Arriving Before Check-In Time — Reader Mistake Story

Feb 12, 2018

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Today, I want to share a story from TPG reader Pam, who wishes she had booked an extra night at her hotel in Tokyo. Here’s what she had to say:

Over the summer, my son and I traveled to Tokyo from Anchorage via Los Angeles. Our ANA flight left LA around 11:00 p.m. and arrived at 5:00 a.m. Tokyo time. I had overestimated how much sleep we’d get on our flight and how much energy we’d have upon arrival, not to mention that there isn’t really much to do that early in the morning! We were exhausted from all the travel and my son was feeling a bit ill, so at that point we just wanted to get to our hotel room (at the Citadines Shinjuku Tokyo) and rest.

Our check-in wasn’t scheduled until later that afternoon, but I asked at the front desk if I could pay extra to check in early. At first I was told no, but eventually they took pity on us and gave us a room at no extra charge. While it all worked out in the end, I could have made our arrival easier on us by just booking the room for the night before. Lesson learned: if your flight arrives in the early morning, be sure to book your stay beginning the previous night in case you need some rest!

Pam and her son were able to get into their hotel room early (Photo courtesy of the Citadines Shinjuku Tokyo)
Pam and her son were able to get into their hotel room early (Photo courtesy of the Citadines Shinjuku Tokyo)

I reject the premise that you can’t find something to do in Tokyo in the early morning, but if you don’t want to hit the ground running, adding a night to the front end of your stay can make an early arrival more palatable. The key is to make sure your hotel knows when you plan to arrive, since they may otherwise see you as a no-show. That could lead them to cancel your entire reservation and charge you a much higher rate for the missed night. To avoid those pitfalls, I recommend notifying the front desk well ahead of time and getting written confirmation that your room will be available.

If you don’t want to pay for the full extra night, some hotels allow you to set your own check-in and check-out times. For example, in 2016 Standard Hotels introduced the Standard Time rate, which offers guests a flexible schedule for an additional fee. Starwood offers the YOUR24 benefit to 75-night Platinum elites, and you may have luck checking in early elsewhere if you have status and a room is available, or if you just look sufficiently exhausted and ask nicely. In general, however, if you’re highly susceptible to jet lag or you expect to need a nap after a long flight, try to find an itinerary with an afternoon or evening arrival.

I appreciate this story, and I hope it can help other readers avoid making the same mistake. To thank Pam for sharing her experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending her a $200 airline gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own travel mistake stories to, and put “Reader Mistake Story” in the subject line. Tell us how things went wrong, and (where applicable) how you made them right. Offer any wisdom you gained from the experience, and explain what the rest of us can do to avoid the same pitfalls.

Feel free to also submit your best travel success stories. If your story is published in either case, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure. I look forward to hearing from you, and until then, I wish you a safe and mistake-free journey!

Featured photo by David Gee/Getty Images

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