5 Reasons Why AMEX Fine Hotels & Resorts Reservations Receive Fewer Upgrades

Why AMEX Fine Hotels & Resorts Reservations Receive Fewer Upgrades


Wondering why your AMEX FHR hotel room reservation wasn't upgraded? We have a number of clients who have the AMEX Platinum, so we sometimes reserve for them with AMEX FHR, and sometimes with preferred partner or Virtuoso. In recent years, we've noticed that their AMEX FHR reservations receive fewer upgrades. Here are five reasons why:

1. The AMEX FHR 4pm Late Check-Out

4pm guaranteed late check-out, in our experience, is the main reason to reserve with AMEX Fine Hotels & Resorts. But it comes at a cost. On multiple occasions, we've been told by hotel management that they're unable to upgrade the guest because the upgraded room will be needed for check-in on the guests' check-out day, so the guests wouldn't be able to avail themselves of the 4pm late check-out, or the “upgrade” is actually to one of the worst rooms in the upgraded category with detractors such as poor view, more noise, etc. so that the hotel can give the better rooms to guests who reserved that category for check-in on the guests' check-out day.


2. AMEX FHR Reservation Receives Lower Priority Than Some Hotel Preferred Partner Programs

A second big reason that some AMEX Fine Hotels & Resorts guests aren't aware of is that certain hotel preferred partner programs prioritize their own members ahead of AMEX Fine Hotels & Resorts. For example, Four Seasons Preferred Partner reservations made by TravelSort and other Four Seasons Preferred Partner luxury travel advisors always receive upgrade priority ahead of AMEX FHR guests. It stands to reason that a hotel would value its own program and those who book enough guests to qualify for that program ahead of AMEX FHR guests whose loyalty may be more to the card than to the hotel. Savvy travelers know this, and know to book through an advisor who's a member of the hotel's preferred partner program.


3. Some Preferred Partner Hotel Programs Upgrade at Time of Booking

Anything that reduces the availability of higher category rooms or suites will reduce the availability of potential FHR upgrades. Preferred partner hotel programs such as Shangri-La Luxury Circle, Peninsula PenClub, and Hyatt Privé provide room and sometimes suite upgrades at the time of booking, and Four Seasons Preferred Partner exclusive offers also confer upgrade at booking for select hotels for certain stay dates. There are also select Virtuoso hotels that confirm an upgrade at time of booking.


4. More AMEX Platinum Members Competing for Upgrades

AMEX debuted its Centurion Lounge over a decade ago, and the lounges became extremely popular since their food and beverage options were so much better than the airline lounges. That incentivized many travelers who might not have gotten the AMEX Platinum in the past to sign up for the card. Even though AMEX has tightened Centurion Lounge access (see AMEX Centurion Lounge Complimentary Guest Access Ends for Platinum Members), many still have the card, and active armed services members get a fee waiver for the AMEX Platinum card, so there are many more who have access to the FHR benefits than a decade ago, which puts pressure on upgrade availability.


5. Post-Pandemic, More Guests are Reserving Higher Category Rooms/Suites

Post-pandemic, we've noticed more of our clients are reserving higher category rooms and suites rather than gambling on a potential upgrade (for those hotels that don't upgrade at booking). Perhaps in light of the loss of loved ones so many experienced during Covid, there's a greater recognition that there are no guarantees on how long each of us has, and a desire to make the most of the limited time available for vacation with family or friends. Whatever the reason, when higher category rooms are reserved outright, there are fewer upgrade opportunities for those booking entry-level rooms, which is exacerbated by reasons 1) and 2).


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