It’s Amazing How Many People We Depend on When We Travel

This morning I woke up and realized something that I simply take for granted. When we travel we depend on so many people to execute their assigned tasks — ideally flawlessly, but at least to execute them.

Our days and our successes rely on others. We couldn’t accomplish even the simplest things on our own. (See also, “I, Pencil“)

And just one of those people, at an airport hotel, has the ability to turn your entire day for better or worse.

Now, the basic principles of choosing an airport hotel are:

  1. You choose the hotel attached to the airport (if one exists and you can afford it).
  2. You choose the most recently renovated hotel. Airport properties tend to take more of a beating more quickly than other properties.

But there’s a third thing that I factor. When I’m staying at an airport hotel I’m usually getting in late and departing early. And at a minimum I’m usually departing early. Or else I wouldn’t be staying at an airport property, I’d choose some place more interesting.

And so I highly value a hotel that has a coffee stand in the lobby — some like the Sheraton LAX have a Starbucks, others like the Marriott Seattle have their own, it doesn’t much matter. The key is an ability to get a better cup of coffee than I can make in the room at a very early hour.

So I was disproportionately crushed this morning when I woke up at the Hilton JFK (my first Hilton stay after dropping below Gold status and insisting on remaining that way) to find that the person who works the coffee stand in the lobby hadn’t shown up to work.

    Photo of the coffee shop in the lobby taken on a pevious visit. What are the odds I’d just happen to have one of those?

Now I have to go remind myself that the lack of a specialty coffee shouldn’t ruin my whole day. After all, everthying’s amazing and nobody’s happy.

And having so reminded myself, I will say thank you to each and every person who keeps me moving each day on the road.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary ยป

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  1. Points well taken. And I don’t know how many breakfasts – free or paid – I’ve passed up at airport hotels because they don’t start serving early enough. Surely they know many people stay with them specifically because they have a very early flight to catch. Airport hotel website listings should prominently explain their hours for things like coffee shop, breakfast and shuttle service – this can affect which airport hotel a person chooses.

  2. I assume there is a Starbucks available not too much longer in the actual airport? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. Haha love it – so glad I don’t drink coffee, no morning addiction to feed ๐Ÿ˜› Apart from the coffee point I agree with your suggestions although for properties not directly connected to the hotel I’d also factor in the frequency of the shuttle bus service!

  4. I agree, I often find myself in the “food area” right after 6:00 AM and it’s maddening when there’s no one there.

  5. The smarter airport hotels will at least have something food-like in the lounge all night to accommodate those of us on the 6am flight. Granola bars, yogurt cups, etc. And an espresso machine. Sadly, I can only recall one of them this smart (the Sheraton suites O’Hare), but they do get my repeat business.

  6. Gary – I mean this in the kindest sense (after all I’ve been a reader of yours for many years and I love your work), but you make WAY too big a deal out of anything related to coffee. Availability of it, your pickiness related to cream, timing/quantity delivered via room service, etc. It’s like you treat coffee as something that’s keeping you alive.

    Is it really the end of the world if something is not perfect around the subject of coffee? IMO it’s probably one of the least important things out there when I think about things I want done right while traveling.

    And this is coming from a regular coffee drinker (~3 cups/day) and an absolute snob about good coffee (I live in a city that seems to value coffee more importantly than drinking water)

    What gives?

  7. @Haldami – their video explains the concept, I figured that was better than linking to the original article. Do you disagree with anything in particular in it?

  8. @Mike there is — but I woke up to a flight delay so wasn’t leaving for the airport as quickly as expected when I woke up!

  9. My pet peeve is airport hotels that start breakfast buffet at like 6am or sometimes even 6:30. If you are an airport property chances are that people stay there because of an early departure – open your breakfast at 4:30 or 5:00 the latest dammit!

  10. +1 totally agree, airport hotels should at least offer a very early breakfast/lounge offering. Hilton Madrid Airport was sensible in this regard offering a prepacked brown bag breakfast if you were leaving early, with pastries fruit juice and coffee available in the lobby. Lots of aircraft crews seemed to stay there and make use of this!

  11. Bewley’s airport hotel at DUB felt like sleeping in a train station, but has 1 redeeming quality: a 24 hour cafe that serves great coffee/tea and scones.

  12. Gary,
    Try the Hampton Inn at JFK . Coffee set up all times and a “to go” bag for breakfast if you are leaving before the regular breakfast is served.

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