A US Airport Hotel That Charges For Shuttle Service

Different countries seem to have different norms in terms of what’s included with a room and what isn’t. For example, I’ve stayed at plenty of airport hotels in Germany that charge for use of their airport shuttle.

Conversely, in the US I’ve never stayed at an airport hotel that didn’t have a complimentary shuttle. It seems like an obvious amenity, and when I see that a US hotel has an airport shuttle, my assumption is that it’s complimentary. That logic hasn’t failed me yet.

Well, a friend just pointed out to me that this apparently isn’t always the case. Specifically, the Seattle Airport Marriott doesn’t offer a complimentary hotel shuttle. The hotel charges $4 one-way for the airport shuttle service.

Marriott-SEA

Ironically this is also one of the closest hotels to SeaTac Airport, as it’s right across the street, and you could conceivably walk there, weather permitting.

Marriott-SEA-Location

Per the Marriott Insiders community, the hotel has been charging a shuttle fee since July 2014, though it seems to have recently been raised from $2 to $4.

The explanation for the fee is that the hotel outsourced the shuttle service, and therefore is charging a small fee. I’m not sure I get the logic. Shouldn’t an airport hotel expect to incur some cost as a result of operating an airport shuttle? Clearly they outsourced the shuttle because that solution is costing them less, so I’m not sure why it’s okay to pass that on to customers, but it’s not okay otherwise. I suppose it’s just a convenient excuse.

Also keep in mind that SeaTac has had a $15 minimum wage for a while, so I’m not sure how much that plays into this decision.

Still, to me an airport shuttle fee for an airport hotel is no less offensive than a resort fee at a resort…

Would you stay at a US airport hotel that charged for shuttle service? Have you found any other US hotel with a similar fee?

Comments

  1. It’s not RIGHT across the street. It’s up a hill that isn’t all that convenient for schlepping luggage.

    I’ve walked up that hill though, because sometimes the Hertz in that Marriott offers much better rates than at the Hertz SEA airport rent-a-center… and Hertz allows you to return your vehicle to the rent-a-center without a drop fee. 😉

  2. If I knew about the fee and there’s Other good hotels around with similar pricing I’d probably go someplace out. I hate nickel and diming. Just add $.50 to everyone’s bill. Easy.

  3. Well, it is cheap compare to what I faced in OSL,all of them charged! Only airport at the airport itself doesn’t…

  4. If there’s a rental car counter there, they might have realized that a lot of people who weren’t staying at the hotel were using the shuttle to get to the car rental.

  5. Having lived in Seattle and walked to and from SeaTac for flights as I lived not too far from the airport, at 0.5 miles literally across the street, save the $4 and walk there. Then let them know charging for a hotel shuttle when you’re spending money to stay with them at an airport and not downtown which would necessitate a fee (or for cheaper take Sounder LightRail) seems really trivial and has marred your experience as it is. They’ll take note soon enough.

  6. At LHR you can take Bus 105, 111 or 140 to the hotels and it’s free in the Airport Zone, which all the hotels are, like the LHR Marriott…

  7. I stayed at a Courtyard, that was even future from SeaTac just a few weeks ago.
    The schedule was hourly, and since they ran out of space after I booked a ride, they put me in a hotel.
    Now I know to stay away from that Marriott

  8. As long as it is clearly marked I think it is fine. Of course, it inevitably will not be clearly marked. You will still see “shuttle service” listed as a feature and where other hotels/experiences indicate that is free you get stuck with the charge. Also will it be charged to your room or do you need cash?

    A hotel can charge whatever fees it wants. What is dodgy about resort fees is that it is mandatory and it is opaquely (if at all) indicated it will be incurred during the booking process. It also (to the point I made with the shuttle service) makes comparison shopping that much harder.

  9. As a non-American, this interests me. Is it normal to tip a free hotel shuttle driver and if so, how much?

  10. I agree with the offensiveness of it. Equally offensive is when an airport location only operates a shuttle between 8am-6pm (though on the phone, I was told a 10pm stop to shuttle service). What kind of shuttle doesn’t start until 8am?! (Holiday Inn Express near LGA).

    I stayed there last month, arriving at 10:07pm; as a courtesy for status, they offered to schedule & comp car service to the hotel. When I got to the hotel, driver asked for money, I said the hotel was paying. We went in; front desk refused to pay and wouldn’t relent. I asked to see a manager when one arrived. I was even less happy when I asked for an early shuttle to the airport and was told it doesn’t start until 8am! But, their website lists that so its my fault for assuming otherwise. Manager later calls my room TWICE at 3am. He apologized for the confusion and said they’d comp the car return to LGA. An acceptable result, but it’ll overall make me avoid that location in the future.

  11. What a crappy place! Just for sake of checking it, go to their site (http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/seawa-seattle-airport-marriott/). They show very clearly “Airport Shuttle” with a nice icon, but the text “Our shuttle service … for a small fee.” is hidden in the main text under a “Read More” tag. I do not care it is “only” $4 (which they do not even specify… what is a “small fee” for Bill Gates may not be for another person). Just avoid crappy places like this like hell.

  12. Thanks Lucky. I will make sure never to stay at this Marriott. It is one of the few Sea Tac hotels that I have not stayed at. I must say I have never been charged a shuttle fee by any of the other airport properties. The only time I had to pay was when I stayed downtown which is quite a distance and I did not mind paying due to this fact.

  13. As a Lifetime Platinum with Marriott, I would like to report that the Sea-Tac Marriott is one of the nicer airport properties they have. It’s much better than LHR Marriott…

  14. @James – When I was staying at the Principe di Savoia in Milan the hotel offered free shuttles to and from popular tourist areas. I routinely tipped the same driver a couple of euros, but the service was free. For a paid service if you want to be nice give the driver a dollar or two, if they load your luggage maybe a bit more. Your call.

  15. Best thing to do is 1 star them in a many review locations as possible lije google maps, trip advisor etc and be clear about the rating. A lot of times I feel like hotels are testing these fees and see if people noticed before deciding to roll it out natiinally.

  16. As pointed out – walking is not too bad. I even walked when the shuttle at SEA was free so I did not have to wait. Steep hill up to the Marriott from the SEATAC Light Rail station. So better when you go back to airport.

    At least there is the shuttle option. Some so hotels with “Airport” in their name do no have shuttles.

    But at SEA – I usually stay at the Fairfield Inn with free shuttle.

  17. If you have a few days to stay in Seattle I would recommend the new Hyatt House at the Seattle Center. You can take Sound Transit to Westlake Center and then the Monorail to the Seattle Center. The hotel offers a free shuttle (first come first serve) to locations within a mile of the hotel.

  18. Raise the room rate, FFS! Seriously, at $4 a head, it probably costs more to bill than it’s worth.

    It’s been years since I’ve been to SEA. Is there an alternative reason why the Marriott would charge for the shuttle service, like the In-and-Out Burger trick @ LAX? Does SEA allow Uber? I know of some people who’ve taken free airport shuttles off-site so they can be picked up by Uber.

  19. I’m always annoyed that Heathrow has a paid shuttle service and it’s expensive. It seems like an attempt to wring the last bit of cash out of the traveler.
    Until recently they didn’t take cards, so you’d see lots of bleary eyed new arrivals trying to find an ATM just to get to the hotel.
    Actually some of the Heathrow Hotels such as the Renaissance are accessable by the red London buses that leave from the Bus station T2 and are free.

  20. Sounds ridiculous to me. My understanding is, as long as you put “airport” in your official name, you’re an airport hotel and therefore obligated to offer free shuttle bus service, no matter how far your hotel is from the airport, or whether it’s outsourced. I stayed at Hampton Inn Austin/Airprot Area South, which is about 4 miles from AUS. I was told by the reception that they don’t operate a shuttle bus service but they outsource it to Super Shuttle, and the bill will be charged to the hotel. All I needed to do was to tell him what time I wanted a shuttle service. The van showed up on time next morning and I was the only passenger on the van. Kudos to Hampton Inn then.

  21. Except in the US the driver will be expecting/demanding a tip, so it won’t be free at all! By comparison Doubletree Luxembourg does airport collection with a driver from your flight to the hotel (about 20 min trip) and no tip is expected.

  22. I stayed at the Ramada Seattle Airport five years ago and they charged $3 for shuttle service which they would conveniently add to your hotel bill.

    The Marriott’s excuse that it’s because they farm the service out is hollow at best. The airport hotels around SFO also farm out their shuttles and they DO NOT charge extra. They’ll even give you a ride into downtown Burlingame for some shopping.

    To echo Alan’s comment, there is no such thing as free airport shuttle service in the U.S. because you are guilted into giving a tip. No, you don’t have to, but you’re made to feel like a complete d**khead if you don’t.

  23. Good to know, so I won’t book a room at that hotel for my next Seattle trip. I stay around there about 3 times a year. That was a bad move by Marriott!

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