part of the hotel and across the glass bridge to the new wing.

I easily found my room and on entering it was very pleasant and bright.

The room had a double bed, single armchair and ottoman and a work desk.

It was clean and functional. Some of the edges around the desk, for instance, were a little worn but I suppose this is a sign of being well used.

The bed was firm and comfortable and I slept very well.

 

The Bathroom

This was bright and clean, It had a separate bath and shower. There were Tim Roth toiletries. All in all nothing overwhelming but good and functional.

 

For an airport hotel I was very impressed.

 

The Executive Lounge

As part of my upgrade, impressing me even more, was access to the executive lounge. This was offering drinks and aperitifs from 1830 to 2030. Wine, and spirits and some snacks. Perfectly fine. Beefeater gin, and mediocre wine, but certainly drinkable.

 

The loung had a mixture of sofas and tables and chairs. Perhaps a few more comfy chairs in smaller groupings would have been better.

i find it interesting people watching in lounges. Even for middle aged and older patrons the art of conversation seems dead – long live the ipad. Perhaps a subject of another post!

 

Final Impressions

Overall my initial impressions are favourable. Reading other reviews opinions are mixed and I accept they will be influenced by the type of room etc and I think I have been lucky. However the first impression is always generated by check in and the staff and I was impressed.

 

I would certainly consider staying again.

 

Sorry there are not more photos but I do feel inhibited in taking photos that show many other people.

 

 

The pettiness/snobbishness of elites

The pettiness/snobbishness of elites

As I sit in the executive lounge (a lucky upgrade) of the Hilton in Gatwick I have listened to the Guests around me.

 

It makes me wonder about then expectations of said “customer” and how they live in their day to day reality.

 

When reading reviews of airlines, hotels and lounges it makes me wonder how we reference or compare our experience and so opinions.

 

Relaxing in the lounge I watched a rather overweight older guy in  vest and shorts come into the lounge.

 

“Is that the type of person or dress we should expect” ?

My interpretation is that he did not fulfil the “dress code” but that is my impression.

 

I watched another guy with rather ill fitting T-shirt and trousers enter the lounge. He seemed incapable of sitting down without straddling the chair. Again a slightly odd behaviour. His female partner was able to  take a seat without throwing her leg over the chair. Who am I to judge behaviour? Odd to me but probably acceptable from the part of the world he comes from.

 

This post is generated my overhearing my lounge seat “mates” who comment on the snacks.

“They only provided tongs to serve crisps (chips for those in the USA). How can we serve these without crushing them?”

Mmmmm, Yes you can crush them but what other implement can you provide to help serve them? A spoon, ladle or some other scooping implement could be considered but remains unwiedy in a limited space. It may not be perfect but for most customers it seems ok.

 

My Point

My point is that opinion is usually informed by past experience and expectation. Perhaps influenced by class or assumed snobbishness without an acceptance of the environment.

 

Serving crisps with tongs would be anathema in a Michelin starred restaurant but is it really so wrong in a busy business airport hotel with self service?

 

I would love to see some of these customers providing similar canapés to an uncertain but large number of clients if they were the hotel manager

i really feel we are too quick to judge and too slow to contextualise.

 

I hope i will remember these comments in further posts

Blog dedication

Blog dedication

It has been a while since I posted to my blog.

My dedication has been poor but I do have another very full time job. Yes, it is an excuse and I am sure I could have found time to write something.

I note many of the “professional” and full time bloggers have a group of writers which certainly spreads the load.

Also as a full time blogger there is nothing else to distract you and your sole focus is on the news pertaining to the blog. I am not sure I really want to post on the latest headlines or who got dragged off which plane and which airline was rude and unhelpful to its customers. Many are reporting such things and it is saddening that these events occur. It certainly leaves a poor taste in one’s mouth when considering “customer service”. I will leave that to others.

Nor do I really want to comment on other headlines about the falling profits of airlines or the design factors for a business or fist class product.

I comment on my impression of the service and experience I personally receive as a 50 year old user.

It really is a challenge and I admire those singletons who can post very regularly. I can only but try.

 

So what now?

Well, I will continue and do my best to post more on the things that interest me. This will be my experiences of travel – airlines, airports and destinations.

Having had a hard couple of months in my day job I now have a week off. I am travelling to Europe, slightly different to my usual “adventures” but equally as exciting.

I will be posting some opinions as I go…..