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!
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!