As reported by View from the Wing, Marriott is discontinuing its “Flight and Hotel Awards” (colloquially known as “Marriott Travel Packages”) as of 1/19/22. These packages include a number of nights and airline miles and had already been devalued when Marriott and Starwood merged, but with the coming elimination of the Marriott award chart, the demise of Travel Packages should come as no surprise.
While Travel Packages were once a great use of Marriott points (and Starwood’s similar Nights & Flights were also a great value), these Travel Packages haven’t been nearly as valuable for a long time. If you really wanted both to use your Marriott points for airline miles and you also really wanted to stay at a specific category of hotel and that hotel is also peak-priced and it additionally has seven consecutive nights of standard award availability, then you could save some points with Travel Packages (specifically, you could save 90K Marriott points over booking the hotel and converting points to airline miles if the hotel was at a peak price time, though you might do it yourself for less during off-peak times.
Of course, that all adds up to a pretty niche situation where these made sense. For a seven night stay at peak pricing, Travel Packages certainly are a pretty good deal if you want the airline miles. Marriott has quite an array of mileage transfer programs, many of which are not partners with other major transferable currencies. That is to say that the niche for these certainly exists — or I should say has existed, but the product will soon be no more.
I’m not entirely sure what will happen with Travel Packages once the award chart fades away this spring. Will they be valid for nights up to the equivalent standard or peak pricing at each category? Will you be able to add points to stay at a more expensive hotel like you will be able to with free night certificates? I have no idea, but Marriott set a precedent for how to handle this sort of thing by releasing very little information ahead of the change last time and then proceeding to offer the worst possible outcome initially (they reversed course a bit after enough blowback). This time around, they told View from the Wing that the change in terms and conditions that brought the coming demise to light was published prematurely. In other words, Marriott had no intention to announce this so far in advance as seven days. As the old saying goes, fool me once, shame on me….
If you have an ideal use of one of these travel packages in mind, by all means hop on the opportunity to book while you still can. I did briefly consider whether this made sense for me, perhaps for something like a return trip to Le Meridien Maldives. However, I ultimately decided that I wouldn’t have enough confidence in any specific trip to happen according to schedule and wouldn’t have enough confidence in whatever Marriott decides to do with these packages after the award chart goes to lock myself into a certificate with an unknown future.
I’ll admit to being a bit disappointed even though I didn’t find these packages particularly useful anymore just because there was the chance to get outsized value and to pick up miles that would otherwise be difficult to accumulate in large quantity like Japan Airlines Mileage Bank, Alaska Mileage Plan, or Asiana (though Asiana does have a potentially useful credit card). Some people will surely find transfers to such programs to be a best use of Marriott points once the award charts are scrapped in the coming months.