I Love New York, but……..

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……I live in Texas for a reason. I spent three nights this week on the great island of Manhattan. I went to grad school at New York University, and very fondly remember my days living in Manhattan and Brooklyn. So, I was more than happy when I found out that a conference I would be attending was to be held in New York City! I was hoping that the conference hotel rates would be affordable, but that was not the case. That meant that it was time to find some good hotel deals on my own. Since I was going to be going to the conference without my husband or little one, I didn’t mind switching hotels every night. In fact, I kind of was excited about the chance to try out three different NYC hotels. Of course, making that decision was a bit easier when I searched and found the hotel availability to be very spotty – not sure I could have found three straight days of availability at any of the places I was considering!

I am going to review each of the three hotels in separate posts:

The Crowne Plaza Times Square

The Grand Hyatt

Hyatt 48 Lex

I selected the Crowne Plaza Times Square for my first night just before the number of points required per night at that hotel rose from 25,000 Priority Club points to 35,000 Priority Club points. It was also just before the unofficial way of obtaining Priority Club points rose from .6 cents to .7 cents each. So, my night at that hotel cost me the equivalent of $150 – which is a steal for Times Square. At 35,000 points and .7 cents per point, that night would now cost the equivalent of $245, which is still not bad given the price of hotels in Manhattan.

For the second night, I moved to the Grand Hyatt near Grand Central Station. I actually booked this as a paid stay at a decent rate as I need to continue earning stays toward re-qualifying for my Hyatt Diamond status (more on why that is so essential for me when I review the two Hyatt hotels), and I didn’t really want to spend 22,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points for one night at this hotel. Also, I was interested in staying here in part as they just finished a pretty major renovation, so I wanted to see it for myself.

For the final night I moved to a relatively new Hyatt property called 48 Lex. It is, not surprisingly, located at 48th and Lexington. This is a much smaller property than the very large Grand Hyatt. This property is also a steal if you are redeeming Hyatt points. Just like the previously mentioned Crowne Plaza redemption that went up from 25K points to 35K points, I have little doubt that a year from now I will no longer be able to secure a night at 48 Lex for just 15,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points, but for now it is a fantastic redemption. Rates for this hotel were in the $500 range and up for the week I was there, so locking in a night for just 15,000 points gave me a over a 3 cents per point return for my Hyatt points. If you got the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card with the current 40,000 points sign-up bonus after spending $3,000 on the card, all you would need to do is earn just 2,000 more Ultimate Reward points and you would have enough for three nights at this awesome hotel in Manhattan! Those three nights would save you $1,200 – $1,500 off the going rate, so that seems like a fantastic redemption to me.  Since the hotel is still just a Category 4 hotel, you can even use the free annual night certificate that comes from the Hyatt Credit Card as well – though I would likely use the two free nights that come with the card at a different hotel, such as the Andaz Fifth Avenue.

I promise full reviews of these hotels over the next several days – as well as more tips on how to secure these hotels with points or other discounts! I very much enjoyed my time in New York (even though I was once again sick). In fact, I enjoyed it so much I am plotting on how to bring Little C to NYC for a few days. I think she would love riding the Subway, Central Park, the huge buildings, and going into stores to buy little cupcakes. 😉

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That said, my last few hours in New York City I encountered several folks that totally fit the stereotype of “rude” and/or “eclectic” New Yorkers. The first was my car service driver from the hotel to LaGuardia. For that route, I have found that a car service can be a pretty good value. In fact, you can usually find some sort of discount or coupon to bring the one-way cost with Dial7 to about $27 – $29. Of course, you can use public transportation for much less than that, but for this trip a car service was just easier. Anyway, the driver was not a native English speaker and he wanted me to help him with his English on the way to the airport. I did not feel well, and was not in an overly talkative mood, but I didn’t want to be rude and I was impressed that he was trying so hard. Somehow we got on the topic of what a “lame duck President” was. He had heard the term and didn’t know the meaning. However, he thought it was a “plane truck President”, so I was trying to help him with each word, and ended up quacking to try to get the meaning of the word “duck” across. It worked, and I felt very ridiculous.

After that, it just got stranger when he started whispering and giggling and talking about me and him getting a convertible and going to Mexico. At least that is what I think he was saying. At this point, I took a picture of his info in the car and sent it to my friend, Deals We Like, in case I turned up dead in Mexico. It really was a bit creepy. I was more than relieved when we arrived in one piece to LaGuardia. I might also add that it seems to be a very large coincidence that almost every cab or car I rode in while in NYC was “having problems with their air conditioner”. I think not.

When I tried to board my United flight from LGA to Houston, I came face to face with a woman who can only be described as “The Bag Nazi”. I’m certainly not trying to make light of the Nazis, WWII, etc, but she was the absolute equivalent to the Seinfeld “Soup Nazi”. This woman was the meanest, grumpiest, b!tc%iest airline employee I have ever encountered. I have flown many, many United flights with my carry-on bag without incident. However, as she is scanning my ticket this woman apparently decides that my bag is the largest bag she has ever seen anyone try to “sneak on” a flight, and proceeds to make a real scene about it. We measure the bag, and frankly it appears fine to me. It may have been a centimeter or so over the little red marks on the measuring sticks, but it certainly was not a ridiculously sized carry-on. She insists the only way it would fit on-board is if I am turning it sideways in the overhead bin. I explain I would never do that, and the bag has no problem fitting “wheels out” in the overhead bins. She then storms across the gate area and brings back this metal contraption and tosses it down in front of me saying, “fine, then make it fit in there”. I explain that it isn’t going to fit in there (virtually no carry-on I have ever seen would fit in that tiny cage), but that it fits just fine in the overhead bins.

I’m getting nowhere with the “Bag Nazi”, so I tell her that we can just do whatever we need to do to keep things moving. She then checks my bag and points out that I have already checked another bag, so what is the big deal. I explain that I did check a bag, and that I would have checked this one as well if it didn’t fit (I actually checked an empty bag I bought for my daughter, but hate risking checking even my clothes with an airline). I was pretty ticked after this encounter, as she truly was very rude and degrading. However, as the flight went on, I doubted myself and wondered if I had just been more sensitive or grumpy than normal since I was still feeling sick. Those doubts were erased when my flight landed in Houston and more than one passenger came up to me at the terminal and said that the “Bag Nazi” is always that way, and that most of her flights go out with virtually no carry-ons. In fact, some of them said that after what she did today, they were going to complain to United, as they are tired of seeing her treat people in that manner.

I’m not here to argue the United carry-on policy. However, the “Bag Nazi” is not doing United any favors by treating people that way. Though, judging by what some of the passengers told me in Houston, she may unintentionally become as infamous as the beloved “Soup Nazi”. However, if she works as often as some of them says she does, I may be visiting EWR on my next visit to the NYC area. One trip through her line was more that enough for me, and at that point it was high time for me to get back to Texas and the land of big hair, Southern accents, friendly smiles, and no Bag Nazis. No carry-ons for you!!!

 

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Comments

  1. Herein lies the problem with actually enforcing bag regulations. Enforcing the rules as they are written ends up alienating and angering customers who feel entitled to bring on whatever bag they have been using, because they know it fits. The bin dimensions and sizer dimensions are mismatched, manufacturers lie about size and carry-on legality of their bags, and no one enforces anything. Overall it’s all a disaster.

    Those of us who actually choose to have compliant carry-ons are the ones that get screwed, when everyone’s giant, non-compliant steamer trunks take up all of the overhead space, leaving little left.

    There are plenty of compliant bags that fit in the sizer just fine. I sorta wish airlines would come up with the magic way to enforce the rules without angering everyone, because that would truly make things run a lot smoother.

  2. @Andras, no they didn’t charge me (that I know of)!
    @Kadence, it really was.
    @Matt, I agree it should be standardized – whatever the standard is. I personally would not have been upset if the agent was just polite about it. I may have had an oh shucks moment, but nothing more. That said, sizing is a bit all over the place!

  3. Carry on rules are listed on United’s website, as well as other online sources. When I bought my carry on, I looked up sizes for various airlines, then went with a tape measure to the store and measured bags until I found one that fit.

    Just because you haven’t been caught before doesn’t make it right. I think slightly more positively about United because of this checking. I wish airlines checked more often.

    “It may have been a centimeter or so over the little red marks on the measuring sticks”

    Therefore, it is beyond the limits. Fitting in the overhead bin is required, but that’s not the entire rule.
    If a company failed to fulfill a promotion term, would you let them slide because they satisfied 1 of 2?

  4. @Adam The whole point of the sizing rule is to make sure the bag fits in the overhead. MP’s bag does fit, as she knows from plenty of past experience. Inconviencing passengers for no reason other than “rules are rules” when there is no advantage to anyone to enforce a slight discrepancy seems absurd to me. As is made clear by the fact that virtually no bags get carried on when the Bag Nazi is in charge. The intent of the rule is clear, the bag needs to fit in the overhead, not to prohhibit bags from being carried on.

    The reason she is being called a “nazi” is because she has decided to use her position of modest authority to make everyone around her miserable out a desire to show how “powerful” she is. An airline is a service business, not a rule enforcing agency. MP was so discomforted, for no useful reason, she is considering using a differnt airport next time. How many more such incidents have to occur for her to consider using a different airline altogether. I know that years ago both I, and my elderly mother were treated very rudely by United gate agents and FAs on several flights. And neither of us have ever flown United again.

  5. Do we see such levels of rudeness on other airlines? UA has a reputation for such. I have had my carry on challenged by ground staff at various airports around the world – for small connector planes – but always politely.

  6. We had a similar experience flying from Seattle to Puerto Vallarta on Alaska. The family in front of us at check in couldn’t speak very good English and didn’t understand why the agent was demanding they check their carry on bags (which looked just fine to me) and was charging them extra fees. We got the same treatment. After I demonstrated our carry on fit just fine into the metal contraption I told the agent where she could stuff it. It wound me up the entire flight composing my letter. As we started to descend to PVR I realized it was only distracting me from enjoying our vacation and my masterpiece went into the recycle bin never to be retrieved.

  7. If the bag is over-sized, then I’m afraid there isn’t an easy way to tell the customer without the customer feeling just a little defensive about it, especially if it’s just a few cm over. You seemed like a reasonable person, so I totally agree with you it’s the way that something is said that come across more that what is being said. And sometimes rude employees can really ruin the image of the companies they represent.

    It reminded me of the time when my sibling and I decided to “treat” parents to their first cruise. I booked F domestic for all of us on a super early flight. Once at the airport, I went into the empty AA Priority boarding kiosk to print our tickets (as I usually do, as I was an elite member). Before I even finished the process, the AA rep behind the counter said (in a rude, impolite way), “This kiosk lane is only for people flying First or Business or have elite status. Are you flying in either First or Business?” in a really rude way. I wasn’t in business attire (but not dressed sloppily either), so I was more surprised by her statement, followed by a little upset at her rudeness.

    Maybe in the past, folks have been checking in the wrong lane (intentionally or mistakenly) and ruined things for the agent, but there was no need to be rude. I promptly responded that yes, we’re indeed flying first this morning. Unfortunately for me, she was the only agent handling the luggage that morning, so I was stuck with her. I decided tried not to be rude to her in retaliation (thinking that maybe she had a rough morning), and she seemed to be a little bit more pleasant afterwards, even wishing me an obligatory “have a nice flight” as she handed me my luggage receipts.

    My parents, who are not regular flyers, witnessed the incident, and didn’t think too highly of AA. If that’s the way they treat their customers flying on premium cabins…Luckily, that was a one off as I have always had good AA experience in the past and since (in coach and in premium cabins).

  8. MP, Any chance you can post the Disneyland trip report before this one? Looking forward to it as we are going there this summer.

  9. Consider the Hyatt, Jersey City for the next stay as the rack rate = $157 for a w/e night and you can usually game the system and get it on hotwire for $130. It’s 1 stop (5 mins) on the Path subway from World Trade Center, Manhattan

  10. Sorry (but not surprised) that several of you have similar stories to tell. I am a firm believer of “it’s not what you say, but how you say it” that makes the biggest lasting impact. That said, I’m also not sure a bag that was so insignificantly over the red line was worth making a fuss over, but that really wasn’t the true issue at hand.

    oceanpacific24, I’ve already gotten some of the NYC trip written, so it will go first. Disney came at such a busy time that I wasn’t able to get it started right away, so it is a bit tardy. It will come though – it is in line after NYC.

  11. try ryan air, there u can run into some real bag meanies, plus the fees at the gate are even higher.
    write letters all u want, united is the new delta they really just dont care anymore, even their entitled 1Ks have to suck it up now, believe me i know its happened to me.
    fly AA they are really much nicer on everything

  12. my,my,my… interesting entry to the blog.
    My first comment will be about creepy. Creepy is always out there; so beware. I am an old troll; and I can’t believe the amount of creepy that I run into when traveling. So imagine my reaction to a young woman quacking in a car service vehicle. “After that, it just got stranger …”. Not surprising; n’est-ce pas?
    You did the immediate correct thing by using your phone to take a picture of the driver’s info and sending it to someone. But I would suggest a gentle letter to the car service would be appropriate. You paid for transport and the driver engaged you in conversation to the point of feeling uncomfortable. The employer has a right to know this.

  13. My next comment would be about being sick, or sickie as I like to call it. It happens. Someone brighter than me once noted that much of the work in this world is accomplished by people who don’t feel quite well.
    But the airline doesn’t sell a ticket with the idea that everything will be just swell unless you, the customer, are not feeling well; in which case the airline reserves the right to make your experience as annoying as possible.
    I was sickie when I made my much anticipated trip to the Boca Raton Resort this year. That stay was a mess. The only possible difference it could have made that I was sickie, was that I had a little less fight in me and stayed the last night when if I had been feeling better I would have checked out and headed for the nearest Motel6. 😉

  14. And finally,
    “This woman was the meanest, grumpiest, b!tc%iest …” oh…ok…so there is a female counterpart to me out there in the workforce!
    To my mind, Mommypoints became the clear winner when she said, “we can just do whatever we need to do to keep things moving.” Folks, it is never about the arguement; it is about the results. The ticket was about flight to Texas; not about United’s carry-on policy. I do agree that writing to United won’t do much; but as a United customer I think it is the right thing to do.
    I once had a bad experience with an experienced CS representative at Hertz at ATL; just before they moved into the new facility. Hertz offered me no goodwill compensation; and my letter clearly did not cause the guy to get fired. But a year after the new facility opened he was no longer there; probably because the new facility showcased his ineptness.
    So, do send the kindest yet most honest letter you can about the experience. Remember the experience so you hopefully won’t ever have to repeat it. And move on. 🙂

  15. I have been luck enough to avoid this person, but I have encountered similar from time to time on other airlines. Luckily, my flights next week to Europe go through Newark, so I’ll avoid this issue with luck.

  16. There are bag Nazis at EWR, too, although I’ve seen them trying to catch people pre-security. Motivated me to buy a new bag just to avoid seeing Megan cry again.

  17. Just went through EWR again yesterday, other than taking an hour round trip trough imigration and back through security (my Global Entry did nothing for me as everyone else was through the normal queue by the time the baggage came through…) no problems.

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