Stranded at an airport and need a cheap hotel?

One of the perks of being a 100,000-mile flyer on United Airlines each year is the level of service and accommodation they provide during irregular operations. In addition to getting me re-booked quickly and effortlessly, they have consistently provided hotel accommodations to me as a 1K even in the case of weather. While this is an unpublished benefit and never guaranteed, it is their small way of showing me they appreciate my business and are willing to go above-and-beyond even when the circumstance is out of their control. I hope this perk survives once Continental and United fully merge.

For the general public, though, a flight cancellation can often mean camping it out at the airport or getting a hotel at their own expense. Chicago had some weather bringing delays and cancellations yesterday, so I thought this would be a good time to talk about distressed passenger rates at hotels. I’ve noticed United keeps “pink slips” out on display at O’Hare, and they are likely available at other airports by asking a customer service representative. You can either call the toll-free number, or look up rates and availability on the website provided.

About 4:00pm CST yesterday, I pulled up the following distressed passenger rates on the web, and compared them to the going rates on Expedia and Priceline (identical pricing) for the same hotel. You’ll see these rates can be up to 40% off what you’d get online or direct, so it turns out to be a great deal indeed.

Airport Accommodations has been around since 1988, and serves about 65 cities in North America. The current list of cities can be found on their website here. I believe they validate your “distress” and would require an original pink slip and airline information, so getting these rates without qualifying seems unlikely.


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