Starwood’s official representative to Flyertalk, Starwood Lurker, has gone missing. But another official representative, Starwood Lurker IV, reached out to Marriott and came back with some answers.
I’ve rephrased some of the questions below for clarity and added my own commentary after each answer as well.
Q: What happens if my travel package expires during the month-long blackout period from August 18-September 17?
A: Travel package certificates expiring during the blackout period may be extended upon request.
Dan’s commentary: Certificates can currently be extended for a year, so presumably this means they can be extended for a 2nd time as well if they expire in this transitional period. We still have no idea if Marriott will continue to extend the validity of certificates after the merger, but we can hope that will remain unchanged.
Q: How will the travel certificates map to the new categories?
A: We will convert existing certificates to similarly valued categories after 8/18. Members who know their travel plans should make reservations prior to 8/18. You will not be able to modify your certificate for an existing reservation or attach it to a new one 8/18-9/18.
Dan’s commentary: Once again this is a cop-out non-answer. Marriott refuses to show their hand until after it’s too late to buy travel packages. However it affirms that Marriott will convert existing certificates to similarly valued packages, so people who think that current mid-tier category 8 certificates will work at future category 8 top-tier hotels are likely to be disappointed and I’m surprised that bloggers are advising that course of action. More likely scenarios can be found here.
Q: Will you still be able to cancel a travel package hotel certificate for a points refund post-merger?
A: Members will be able to cancel and get points back at a reduced amount.
Dan’s commentary: Currently you can cancel the hotel night certificate and get back 45K points. Presumably this means that policy will stay intact. That means you can get 120K-132K airline miles for just 225K Marriott points (75K Starpoints), which is an amazing value should you decide not to use your hotel certificate. Higher level certificates get an additional refund based on how much more you paid over the base category 1-5 certificate. If you decide to forgo the free nights that means you’ll still get a value of 1.76 United miles per Starpoint or 0.59 United miles per Marriott point. Not a bad consolation prize!
Q: Will it be possible to upgrade/downgrade these legacy hotel certificates, similar to how we can today?
A: After 8/18, certificates cannot be upgraded or downgraded, regardless of when they were purchased.
Dan’s commentary: Ouch! Currently you can upgrade or downgrade between categories freely. However on 8/18 the travel packages will skyrocket in cost and I questioned several times if Marriott would allow upgrades or downgrades to the old certificates after that date.
This answer means that Marriott will get to decide what category or points level you will get and you will have no recourse, other than to cancel the hotel certificate for a small points refund. That’s a real shame and depending on how Marriott handles the conversion this may turn into outrage, but it still won’t stop me from rolling the dice on some travel packages.
Q: When can you use the certificates on SPG properties?
A: If you have an existing Travel Package and would like to use for a SPG hotel, you will need to wait until after 9/18. Or, you can redeem points for a new Travel Package under the new program starting 8/18, including SPG hotels.
Dan’s commentary: Some agents were telling people that they would not be able to use certificates for SPG properties. This answer confirms that is false, though as we already knew, you will need to wait until 9/18 to book SPG properties with these certificates.
Q: Will I be able to cancel an reservation with an attached certificate between Aug 18 and Sept 18?
A: Between 8/18 and 9/18, you can cancel a Travel Package reservation, but you will not be able to rebook until after 9/18.
Dan’s commentary: It’s good that Marriott will at least allow cancellations during the month-long blackout period.
Which travel packages have you bought in anticipation of using them after the merger?
Short on Starpoints/Marriott points?
Related Marriott Travel Packages posts:
- Marriott’s Remaining Travel Package Options: Will They Go With Points Or Category Based Certificates And What You Should Do Now
- Marriott Needs Another Month To Figure Out Travel Package Certificates; Will Option 3 Be The Winner?
- Reader Questions: What Makes The Marriott Travel Packages So Lucrative And Which Category Should I Buy? A Comprehensive Guide.
- All About Marriott’s Lucrative Miles+Nights Travel Packages; The Best Way To Spend Your Starpoints.
- Guesstimating Where Marriott Travel Packages Will Work In August; Take Advantage Of Marriott’s Lucrative Miles+Nights Packages Now!
- Marriott Will Massively Devalue New Miles+Nights Travel Packages In August; Comparing The Value Of The Current Packages To The New Packages
- Another Guess At What Will Happen With Marriott’s Miles+Nights Travel Packages And Which You Should Buy Now Before It’s Too Late!
- Marriott Has No Plans On Letting Us Know What They Plan On Doing With Current Travel Packages, But Don’t Let That Stop You From Taking Advantage Of Them!
- Exploring The Options For A Partial Points Refund Of The Marriott Travel Packages, Which Package Should You Buy Now?
- Hunting Down The Marriott Hotels Getting More Expensive To Potentially Maximize Travel Certificates