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Charging for hotel room when flight cancelled and you could not get there

We were scheduled to fly from Charlotte,N.C. on 4/26/19 to Vienna, arriving on 4/27/19. I had booked one night at Pertschy Palais
Hotel for one night( in Rick Steves Vienna book). Terrible storms cancelled many flights yesterday on the east coast and ours was one of them. I called the hotel when we could not be rebooked to get there today 4/27/19. At the request of the night clerk, I sent an email detailing our plight. However,the hotel responded that they were charging me anyway. Not only were all our activities for Sunday wiped out(already paid for) , now I am being charged for the room due to unforseen circumstances. I travel quite a bit in the US and ususally once or twice a year to Europe and this has never happened to me before. The hotel is not a chain. Is this to be expected? I would never book another night there if I would return to VIenna.

Posted by
6061 posts

If there is an advance cancellation policy that was not adhered to then, yes, it is to be expected. In all fairness, the hotel should not bear 100% of the risk if a customer fails to show, for whatever reason. Even though it's obviously not your fault, it's not the hotel's fault either and there's an opportunity cost for them that's worth something. Their cancellation rules protect them from this kind of thing. It's unfortunate that you both can't share the risk, but that's how it is sometimes. I've had hotels that were very generous when something like this happened, but that's because they had more time to rent the room to someone else. Last minute cancellations are always tougher, and much tougher if it's a small-sized property (precisely not a chain with a huge inventory of rooms). That's why they usually set their cancelation rules to some very short period right before the stay, while giving the customer a lot more leeway if they cancel many days/weeks in advance.

I would personally not hold this against any hotel because the rules were agreed to when you booked the room. See if your credit card can cover something like this.

Posted by
900 posts

Did you insure your trip? If so, your travel insurance should cover the cost of the hotel.

Posted by
6012 posts

Cancellation and/or refund policies vary by hotel. Hotels are not required to refund for no-shows no matter what the reason. That's why I always check their policy before reserving a room in any hotel. Unless you have purchased travel insurance I'm afraid you just learned an expensive lesson.

Posted by
20565 posts

Before you get too high on your high horse, what was the cancellation policy? Many places, including the US, have a time limit such as 24 hrs, 36 hrs prior to check-in. And this is especially true if you use a booking service. Did you book direct or through a service?

In recent years I have encountered some smaller European hotels with two tier pricing. The least expensive rate will often be guaranteed for at least the first night. Pay a little more and you have the flexibility of cancelling closer to your arrival. When we book a room on our first night of arrival we make certain the cancellation policy allows us to cancel with short notice even if the room is more expensive. If it is small mom and pop hotel and cannot rent that room, then that income maybe very critical to them. You have the obligation to understand the cancellation policy.

PS Consider yourself very fortunate that you were able to rebook within 24 hours. The last time that happened to us, it was three days to rebook.

Posted by
2546 posts

This is very typical. As said by others, why should the hotel bear the risk of loss. A similar thing happened to us in the summer of 2012 on a trip to Italy leaving from Newark. I had 3 rooms at a Hilton and was charged for the first night for all three rooms. And that is a big chain. I’d expect the same or even stricter rules for a small non-chain place. When you cancel like I did 8 hours before your scheduled arrival because you find out your flight is canceled, it is hard to see why the hotel should not charge for the room. Even worse, one year our holiday season flight to NYC from California was canceled and the airline rebooked us on a flight 3 days later. Our hotel in NYC charged us for the first 2 nights for our 2 rooms because it had a 48 hour cancellation policy.

Posted by
3280 posts

I've had delays a few times, all times in the U.S.. A snowstorm delayed our arrival to Florida by a day and we were charged for that day. Another time, we had contacted the hotel at about 7pm and told them it appeared like there was no way we were going to make it. They said if they sold the room they wouldn't charge us. They did, and we weren't charged. Another time the hotel just removed the charge as a courtesy. I think the size of the hotel/inn would impact whether they could make that type of business decision.

The worst situation was when we had booked for a week on Grand Cayman. They had a hurricane but the property was not affected. However, we weren't able to get there because the airline had cancelled all flights indefinitely. I contacted the property at least 2 weeks in advance and they wanted to hold me to the rental. I didn't think that was reasonable, but well within their rights. Eventually, they released us from obligation.

Posted by
4777 posts

You took a risk (Booking non-refundable items) and it did not work out. Suck it up and enjoy the rest of your vacation, otherwise the whole trip will be marred. If you had some type of insurance, great, look into it, but otherwise, move on.

Posted by
12084 posts

In Germany and Austria if you are a no-show, you'll be charged.

I made it to the hotel where I had booked just before midnight at 11:45 pm on landing day from SFO to Frankfurt, non-stop in 2014, had to change 3 trains going from Frankfurt to Vienna. One train was late.

I had expected to be charged if I showed at the hotel after midnight, even 5 minutes after, but I got there prior. I always book the non-refundable rate when traveling solo.

Posted by
11416 posts

Is this to be expected?

Yes, depending on the hotel's cancellation policy. It's sort of like missing a flight because of a traffic jam? You wouldn't get a refund for that. It has nothing to do with Vienna and everything to do with the agreement you signed on the line for; the same could happen in the States. Trip insurance is a good hedge against delays, cancellations and other unforeseen events that can throw a wrench in the plan. :O(

Posted by
2296 posts

We had the opposite problem in Chicago. Our flight was delayed and when we got there, they had given away one of our two(guaranteed) rooms and I had to sleep on the floor.

Posted by
2749 posts

I have gone to Europe 16 years out of the last 18 and have always taken out travel insurance since I went onto Medicare since my HMO does not cover most things in Europe. So, in the last 13 years I have had TravelGuard and thankfully have never had to file a claim. I get a policy that covers pre-existing conditions by getting it as soon as I make my first payment on the trip and I also add an umbrella coverage that really ups the coverages for little more cost. I consider the cost of this insurance to be a very small part of the total cost of my trip.

Posted by
2902 posts

Even if you don't have trip insurance, you may still have some coverage depending on what credit card you used to book your hotel in Vienna. Many credit cards have some sort of trip delay insurance connected with the card . Yours may or may not, but it would certainly be worth the time to check.

I am sorry that your trip got off to such a rough start. That is not what any of us would want to happen to us.

Posted by
2575 posts

I can imagine that the cost of the unused hotel night on top of a cancelled flight feels unjust, however it is quite usual to charge for rooms not used within their cancellation policy. You entered into an agreement with them to use their services. It was, sadly, you who didn't benefit from the use of the room though you are still obliged to pay. Hotels are businesses and can't absorb every delay or last minute changed mind and continue to be in business. Also, despite the slogan, the customer is not always right and has obligations of their own.
Ideally, you will have some sort of insurance to help ease the financial cost. Otherwise one can only chock it up to the fallibility of travel and contemplate ones own disappointment tolerance.

Posted by
6387 posts

I only book non-refundable going into it knowing unforeseen stuff happens causing you to lose money; so it does not sting; welcome to the real world.

Posted by
20565 posts

Don't think we will hear from aqbogard again. First time poster and didn't get the sympathetic response she/he was hoping for.

Posted by
15566 posts

They are in Europe now, hopefully enjoying their vacation. A year from now, this temporary setback will be totally forgotten.

Posted by
101 posts

I just looked at the website for the hotel she mentioned. They appear to have lower, non-refundable rates and higher rates that are refundable up to 1 day in advance. With less than 1 day notice the first night is charged. Pretty clearly explained on their site.

Posted by
20565 posts

That is exactly what we have been encountering the past few years. IMO, that is the result of the internet and easy advance bookings. Booking anything the first day/night is risky given the many variables associated with travel. As they says, "A valuable lesson just learned at a bit of a price."

Posted by
5235 posts

OP may have thought that they were cancelling one day in advance without taking into account the time difference.

Posted by
4669 posts

I travel quite a bit in the US and ususally once or twice a year to Europe and this has never happened to me before.

This does not compute. American hotels have been tightening up rules for at least 20 years. Are your US hotel bookings completely managed by your corporate travel department? That's not as common as it was 20 years ago, and even an exclusive contract does not guarantee against late cancellation. Have you not read the boilerplate Terms and Conditions when you press "Reserve" on the Hilton or other hotel website?

Do you know what a "wasting asset" is? Airline seats, theater tickets, and hotel rooms are prime examples. (We're not talking about yield management here, only the time value of a product. But yield-management (or, variable pricing) highlights the fluctuating "value" of a wasting asset.)

The point is that you took something of value, a 24-hour hotel room stay, from the Pertschy Palais, and (inadvertently) threw it into the garbage can. Why on earth would they be responsible for your bad fortune? They are not a charity, they are a business with expenses and overhead. They can never get that room back. It's not like cancelling an automobile ordered from a dealer. The room cannot be sold to someone else for that night. It's not "all about you."

Yes, sometimes when a child drops an ice cream cone just after receiving it, the store makes an investment in future business and good-will, by voluntarily replacing the ice cream. But you're not a child, and a hotel room is not an ice cream cone.

Posted by
3113 posts

this has never happened to me before

What? Missing a flight and missing your first night at a hotel? Or, being charged for a hotel room when you didn't show up?

While many hotels in the US do still offer cancellation up till 6 pm the day of arrival, it costs you more to get that type of room. You can also get rooms at most hotels that require pre payment and are never refundable for a lower cost. But no matter which one you choose, you will be charged for the room if you miss whatever cancelation deadline they have. It is possible that some frequent guest programs at the large chains may give their members a more flexible cancellation option, but even that is tightening up.

Posted by
101 posts

We had the same thing happen last year. We were traveling to England. A connecting flight was delayed due to weather, so we missed our flight to Heathrow. We couldn't get another one until the following day. We had to pay the hotel we had booked for the night we missed. We also had to pay for a hotel room to stay in where we were stranded for the night. We didn't expect or ask for any concession from the hotel we had booked in England. We had planned to be there for 2 nights. I emailed them and told them we'd only be there for the second, but that we expected to pay for both nights. They didn't cause the weather that resulted in us not getting there as planned.

Posted by
12084 posts

Bottom line here is that don't expect the same rules on hotels, cancellations, etc to operate in Austria and Germany as they do in the US. If I call up (say I use the phone) Holiday Inn to make a reservation six weeks from today, use a credit card to hold the room, then tomorrow or a week later, I call them again to let them know I decided to cancel that reservation...no problems.

That type of example won't fly in Austria or Germany, You can't cancel that reservation per the Holiday Inn example, and if you did use a credit to hold the room, as I've done in Vienna when booking through Booking.com or calling up the hotel directly, you'll be charged for as a no-show. Simple as that.