Marriott is officially ending Hotel + Air travel packages — here’s what to do if you have a booking
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Rumors have been circling the internet for the past couple of weeks about the upcoming demise of Marriott’s Hotel + Air packages. A few weeks ago, Marriott prematurely published changes in its terms and conditions heralding the abrupt end to these special packages — and today, we have official word from Marriott that these redemptions are indeed ending today, Jan. 19, 2022.
Note that the end of this Bonvoy offering is not to be confused with cash-based air, hotel and car packages that Marriott sells through VacationsbyMarriott.com.
If you already have a Hotel + Air package booked, you only have a limited time to make your travel arrangements, so you’d better get started. Here’s what you need to know.
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Marriott Hotel + Air packages
As a refresher, Marriott’s Hotel + Air packages allowed Bonvoy members to redeem bundles of Marriott Bonvoy points for a combination of a seven-night stay at a single property plus either 50,000 or 100,000 airline miles with a partner airline of their choice. Different hotel categories required different prices — here’s a look at the redemption chart:
|Category||7 Nights + 50,000 miles||7 Nights + 100,000 miles|
|1-4||255,000 points||330,000 points|
|5||315,000 points||390,000 points|
|6||435,000 points||510,000 points|
|7||495,000 points||570,000 points|
|8||675,000 points||750,000 points|
Thanks to Marriott’s Rewards Plus partnership with United, transfers to MileagePlus occurred at a slightly preferential rate where members could end up with 55,000 or 110,000 miles instead of 50,000 or 100,000, depending on how many they redeemed.
These redemptions were brought over with the Marriott-Starwood merger in 2016. They were subsequently devalued and largely became a poor value except in certain, very specific cases.
Marriott has pointed to its upcoming introduction of dynamic award pricing as the reason it is discontinuing Hotel + Air packages. John Wolf, Marriott’s VP of Loyalty told TPG, “The popularity of Travel Packages has been steadily decreasing. With the introduction of flexible point redemption rates sometime in March and the elimination of hotel categories, we can no longer offer Travel Packages.”
At this time, Marriott has not announced a replacement for this unique, albeit not totally useful, redemption option.
What to do if you have an outstanding Travel Package
Those who have already redeemed their Marriott points for Hotel + Air packages must contact Marriott by Feb. 28, 2022, to redeem the hotel portion of the award if they have not done so already.
Wolf told TPG that members who do not redeem the seven-night hotel stay part of the package by this date will have their package canceled, and the total hotel part will be refunded in points based on peak pricing. So if you redeemed 570,000 points for a Category 7 stay and 100,000 airline miles, you would be refunded 490,000 points.
Members who have already attached a hotel reservation to their Hotel + Air package will have it honored as usual. However, if any changes need to be made after March 2, 2022, the member will need to contact Marriott for a refund of the hotel portion of the package. In other words: you cannot make changes unless you want a points refund.
Note that the airline portion is not refundable as points were transferred to an airline at the time of redemption, so those points are now airline miles for good.
Fewer options is never a good thing
Although Hotel + Air redemptions were of limited usefulness to most Marriott Bonvoy members and, as Wolf noted, few of them actually took advantage of these packages, it’s never a good thing when a loyalty program removes a redemption option.
If you had a specific trip in mind and found the award availability at a hotel you wanted as well as airline award tickets, these packages could have been a solid deal, just for the airline conversion opportunities alone. Why is that? At each tier, you only needed 75,000 more Marriott points to end up with 100,000 airline miles instead of just 50,000 miles.
For context, with straight-up conversions of Marriott points to airline miles (i.e. not with a package) you would need 120,000 hotel points to end up with 50,000 miles with most airline partners, or 240,000 hotel points to end up with 100,000 miles. By opting for a Hotel + Air package instead, you could have saved yourself 45,000 points.
Not only that, but the seven-night stays bookable with Hotel + Air awards also gave Marriott Bonvoy members some measure of stability when it came to stay redemptions. Once Marriott dives into dynamic pricing, however, it’s going to be much harder to predict how far your Marriott points will take you.
Though it’s unfortunate to see Marriott discontinue Hotel + Air travel packages, it’s hard to say we didn’t see this coming. The imminent shift to dynamic pricing means that the program will no longer field fixed award categories, which would have made it much more difficult to price out one of these packages. Not only that, but after its merger with Starwood, Marriott significantly devalued these packages — no wonder most members weren’t taking advantage of them.
Still, it’s disappointing how little advanced notice Marriott is giving members to reserve any outstanding hotel portions on previously booked packages and the single, unattractive refund option they’re being afforded. That’s even truer given how much uncertainty remains around travel these days.
That said, if you do have a hotel to book or find your plans changing, you might benefit if the specific properties you were interested in end up going down in points pricing for the dates you eventually end up booking. That would be the only silver lining, though.
Additional reporting by Eric Rosen.
Feature photo by JPstock/Shutterstock.com.
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