Bits: BA Gatwick schedule changes, Virgin sale, Starwood’s new ‘Member Exclusive Rates’

News in brief:

More BA Gatwick schedule changes

British Airways has announced some additional schedule changes for Gatwick this Winter.  None of these are substantial.  The reason I mention them is that, because these flights were only added into the system on Wednesday, there should still be Avios availability on most dates even at peak times.

This is what is coming:

  • Funchal – extra weekly departure on a Tuesday from 1st November
  • Lanzarote – extra weekly departure on a Saturday from 5th November
  • Amsterdam – extra weekly departure on a Thursday from 3rd November
  • Jersey – extra weekly departure on a Sunday from 30th October
  • Salzburg – extra weekly departure on a Saturday from 5th November
  • Turin – extra weekly departure on a Monday from 31st October
  • Nice – extra weekly departure on a Wednesday from 23rd November

All of these can now be booked at

As at 4pm yesterday there were still 4 economy seats and 2 Club Europe seats to Salzburg on the Saturday of February half term (11th).  This is probably THE most expensive BA short-haul flight of the year, filled with skiers.  For cash, those same economy seats are selling for £322 one-way EACH.

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British Airways A350

Virgin Atlantic sale expands booking dates

The Virgin Atlantic sale is continuing for another few days, ending on 12th July.

The available bookings dates for the cheapest fares have just been widened for many destinations.  If you tried to book earlier but found prices higher than the ‘lead in’ advertised fare it may be worth another look.  The headline prices are:

Economy:  Boston £438, Atlanta £577, New York £438, Washington £482, Miami £439, San Francisco £547, Dubai £350, Cancun £494

Premium Economy:  Boston £716, Chicago £780, Las Vegas £795, New York £716

Available travel dates can be found on the Virgin sale website here.

(Want to earn more Virgin Flying Club miles?  Click here to see our recent articles on Virgin Atlantic and Flying Club and click here for our home page with the latest news on earning and spending other airline and hotel points.)

Virgin Atlantic 787

Starwood launches ‘Member Exclusive Rates’

Finally, Starwood (owners of Le Meridien, Westin, St Regis, Aloft, Element, W and Sheraton) has joined Hilton, IHG and other brands in fully rolling out ‘Member Exclusive Rates’.  You will now pay less if you book at and are a member of Starwood Preferred Guest.

Such rates are the new weapon being used by the big brands in the war with Expedia and  A loophole in the contracts with the online travel agents allows the chains to sell their rooms cheaper on their own websites as long as they are not ‘publicly available’.  Making you sign up as a member of the loyalty scheme – for free – before you can book these rates is how they claim the discounts are not ‘publicly available’.

You should, in any case, be booking direct with the chain in most cases.  This is the only way to earn loyalty points from your stay and, for most chains, get your status benefits recognised.

The alternative is to commit to something like Rewards which gives you a free night for every 10 nights you book irrespective of brand.  Next Friday I am actually using a Rewards free night for the very first time – it took me about four years to do the 10 nights required because the bulk of my bookings do go via direct booking channels.

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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  1. How will the spg price promise be affected if you compare a non member rate with for example and find it more expensive. Earlier this year i found a cheaper deal and they matched it and gave me 20% off.

    • I assume the price match continues as before – whether they claim the member rate should now be the basis of the comparison is a different question.

  2. Can you buy a flight in the Virgin sale in economy & upgrade with flying club?

  3. Thanks Rob

    Been looking for reward flight to Canaries. Lanzarote booked for Xmas. 4 people. 80000 + £112

  4. pcraftuk says:

    Don’t forget the recent time changes to flights too….we are booked on BA ex LGW to BCN and they have bought forward the flight times by 3 hours on the outbound and return. Not best pleased!

  5. Andrew H says:

    Some of you may know that children fly free on BA between Leeds and Heathrow. Well, Loganair is now offering the same between Dundee and Stansted:

  6. Andrew H says:

    Sorry, meant to say ‘O/T’ there :)

  7. danksy says:

    Not sure on the most expensive short haul flight comment.

    1 way from OSL to LHR in Clubeurope came in at c. £500!
    In the end I burnt 11,000 On business points for two of us (plus just over £100)

    • But did you book that flight 8 months in advance?

      You also cannot book 1-way Club Europe flights in the cheaper booking classes. In your case it would probably have been cheaper to book a return and throw away the 2nd leg, or book an economy ticket and hope to get a ‘pay to upgrade’ offer in Manage My Booking.

      • Danksy says:

        I seriously considered it… but I had a companion voucher expiring for the outbound leg and avios avaialbility!

    • Yep – booking a 1-way in CE on our route is £610 (April 2017)
      whereas same date out with a return flight (also in CE) is £410.


      • This is also (often) true of ET, ie one way fare is expensive whereas a return fare using same outward date + a return on another day is cheap. To give an off peak example on our route (same times for outward):

        One way out HBO 4 April £125
        out HBP 4 April £45 + return 18 April £45 = £90

  8. Hfp reader says:

    Raffles, can you run an article on when it makes sense to book direct with a chain hotel rather than with I understand the whole status thing, but even then it seems to me that a voucher after 10 nights and their best price guarantee, I find that route cheaper considering that for a free night in a Hilton you typically need some 30000 points. Surely it takes more than 10 nights to get those? had a cheaper rate on my last 9 out of 10 Hilton stays (their ‘insider price’ was consistently cheaper than the lowest prepaid rate in the Current Hilton sale) and on the 1 occasion where it was cheaper to book direct, they matched it without fuss. I do about 60 night/year in hotels, the problem is that it’s never with one particular chain…

  9. Completely OT: Is anyone else having problems with Award Wallet updating their accounts. Every time I ask it to update an account, I get an “unexpected error”.

    I’ve logged out and in again to AW. I’ve also checked assorted accounts to see that I can log in to them.

    • Yes, same for me

      • Andrew H says:

        Yep, same here. I had this problem last week but it was back to normal in 24 hours. It’s not normal for AwardWallet at the moment.

        On another note, the Captcha things in my travel accounts are increasingly becoming a problem when I do an ‘update all’ in AW. Air France is the latest site to use them.