Road warriors and frequent flyers might think they know how to choose the perfect hotel room but even the most hardened of business traveller might be able to learn something from the efforts of the Hotel Contract team at American Airlines.
Responsible for booking hotel rooms for the airline’s 26,000 flight attendants and many other staff, the team booked 2.5 million hotel room nights around the world last year. A job that the airline itself described as “staggering”.
American says it spends an eye-watering $350 million a year on hotel accommodation – up $150 million since American swallowed up US Airways. The discovery has become public knowledge since allegations were raised that the airline had “instituted a semi-budget freeze” on crew accommodations.
Not true, says American. They claim that hotel spending is actually going up this year – not down. In a recent memo to the airline’s flight attendants, the Hotel Contract team said they would continue to focus on the “comfort, safety and security of our crews” when choosing hotels.
The memo went on to say:
“We have worked hard and invested a lot in the past few years to improve crew accommodations because we recognize that a good layover experience significantly impacts the quality of your work life and can indirectly affect our passengers’ experiences as well.”
But the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) – the union which represents many of American’s crew members has raised some concerns. They’ve seen “a spike” in the number of flight attendants who have been assigned a hotel room with a connecting door – a complete no, no they say.
So, apart from the obligatory fast free wifi that any traveller expects nowadays, what makes the perfect hotel room for a flight attendant? Here’s what you need to demand when you next book…
A 24-hour restaurant or room service
You never know when plans will go awry – access to food and drink at any time of day is a definite must. And if you’re a flight attendant, you’ll also be expecting the hotel to offer a discounted room service menu.
Rooms on the second floor at least
A common rule amongst airlines, flight attendants will never accept a room on the first floor (ground floor) due to the associated security risks. Plus, doors should open into a secure inside hallway (no motels then).
A quiet and comfortable room
Okay, so no one is going to expect a noisy and uncomfortable room but here’s the minimum that you should be demanding at check-in:
- A queen or king size bed – No Murphy beds, pullout beds, twin beds, or rollaway beds
- Nowhere near elevators, ice machines, stairwells, emergency exit doors and other “noise sources” – and soundproofing is a definite must
- Decent blackout curtains with a self-controlled and (here’s the important bit) quiet air conditioning system
A sewing kit and nail file are nice but when we talk about amenities, you shouldn’t accept anything less than these as a minimum:
- Unblocked telephones with free local calls and charges placed on toll-free numbers
- A hairdryer
- Coffee-maker or kettle
- An iron and ironing board
- Free high-speed internet access
We all know hotel gyms can vary greatly in both size and quality but flight attendants will always have access to some sort of exercise facility – the best way to combat that 4 am jetlag.
Those are just the basics – after that, sometimes there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to how accommodation booking teams choose which hotel will win the lucrative airline contract.
And while American says it will be spending more on hotel’s this year and admits cost “will always be a factor but not the deciding one,” there are many airlines which aren’t nearly as kind. No matter what hotel you’re staying in, don’t be surprised to find flight attendants checking in beside you.