A few weeks ago a reader (thank you) sent me an email to ask “Do you know that Instamiles has added Avios and Virgin Flying Club as partners?“.
I didn’t, because I had never heard of Instamiles. Even odder, a search of the entire Flyertalk discussion database – 27 million posts – does not bring up a single mention of it.
This is how it seems to work. Instamiles, a French company, runs via a smartphone app which signs contracts with major duty free operators to entice you into their stores. The way it does this is by offering you a bribe of frequent flyer miles to check out the prices of various goods.
The parent company, Hi Duty Free, runs an online service which links up shoppers looking to buy specific duty free items which frequent flyers passing through specific airports.
This is their Heathrow home screen:
Here is a typical task I got:
I would earn 250 Avios or Virgin miles by taking and uploading a photograph of any product from Shiseido, La Prairie, Clarins, Philosophy Coty, Estee Lauder or L’Occitane, along with a second photograph showing the price tag.
The app only works at selected airports. The only participating airport in the UK is London Heathrow.
Other participating airports are New York JFK, Shanghai, Singapore, Paris CDG, Paris Orly, Washington Dulles, Los Angeles, Geneva, Beijing, San Diego, San Francisco, Hong Kong, Dubai, Frankfurt, Nice, Lyon, Sydney, Toulouse and Brussels.
Some tasks are broader, for example this one just required a picture of any high value leather, watch or jewellery product:
I gave it a try at Heathrow last week. I felt a little self concious taking the required photographs, to be honest. You take the first photograph of the item and then need to wait a few seconds whilst it uploads before you can take the price tag photograph. Because the photos upload immediately, you need to be logged in to airport wi-fi or have roaming enabled on your phone when outside the UK.
You need to earn 2,500 miles before they are transferred across. So far, I have been credited with 1,500 miles from my photographs taken last Tuesday – they credited seven days later. This is despite the fact that their website states that tasks will be validated ‘within 72 hours’.
I should have received 2,000 miles and not 1,500. I don’t know if another 500 will appear later or if they have disqualified my 500 mile ‘take a photograph of some jewellery’ task – although the task remains greyed out in the app and was completed as required.
I was able to complete another task in Dubai last Friday and that should earn me a further 500 miles.
Apart from Avios and Virgin, supported airline programmes are:
- Flying Blue
- Qatar Privilege Club
- Qantas Frequent Flyer
- Turkish Miles & Smiles
- THAI Royal Orchid Plus
- TAP Victoria
- TAM Fidelidade
- South African Voyager
- Singapore KrisFlyer
- Korean SKYPASS
- JAL Mileage Bank
- Emirates Skywards
- China Airlines Dynasty
- Asiana Club
- ANA Mileage Club
- Aeromexico Club Premier
- Aeroflot Bonus
- Jet Privilege
- China Southern Sky Pearl Club
- China Eastern
- Asia Miles
- Delta Skymiles
- Etihad Guest
- United Mileage Plus
- Miles & More
- American AAdvantage
As I haven’t yet received all the miles I am expecting – or had them successfully transfer to my Avios account – I cannot yet recommend Instamiles as something you should try. I am simply telling you about my experiences so far. I will do an update if / when the final miles I am due appear and I am able to do a transfer them across to British Airways.
You can find out more about Instamiles on their website here.