Bits: Qatar business sale (Oz £1785, Dubai £659!!), Avios shopping deals, East Coast 10% discount gone?, Etihad double miles

Some news in brief:

Qatar Airways business and economy class savings

Qatar has launched a big new 5-day promotion which can be found here. You must book by March 13th for travel between April 14th and July 10th.

The business class deals are aggressive. Dubai / Abu Dhabi is £1450, The Maldives is £1590, Bali is £1630, Melbourne and Perth are £2360. Departures are from London, Manchester and Edinburgh.

You may also want to check prices from other European capitals as well. Brussels has some corkers – Perth for €2,491 (£1,786), The Maldives €1,891 (£1,355), Hong Kong €1425 (£1,022) and Dubai a truly ludicrous €920 (£659). The best bit is that Brussels has the new Boeing 787-800 with Qatar’s newest business class seat.

Remember that you earn Avios points and British Airways tier points flying Qatar. (Thanks to Jason)

Qatar Airways 787 business class review - outside 2

Special deals on the Avios e-store and Gate 365

There are a number of special deals running this week on Gate 365 (the British Airways shopping portal) and the Avios e-store.

There is a 50% Avios bonus with Argos, Debenhams, Hotel Chocolat, House of Fraser, Links and Selfridges.

There is a 100% Avios bonus with John Lewis, Harrods, M&S and Milli Millu

Offers end on March 15th.  (Thanks to Dom, who also pointed out that Debenhams lets you earn when paying with gift cards, allowing you to double up with the Tesco ‘150 Clubcard points for £50 of gift cards’ deal!)

Virgin East Coast

Virgin East Coast removed the 10% discount on Advance fares

The new Virgin East Coast rail franchise is up and running.  There is something we didn’t spot last week – the 10% discount for booking Advance tickets has gone.

East Coast offered an additional 10% saving on the cheapest tickets if you booked their website.  Virgin is offering just 2% off.  This means an effective price increase of 8.8%, one which has gone unnoticed.

There was also commentary on Head for Points yesterday about East Coast Rewards seat availability being substantially reduced on peak trains although I cannot verify this myself.

Etihad 350

Double or triple miles with Etihad Airways Partners

In November, Etihad announced the launch of Etihad Airways Partners. This is a loose amalgamation of many, but not all, of the airlines in which Etihad has taken an equity stake. Here is my article on the launch.  From now until May 30th, when you credit flights to an Etihad Guest account, you will earn:

Triple miles in First Class on Etihad Airways and Jet Airways

Double miles in Business Class on Etihad Airways, Alitalia, Jet Airways, airberlin, Niki, Air Serbia, Air Seychelles.

The bonus miles can be earned on all operated and marketed international flights of the above airlines. This means that you will receive the bonus whichever airline operates your flight (even BA!) as long as it carries a flight number from one of the airlines above.  Full details of this promotion can be found on the Etihad website here.  Today is the last day to book flights to qualify for this promotion, so it is only worth registering if you already have a flight booked.

One unique benefit of Etihad Guest is that you can redeem your miles for cash – paid via a Virtual Visa card – using PointsPay. The rate is not great, around 0.4p per mile, but it is a useful way to empty your account cleanly. Full details of PointsPay can be found here. I wrote about the last time I used it here.

The complete guide to Avios redemptions from UK regional airports
Amex still offering the 'secret' Gold Rewards Plus to cancelling Platinum cardholders
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Comments

  1. darrenf says:

    The QR sale is quite crazy – last night I found Stockholm to Melbourne return for £1475 but with extremely limited availability.

  2. So for most people (most long distance travel these days is advance fares) fares have risen 8.8% and the loss of EC Rewards points will have put the effective rise for many at more than 10% considering the excellent value gained by rewards.

    Unfortunately most of the press just report that they’re cutting Anytime fares by 10% in May. Fares that were so expensive anyway that only those who really need them bought them. Even many businesses these days insist on advance fares.

    • Not all the advance fares were cut by 10%, some were as low as 2% I have ticket in front of me now that says 2% and another that says 6%.

    • Metatone says:

      Yes, it’s odd how many people seem to want to defend Virgin’s right to make all these changes, without acknowledging that we as passengers are getting a worse deal as a result of a change of ownership. Why shouldn’t we complain?

      My big fear is that the new trains will be specified like HullTrains, or CrossCountry or the few trains I’ve been on on the WCML. One of the pleasures of East Coast has been that it had BR specified trains and they were actually quite comfortable – crucially better suspension and stability than the newer commissions. You cannot read/edit a long document on a laptop on many 1st class tables on HullTrains, the vibrations are just too great.

      • I am in no way defending Virgin’s actions. The removal of Rewards was/is the only thing I disagree with when looking at it from a business perspective.

        If you were running the show today would you release award availability onto a train leaving London at 17:30 that last Thursday had seven empty seats in it over three First Class carriages? I sure as hell wouldn’t have. I know how many empty seat there were as I was on the service (using a rewards ticket) and commented to a member of staff that it seemed very busy and they replied with the number of empty seats. When I booked my ticket on that service availability was showing as 9+, this is bonkers!

        This is the madness that was allowed to happen and whilst it was great from a customer perspective it’s absolute madness from a business one. The same with advance tickets they were never ALL 10% off when booked via EC and the discount varied, some of them carried no discount even when booked through EC. Rewards was bloody great but it wasn’t managed properly (Had it been managed properly there would have been changes to the points required for rewards on a regular basis like what there is with all other loyalty schemes) which is probably the biggest reasoning behind Virgin binning it as when the bids were submitted for East Coast the West Coast didn’t have Nectar so it wasn’t a case of making them both the same.

        The one statistic that wasn’t covered within the FOI request is the one I would have really liked to have seen – Number of unredeemed points, i.e. what is the current liability?

        I agree with you regarding the tables and other operators trains. Hull Trains, Crosscountry etc are diesel multiple units and the engines are under the floors so the journey isn’t as smooth, however BR at a guess last built a train around 1992 and to build one to those specifications today would cost an eye watering amount of money which would result in further fare increases. Whilst the train operator doesn’t buy the trains themselves they have to lease them from the rolling stock company. So I’m sure you will agree that higher manufacturing costs are going to result in higher leasing.

        There is some good news though. The new trains that are being built will be bi-mode and will be capable of running under diesel or electric traction. So if there is wires above it will run using electricity with the diesel engines (not sure where they are on the new trains but going by the pictures they will be underneath) only switched on when running on the non-electrified lines. So for the likes of Aberdeen/Inverness it would be electric to Edinburgh then diesel onwards. I’m not sure where the Hull services stop but I am guessing it will switch to diesel around Doncaster. Not ideal but better than it could be.

        • I do know at one time they were all 10% off (back in NXEC days escape members got 20% off), but I don’t know when that time stopped. Definitely before EC Rewards (the points based one) the discount was always at least 10%. After that, I didn’t pay as much attention the rewards mattered to me more than the discount, so if they sneakily changed it I probably wouldn’t have noticed.

          From what you say it has been like that for a while, has it been months or years? In the past I’ve only noticed the 2% when I’ve been making a trip that involves a connection (i.e. primarily East Coast but with a local journey added on).

          Now there’s no rewards, there’s less incentive to book on the East Coast site and more incentive to just use a FirstGroup site as at least you get something for all bookings.

          So whether it was Virgin or East Coast that cut the discount they really need to reintroduce it if they don’t want people booking elsewhere. I’d say 5% is a minimum (and as we know they have to pay 5% commission if they book on another site so they’re not losing out).

          • They are definitely losing out, like you I now but everything elsewhere. I’m quite fortunate that I can claim back a booking fee so have been using RSH as I can use their loyalty scheme for an e-voucher.

            The EC Rewards situation is an interesting one. Whilst they were compiling the bid for EC they wouldn’t have had access to the rewards figures but they would have been able to see from EMT & VWC how much commission they were paying to EC. IF they haven’t looked at those figures I’d be surprised and I’m guessing from that they have decided it wasn’t worth keeping which is a shame. I would have thought that a lot of EMT customers would have used EC as its neighbouring territory, again with Glasgow customers of VWC, even though there is only one service a day the points racked up quick enough to earn tickets for a jolly.

            As for the discounts it was like that as far back as November 2013. That’s the oldest ticket I have a picture of on my iPad (take the pics for expenses) and that was a 7% discount.

          • I do 2-3 East Coast trips a year and the discount always looked like 10% to me.

  3. I wonder is Qatar an airline which offers some sort of assist with long overnight connections / short hotel rooms?

    • If you are transiting in Doha and there isn’t a convenient connection they can accommodate you at the airport hotel free of charge. Also you have the option to pay, for example we have chose a 5-8hr stay package, after choosing a later connecting flight to Dubai, costing 640 QAR oir the 4 of us.

      • erico1875 says:

        I have a 18 hr transit in Doha ( Avios booking)
        Would I be entitled to a free hotel?

  4. flyforfun says:

    Re the Avios bonus points, some retailer’s double offers expire 31/03/15 (Selfridges, John Lewis) while others expire as published here on the 15th.

  5. Another bit of news for you, logged in to my Nectar Hive tonight to find it has closed “The Nectar Hive was a time limited trial which has now come to an end.” What a shame, although I’m glad I never got round to transferring my membership reward points over.

  6. Raffles, I am not sure if you have noticed but Shell have triple points on when you purchase premium petrol or diesel until the first week in April. They are also pushing out offers onto their app at the moment for another 100 points when purchase a minimum of fifteen litres of premium fuel. The two offers can be stacked as my 100 points from last weeks offer has been added today.
    Yesterday premium diesel was 121.9 per litre.

    I know you have said that normally Shell is poor value with Avios conversion but I’m not sure how it will stack up with triple points and the extra hundred on top.

    With the triple points and the hundred on top forty litres will get you 340 Shell points.

  7. So, that’s EMirates, Qatar and Ethihad all launch cracking deals.
    BRU-DXB looks a bargain…

  8. Thanks for pointing out the Qatar Airways sale Raffles. Got 2 returns BRU-DXB purchased. Really looking forward to it now!

    • I bet you are at that price! If I didn’t have two little kids I would be all over some of these deals myself.

      • I can’t seem to find the BRU-DXB AT AROUND £600, every search seems to come in cheapest at €1500. Does anyone know some cheap prices over a weekend?

  9. hi Rob, thanks for pointing out the amazing deal for BRU-DXB! just spend under £2000 for a week in the sun, business class flights and a five star hotel with full breakfast!!…….And that is why I read HFP! Thanks again! ill do a small trip report of my travels¬