My Go-To Airport Hotel for Positioning Flights

There are two types of miles/points travelers when it comes to positioning for flights, especially international flights: those who live in major hubs and have tons of options, and those who don’t. I was reminded of this yesterday during a conversation with Grant. He’s in a hub location (San Francisco) and I’m not (San Diego). I may be based out of America’s Finest City, but when it comes to getting anywhere overseas, it’s anything but the finest. Funny how all cities call their airport an international one :)

Probably 99% of the time, I have to go to LAX or SFO or some other hub city to start my trips. And when I send my award trip requests to my award booking team, they’ll remind me of this and send me some itinerary options based on my needing to position for my flight.

Just in case you’re one of the lucky ones who has never needed to position to start or end a trip, or in case you’re just getting started in miles and points based traveling, let me offer a very basic explanation. Often, for various reasons, using miles/points to book a trip will have you start or end in a city that’s not your home airport. You’ll either need to fly (using other miles/points or paying cash) or sometimes drive to get started or to get home.

It helps to have some hotels that you think of as your go-to hotels at the cities you’re most likely to be positioning from for those times when you need to overnight before or after a flight. As award tickets become more challenging to book, I find myself positioning to cities I’ve never been to before and so I have no idea what hotels would work best if I need to get in the night before or stay over before heading home.

It occurred to me, given what I’m assuming is the diversity of locations for TWG readers and the diversity of our travels, that we could start helping each other by having TWG compile a list of the recommended hotels and the ones we wouldn’t recommend. To start off, here’s my favorite LAX hotel.

I started using the Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles years ago when I lived in Hawaii and came to LAX to start almost all my flights. Even the award flights to Asia from Hawaii seemed to start at LAX!

View of Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles. Image source:

Some people complain that the hotel shuttle doesn’t run often enough, but I’ve never had to wait too long. And I like the fact, that as often is the case from SFO, it’s not one of those shuttles that stops at various hotels but rather solely goes to and from the Sheraton. Even before things changed for SPG Gold members, with lounge access and needing the SPG Business card, just from having Gold status, I was usually given a great room and complimentary lounge access. Now because I have an SPG Business card, lounge access is guaranteed.

Not too long ago, the hotel and lounge went through renovations. I like the newer, fresher look, and think the lounge looks great. I particularly like being able to see sunset from the lounge, and also watch the planes coming and going from LAX. The hotel has a few restaurants and even a Starbucks. They seemed to have changed the menu in the restaurants, and last time I was there (about a month ago), many of the salads I used to order are gone and the menu didn’t seem as healthy to me.

I’ll usually pay cash, rather than SPG points, for this hotel, and looking back over my notes, the most I’ve paid is in the $130 range. One time I got the room for $111.00! It’s good to check availability and price as soon as you know you’ll need to position for a flight. The front desk people are fine. Not overly friendly, but certainly efficient. That’s good by me because it’s a busy hotel and I’ve never not seen a line at check-in. They are good at helping SPG members right away. And maybe I’m weird, but I do like those Sheraton pens, and the front desk is always good about me replenishing my pen supply!

So that’s my favorite go-to hotel when I have a positioning flight. As I said, I was just there a month ago and see no reason to even try another hotel at LAX. No need to fix what’s working!

If you’re like me and use a particular hotel, or use many in different cities, before or after flights, let me know. Let’s get a list of go-to hotels started so we don’t have to spend so much time researching and can get on with enjoying our travels!

Airport Hotels for Positioning Flights:

18 thoughts on “My Go-To Airport Hotel for Positioning Flights

  1. Mike

    If you land late in Managua, a sprawling city with no functioning street address system and a fleet of taxis in a state of gleeful regulatory chaos, the only hotel nearby is a Best Western right across the street.

  2. DaninMCI

    My home airport is MCI (Kansas City) and I’m in the same boat. I’m fortunate that I can usually catch a flight the same day so no overnights at DFW, ORD or IAH which are my best hub cities. I would chime in that I do like the Crowne Plaza and the Radisson at SEA-TAC which are both across the street and you can easily walk to the terminal. I like the Radisson and the Intercontinental at ORD. I prefer the Four Points hotel at MCI when I need to stay there. It’s decent and most of the air crews use it so the shuttle is good.

    1. shelli

      HI Dan, Thanks for stopping by and adding your hotels. I’ve not yet needed a positioning flight from SEA-TAC, so this is good to know going forward. As an aside, I really like Kansas City!

    1. shelli

      I checked the Hyatt a few months ago and their rates were more than the Sheraton, but I’ll surely try them at some point. Thanks for letting us know!

  3. John

    We live on the Central Coast of CA and need to fly out of LAX or SJC for international and Hawaiian flights so we always have to drive to one of those cities the night before departure. We use the Courtyard Marriott at LAX and Fairfield Inn at San Jose. Both offer “stay and park” options that are less expensive than parking in one of the remote lots. Plus their shuttles run 24/7 and only make one stop. The Fairfield in SJC is a category 5 so we can use the free night from the Marriott Visa card.

  4. J

    I don’t live anywhere near a major airport so I pretty much ALWAYS have to “position” myself before and or after a trip. I like to use “Priceline name your own price” for these stays. You can pretty much always get a hotel at or very close to the airport at a great price !

  5. Baqa

    Living south of Dublin, Ireland, I am about 1-1.5 hours from the airport by bus or 50-60 EUR one-way by taxi to cut that down to 30 mins.

    I often will book the Holiday Inn Express Dublin Airport before early morning flights – it still costs more than taking the taxi, but usually is only in the 90 EUR range and I get breakfast and airport shuttle included and can sleep a bit longer in the morning.

    The bonus is that I usually knock out a few Accelerate promo challenges this way, as I usually have challenges along the lines of “stay in Europe x times” and “pay with your IHG credit card” etc, so that gives outsized return back in points also.

    1. shelli

      Very creative strategy, Baqa, in getting both more sleep and some IHG benefits as well! When I’m in Dublin proper, I always take the bus to the airport. I find the public transportation there to be excellent. As an aside, my favorite coffee place in the world is in Dublin. It’s called Coffee Angel. Do you know it?

  6. Mallthus

    Given that, despite being a hub, DEN is challenging for international routes, I’ve found good luck originating in LAX and DFW. For LA the Sheraton does do well, but the new Fairfield down on Sepulveda is better for me, as it’s somewhat walkable for light shopping and dinning.

    In DFW, unless there’s something amiss, one of the Hyatts in the airport is always my go-to, given the huge convenience factor.

    1. shelli

      I’ll try the Fairfield sometime soon. Always good to have another choice if the Sheraton is too pricey. I transit through DFW quite often, but haven’t had to stay at the Hyatt yet. It sure is convenient though. Thanks, Mallthus.

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