Hilton HHonors members will no longer have the option to earn Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards points effective January 1, 2012. Members with Points & Miles earning preference set with Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards need to change earning to a different airline by January 1, 2012 or the account automatically reverts to Points & Points earning on January 1, 2012.
The removal of Southwest Airlines as a Hilton earning partner is a loss for members who spend lots of nights at Hampton Inns and Homewood Suites where 600 Rapid Rewards points are earned per stay, the same rate as all other Hilton brands.
*Effective January 1, 2012, the Hilton HHonors program will no longer offer Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Points for stays at hotels & resorts within the Hilton Worldwide portfolio.
Most airlines earn only 20% miles at Hampton and Homewood compared to stays completed at other Hilton brands. Fixed miles earners typically receive 500 miles per stay at all Hilton brands, and only 100 miles per stay for Hampton Inns and Homewood Suites.
JetBlue is the only other US carrier offering full points/miles for stays at these lower miles earning Hilton brands.
HHonors Points & Miles vs. Points & Points Earning
500 miles per Hilton stay is a convenient way to build up frequent flyer account mileage balances. 30 stays per year can earn 15,000 additional miles with most airlines at 500 miles earned per stay at Hilton, Doubletree, Embassy Suites, Conrad, Waldorf Astoria Collection, Hilton Garden Inn and Hilton Grand Vacations.
Assume an HHonors member spends $6,000 per year on 30 stays and a Points & Points earners will receive 30,000 bonus points compared to a Points & Fixed Miles earner who can pick up 15,000 miles instead. The value of 15,000 miles might exceed the value of 30,000 points for someone who probably earns 100,000+ points already as a Points & Miles earner.
The HHonors Brand Determines the Miles Factor
The miles factor is dependent on which of the ten HHonors hotel brands you stay. There is a two-tier earning system for most airlines when collecting Points & Fixed Miles. Hilton, Doubletree, Embassy Suites, Conrad, Waldorf Astoria Collection, Hilton Garden Inn and Hilton Grand Vacations offer 500 miles per stay with most airlines.
The value of miles is reduced greatly if you frequent Hampton Inn or Homewood Suites where the earn rate is only 100 miles per stay for most airlines. That 15,000 miles is reduced by 80% if you have 30 stays at Hampton Inn and earn only 3,000 miles with American Airlines AAdvantage, Delta Skymiles, or United Mileage Plus.
I’d take 30,000 HHonors points as a Points & Points earner rather than 6,000 miles as a Points and Variable Miles earner.
The value of Southwest Airlines is 30 Hampton Inn stays earns 18,000 points and enough for a free flight on Southwest Airlines. That is a comparable value to 30,000 HHonors points and likely a better deal than 6,000 miles in another airline.
bmi, British Midland International (Star Alliance partner)
There is a decent alternative for earning miles when staying at Hampton Inns, Homewood Suites and Home2Suites.
bmi airlines, a Star Alliance partner, earns 1,000 miles per night at Hampton Inn, Homewood Suites for a maximum three nights per stay. 3,000 miles is a good haul and applies to stays at all Hilton brands except Home2 Suites where the earning limit is 1,000 miles per stay.
Home2 Suites is Hilton’s newest brand and I have to give a big thumbs down to HHonors this year when setting a precedent of reduced points earning for stays at Home2 Suites. Stays at this newest brand of Hilton HHonors earn only 5 points per dollar. All other Hilton brands earn 10 points per dollar. Hilton points earning link.
Many airlines, including Southwest Airlines, do not earn any miles for stays at Home2 Suites. Most airline partners allow a maximum 100 miles or points for a stay at Home2 Suites. bmi airlines at 1,000 miles per stay at Home2 Suites looks like a great deal.
I seem to recall some issues about redeeming miles for new members to bmi who have not had a bmi flight. Perhaps someone with up-to-date knowledge on that aspect of bmi can comment to remind me of any restrictions on using bmi miles.