Is it Unethical to Book an ADA Hotel Room?

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A few days ago I wrote a post that stirred up a fair amount of unintended controversy (and name calling), and since it has been on my mind pretty frequently since then, I wanted devote another post to the controversial part of the topic since it seems to be one that deserves some additional thought.  The original post was on how to potentially display additional award availability on by also including ADA rooms in your search. This wasn’t something that I thought should be done every time you needed a room, but when everything else has failed it was one more thing to try.

Hidden Hyatt Award AvailabilityOnce upon a time I’m pretty sure that ADA room types automatically displayed along with the other search results, but now they only display if you opt in to seeing those results.  In my case clicking that button presented an award room option when there previously were not any options at all for the dates/resort I was after.

In that case I booked the ADA room on points since it was literally the only award option available for our dates, and since then I have contacted the hotel and let them know I don’t actually need an ADA accessible room-type and they have moved us to a “standard” room thus freeing that room type up in case someone truly needs the ADA room type.  However, this post isn’t really about what happened in my specific situation, but rather a broader look at who should be reserving ADA rooms in the first place.

My view was always that I would never select an ADA room over other available room types when given the choice for a number of reasons.  However, when it was the only room type left, I didn’t personally view it as an ethical slight to book the room even though I don’t need the specific ADA implements since it was the only option presented.  This combined with letting the hotel know that I don’t actually need that room type seemed like a reasonable solution that didn’t intend to slight anyone or hog a room type I didn’t truly need.  I’ve certainly been assigned an ADA room a number of times even without reserving that room type, especially if I booked via Hotwire or checked in late in the evening to a hotel.

However, based on feedback in the previous post on the topic, perhaps even that approach is flawed, or at least deserves some additional thought.  Some clearly feel that it is never okay to reserve an ADA room type unless you actually need the room modifications made available in that type of room.  This includes when the room type is the last available, when it is less expensive, when it is the only room type available on points, etc.  I’ve never viewed it in that black or white of a way before, but that doesn’t mean that my view is necessarily the correct one.

I historically had put it more in the category of not reserving a room with two beds when I only need one unless that’s all that’s available, but perhaps should reserving ADA rooms be treated more similarly to not parking in handicapped designated parking spaces (of course, that is a legal issue, so I know it’s not a totally apples to apples comparison).  Even though there isn’t a legal implication with reserving an ADA hotel room when you don’t actually need one, is there a moral or ethical flaw in that approach?

What if you have a temporary injury, or even just a preference for some of the accommodations in an ADA room due to getting older and appreciating the grab bars or lower bed?  Is it okay then to book an ADA room type, or does it need to be something that qualifies as an actual disability?  What if what you want from the ADA room most is just a little extra space (assuming there is extra space in some ADA rooms)?

I don’t know the correct answer to this issue that travelers will sometimes face when making reservations – especially as hotels create more and more “special” room types and have fewer and fewer standard rooms available at the lowest points or cash price point.  I have no doubt that traveling with a specialized need that warrants an accessible room is hard enough without folks like me occasionally booking an ADA room type when that’s all that is left, but on the other hand, is the preference or intent for an ADA room to sit empty instead of sometimes being used by someone else who doesn’t necessarily need the modifications?

Would you book an ADA room type if it was less expensive than the other room types?  What if it was the only room type left at the hotel you desired?  Does it matter if it is close-in to the travel date?  Should ADA rooms always be left available for those who truly have a specific need regardless of whether they are the only rooms left or not?






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  1. I think your approach (only booking it when it’s the only available option and contacting the hotel to notify you don’t NEED the accessibility) is 100% fair. In no way is that taking a room away from someone who needs it.

    I’ve never purposefully booked an ADA room but I’ve also been assigned some at check-in.

    • Of course I’d book an ADA room. These nanny-types bellowing about it have way too much time on their hands.

      • Do you have anyone in your life who is disabled. Being disabled often means having good stretches and bad stretches which can make planning ahead difficult. Bei g disabled does not mean giving up and not getting out into the world with your family. Doing so is not only an additional effort, and courage, on the part of the disabled person but also on the part onf the people who love them enough to want to travel with them. Please be kind and leave the disabled rooms for those that actually need them. They are there for a reason and it’s not to make life for the able bodied easier. I have no problem with elderly or injured and recovering taking an ADA room.

      • Are you serious? “Nanny-types bellowing?” Have you ever traveled with a disabled person? Worried about whether the cars in front of our condo building are parked too close to the curb, just blocking the sidewalk for his electric wheelchair and making him take out shrubs just to get to the cut so he can get to the pavement? Have to change hotels because a room that is ADA-compliant still just doesn’t work for him?


        Then STFU.

  2. I understand why some might feel otherwise, but I would do exactly what you did. Book the ADA room and let the hotel know I don’t require that type of room.

    • By booking the room, you are taking that room out of the hotel’s inventory of available accessible rooms. In doing so, you are preventing someone with a disability from being able to reserve the room they need. There is only a limited number of accessible rooms on any property. Telling the hotel you don’t really need the room is not a solution. Once the accessible room is booked for you, it is no longer available.

  3. One issue is that even though you put a note, for the purposes of inventory management there will be one less ADA room for sale. There is however generally an oversupply of this type of room and the worst case scenario is a person requiring that room should be able to find it at another property.

  4. People just like to find anything they can to complain about, and they especially love to pick on others from behind the screen. You did nothing wrong. If ADA rooms were meant to only be booked by people who truly needed them, then the necessary laws would be in place and you’d have to prove that you needed an ADA room to book it. I’m certain that if the hotel still had available rooms and someone required an ADA room, they would switch a couple of people around to accommodate them. I used to book hotels for vacationers to the town I live in and I many times had hotels that were nearly sold out offer their ADA rooms to people who didn’t require them as they were the last rooms still available. It’s not as if there’s some rule that they have to hold those rooms and can only sell them to people who have to have them. Vacations are not a right, and therefore anyone who has the means can purchase the room if it shows as available!

  5. You are 100% wrong. As someone with a family member in a wheelchair, I might be more sensitive to this subject. But put yourself in a disabled persons shoes- they have much less choice than you when it comes to number of available rooms they can use. They are a separate category for a reason. Would you park in a handicap spot if it was the last one available? I really hope not. You’d walk further from another area.

    Do the classy thing, admit you are wrong and stop promoting this unethical Behavior.

    • I’m not promoting here – I’m offering forum for a discussion. I’m also no longer booked in a ADA room type.

    • I promise you that the hotel would prefer that you book the ADA room rather than leave it empty for the night. Folks, this is nothing like handicapped parking where an empty space had no bottom line impact on the business. They likely save ADA rooms until last, which is why as a paying guest, you are more likely to be assigned one if you check in late in the evening.

    • I’ve often been assigned ADA rooms, whether paying or using points. I’ve never specifically looked for ADA rooms. If I turn away the room they will just give it to the next person that comes along, handicapped or not. They are not going to keep the room open just in case a handicapped person needs it. If you find this unethical you need to address the ones responsible for the practice, the hotels, not the people who are offered the rooms by the hotel.

      So no, I don’t believe it’s unethical for a non handicapped person to stay in an ADA room.

    • Really Tyler… how often do you travel? Or your handicapped family member? You want her to pass up the room and sleep in her car just in case your family member who never travels desices to travel AND stay at the 5-star Hyatt and pay +$300 for the night? Totally selfish of you….

      FYI, I often get told all their rooms are sold out but they have a couple of ADA rooms left if I dont mind.. I’d be stupid not to take the room when your family member is home chilling in his wheelchair in front of the TV.

    • Rooms are for sale, if you need a room buy it, use it, be happy. The hotel only cares about your money for the most part. You can not worry that someone can use something you have. We all have equal chances in this country. Would you give your house away because someone else needs it more then you? Have you ever not eaten because there might be someone somewhere who is more hungry then you? I have mobility problems and use a wheel chair or scooter. I have used ada rooms, deluxe rooms, and even suits if the free upgrade is there. When I am in a suite I do not sit there and go oh my gosh there is a family of four somewhere who might be able to use this more then me. When I get free use of the lounge my mind does not think oh no someone else who needs free soda might go thirsty tonight. Just because you are in a wheelchair does not make you less human. I have a brain and can be creative and come up with solutions to many of life’s problems. I have used couches, chairs, and the floor for a bed. I have used a bucket, towels, and sink water when I had to. There are many places in the world where you have to roll with the punches. Please do not chime in about a disability if you do not have it. As a friend, lover, or family member you will never know what it is like. You may feel bad for a while but then you move on with your life. Please book any room you can so that the hotels make money. When hotels make money they stay open. When the hotel does not shut down there are rooms available for my next vacation.

    • Nothing wrong with booking an ADA room if it’s the only one available. Why should a room be left on the off chance that someone needing an ADA room will come along? And the analogy to a handicapped parking space is a poor one. You can usually walk farther — you can’t always find another motel room. FYI: 3 members of my family are handicapped, and they feel no one should be inconvenienced on their behalf on the possibility they MIGHT need a room.

    • Tyler, You are incorrect in this. If it is the last room, then anyone should be able to rent it. I can see your point that if it wasn’t then the room should be reserved for the handicap. The only thing the hotel has to sell are rooms. If someone with a handicap has not reserved a room in advanced during a busy time then that is there fault. Just as any other person has not thought ahead and not reserved a room and they cant find anything.

    • Thank you, Tyler! I’m a physically challenged woman, and I think it’s very disrespectful for hotels to give ADA rooms to the general public if they don’t really need them! I know hotels are just trying to keep the money rolling in, but it puts the physically challenged public at a terrible disadvantage! Thank you for being on my side!

      • I’m in a wheelchair and in general have been well treated by front desk staff when I’ve traveled, but there has been the occasional one who has no idea what ADA means.
        I checked into a hotel where I’d made a reservation and confirmed that I was to have an ADA room. At check-in, I was told that the room had been set aside for a couple that had to have a smoking room, and the only one not already committed was that ADA room.
        While we were discussing it, the couple arrived, and was more than willing to let me have the ADA room, BUT the clerk absolutely refused stating that their handicap, smoking, was just as important as mine. the wheelchair.
        I complained to management the next day, and was rewarded with a form letter with none of the planks filled in.

  6. Well I can say I just returned from a week at Hyatt Lost Pines and I was surprised to see just how many families with special needs children were there. These are the exact families and families like them that these rooms were meant for. I would never book an ADA room, just like I would never park in a Handicap space just because it was the last one available. Resort properties in the summer are pretty much at full capacity, hotels don’t care about holding these rooms – their objectives are sell out bonuses, filling beds and 100%occupancy rates. Yeah you called to tell them that you don’t need that room, but were you confirmed that they changed your reservation to a standard room? Are you certain that room is now cleared for someone who requires an ADA compatible room or that the hotel actually cleared that “award” status booking to allow that ADA room to be rebooked with award points. I find the whole thing very unethical and distasteful that you would create a blog post on how you “beat” the system for your own gains.

  7. Alway select the ADA room over the regular. I like the walk in shower vs tub.

    This is hotel’s issue, period.

    • Wow. I had to stop reading because of the insensitivity of so many comments. Unethical? Clearly. My husband lost his vision this year, and I came across your post since we are new to this world. He’s trying to book a hotel for about a month from now and the ADA rooms are all booked. Never imagined it might be to people who consciously make this choice because they can use point or enjoy a larger shower.

      For him and others it could be a matter of being able to make a trip or not … or of life and death in the event there is an emergency and the elevator is out of use.

      No, you and others aren’t breaking the law, but remember there may be someone who really needs that room. We have (not surprisingly based on these) posts, run into people who use handicapped bathroom stalls and parking spaces, but that (like when the hotel assigns it to you) is a different issue.

    • Do you also use the handicapped stalls because you like the bigger bathroom and private sink?

      I deal with this issue whenever I travel. Having a room with a roll-in-shower decides whether I can travel or not. No roll-in means I do not bathe… period. Might as well give me a room without running water.

      Yes, disabled travels know they must book early to get availability. It’s a numbers game. There are fewer ADA rooms in existence. But if you’re asking whether it is “unethical” for a non-disabled person to purposefully book an ADA room just to take advantage of a reward or discount, then the answer is “Hell yes!”. It’s exactly the same as a non-disabled person purposefully choosing the one handicapped stall in a restroom because they like the bigger room. That thoughtless choice leads to a patron who simply cannot use another stall having to go without. It would be the same as locking the entire public restroom door so no one else could get inside because you prefer your privacy.

      There are various “deals” I’ve discovered being available only to ADA patrons. These are usually compensations for having to lose something else. For instance ADA sleepers on the auto train offer a discount to the passenger and companion. Flip side is those passengers are unable to climb stairs so cannot make use of the Dining or Lounge car.

      My trip home from Florida Easter week had to be reconfigured because the last ADA sleeper was fully booked for the entire week. So I had to arrange for a family member to bring my van home while I fly home instead.

      You’re better off calling the hotel directly and seeing if they can allot you a room with that discount from another inventory. Remember just because you requested they NOT give you the ADA room, you still claimed it in the Rewards system. You can’t say you weren’t harming a disabled person unless you can say the same room is now available again by reward.

      As for using the only handicapped stall just cuz you like the bigger room is just typical selfish “me” behaviour. I expect the same from drivers who cut people off, tailgate and blow their horn because they think the highway belongs entirely to them. You’re reaping a whole lotta karma. One day you might be in the position to really need the extra help.

      • Brogan, thanks for weighing in. I read this blog a while ago and was so disheartened by the insensitivity of some of the posts. Hopefully, posts like yours help others understand the issues faced by those with disabilities. I take the train with my husband (who is blind) and didn’t even think of the issue with sleeper cars and your not being able to access the food car. Our issue is typically getting pushback after asking whoever is lounging in the ADA seat (which we reserve of course) to please allow us to sit there. My husband doesn’t even like to stay in ADA rooms because of people in wheelchairs who need the shower access. I’m optimistic as more people share their experience and know people for whom these issues matter, accessibility will improve. Thank you! We are new to the world of accessibility, and I love the quote, “There are those with disabilities and those who haven’t found theirs yet.” As we all live longer, I suspect this will ring true. Closing with warm wishes!

  8. It’s not like a parking spot that you leave open, just in case someone with a handicap stops by. It would be unreasonable to expect a hotel to keep rooms vacant “just in case”. I do agree they should be the last rooms rented because they are the least comfortable. It is not unethical

  9. I was booked into an ADA yesterday by an Hilton CS person after requesting a King bed instead of 2 Queens. I was told that it was all that was available and there were still a few more available for booking. I did initially tell them that I did not want an ADA room in case someone actually needed it, but was told that it’s put in the notes that it’s not needed so it was most likely I’d be switched.

    I know on some cruise lines, you generally can’t book an ADA cabin unless you have proof of need, however it does happen when there aren’t other options available – with the caveat that you WILL be moved if an ADA cabin is requested. So then it becomes your gamble to book it or not knowing that you can be bumped.

  10. I disagree with all the people who say reserving an ADA room is unethical. I view this more along the lines of using the handicapped stall in a bathroom than taking a handicap parking space. If the handicap stall is the only one available in a restroom do you keep it empty “just in case” some one with a disability needs it? Of course not. These rooms are designed for people with special needs and while other rooms at the same rate are available you should not take one if you don’t need it. However, if it is the lower priced room or the only room left feel free to reserve it. I would always indicate that I do not require his type of room. It is the hotel’s responsibility for providing accommodating rooms to their customer, not other patrons. The hotel does not provide discounts to people with special needs nor do they hold back special award inventory for disabled people. Summer did nothing unethical, she simply reserved the last available award on a first come first serve basis.

    • This is definitely a gray area with a couple of variables. If I am reading the post correctly, then this wasn’t the last available room, it was the last available AWARD room. In the worst case scenario, you would be taking an ADA room and leaving other regular rooms open. This would be an unfair situation for someone who actually needs the room. By checking that ADA box, you were saying that you required special accommodation and thus misrepresenting yourself.

      However, the fact that you contacted that hotel and have them switch you over to a regular room makes this totally fine in my book. This is a cool method of opening award space without actually taking a needed ADA room. If the hotel would have told you that they have other paid rooms available but that the only way they could give you the award space was to give you the ADA room, I would think it would be unethical to keep that room.

      Under any scenario, if it was literally the last available room of any kind for those dates at that particular hotel, I say go for it. They’ll hold it for someone who needs it but if nobody does, it goes to you.

  11. Hi

    Thoughtful post. My wife just had knee replacement surgery so right now an ADA room is preferred and I guess I would hope folks would not use up if not required. BUT I just called for an award for my son at HYATT. No rooms were available BUT the agent said she could book an ADA room as it was available. I said he was not ADA and she said no problem. I ended up elsewhere but to your point, this was a room being pushed by Hyatt to be used and not requested by us.

  12. Nothing wrong with what you did. Book the room if available. Internet trolls, if this is a problem, then write laws that require hotels and people to show proof that they need the room (similar to handicap decals). Otherwise, spare me the ethics lesson.

    It’s been literally years since the last time I saw someone actually missing a leg park in a handicap spot. Nowadays is mostly just fat people who just don’t wanna park far away from the mall’s food court.

    • Many laws are written AFTER the need has existed for years. Children w disabilities were not educated before the passing if IDEA in 1975 but we know children w disabilities existed befire that. A few states voluntarily educated children w disabilities but many did not. The law often follows society’s moral compass.

  13. Interesting how most people see it in very black or white terms.

    Hotel chains really should establish policies like Ticketmaster that specifically prohibit people that don’t qualify from reservation ADA rooms. I almost booked great ADA seats for a concert that were cheaper than normal seats and then noticed the restriction/policy that Ticketmaster had and ended up not doing so.

    I’d feel better about booking an ADA room if I knew it wasn’t the last ADA award available (maybe check by trying to book 2 rooms) and also if it was only a few days before arrival in a place not likely to have lots of last minute guests (say a resort vs an airport property).

    • I agree the most interesting aspect is the black/white nature of it when I think there actually is a lot of grey area (even if my initial example is deemed to fall in that grey area). That said, if there were clear rules or guidelines laid out that ADA rooms were to be treated as parking lots or concert seats then it would be a clear cut issue.

    • Part of the unkown here is the percent ADA units/seats/stalls vs the historical or expected % utilization of such facilities. If concert venue provides 2% ADA seating but can expect 3% handicapped attendance, then they need to control that inventory. If, on the other hand, 5% of hotel rooms are ADA and expected utilization is only 3%, then clearly the inventory can be handled more loosely.

      I agree these are more like toilet stalls than parking spaces. Yet there are those that would admonish anyone using the ADA stalls, regardless of circumstances, unless handicapped. So, what, a handicapped person can’t wait? Sometimes there’s only one restroom. If it’s accessible, what then?

  14. People should also remember that the ADA person has the ability to book rooms ahead of time when they are available just like everyone else. If you choose to wait until the last minute, you can’t blame that on others. If you don’t wait, there will be plenty of rooms. Also unless you are just showing up at the hotel the night of your stay, the hotel should know you are coming and the hotel should try to book others that don’t need the room in non-ADA rooms.

    • +1000

      All hotel rooms are first come, first served. I will agree that an ADA room should be your last choice, but if it is the only one available, then absolutely take it.

    • Totally agree. Very well said, MP87. I have grown up with two family members in wheelchairs, so I understand their challenges. However, I feel like if you’re in a situation where it’s a last-minute sort of booking and the rest of the hotel is full, go for it. They could’ve booked it earlier. Now… if you’re booking an ADA room 6 months out just to get a better rate, then that’s a different matter, I think. But otherwise, it’s fair game.

  15. Just want to weigh in on the handicapped stall issue. If you gotta go and it’s all that’s available, you gotta go. If you’re in a place that’s not very busy and the chance that someone who needs the stall will come in in those five minutes is small, whatever. But if you’re in a busy place, like a sporting event, or a hotel where there’s a convention, or disneyland, or something else, and there are multiple stalls, give some thought to waiting for the next regular one if you’re not going to have an accident. It’s just supply and demand. If there are three or four stalls and only one accessible one, you are likely going to get one you can to open faster. Places that have only one handicapped stall, and also maybe make it the family changing stall, give people who need it exactly one option. And some of the people who need that stall don’t always have the same control as able bodied. It would only take seeing a child pee her pants once while regular stalls are open, I imagine, for most people to see some room for common sense.

    As for ADA hotel rooms, in a perfect world I would make them “no guarantee” reservations, which can be cancelled by the hotel up to a few days or so out if a guest with a disability needs a room, and the original booker cannot show proof of disability and the same room category isn’t available. This will often not happen if ever since ADA rooms usually exceed supply and it would only be a problem if you had a last room situation.

    • If by true colors you mean being willing to give a sensitive topic more attention and thought then guilty as charged.

  16. Summer I’m an ADA expert and there is no law, regulation, or ordinance (either at the federal, state, or local level) that I am aware of to prevent someone from booking an ADA room. It is a personal choice. I’ve really never heard of a problem where the ADA rooms are all booked up…

  17. I have zero compunction about booking ADA rooms. Zero ethical worries. But out of courtesy, if there’s a choice, I’ll select a standard room.

  18. There are indeed times when no suitable ADA rooms are avaliable. This is frequently an issue for those that need a ‘roll in shower’ and not just extra space around the bed, correct sized doorways, lowered beds, and grab bars.

    I book for special needs travel frequently and run into it fairly often. It is only resort destinations that I run into it. ‘Regular’ hotels, never.

    That said, I’m not sure where I stand on this. It is not like a bus seat where you can give it up if someone who needs it comes along. Still 99 times out of 100 it is not going to be a problem.

  19. Here’s some info for thought. In 2005 there was an agreement between the US Govt and Ticketmaster regarding the sale of ADA and companion seats. Ticketmaster agreed to negotiate with the venues that unsold accesible seats could be released to the general public:
    1) Not earlier than two weeks before the event, and
    2) Only if all non-accesible seats in the same price range have been sold.
    It sounds fair and reasonable to me that hotels could have similar policies in place, though not necessarily using the same two weeks as a cutoff date.

  20. Tangent with a question. Most, if not all major hotel chains have standard language that they can not guarantee you’ll get your selected room type blah blah blah.

    Is this also true for ADA rooms? If you book one are you guaranteed to receive it? Is there any difference if you can demonstrate a disability? I’m guessing the answer is the hotel will make every effort to accommodate you, but there is no guarantee. Curious.

  21. Wow MommyPoints, this discussion really took off!

    Still say nothing wrong with the way you handled this booking….

  22. I think you handled the situation thoughtfully and appropriately. Unfortunately it seems that this is an issue (like most in life, I suppose) where some may disagree.

  23. Ah, let’s see, a few facts: Hotels lose $ having empty rooms. As mentioned earlier, advance booking should allow good supply of ADA rooms, not so for those who feel they have a right to availability for last minute/walk-in bookings. Reminds me of a story concerning “no room at the inn”.

  24. A person trying to reserve an ADA room can always try a different hotel if his first choice doesn’t have what he needs, just like anybody else. Just like ADA bathroom stalls, ADA rooms are not supposed to be held empty and waiting for a handicapped person and nobody else. The point of ADA is that facilities be available that a handicapped person is physically able to use but beyond that, it is first come, first served. For instance, if I need a room with two beds that is an equally valid need as the person who needs an ADA roll in shower. If the only room left with two beds without upgrading in price is ADA, I’m going to book it. I think the right thing to do is what Summer did and let the hotel know you don’t need the ADA facilities so they can move you to a regular room if one becomes available.

  25. I’d like to offer my two cents. My son is paralyzed, eight years old and in a manual wheelchair. I am teaching him that he too has to wait his turn for the bathroom including the timing he requires for his biological needs (and yes, he absolutely requires the extra space). As far as parking though, waiting for an able bodied parker is simply unfair. We can not get in and out of a regular parking spot with the chair and we have no idea how long someone is parking “just for a quick second.”

    • I absolutely hate to see young, able bodied people parking in the handicapped spaces and then be-bopping merrily along to the store, just to save a few steps. Be glad and walk it if you are fortunate enough not to need handicapped parking.

  26. Nothing unethical about it. Sarah’s totally right.

    “People just like to find anything they can to complain about, and they especially love to pick on others from behind the screen. You did nothing wrong. If ADA rooms were meant to only be booked by people who truly needed them, then the necessary laws would be in place and you’d have to prove that you needed an ADA room to book it.”

    When regular rooms are booked up, ADA rooms are fair game, on a first come basis. The hotels aren’t running charities, its all about profit and fully booked hotels.

    In all my years of traveling and staying at fully booked hotels, I’ve only seen a wheelchair guest once, several years ago. And never in a 5 star hotel.

    • and that one time, he was with family, and didn’t even stay in an ADA room. (ADA rooms are usually on the ground floor.)

    • I’m a special educ teacher. Many disabilities are invisible. For example, a parent might have achild w autism or intel disability and need a shower so parent can step in to help child shower.
      A person may have restricted mobility in knees ir ankles so that walking is possiblebut steps or tubs are not. A wheelchair is the only thing people see but there are more disabilities than people realize.

  27. The miles/points arena is filled with lots of issues which aren’t black or white. So it’s up to our own moral compass to guide us. Mistake fares, manufactured spend, etc…it can be a fun game. I understand what you did and why you did it. And in the end it sounds like it worked out well as you were switched to a non ADA room – I probably would have bolded that part of your post 🙂

    My only issue what how you titled your blog post: How I Found “Hidden” Hyatt Award Availability. For some reason that’s what pushed this over the edge for me. The idea of encouraging this tactic felt wrong to me. I do appreciate the dialogue you are providing and participating in, as it has certainly provided some interesting perspectives. From a PR standpoint, it becomes an interesting conundrum. Would this be the type of tip you’d give in a Travel Channel segment? Or a TV news segment?

    Ultimately when I haven’t been able to find Hyatt availability, I’ve called the hotel and had excellent luck in getting a room released for points or points/cash.

  28. I don’t understand why so many people seem to think that this is unethical and wrong. If the last available room is an ADA, why is a handicapped person entitled to get that room over anyone else? If you are handicapped and feel that you need an ADA room, then book ahead of time. These people that are saying if an ADA room is not available, then they won’t be able to vacation, are being a bit dramatic. First, they could book another hotel. Second, as someone who regularly travels with my 80 year old grandmother who is in a wheelchair, I can tell you that most handicapped people could stay in a regular room for a night or 2 with few problems. We always book her her own room, and rarely is it an ADA for various reasons. We have never had a problem getting her wheelchair through the door, and she has never had a problem getting around the room. We usually have to bring her toilet seat raiser, and her suction grab bar, but it is doable. So to those who are trying to lay on the guilt trip that if regular people take these rooms then handicapped people won’t be able to travel, I think that you are not being completely truthful.
    Also, Summer, you are in your later months of pregnancy. Who’s to say that you don’t need some of the accommodations that an ADA room offers like grab bars in the bathroom? ADA rooms offer accommodations for many different disabilities. Should someone who is hard of hearing not book an ADA room for the doorbell and phone alert because someone might come along who can’t walk and might need the roll in shower? Is that disability more important?
    There are just too many levels to this that could be argued in either direction depending on . what situation you come from. The best advice is to do what is morally comfortable for you, and try not to be so judgmental of others.

  29. One time I was in line in the ladies room at an airport. A person came out of the handicapped stall and the woman in front of me didn’t move toward it. I pointed out to her that the stall was open. She told me she couldn’t use it because she wasn’t handicapped. That was the first time it had ever even occurred to me that someone would view that stall as “off limits” to a non-handicapped person. Seems crazy to me that there would be a line and an empty bathroom “just in case.” To me, those stalls are there for handicapped people who need them, but not to the exclusion of everyone else. This room thing feels the same way to me. I have never specifically booked one, but have been assigned one at check in because of course a hotel doesn’t want to have an unsold room “just in case.” Doesn’t seem unethical even one tiny bit to me.

  30. I have booked ADA rooms before because they are typically cheaper than a standard room. In the notes for my booking I have always noted that I do not need the ADA room & to give it up if anyone were to need it. Most of the times I get placed in a standard room unless there is no room.

    I think that the rates are lower because most people don’t want to deal with ADA rooms which are on the lower floors with the bathroom that may not be as comfortable as a standard bathroom.

  31. This is very much a grey area. I think what summer did is exactly OK.
    I wouldn’t book an ADA room if a standard one was available. And I’d *probably* pay a little more for a non-ADA room, but like $5. I’ve booked the ADA room when it was like $30 cheaper, but noted that is prefer a regular room. That’s what we got, and there was no discussion of it at check in, so I assume they changed it as soon as they read the note in the booking.
    This is a worthwhile discussion and I definitely will make more of an effort to avoid the ADA room from now on.

  32. Summer, this is a great discussion/awareness for a new traveler like myself. I too will try to avoid ADA rooms (even if very pregnant, soon facing a 6-8 weeks disability leave). I read your posts everyday. Great mommy!

  33. I am one who heavily criticized you.

    In my opinion the only time taking an ADA room is appropriate is when there is literally no other option.

    You should not book if its cheaper or only awards as you are taking away from those who need it. Statistically these people earn less so to take their discounts is unethical.

    A few years ago i went with a friend who uses a wheelchair to Singapore, we booked an accessible room but our flight was delayed and by the time we checked in at 11pm the room had been given to an American couple who had complained the standard room was too small and being we had not arrived by 8pm they thought we were not coming.

    We were unable to get the chair in the room due to size so had to take him to the 32nd floor then have me take the chair to reception for minding. Luckily he can walk unaided for short distances.

    Thankfully thè following morning they found us a lovely hotel with beautiful views that was acessible

  34. I had the same situation recently and found a good solution, I think. I called Hyatt and expressed my concern and they said once I arrived at the property if astandard room was available and I didn’t need the ADA room, that I would be switched. I also requested an upgrade to a “city view” for only $17 per night. I had used points for all 3 of my days so for only $51 I was able to request a non-ADA room. Hope this helps. We love Hyatt and are staying a total of 5 nights at 2 different properties in San Francisco next week. Family of four all on points (61,000) thanks in part to your blog! Saved nearly $1,500!

  35. What fun.

    Book the room. It’s not a handicapped parking spot or a handicapped bathroom for that matter. It’s a resource with facilities that are available. If the handicapped person that *needs* that room isn’t planning far enough ahead they are then in the same situation as anyone else when the hotel is “sold out”.

    That said it’s not a big deal to let the hotel know they can move you if they wish. That’s just giving them the freedom to manage their resources optimally.

  36. I’ve read over your blog post, and many of the responses and see that this is an interesting hot topic. As many have said, it is not a black/white issue. There are some moral/ethical issues at play here.
    I’ll preface my response by saying I’ve been living with a disability for the past 15 years. For me, my disability limits my mobility. I use a motorized scooter to get around. I’m also one to always look for the best deals and whatnot – so I can kind of see both points of view. As there are many more non-disabled people here, I’ll insert my opinions from a disabled person’s perspective:
    ADA rooms have many features that standard rooms do not. The rooms usually have the following:
    • More space to maneuver around whether in the room itself, or in the bathroom. The bathrooms are usually required to have a 5’ turning radius clear space for a wheelchair to turn around.
    • Grab bars for the restrooms
    • Occasionally roll-in showers
    • Sinks with no obstructions beneath allowing a wheelchair user to roll up to the sink.
    • Some rooms they have audible/strobe alarms. These are there in case of an emergency.
    • Rooms may be closer to the exit/elevator to make it more convenient.
    Some of these features are to help make the facilities easier to use. Some are safety features. For my needs, the rooms offer me this: the roll-in showers makes it so that I do not have to risk stepping into a tub and risk slipping/falling. Should I need to take a #2 in the toilet, the grab bars allow me to be able to stand up on my own – I would otherwise be unable to. In many hotels, many standard rooms are adequately large enough that a wheelchair user would be able to maneuver. In others, the standard rooms are very cramped, and make it nearly impossible for a wheelchair user to move around (cruise cabins come to mind). In the event of an emergency, the audible/strobe alarms may be an important safety concern. What if you stayed in that room, which meant a disabled person had to settle for a standard room? This could potentially be a matter of life and death (a bit over-dramatic, but it could happen).
    Some people have noted in their responses that disabled people can simply find another place to stay, and that these rooms should be first come first serve… Or that they would certainly grab the room if it was priced lower… Let me turn the tables a bit…
    • IF the hotels provided a VETERANS discount… For those that served our country, you would get say a 25% discount, but the discount was limited to certain # of guests/rooms… You could sign up for this discount, and knew the chances of them checking were minimal… Would you take the limited offer discount (that you do not qualify for) knowing that it may prevent someone that actually served our country could use?
    • For those that say that disabled people could simply find another place to stay… What if we’re talking about a cruise ship? There are certainly other rooms you could book, but the ADA ones are more spacious and may perhaps be just a bit cheaper. You chose that room perhaps because your choices may have been more limited, but in doing so, may limit the availability to those that need it.
    • For those that are saying that disabled people are not planning far enough ahead… For arguments sake — If there are other rooms available, but at a slightly higher price point, would you be making the same argument? Perhaps there were rooms available at the same rate as the ADA room, but you missed out on it. Could you have just planned things out a bit earlier? Perhaps you could settle with one of the other standard rooms that’s left over (at a higher price point).
    Here are some other questions that I would have for your readers:
    • Would you take disability/welfare/unemployment checks if you didn’t need it? How do you view people that attempt to get those checks if they do not meet the requirements for such benefits? These are your tax dollars we’re talking about. Would you take it?
    • To those that say that they rarely ever see disabled people in the hotel – Please describe what does a disabled person looks like. Disabled does not mean that the user is wheelchair bound. There are many types of disabilities, some that cannot be easily visible. Like Kim says in her response on 6/8 4:33am, “A wheelchair is the only thing people see but there are more disabilities than people realize.”
    The ADA aims to promote equal access to facilities, and to prevent discrimination on the basis of disability. Hotels (at least in the US) are required by law to set aside a certain % of rooms for such people.
    This is certainly a gray area. IF you check that box stating that you would like to search for an ADA room, and then book it, my personal views is that its misrepresentation. Knowingly taking advantage of the situation and getting the rooms that are set aside for people with special needs is wrong from my perspective. On the face of it, it may not seem like anyone is harmed from it, but who knows what consequences/ripple effects it may have on someone else? IF however you booked a standard room, and when you check in the hotel says they only have ADA rooms to offer you at the time, then I see no problem with taking it.

    TBH, I know how difficult it can be making travel plans, and when push comes to shove, sometimes you need to make some creative choices to save a buck or two, and to make your plans fall into place. I don’t like fact that you had knowingly booked the ADA room when you knew you didn’t need it, but at the very least you attempted to minimize the impact of such a decision by giving Hyatt a call.
    YES, certainly the hotels should have a better way to handle things, to open up more award space in the first place, or a way to screen guests. However, since they don’t have these mechanisms in place, it seems more like the honor system. Would you take advantage because you can?

  37. There are far fewer accessible rooms available than standard rooms. Booking an ADA room if you don’t need it is wrong. I care for my husband who requires an ADA room, and it is a source of frequent frustration that we cannot find anywhere to stay because in many motels there has only been one room allocated for accessibility. When that one room is taken, we have to move on to another, often more expensive hotel/motel.

    When people who do not need these rooms book them, they are not available to those who do – period. I spend far more time trying to make our travel bookings now than I used to in our pre-disability days, simply because there are far fewer ADA options for those who travel or need accessible venues.

    People who face disability every day face barriers and challenges that few others even imagine, so to assume that “no one is going to use that room, so I might as well book it” is just a way to make yourself feel better for doing something presumptuous and wrong – yes, morally and yes ethically.

    The ADA was made into law for a reason, so that those with disabilities could access and use the same facilities as all others without discrimination. Please, play by the rules, folks and consider yourself fortunate if you don’t have these challenges; pay the 10 bucks extra for a standard room or save your points for another day and be thankful that you have so many options.

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