Apparently the recent update to the Gold Passport systems has already had one consequence: Diamond Suite Upgrades can no longer be applied to reservations past their expiration date. Existing suite upgrades (for members who received them this year) will continue to be valid for any reservation booked before their expiration — even if it happens afterward. However, a manual exception will be required to apply them. I haven’t heard anything from Hyatt on this yet, so it’s still technically a rumor. (HT to One Mile at a Time)
There’s not much that can be done now, but it seems like we should all be wary of future system upgrades at Hyatt. It still amazes me how manual the whole operation is. We had to call in to request upgrades before, so the manual override isn’t new, just better enforced. This information was relayed by FlyerTalk member hailstorm, who was having difficulty applying an upgrade. Hyatt gave him this feedback:
We have a new system which was preventing us from using the current awards past the expiration date. I have adjusted this reservation and new email confirmation has been sent to you.
I personally have three upgrades that remain. I have always been bad about using them in time but did have plans to use them for a trip in April. I’m glad to hear that existing upgrades will continue to be valid past their expiration date. Just remember that you must book by February 28, 2016, and you will not be able to reclaim the upgrades if you change your reservation.
The biggest problem is that some people might have a stay that comes shortly after the next batch of upgrades are deposited, which usually happens on March 1. Say you get four new upgrades in 2016 and use them all by February 28, 2017, because you know they won’t be extended. Then you have a stay in March. You’ll have to wait for the next batch of upgrades to be provided on March 1. It’s possible no suites will be available anymore. If Hyatt is going to be strict about upgrades expiring, then they also need to do a better job of awarding those upgrades sooner.
You Can Still Upgrade with Points
This is an opportunity to reflect on other upgrade options as we will soon find ourselves in a situation where upgrades have less utility. They aren’t expiring any sooner, but they’ll only be good for a year rather than two (since you could wait a year to use them and book another year out).
I already know that I’ll become more reliant on using points for upgrades. You can accomplish this for only 6,000 points per night if you want a suite or 3,000 points per night if you want a Regency or Grand Club room. It actually used to be 6,000 points for up to four nights, but that was changed a few years back. Now longer stays will be more expensive.
Upgrading with points can still be a good deal. Diamond Suite Upgrades were good for stays of up to seven nights, but I never used them for more than five and in most cases just two or three nights. A five-night stay upgraded with points would cost only 30,000 points for a suite. That’s the cost of a single free night at a Category 7 property. It seems a very reasonable price since you’re giving up just one (maybe two) free nights that you could otherwise book with those points.