Bits: underwhelming BA sale now on, new Qatar amenity kits launched

News in brief:

British Airways sale now on

British Airways has launched its annual December sale click here for details.  Without a hint of irony, it is called ‘The Unforgettable Sale’.  Once you’ve seen the pricing you may disagree.

I’m not sure what is going on here – I am guessing that there will be a separate premium sale later on.  We know that business class loads are weak but there are no real deals here.

The headline deals being advertised are all in World Traveller:

  • New York from £399 return
  • New Orleans from £545 return
  • Santiago from £679 return
  • Los Angeles from £499 return
  • San Diego from £577 return
  • San Francisco from £499 return
  • Dubai from £299 return
  • Calgary from £549 return
  • Buenos Aires from £699 return
  • Tokyo from £677 return
  • Fort Lauderdale £379 return
  • Oakland £379 return
  • Singapore £499 return
  • Johannesburg from £570 return

A quick look at the British Airways Low Fare Finder site doesn’t show much of merit in Club World.

New York is no cheaper than £1800, for example.  San Francisco is no cheaper than £2075.  Buenos Aires is no cheaper than £2639 whilst Dubai bottoms out at a still pricey £1495 – and only if you travel during Ramadan.

The sale home page is here if you want to take a look.  All deals must be booked by 31st January.

There are some slightly better deals over at BA Holidays, assuming you are happy to package in a hotel with your flight.

qatar-first-class-brics-amenity-kit

New Qatar Airways amenity kits launched

Qatar Airways – a popular choice with HFP readers due to their low sale fares and ability to collect Avios and tier points – has launched a new range of amenity kits.  These are a partnership with BRICS and Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio, who apparently are an environmentally friendly olive oil-based cosmetics company.

My first thought was ‘these look cute’.  My second thought was ‘no more Armani in First Class’ (I am still working through some Armani goodies I got earlier this year!).

The new First Class kit is pictured above, click to enlarge.

And here is the Business Class one:

qatar-business-class-brics-amenity-kit

The kits include lip balm, hydrating facial mist and City Cream anti-ageing moisturiser in Business Class, with the added night recovery cream for First Class kits.

PS.  Qatar now runs 72 flights a week from the UK, according to the press release they sent me.  Add in Emirates and Etihad and I wonder what % of BA’s long-haul capacity the ‘Middle East 3’ now have between them?

Buy Avios from 0.85p in new Iberia Plus promo
Bits: last day for 2,400 Avios on LEGO, Swissport strike off
About Head for Points

We help business and leisure travellers maximise their Avios, frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty points. Visit every day for three new articles or sign up for our FREE emails via this page or the box to your right.

Comments

  1. Sadly this also means no more Armani in business class too. I have made three return trips to Far East in last 15 months so fortunately picked up 12 of the old Armani kits and still have a good supply of the excellent after shave lotion. Will really miss that on future flights.

  2. There is a very good Qatar economy sale on st moment, UK to Asia for £305 rtn, search using momondo.

  3. Holger S. says:

    Off topic gents, flying with Qatar from Frankfurt to Auckland on business class via Doha, HK and Melbourne (slightly different route back) and I am on the fence here if I collect Qmiles or Avios. If my calculations are correct I earn 90k Qmiles (plus potentially Gold) but only 30k avios? Wanted to see what your take is on this. Qmiles or Avios? Thanks in advance.

    • Monopolies commission says:

      What does 90K qmiles actually get you and how long until they expire?
      Same with Gold – depends if the benefits are useful if its really worth considering.

      • Remember that BA status will get you all of your current membership year and all of the next one, so 13-23 months depending on timing.

        But also remember you wont be upgraded to Silver until you’ve also flown 4 BA cash segments this year.

        • Hi Rob, I am BA Silver tier currently and am flying return to Bali via Doha in May 2017 with Qatar. Will these four segments not count towards retaining Silver status? Or am I reading that despite having miles and tier points counting towards my BAEC a/c and retention via Oneworld, I would still need to take 4 cash segments with BA only?

    • Also why assume this is a gents only website?
      Regarding amenity kits, I’m just back from Sydney with QR (my nominated ex PSA destination after AKL was postponed) and report there is still plenty of Gorgio Armani knocking about. Wondering when the brics kits will be introduced from?

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Gold is equivalent to BA Silver which you’d also get if you have 4 BA flights under your belt already.

    • 90k Q miles = 20k Accor points
      20k Accor = 400EUR off a hotel booking

      Also worth considering that route

  4. Am I the only one who can’t enlarge the pictures? Is it an iPad thing, maybe?

  5. th real harry says:

    Qatar had some decent deals in cattle yesterday
    Edinburgh – Kuala Lumpur: £289
    Birmingham – Kuala Lumpur: £296
    Manchester – Kathmandu: £303
    Manchester – Hong Kong: £310
    London – Bali: £314
    Birmingham – Hong Kong: £317
    London – Kathmandu: £321
    Birmingham – Singapore: £321
    Manchester – Singapore: £326
    London – Singapore: £328
    Manchester – Bangkok: £337
    Edinburgh – Ho Chi Minh City: £349
    Birmingham – Bangkok: £374

    • Did you actually manage to find availability at those prices? I always find with Qatar’s ex-UK sales that the headline prices are great, in both business and economy, but then you can’t actually find those prices for any dates.

  6. Thank goodness, no more horrendous black and gold Armani kits – such revolting things! The new ones at least look a little more classy.

  7. BA getting less impressive as the months go by.

    Just booked outbound leg to Perth using BA 241.

    Obvs can only use 241 on BA metal, fair enough, CW to Singapore (no First available), job done.

    Okay then now to just tag on Qantas redemption flight SIN-PER, was told by BA Exec computer says no can’t mix bookings, so no guarantee of bags being checked through Singapore… This is because BA have withdrawn goodwill with OW partners.

    OW – WTF?

    I’m still astonished a pax on a through ticket on a UK domestic connection to a long haul First & CW flight has to pay for a cup of tea or bottle of water, it’s crazy.

    Well they’re not the only ones that can withdraw goodwill.

    Qatar could be getting some serious attention to Australia in the future.

    • BA will no longer transfer bags TO ITS OWN FLIGHTS on separate tickets. Book LHR to XXX on Avios but pay cash for MAN- LHR because there is no Avios availability and you will have to collect your bags at Heathrow, go landside and recheck them.

      • I had also had that unbelievable & wonderful “Enhancement” explained to me by the BAEC cust services rep.

        BA are swiftly becoming a crock of …..

      • FlyBe flaging up their interline agreements with SQ and VS in promoting new LHR-EDI/ABZ routes. Small fry I know but it might just hurt BA a little, and in conjunction with ‘great’ customer feedback, might give them second thoughts.

      • Lady London says:

        As in…… Ryanair

        “We are a point to point airline and don’t transfer bags”. Ryanair… and now, British Airways!!

        Not much difference really.

        I do hope BA is looking behind them…. Easyjet is coming up behind them expanding like billy-ho – many new routes across several European countries next year.

        • If I’m honest with myself Ryanair is now a superior option to BA for flights to Europe. Legroom is better, aircraft are generally newer, and for those of us outside London, they can usually get us clkse to just about anyplace we want to go nonstop. If Ryanair cannot do it then one of the other LCC usually does. 2017 will see something of a change for me including my first ever flights on easyjet, KLM and AF. For the first time since they took over BMI my BAEC redemotiobs will amount to only one return longhaul journey for my partner and I. BA now so poor that I just pick up easy avios, not worth any special effort for them.

      • It will become a chargeable option I guess..

      • They are just moving baggage handling cost onto check-in cost. Don’t get it.

      • Coupled with the awful queues for luggage drop at T5 in all of its sections, this is an insult.

        In fact, are they creating queues this way, almost on purpose and certainly with knowledge?

        Commercial decisions, cost is one thing but it looks like airline bosses train and treat the crowds of people as school children and its more about following the artificial rules, than any sense.

        No check-through means people prefer to take train/car and arrive at Heathrow with luggage — in fact, I recommend this way as waiting for luggage and going outside, staying in the queues, and trying to make to cut-off time to and through security.

    • BA is an absolute disgrace. What I really dislike is being lied to by BA staff at check-in who are too embarrassed to give the real reason for not checking baggage through to a connecting OneWorld flight.. As a gold member, I use the First Class check-in. Last month flying from Heathrow to Amsterdam and connecting on to Qatar to Doha business class and then onward to Bangkok, I was told bags could not be checked through to Qatar for security reasons on two separate bookings. However on the return journey, Qatar staff were delighted to check my bags through to London. This week I flew to Sri Lanka using 241 Club a World to Chennai connecting onto Sri Lankan to Colombo. When booking back in January, BA said it had to be on two tickets in order to use 2for1 but bags could be checked right through on OneWorld partners. After the change in policy, I phoned BA as I was travelling with my 89 year old mother for who having to go through immigration twice, collect bags recheck-in is quite a hassle. I was told the check-in managers have discretion and to ask at check-in and explain the situation. I did this at First Class check-in but was told that checking luggage through to onward destination is not possible anyway due to Indian security restrictions. So in Chennai with my 89 year old mother in a wheelchair we set off on a long trip to immigration, collected bags, bumped along an external road in hot and humid conditions to the check in entrance, cleared security and went through immigration to arrive back at same place we had been 90 minutes earlier. The immigration officer was not happy either and said we should have asked British Airways to check the bags through to Colombo! I also am appalled by BA still using Priority Baggage labels when they write in High Life magazine that British Airways does not operate priority baggage. It is sad to see BA treating their customers in such a shoddy manner and can only harm the airline in the long term with strong completion from airlines who respect their passengers.

      • Lady London says:

        @Nick I am sure you didn’t fall for that!

        Whenever some official or person wants to stop me doing something or won’t do something obvious, and says “Security” is the reason in the UK, I know they’re flat out lying. It’s so lame.

        • the_real_a says:

          Similar to unions when striking citing “safety” when they mean “pay and benefits”

      • Hey Nick, Quick question regarding your booking London – Columbo.

        I’m looking to make the same booking in Club using 241 for next november. Did you manage to get the 241 to apply for the sri lankan airlines leg as well? Or did you just book those as two separate return flights? Thanks

  8. Barry cutters says:

    Iberia doing economy lhr- Panama City via Madrid for £386 , £345 if using skyscanner on 3rd party website. Can combine with 777 to Madrid. Very cheap for that length of flight . Madrid lounge is ok too, but no emerald lounge .

  9. Rob, quick question – a while ago you mentioned that you couldnt understand the appeal of an overnight flight to such a short destination as the middle east. I’m curious about your thoughts / experience with this when travelling with a toddler. We’re looking at going to Dubai for the first time in March and the thought of keeping my rampant 22 month old distracted for 7 hours fills me with fear. An overnight flight with a flat bed where he should (hopefully) sleep the whole journey seems much more sensible to me. Any thoughts on your own experiences?

    • It is the 8am arrival I don’t like. When you are paying £500 a night for a beach hotel at peak times, having to effectively pay for the night before – in order to get a room very early – gets expensive.

      If the toddler has a regular sleeping pattern it may make sense though as the alternative as I know to my cost is the kid crawling up and down the aisle!

      • Ah right I’m with you. My fear is being THAT parent with THAT child that everyone is muttering about under their breaths! He’s not a badly behaved lad but I know for a fact he would be EVERYWHERE and having never even flown business class before myself, I’d be extra conscious about him being on his best behavior! We’re planning on going first week in March so rates are a lot lower than when you go at peak school holiday times…

        • Mark – I’m coming from someone who doesn’t have a child, and very aware that I might not fall in with the majority of ‘normal’ business class passengers here, but you have just as much right to a business class seat with a child as anyone else does without a child. Yes children tend to make noise (sometimes lots of it), but all adults now have likely been unruly children early on in their own lives, so enjoy business class with your child – you deserve to just like anyone else buying a business class ticket (whether in cash or points)…

          There will unfortunately always be absolute *^£&$ who feel that they’re more entitled and that they shouldn’t be disturbed by anything, but you have just as much right to be in that premium cabin going abroad as anyone else. So take that fear and own it, and please do enjoy it!

          • Scallder, thanks for the words of support! I whole heartedly agree and felt that way before we had kids. However, I also realise that others do not think that way and thus I’m mindful of that. There are people on here who have stated in the past that they have saved long and hard for a dream trip in club or first and wouldnt want it spoiled by noisy / unruly kids. Whilst I think that’s a bit ridiculous, I can kind of see where they are coming from…

        • If the parent cares (and it is usually pretty obvious whether they do or not) about trying to not annoy other passengers then I think most of us are pretty sympathetic when the odd thing goes wrong, whether or not we have kids.

          It’s the parents who seem to not care who are annoying.

          Thank you very much for thinking in advance.

    • We’ll be setting off on Sunday morning with our 7 year old, 3 year old, *and* 1 year old. Day flight down to DOH connecting to evening flight on to MCT (Muscat, Oman).

      What could possibly go wrong? 😉

      • Good luck with that! 😉

        • th real harry says:

          try NZ & back twice with (at worst) 6 month old, 2YO, 4YO :)

          a character-building experience

          • We are off to NZ (2 flights of approx 12 hour each with Thai AIr ) with 3 and 6 year olds next May. Wish me luck!

      • dicksbits says:

        I recall flying back on the 380 from IAD a couple of years back and a child – he was maybe 5 – started crying. I felt quite sorry for him as his mother was asleep, possibly used to it and carried on sleeping. The lady next to him talked to him quietly for a while and that seemed to calm him down and he went to sleep. This was MD in Y.

  10. I thought Punta Cana at £1290 looked reasonable.

    • Club Word to Punta Cana was quite underwhelming, very dated indeed. Plus BA does not have a lounge in PUJ airport no there is any One World lounges, they provide you with 10 USD vouchers to spend on food in a tiny shop – was not impressed.

  11. Anthony Dunn says:

    It must just be that delivering an investment grade rating to investors matters very considerably more than delivering a quality product at a decent price to paying customers. Funny, but I thought that it was the latter that delivered the former rather than the other way around.

    BA appears to be the epitome of an accountant run business rather than a marketing and operations run one: the beancounters know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

    • Lady London says:

      Delivering …… to investors?

      Whilst downgrading quality to paying customers?

      Marks & Spencer went that route many years ago. They are still suffering, and in my view won’t recover until they are bought by someone else. Tesco tried it too, they on the other hand are superb retailers and are operating in a lower market segment so easier to bring standards back to, I reckon Tesco will more than survive.

    • As a “beancounter” my philsophy in a Quality driven business is “Look after the Quality and the Finances will look after themselves!”

      • Same here – accountants don’t ruin everything you know… :) Quite often you’ll have people who aren’t ‘beancounters’ doing these exercises and actually not looking at the wider/longer-range view…

  12. O/T I received my missing 500 Flying Club miles for my Virgin Trains ticket purchase earlier this year. That was so long ago I’d forgotten about it.

  13. Beware flying QR and collecting TP’s and avios.

    I’ve only flow twice with them and twice had problems with TP’s and Avios posting.

    The most recent involves one leg of OSL-DOH-BKK-DOH-BKK-OSL not posting TP’s and avios I submitted a claim to be told that my ticket wasn’t eligible… nonsense the points and avios posted for the other 3 legs and they were booked into “O” class.

    Does anyone have any idea how to escalate other than just requesting the TP’s and Avios again?

    Cheers

    • Sorry
      OSL-DOH-BKK
      BKK-DOH-OSL

    • I did quite a few QR long haul trips this year, enough to put me within shouting distance of BA Gold. No probs at all with creditting to BAEC for the first 2 trips – just edit the booking to add the BAEC number. However, I was dismayed to find that I had screwed things up on the 3rd trip and left one of my flights crediting to QR – earning Qmiles rather than Avios and TPs.

      I was out in Sydney at the time, but I spoke to the QR helpline, and they just said to cancel the QR points, then put it through BA as a claim for missing points. It all went through very quickly, so no complaints from me!

    • This year I had a problem with my partner’s QR flights not crediting when mine did – same flights etc. I eventually contacted the BAEC person on the FT boards and they helped us out very quickly – TPs and Avios sorted. I think the contact name is BAMissingAvios but is does require joining FlyerTalk etc. BAEC were pretty unhelpful when contacted direct unfortunately.

    • I’ve found the BA twitter guys helpful in the past when querying TAM TP’s and avios.

  14. OT Anyone else having trouble logging into their Club Accor account. I can log in on the website and app, both show my future bookings, but neither show me as a member of Le Club, or my gold status, instead there is a link asking if I want to join.

    • Seems a little off at 11:50… I can’t see the “my loyalty card” section, where I would be able to view my Accor account activity etc.

      Adey

    • There may be some IT works happening as the rules changes from the first of january 2017.

      I cannot currently see my balance on the website.

    • Hopefully all will be back to normal soon. Accor don’t seem to have a particularly reliable IT system.

    • Yes, they seem to have once more broken their own website. Although many travel company websites are poor, Accor seem to have managed the dubious honour of being consistently atrocious!

  15. As this is the bits section I will go off topic to mention the service I got in HKT today. Was flying on MAS to KUL in economy, but with Sapphire status. After a bit of a debate with the person managing the queue (‘go join long queue’ , ‘er, no’). I checked in at Business counter, and was given lounge passes. Then a member of staff took me and partner straight through the passport queue, then to crew security screening, and then on to the Coral First Class lounge where we served Harrods teas, cakes etc! Paid access to this lounge costs £44. All the time I was wondering if this was a mistake or not, but then I saw a few other lounge peeps sitting in the economy section on the flight.

    • The Coral does offer that sort of experience i.e. priority screening for a price. It’s also a Priority Pass lounge – but I think you just get to use the lounge with PP and not the bells and whistles you got. Qatar use the Thai lounge and you don’t get the priority lane thrown in – or at least we didn’t this year. Neither lounge is up to much but I think the Thai lounge is marginally better but there’s really very little between them..

      • The new terminal has a First Class lounge, the one we got in, they advised that they don’t accept Priority Pass and that PP customers need to use their business class lounge. The lounge was good and seemed a copy of the Harrods tea rooms you see in the upscale malls. Also served a proper cup of strongish coffee.

        The old HKT terminal had a Thai airways restaurant which was the best place to go (rather than Coral), I never saw it busy and suspect people thought it a lounge.

    • I had the whole ‘go join the long queue’ experience when flying TK from Heathrow at the weekend in business. We’d arrived at Terminal 2 just after 8:00 am (for 11:40 am flight), as we wanted to do a bit of shopping airside and enjoy the United lounge. The business check-in desk was closed. Huge queue for the economy desks. When we eventually found someone, we were directed to join the economy queue or wait 30 minutes for the biz desk to open…

  16. OT: Rob, have you seen the FT article published this afternoon on the US credit card/points schemes? Think it’ll be in tomorrow morning’s print edition. As the first commenter on the article points out, the boom in the US is not being matched here thanks to the EU cap…

    • No, don’t have a sub. This is probably on the back of the Chase CEO complaining about falling card profits to fund more extravagant perks.

      • th real harry says:

        FT left this one public (The Big Read)

        Credit card providers fight to stay top of your wallet
        US lenders splash out on reward schemes but need customers to stick around and spend
        Of course Brian Kelly named his dog Miles. Mr Kelly has been obsessing about air miles and credit card rewards since he was a child. In the 1990s he helped his father book business trips on the internet, amassing enough miles to send the family on winter holidays that made neighbours think they were hugely wealthy.
        Scroll forward 20 years and Mr Kelly is the go-to guy for millions of people who want to maximise their credit card rewards. From an office in Manhattan’s financial district, where Miles, a blue French bulldog, plays beneath the desks of a staff of 10 writers, Mr Kelly runs The Points Guy, the most popular of a host of websites that help cardholders compare air miles and other perks on offer for signing up to new cards and for putting purchases on them.

        Partly thanks to sites like Mr Kelly’s, the battle to be “top of wallet” among America’s highest-earning, highest-spending cardholders intensified sharply in 2016 — and it looks likely to escalate further, so much so that the rewards war has started to concern investors and analysts.

        American Express, whose Platinum card was once an undisputed must-have for premium travellers, is having to launch a costly fightback against Chase, which launched its Sapphire Reserve card this year with eye-popping sign-up bonuses and extensive rewards on spending. Chase attracted so much interest that its supplier ran out of the metal to make the Reserve card and the bank had to issue plastic ones instead. Now it must convince investors that these excited new customers will stick around long enough — and spend and borrow enough — to justify the costs of luring them over.

        Consumers become savvy

        It is possible to declare one winner of the rewards war already: consumers. “It is an amazing time to be a consumer,” says Mr Kelly. “Sign-up bonuses of 100,000 points on the Sapphire Reserve, up to 250,000 points on small-business cards from Amex, and more and more. Miles and points are cash, that’s what we teach people, and it’s certainly nice when the credit card companies are giving you $1,000, $1,500, $2,000 for getting a single credit card.”
        Issuers are also trying to persuade customers to put more on their particular card by offering extra rewards across a range of purchases. After Chase offered triple points on restaurant spending on the Sapphire Reserve, Amex responded by saying flights purchased with its Platinum card would earn five times the points. These accumulated rewards points can be converted into more flights, upgrades and other travel perks, such as access to plush airport lounges and free hotel stays — all paid for by the card providers. There are other offers and rebates; both Amex and Chase return some portion of the annual card fee to customers to spend on travel, and Chase has wooed millennial customers by expanding that rebate to cover Uber rides.
        Between 2010 and the end of 2015, the six largest US card issuers paid more than $100bn in credit card rewards, according to the research firm Instinet, and this year has witnessed the fastest growth so far. The six issuers — which also include Capital One, Citigroup, Bank of America and Discover — are on course to pay $22.6bn in rewards this year, 18 per cent higher than in 2015 and more than twice the sum they paid out as recently as 2010. Amex, with an estimated $6.8bn in rewards costs, remains the most generous, but at $6.6bn, Chase has almost closed the gap.

        Bill Carcache and Steven Chubak, the analysts behind the Instinet report, say that while the bank issuers have all at least doubled their rewards expenses in the past six years, Amex’s payouts have grown only 36 per cent. When it comes to premium customers, the company may be paying out less than half the rewards of its rivals. It will have to be more generous, they said, “particularly in a market where heightened transparency exists round the value of rewards and consumers have no tolerance for being short-changed”.

        Gary Leff, who writes View From The Wing, a travel blog, says consumers are becoming savvier at comparing rewards offers. “Not all points are equally valuable, since you have all these proprietary currencies that do not equate one to one,” he says. “Consumers have come to understand them better — not perfectly, but enough that programmes have to adapt and stay competitive.”
        Mr Leff and Mr Kelly agree that the comparison websites should not take all the credit for the rewards war. Perhaps the biggest factor is the regulatory changes wrought in the US by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform. While more esoteric forms of lending and market activity have been penalised, big banks have found that standard credit card lending to consumers is more lucrative, hence the dash to grab market share.

        Profitable model

        The bank issuers and Amex have taken different approaches to making money from credit cards. Amex has traditionally earned the bulk of its revenue from the fees that merchants pay on each transaction, while banks collect more from interest on customers’ balances. In the jargon, Amex has a “spend-centric” model, while banks are “lend-centric”. That means Amex and banks are trying to encourage different patterns of use by their cardholders.
        The existence of the comparison sites raises the possibility that customers will prove less loyal and predictable than in the past. While Chase and Amex splurge on advertising their offers on these sites, analysts are worried about the efficacy of the strategy.

        “We are reluctant to count too heavily on loyalty in today’s rewards environment,” Messrs Carcache and Chubak wrote. “We believe sites like these tend to attract high-risk customers who are prone to accepting an offer with the end goal of earning reward points after achieving a minimum spending target within a present timeframe, only to turn around and stuff the card in a shoe box after receiving the welcome offer.”

        This is a concern at Amex, too. Ken Chenault, the company’s chief executive for the past 15 years, said it would not be chasing new customers and new customer spending at any cost. “We are not interested in chasing short-term market share,” he said at a Goldman Sachs conference this month. “The focus is not just on promotions. That’s really not why they get a Platinum card. They get a Platinum card based on the services that we provide. The Centurion lounges [at airports], the concierge services, the Transportation Security Administration Global Entry fee, all of those features are very important.”
        Concerns notwithstanding, Amex has been unable to avoid the fray. It has told investors to expect “significantly higher” marketing and promotional spending in the fourth quarter, so that the full-year total will be about 10 per cent more than last year’s $3.1bn. This spending includes the costs of sign-up bonuses, such as the 40,000 membership rewards points it offers new Platinum customers.

        At the same time, it has told investors that it will also be more generous with rewards on spending in 2017 — although rarely has a multimillion-dollar giveaway been promised in such dry language. “You will see a reversal of the trend we have seen the last few quarters where neutral rewards have been growing a little bit more slowly than billings,” Jeff Campbell, Amex chief financial officer, said on the company’s most recent earnings call in October.

        The promise of extra spending on rewards and promotions comes after a period of cost-cutting by Amex, its earlier response to the decline in market share and profitability. The company’s shares, which fell 25 per cent in 2015, have risen 8 per cent this year but they lag the S&P 500’s 11 per cent gain.
        ValueAct, the activist hedge fund that targets companies in need of a big strategic overhaul, sniffed around the company last year, taking a $1bn stake but then selling out without making a public case for change. Concern over the company even surfaced at Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting this year. Berkshire, run by the legendary investor Warren Buffett, is Amex’s largest shareholder, with a 16 per cent stake, and Amex is one of Berkshire’s “big four” publicly traded investments.

        “I still feel good about owning American Express,” Mr Buffett said at the Berkshire meeting in April. “Their position . . . will continue to be under attack. It’s too big a business . . . for people to ignore it.”

        Mr Chenault has taken a similar line with critics, pointing out that despite the fierce competition from Chase Sapphire Reserve in the premium market, the company has increased its customer base and income from card fees, such as the $450-a-year Platinum fee.

        “Most of the competitors are copying us,” he told the Goldman Sachs audience. “Clearly, the environment we’re in is very intense competitively. But the reality is that we’ve been dealing with competition for decades. If someone takes the position that all customers are the same, and they will react only to promotional offers or something that’s free, and they discount the elements of value, we wouldn’t have been in business over the last 50 years.”
        Mr Leff says that while Chase has won market share for its Sapphire Reserve card with offers such as triple points on restaurant spending, Amex may be more subtle.

        “Amex uses a lot more targeted offers than Chase does, and they think they have got better at figuring which customers they are trying to acquire. There are lots of things that they try to do to make their portfolios better when they acquire those customers, giving them bonuses for different kind of spending.”

        Many winners

        For the savviest consumers, this means more potential travel perks and freebies, and as trailblazers like Mr Kelly have shown, it can bring a big lifestyle upgrade. A recent holiday was paid for with the piles of rewards currencies he has accumulated across his 30 personal and business credit cards. It is some boast: first class to the Maldives, via JFK, Frankfurt and Singapore, for 221,000 KrisFlyer points and 170.80 Singapore dollars instead of a $10,616 cash outlay; a five-night stay at the St Regis Maldives for 130,000 Starpoints instead of $11,655 out of pocket.

        “It is just a shame Miles the dog has to stay home,” he adds.

        Consumers may be winning the rewards wars, but that does not mean that Amex, Chase, Citi and the rest will ultimately be losers. In fact, there can be many winners, Mr Kelly says.

        “Airlines have gotten billions of dollars from the credit card companies. The card companies are getting even more billions from merchants to process credit cards. So, that’s what I like about it. When consumers are educated, too, everyone can make out.”

  17. OT. Mrs Genghis just sent me this http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4059028/Three-British-Airways-passengers-fliers-flight.html

    Three course meal? Erm… Barely. And 10 mini bottles of the cheap (yet drinkable) champagne between 3? Even a mate and I managed 4 each LGW-BOD recently. Lightweights.

  18. Apologies if this has been mentioned elsewhere this site, finally Qatar Airways site has the form for transfer QMiles to Accorhotels points. Quite difficult to find the actual form for transfer request.

    Log in to your Qatar account. Click ‘redeem my Qmiles/Qcredits’ from tabs at top of page.
    Click ‘redeem with partners’ link on left hand side of page. Select the ‘convert q miles’ option from tabs in middle of page.
    This takes you to the conversion request form.
    Select partner (Accor) from drop down menu. Enter your Accor account number.
    Enter how many blocks of Qmiles you are requesting be converted (see below*)
    As you proceed you will be prompted for a one time password (OTP) which Qatar will have just sent by SMS or eMail. Agree terms/conditions. Submit request. Phew.

    *Blocks of 4,500 QM convert to 1000 Accor points, max 10 blocks allowed. Qatar will mull it over for up to ten days and approve or reject your transfer request.
    Fingers crossed – my QMiles expire in less than ten days, figured its worth a shot as theyre going to waste otherwise.

  19. Kevin Hastings says:

    Qatar seem to be having a couple of good deals in Business:

    £1,000 to China from BUD (on A320 though)
    £1,100 to BKK from Venice (DOH-BKK on A380)