Gol Smiles Hotel Promotion Not as Lucrative as Previously Thought

Yesterday, multiple travel bloggers discovered a hotel promotion through Smiles, a Brazillian frequent flyer program, that allowed members to earn an insane amount of Smile points for at little cost.  The promotion quickly went viral especially after some bloggers claimed that according to redemption charts on milez.biz, just 140,000 Smiles points could get you a round-trip first class ticket from New York to Dubai on Emirates.  This is not the case.  Not only is this not the case but even with the hotel promotion, Smiles points won’t get you much.

Additionally, to make matters worse, the promotion left a lot of readers feeling uneasy due some suspicious terms and conditions.  There’s a lot being said about this promotion so I thought I’d do my best to clear some things up.


First off, like many, I thought this promotion was an error and would probably end up being shut down fairly quickly.  That said, I rushed to book a two-night stay at a Le Meridien down in Downtown Dallas.  The final price was around $550 and I’d be earning 63,000 Smiles points.  Using the milez.biz awards chart, it appeared 63k points could get me a one-way first or business class seat on a Trans-Atlantic flight.  Though my stay wouldn’t have allowed me to earn 150,000 Smile points like some stays did, 63k points was still an attractive offer.

After booking, some of the major concerns surrounding this promotion were just starting to trickle out.  Here are the biggest concerns surrounding this promotion.


Claim: This promotion is an error involving an algorithm at Rocketmiles and stays won’t be honored.

Gary Leff of View From The Wing reported that this promotion was, in fact, an error involving an algorithm with the Rocketmiles booking engine.

Rocketmiles is a popular hotel booking engine that allows users to book stays and earn miles.  Not only is Rocketmiles an independent website but the company also allows airlines to use their booking engine so that airlines can sell hotel rooms through their own websites.  Smiles, the frequent flyer program of GOL, uses Rocketmiles for hotel bookings.  This promotion was in fact, being offered through Rocketmiles.

Gary’s claim does seem like it could have been true given the fact that on some stays, guests could earn up to 12x more miles than they typically would.  However, after discovering that this could be an error on Rocketmiles’ end, I called customer service to cancel my booking hoping to avoid getting stuck with a $550 bill and nothing to show for it.

When I called Rocketmiles, I explained to the customer service agent that there was a claim that this promotion I booked through could have very well been an error in their algorithm.  The agent put me on hold explaining that he needed to check on that claim.  After a minute, the customer service agent returned and informed me that the promotion isn’t an error.  Rocketmiles confirmed with Smiles that the insane earning potential is just part of the promotion.

The second part of that claim was that Smiles could cancel bookings whenever they wanted and that it was fairly likely.  The agent responded to that claim saying, “I don’t see why that would happen.  Anyone that booked that promotion will get their miles.”  Also worth noting is the customer service rep noted this was his second call he had received about this promotion.



Claim: This promotion is only for Brazilian residents.

This claim is also false.  From what Rocketmiles could tell, if you booked a stay as part of the promotion, your rate and miles will be honored.  The customer service rep I spoke with confirmed this.  Gary Leff also confirmed that this isn’t exclusive to Brazilian residents.

Claim: Only one booking can be made per Smiles account.

This claim is true.  Though not mentioned in the terms and conditions, upon booking my stay in Dallas, I no longer had access to the 12x points promotion when I performed additional searches on the Smiles site.


Claim: This promotion allows you to earn a roundtrip first class ticket on Emirates for around $800!

This claim is 100% false.  You don’t even have to have a Smiles account to check award prices so anyone can see that this is just not true.  First off, I yet to see Smiles featuring a single first class seat on any airline except Delta.  Second, Emirates availability is scarce and any itineraries with business class on Emirates will run you more than 150,000 miles one-way.  Third, Smiles points aren’t that valuable.  Just take a look at some of the award redemptions I found.

All three itineraries are one-way in business class, not first class.


Overall

I feel like an idiot after spending $550 on a hotel room thinking that’d get me a seat up front on Emirates.  I take full responsibility for not checking actual award rates before I booked.  Third party sites are rarely correct and the fact that I believed milez.biz makes me question my intelligence.  Sure, there’s some value in this promotion but it’s not the promotion everyone thought it was.

Did you take advantage of this promotion?