Bits: exclusive Avios hotel redemption deals, 50% bonus miles on Virgin West Coast, BA to Tehran

News in brief:

Exclusive Avios hotel redemption deals

I have agreed with Avios that they will tip me off about their most aggressive hotel redemption deals.  You can book these hotels via using your points, but you can also pay in cash if necessary.

These are exclusive Avios deals and are priced at 40% – 70% less than you would pay on Expedia for the same hotel.  I get sent the comparison data but I won’t bore you with it!

If you are heading to any of the following places, it is worth pricing up these hotels on this weekend:

Hotel Mundial, Lisbon (4-star)

Nira Caledonia, Edinburgh (5-star)

Casa Nicolo Priuli, Venice (3-star)

1 Hotel South Beach, Miami (5-star)

The Crane, Barbados (5-star)

Virgin Trains

50% bonus Flying Club miles with Virgin West Coast trains

Until 3rd March, Virgin West Coast is giving a 50% bonus on Flying Club miles.  You will earn 3 miles per £1, instead of the usual 2.

This applies only to Advance tickets, but both East Coast and West Coast are included. You only need to book by this date, not travel.  The West Coast home page is here.


British Airways relaunches Tehran service

Finally, British Airways will resume flights to Tehran on 14th July.

It will begin as a six day a week service, increasing to a seven day service from the start of the Winter timetable.  It will use a four-class Boeing 777.

The problem with Iran, of course, is that you are no longer allowed to enter the United States under the Visa Waiver Programme if you have visited the country.  This is likely to prove a stumbling block for many potential travellers.  I am assuming that BA cabin crew travel on business visas which, I think, exempt you from the US block.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

New Amex Platinum hotel benefits launched! But a shock exit too ....
Important dates for your diary - offers about to close which you shouldn't miss
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  1. Regarding Tehran and the USA Visa Waiver Programme, could one not utilise the dual passport scenario or does technology these days mean that Iranian immigration (or airlines flying you to Iran) routinely report your whereabouts to the USA as a matter of course ?

    If so, then are we all being permanently tracked by the USA in case we later decide we wish to visit ?

    • Wouldn’t try using a dual passport. The new Esta application includes questions about dual nationality. Took me much longer to fill in than before.

      If you’ve been to the countries concerned, you’ll have to apply for a visa or go to Canada instead (though they’ve just introduced Estas as well, although not so far with the Iran, Syria etc restrictions).

      • UK residents can have two UK passports, useful for Israel / Arab countries and when applying for visas to countries where the application time is elongated and you need to travel prior to receipt of your original passport.

        I do not know about dual nationality requests.

        • If the UK knows you have been somewhere (which they will do if you use this BA service), then the US knows. I suspect that in less than a year or so the US will be able to check this live when you apply for an ESTA. If you get into secondary when entering the US they will probably find out as well.

          I don’t think Iran reports anything to the US.

          There’s nothing to know about dual nationality requests except that the US asks you when you apply for an ESTA.

          If you want to be a liar and fraudster then do so by all means. Personally I am more inclined to visit Iran than the US nowadays.

  2. I’d have thought it’s more that BA crew have US Visas and so never have to use the ESTA system in the course of their work.

    • Correct. Crew have a D type visa, so don’t use an ESTA for working to/from the US.

      However – there is a grey area whether they would then be in valid for an ESTA for personal travel because of a work trip to Iran.

  3. I remember visiting Cuba in the 90’s before any thawing of relationships with the US. Immigration would stamp and staple a slip of paper into your passport. I imagine Tehran is similar?!

  4. Raffles, on the Avios hotel redemptions do you have the date range these deals apply? Very interested in Miami for November but it’s coming up at 60,700 Avios. Can’t see it on the ‘current offers’ page either.

  5. Totally OT, and apologies if this has already been noted here, but it seems that all Aer Lingus flights operated by Stobart Air from regional airports are now available as BA codeshares from Specifically for me, and others in the East Midlands, it means it is finally possible to earn Tier Points out of EMA. Perfect timing for position for an ex-DUB HNL summer holiday that was booked last month for July/August.

    • Agree – direct EDI-DUB now showing up on too, although pretty pricey – £100 one-way (seems to be base pricing over lots of days), when I paid the same but for a return flight including a bag! Also (as expected) not showing up as redemptions.

  6. So I done a dummy booking for the Crane in June, no difference in the amount of Avios required to the same amount of days, same board in May?

    • The article did not say the offer was only running in June. Just that Raffles was shown an example in June. Try looking at the value per Avios compared with or Expedia was quoted, can’t be bothered myself but you should be looking at value per Avios compared with price in an independent source to check if this is accurate and Avios has a special deal.

    • Are you comparing it with Expedia pricing though? I can try to find the original email later.

  7. I am in South Beech for 3 nights in late September. Looking out for something nice.

  8. 4000 clubcard points with Tesco home & contents insurance, can’t find the link but reported elsewhere

    • ah
      Tilly71 says:
      6 February 2016 at 1:43 pm

      4,000 clubcard points for “new customers with a clubcard” with buildings and contents insurance with Tesco Bank. Not available online – have to call and quote ‘H4000GR’. Valid until 29th April 2016.

  9. Where did you hear about the 50% bonus miles offer on VTWC? I doubt you’d get any miles at all booking an East Coast journey on the West Coast site, the rules have been pretty clear on this and also during the recent triple Nectar points promotion you needed to be on the right coast to benefit.

    The west coast site does have a redirect to move you to east coast if you book on there, however it’s not always guaranteed to work as I wrote about recently.