Each hotel loyalty program has its pros and cons, and that includes differences in elite upgrade policies. While I think Hilton Honors has one of the all-around weaker upgrade policies, the program is unique in offering space available upgrades in advance… in theory. This feature was first introduced in 2021, and in this post I wanted to take a look at how exactly this policy works.
In this post:
Hilton Honors upgrades 72 hours in advance
Officially, Hilton Honors Diamond and Hilton Honors Gold members receive complimentary upgrades subject to availability at check-in. However, when possible, Hilton will notify elite members of their complimentary upgrades 72 hours prior to check-in.
If these upgrades are confirmed, eligible members will receive an email and/or Hilton Honors app push notification alerting them of the upgrade, and showing both the original room type booked plus the upgraded room type. If the hotel offers digital check-in, members can then choose their specific room within that category when the time comes.
Here are a few more details of how this works:
- Upgrades are prioritized first for lifetime Hilton Honors Diamond members, then for Hilton Honors Diamond members, and then for Hilton Honors Gold members
- This upgrade process is automated, so required no intervention by the property; it’s based on some algorithm that takes into account availability, among other factors
- The upgrades issued 72 hours out aren’t binding; it’s possible you’ll still be downgraded, and similarly, it’s possible that you’ll be upgraded further by the property
- These automated upgrades in advance don’t have last room availability, so don’t count on getting an upgrade in advance every time, and also don’t be surprised if you don’t get an upgrade in advance, but do get one on the day of arrival
- This feature is available at Hilton Honors brands where upgrades are a published benefit, including Waldorf Astoria, LXR, Conrad, Canopy by Hilton, Hilton, Curio Collection by Hilton, DoubleTree by Hilton, Signia by Hilton, and Tapestry Collection by Hilton
Hilton Honors is the only hotel loyalty program to formalize something like this, though it’s worth keeping in mind that both the Marriott Bonvoy and World of Hyatt app will sometimes show room upgrades in the days prior to checking in, without officially having a program like this. Just like at Hiltons, those room assignments are subject to change, though.
Hilton Honors’ elite upgrade policy is plain confusing
While I love the idea of how Hilton Honors offers upgrades in advance, it’s important to manage your expectations.
Hilton Honors’ upgrade policy is intentionally vague, and just states that you’ll receive a room upgrade subject to availability, and that may include a suite. However, suite upgrades are at the discretion of individual hotels, meaning that hotels don’t have to upgrade top tier elite members to a suite, even if one is available.
This is in contrast to the policies that Marriott Bonvoy Platinum and World of Hyatt Globalist members have, where they do receive suite upgrades subject to availability. That’s not to say hotels always follow those policies, but those are the rules.
While some people report getting automated upgrades to suites, in my experience it’s almost always a very minor upgrade, typically to a slightly better room (like a better view room, a room with a sofa, etc.).
What’s so puzzling, really is that Hilton Honors will pre-upgrade you, but will then still try to sell you an upgrade to a premium room. For example, for an upcoming stay I’ve been upgraded from a queen room to a queen room with a sofa as a Diamond member, and I’m being given the option of upgrading to a room on a high floor for $20, or a junior suite for $100.
It’s one thing if the hotel tried to sell those upgrades up until the day of check-in and then upgraded guests to junior suites, but that’s not something I’d expect from Hilton with any regularity.
Hilton Honors is unique in officially offering automated upgrades in advance to elite members. 72 hours before check-in, Hilton Honors Diamond and Gold members may be proactively upgraded to a premium room, which is a nice feature.
The catch is that like all things related to Hilton’s upgrade policy, there’s not much consistency. Hilton just promises that Diamond and Gold members will receive some upgrade subject to availability, with no promise as to what exactly that upgrade will entail.
In my experience, the upgrades in advance tend to be modest, and then rarely do I get some exciting upgrade on the day of arrival.
What do you make of Hilton Honors’ automated elite upgrades in advance? What kind of upgrades have you received?