On my way back from Frequent Traveler University in Los Angeles at the beginning of December I turned up at LAX and found that my Los Angeles – Washington Dulles flight was delayed by about 4 1/2 hours. Already if the flight was on time I wasn’t going to get home until nearly midnight. Now I was looking at closer to 4am, and I was supposed to be at work in the morning. I thought about sitting in the lounge — as a British Airways Gold I have access not just to American’s Admiral’s Club but also their first class Flagship Lounge — and then taking the delayed flight home. But I never sleep more than 20 minutes at a time in near-upright domestic first class seats, so I figured most of my next day would be shot.
I hopped online and saw space available to fly Los Angeles – Dallas that afternoon, I’d arrive too late to connect home to DC but I could overnight at the airport, catch a 6:30am flight. I’d land at 10;15an, I could be at my office not much after 10:30am, and I’d have possibly gotten more than six and maybe even seven hours’ sleep.
When I saw that I could even swap my confirmed first class upgrade on the non-stop for first class on both connecting flights, the decision was even easier.
American was happy to make the exchange, greased a bit I’m sure by my proactively acknowledging that I was on my own for the hotel night in Dallas.
I hopped online and saw that most hotels around the airport were pretty reasonable priced for the night. The Grand Hyatt DFW though wanted nearly $200 for the night. I had already made a couple of stays during the year at the airport Hyatt Regency. That’s a perfectly fine property and would have been half the cost. But the first rule of airport hotels on short overnights is that if there is a hotel connected to the airport terminal, you book it. If I had hopes of getting a real night’s rest I needed to be in bed as soon as possible, and not to have to get up super early to make sure I was downstairs in time for a hotel shuttle bus, leaving on its own schedule rather than mine.
I also gave myself a bit of permission for the splurge. I needed one more stay to retain Hyatt Diamond status and this would be my 25th stay of the year with them. I had no more prospects of additional stay otherwise; although I did have one more Hyatt booking it was on points. So I would have been doing a one night mattress run somewhere, ‘wasting’ $100 or so. That made the $200 for the Grand Hyatt go down a bit easier. And I’d finally get to try it. On my last Dallas airport overnight I had wanted to stay there but it was pricing at about $450. Ouch, there wasn’t a chance. This time at least the gap wasn’t so large.
On arrival in Dallas I took the airport trAAin around to the other side of the facility, We had landed at C and the hotel is located in the international terminal D, as far a train ride at the airport as you can take. Oh well, the train arrives quickly and the airport was deserted.
Once over into the D terminal the entrance to the hotel is just past the TSA checkpoint, an escalator upstairs to reception. The gentleman who checked me in was friendly, got me into a room quickly, and even upgraded me to an executive suite. He told me about the Diamond breakfast benefit in the morning but when I mentioned I had a 630am flight and would be leaving before breakfast, he told me I could get something to go downstairs before leaving — that it’s not a benefit per se but that he’d enter the note and my breakfast would be removed from the bill.
The room was nice. Probably the nicest US Grand Hyatt room I’ve had.
With the stylish suite and the hotel seemingly as nice as it was, I almost wanted to be there longer than just a night. Even if you’re not flying same-day, the DFW airport website says that hotel guests can get a permit to go airside and roam the terminals. Which would be cool, except I’ve spent more than my share of time in and around DFW over the past year. Still, it is one of my favorite airports in the U.S. and one of the few were I care not at all about lounge access — I’d be perfectly happy grabbing a Starbucks coffee (I’ve never seen an airport with as many Starbucks) and sitting down in one of the comfortable Samsung lounges, with leather chairs, televisions, and power ports. I’d get some work done online and be perfectly fine. (My mind may well change after American opens its new lounge there in 2013.)
I’d say I’d return, and no doubt I will, but usually the property is outside my budget whenever I look. The convenience can’t be beat, though. I woke up at about 5:10am, got myself together and left the hotel just before 5:30am. I didn’t take the time for breakfast, but I knew I could hit a Starbucks in the terminal (and with carryons only I couldn’t take any liquids from the hotel through security anyway) and since I was upfront I’d get breakfast on the flight as well.
I was actually pretty surprised to find no line for security. Some would think waking up 80 minutes before my flight was pushing it, I figure it meant I had plenty of time to deal with a long security line if that’s what I faced. I’d have to take the trAAin back over to my terminal to be sure, but as long as I was through security a little after six I’d make it just fine. That gave me better than half an hour to deal with TSA craziness first thing in the morning before the initial bank of departures, the first day of the business week.
Was it crazy for me to think that the airport would be busy going on 6am on a Monday morning? It was absolutely deserted. I walked up to the checkpoint. There was no line. And they gave me the PreCheck treatment which made it go even faster.
I took the train over to the A terminal where my flight was departing from, waited at Starbucks for a bit, walked over to my gate and actually had to wait a bit for the start of boarding (and here I would have been happy walking on 15 minutes prior to departure). We took off ontime, landed a few minutes early, and I headed into work well-rested — thanks to my Diamond-requalifying stay.