Bits: Aer Lingus Avios taxes fall, Mail Rail bookable!, Hilton Avios offer update

News in brief:

Aer Lingus showing reduced taxes on Avios redemptions

Back in December 2016, Aer Lingus reward availability finally appeared on avios.com.  (It is still not available via ba.com – you need to call the Executive Club.)

AerClub, the Aer Lingus Avios scheme, has been beset with IT problems since the launch.  It’s got so bad that CEO Stephen Cavanagh has had to start defending the scheme to the press.

There were two problems with Aer Lingus redemption bookings:

long-haul, the taxes in Business Class were just over £200 (Boston is £214 return).  Whilst cheaper than the £500 BA wants for London to Boston, it was triple the £75 or so that you get charged if you book via British Airways Executive Club.   Oddly, this has not changed – book Dublin to Boston on avios.com and pay £214 of tax, or ring BA and book it using BA Executive Club Avios and pay £75ish of tax.

short-haul, the taxes were ludicrous.  With no Reward Flight Saver, an economy flight on Aer Lingus between London and Dublin came with taxes of £116.85 return!  This compares to £35 for a British Airways flight on the same route.  It was also more than you pay, on most days, for a cash ticket on that route.

The short-haul problems seem to have been fixed over the last couple of months.

A return Economy flight between Heathrow and Dublin now costs £54.70 in taxes and charges, a reduction of £62.  This is still more than the £35 Reward Flight Saver fee for a British Airways flight but you’re getting closer.  You may prefer Aer Lingus if you have Plaza Premium lounge access at Heathrow Terminal 2, for example.

Aer Lingus 350

Tickets for London’s Mail Rail now bookable

This has nothing to do with flying, but I know the mindset of our readers!

The new Postal Museum in London opens on 28th July.  It will soon be getting a fantastic new attraction as the old Post Office underground railway opens for tourist trips.

From September, visitors can take a train ride back in time, exploring the stalactite-filled tunnels, Royal Mail’s Mount Pleasant sorting office and see the largely unchanged station platforms.

Tickets went on sale this week and can be booked on the Postal Museum website.  If you want to be among the first to try it out I would pre-book now as demand is likely to be high.

mail rail mount pleasant

Quick addendum to the Hilton / Avios offer

I did an article yesterday reminding readers about the generous ‘2000 Avios per stay’ promo currently being run by Hilton.

I forgot to mention that there is one condition attached to that promotion – hotels in Mainland China, Macau, Hong Kong, and Taiwan are excluded.  If you have any of these stays due, switch back to ‘Points and Points’ for those which will be more rewarding.

(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.)

Holiday Tips 3 – earning Avios or other miles when ordering foreign currency
Back in the No 1 Lounge at Gatwick South (for BA and Norwegian passengers)
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Comments

  1. Mrtibbs1999 says:

    Still not fixed for Dublin- Manchester. Shows as 16k plus £212 for 2 adults…

    • Can’t even find EDI-DUB availability to check, but imagine they’ve only fixed this on London services given (I believe) all the flights to other UK airports are via EI Regional?

      (also found a bug in BA app when trying to change dates for reward search, very annoying!)

    • James A says:

      Showed the same for me when I checked last week.

    • Bill Hogg says:

      IOM-DUB-IOM
      8,000 Avios plus £122

      Haha

  2. Arthur Munday says:

    Strange exclusion from the Hilton offer, as there are no Hilton properties in Taiwan…
    I got my 10,000 Avios 1 stay earlier than expected as one Hilton in Romania kindly posted the 2,000 Avios for a recent reward night.

    • yes, i really do like that phrasing. Seems like the chinese HMA group (owner of Hilton) wants to show their obedience to the Chinese government who considers the (for now) free, democratic country of Taiwan its property and is threatining it with an invasion

      • Genghis says:

        Why would PRC want to make specific reference to ROC if they don’t think it exists?

    • the_real_a says:

      Considering i picked up a hilton for about £30 in china last year, i would imagine the rates dont allow the economics of the offer to work for them in this region.

  3. 2000 points credited fine for my recent stay in China. Maybe I got lucky.

  4. We had a school trip to Mount Pleasant sorting office in the 80s and seeing the Mail Rail trains working was brilliant! Would highly recommend it.

    • Genghis says:

      My wife sent me a link a couple of weeks ago but thanks HfP for the notice that tickets are now on sale. Just booked. You understand the HfP demographic well as this is right up my street.

      • Agreed, hopefully can get tickets next time I’m visiting London. Would also highly recommend Bletchley Park for a visit – regular direct trains from Euston.

        • Not into post offices but Bletchley is fantastic and you get an annual pass with your entry fee.

          • Yep, plus 241 on entry when visiting by train – got my folks to use that deal and they had a great visit!

      • Yes, thanks Raffles. Just booked!

      • Janeyferr says:

        I booked on Tuesday for Sept 9th. I’m rather excited.

  5. Genghis says:

    OT. Nationwide Simply Rewards. I’ve never used it before but received an email for £8 back on £8+ spend at Uber. Was thinking of sending a £8 gift code to myself to get essentially a free £8. Can anyone foresee any problems with this?

    • If it’s the same offer I’ve got on my card then doesn’t sound like it’s possible, seems to only new customers and for taking a journey… “To redeem this offer, you must be a first time app user and sign up at https://get.uber.com/go/visauk. The cashback will be applied after your first journey of £8 or more. Offer valid in the Uber mobile app for one purchase. Offer only valid for UK journeys”

      Related to Nationwide, if you’ve finished your first year at 5% interest on £2.5k, then worth calling them to ‘check’ (and thus annotate your account) that you’ll be eligible for the 5% rate again in 12 months’ time, assuming the same offer is still running. I’d read variable comments about this, so initially asked about downloading for 12 months to Flex and then upgrading again, but they proactively offered to do it thus way for me. Means I’ve also kept a new Flexclusive Regular Saver going at 5%, OK only for £250/mo, but better than the usual 1%!

      • Genghis says:

        Oh well. Didn’t properly read T&Cs.

        Good tip Alan on the account. Mrs G and I each have the 5% £500 pcm reg saver and she still has 5% on the current account but I’m down to 1%, hence I only keep a token amount in there. I’ll call them up on Mon. Top man!

        • No prob, thought worth a punt after reading conflicting reports on MSE. Nationwide CS generally pretty decent I find!

      • JamesB says:

        Sorry, I don’t follow, do you mean that if we close fkexdirect after the first year we need to wait 12 months to reapply and get the 5% again? I was hoping to do do within days as I use interest on this and flexplus to cover my flexplus fee. Flexplus fee increasing to £13/month in September with reduced benefits.

        Btw, limit on flexclusive regular saver is £500/month.

        • Yes, that’s what the terms say – only eligible for 5% if not had it for 12 months. The ‘benefit’ I found is that you don’t need to actually close it – you can keep it open at the 1% rate then after 12 months call them up and ask to go back to 5%. This saves hassle and keeps your free FlexDirect account open for the regular saver.

          It used to be £500/mo for Flexclusive Regular Saver, but it has been reduced to £250 as of Thursday… http://www.nationwide.co.uk/products/savings/flexclusive-regular-saver/features-and-benefits (see 13th July mention)

          • Genghis says:

            Shame gone down to only £250. It’s getting harder and harder to earn a few quid of interest…

          • Definitely. Glad I opened a new one a few weeks ago and bagged 2x Tesco £3k account last before they had the DD requirements added. Must admit I’ve put more in Zopa recently. Higher risk but much higher return and I’ve not had that much bad debt.

          • Genghis says:

            What’s your % net return over last year, post impairment, Alan?

          • the real harry1 says:

            I don’t mess around with these a/cs – much simpler IMV to have an offset mortgage with a tax-free offset saving a/c

          • Agree offset can be a good idea, but I’m on a tracker for the life of the loan so paying <1% and can get more than that even after tax from P2P lending like Zopa 😛

          • Lev441 says:

            Damn, my first year of flexculsive regular is up in a few days… shame I missed the £500 maximum monthly deposit by about a week!

          • JamesB says:

            Thanks Alan, I’ll follow your guidelines and keep the flexdirect open, particularly since the 15y loyalty saver is now down to 0.75%. Bad news on the FRS, I’m just two months away from renewal. I wonder if the banks are now cutting rates and limits etc in anticipation of a base rate increase so that any benefits they need to be seen to be passing on in response will be starting froman even lower levels.

          • Could well be the case – I also wonder if they looked at the market and realised so many others were either lower rates or lower permitted amounts that they had flexibility to reduce it?

            Would suggest contacting N/wide CS at some point to get them to annotate your account re the 12 month back to 5% option in case they try and deny it in a year’s time 😉 They pro-actively suggested it to me when I called to switch it to a normal FlexAccount, so was happy to take them up on it, but their (normally well-informed) Twitter team hadn’t thought it was an option. CS agent said she’d made a note of my account though so shouldn’t be an issue – assuming of course they’re still offering the deal next year!

    • Alex W says:

      @Harry, the returns on an offset mortgage can’t be more than a couple of % at the moment? Or am I wrong?

      • the real harry1 says:

        it’s exactly the same return as your mortgage rate – as the provider doesn’t actually pay any interest (which is why it is tax-free) but reduces your mortgage outstanding by the same amount you have invested in the savings a/c

        ie your savings a/c holds £10K, your mortgage is £50K, you only pay interest on £40K

        • Alex W says:

          I understand the concept.
          But even if your mortgage interest rate is 2%, which I would have thought is quite high given current borrowing rates, and you’re a higher rate taxpayer, that works out to 3.33%, which I reckon you would easily beat with zopa.
          Problem for me is offset mortgage needs a low LTV, about 60% I recall. And these mortgages seem to have low interest rates below 2%. I am not close to busting the personal savings allowance at the moment so wouldn’t see the benefit of offset mortgage even if I had a big enough deposit.

          • Nick M says:

            Whenever I’ve looked at offset mortgages for clients the interest rates have always been significantly higher than standard mortgages (unless you have a legacy offset with a lifetime tracker for example)… so usually makes sense to go for a regular deal and then look to maximise savings elsewhere – savings rates obv come down recently but could get average 4% on £80k in various instant access this time last year.

          • the real harry1 says:

            I guess it comes down to how you interpret ‘significantly’

            last time round I wanted a 5 year fix – having paid my first mortgage through the 15% pa years, I’m cautious – and my 5 yr offset mortgage deal was about 0.2% higher than the cheapest 5 yr fix (non-offset) alternative

          • JamesB says:

            I have not had a mortgage for some years but in the past I always found those with the best rates tended to have the worst booking fees, penalties etc. When looking at a range of mortgages with very different rates and fees over a full term the differences in the total amount payable was remarkably similar. Thus, choice of mortgage owed more to the way you wanted to pay it (fix, cap, variable, subsidy etc) than to the overall amount payable. This may remain the case today or may have changed, I don’t know. When I did have a mortgage thoughI just stuck wuth SVR products with no fees, penalties that could be avouded and flexibility to overpay. This worked well for me but it was during a period when the rate peaked at about 7% and was 4-5.5% for most of the term.

          • Nick M says:

            From memory, the most recent difference was circa £600 pa on a small mortgage (£150k?) – you need to factor in the differences in arrangement fees and other costs too. And then think about what returns you can get elsewhere without taking on risk or too much hassle

  6. For the Postal Museum we got a presale offer as were on the mailing list. However took nearly two hours to complete the booking due to the demand! Going in first weekend. Sounds great and yes good match to this site. PS if you join MyGatwick you get MoneyCorp prebooked rate for a walk up purchase with a voucher.

  7. Flyer68 says:

    You can lower the price of the BA RFS return flight Heathrow – Dublin by choosing singles instead (Heathrow – Dublin 4500 plus £17.50 and Dublin – Heathrow 4500 plus £10.60).
    For the Aer Lingus bookings on Avios.com, Dublin (or Shannon/Cork) – Heathrow single at 4500 plus £15.90 is pretty good. However Dublin – Gatwick single at 4500 plus £43.90 makes no sense at all.

    • Flyer68 Thanks for that. I always do the ow options too, but am sometimes stuck for a seat, so have had to bookJ ow. So, will def look at the EI options in future. Yes the LGW tax makes no sense at all!

    • This is where being in the North West has a rare advantage as Liverpool – Dublin is £35 return with Ryanair!

      • Ryanair option from EDI too, although each time I’ve found that as soon as I added a bag they ended up massively more expensive than EI, so went with the latter instead!

        • JamesB says:

          I looked at the exact same flight EDI-DUB operated by Stobbart Air:; booked for cash via Aer Lingus it was £47, avios + £76 at avios, and £93 cash at BA.

          • Agreed – have never been able to justify using Avios for these connections, always ended up cash with EI.

  8. JamesB says:

    OT: Short economist piece on brexit and EU flights yesterday.

    https://www.economist.com/blogs/gulliver/2017/07/air-pressure-rising

  9. Looking to book Aer Lingus flights from Dublin to New York for points. Does anyone know how many days in advance the redemption seats are released?

  10. Thanks Rob so much for the Mail Rail link. Did some “urban exploration” beneath the old sorting office a few years ago – right down to a partially-flooded floor – but couldn’t access the tunnels themselves. Already booked!

  11. Matt Smith says:

    Just booked DUB-BDL 22/8/17 OW 20k +£65 tax by calling BA. Avios online was quoting 20k +£103, an easy saving just by calling. No phone booking fee either.
    Will use a RFS LCY-DUB for 4.5k to get to DUB

    Anything to avoid the high UK APD :)

    I wonder when they finally standardise their taxes and fees will the telephone booking taxes go up or will the online taxes come down?

    • Matt, that’s superb…that’s the problem really using our 241 vouchers. We are well and truly stung with that £500 plus taxes and fees pp whether we like it or not. However, if we manage to bag F to Asia, then we feel the fees and taxes can be justified. However it’s by. O means a free flight either, those avios are still hard earned. But we would def look at ex Dub stateside again, we did J for JFK last year. Very good value.

      • BrianDT says:

        Sept 11rh onwards, Off Peak and 13000 Avios.

      • BrianDT says:

        Polly. Depends whether you feel £500 +, Is still better value than actually paying for a ticket.

        • JamesB says:

          IMO, it’s not a question of feeling Brian, it comes down to cold hard cash. What are the avios worth in terms of the redemption (cost of revenue flight – redemption tax and fees/avios redeemed), taking into account also what those avios cost us to collect and the value of the avios or other miles we forego by not booking the revenue flight.

          • BrianDT says:

            Regardless, at the and of the day, it is still a worthwhile bonus/discount.

          • JamesB says:

            @Brian, not worthwhile if you can redeem those avios for for higher value against hotels, or if many of them come via clubcard or MR, for better value clubcard or MR deals.

          • Brian, James,
            Yes agree with both points. As we have discussed before, when a really good QR J ex EU sale comes along, then yes, we have actually cancelled our BA F 241 to KUL or HKG. Those prices Are very good, plus of course you are earning avios and TPs back. So yes in hard cash terms, we can justify the luxury of F with a 241, but would never actually pay F prices.
            Brian, that’s a topping price from DUB off peak sept 11th onwards btw. Must look…
            Avios are v valuable tho, when you need last min trips to Dub. If planning, then sometimes we can get really good ow back to LGW on FR. But still like departing out of T5 if l can.

      • JamesB says:

        Our BA bookings with Lloyds vouchers now exINV just to make it more justifiable, increasingly difficult with exEDI revenue fares to Asia readily available at under £1500 return in J. Going forward I expect we will just save those avios for some destination we would never pay cash for.

        • James, do you have v low departure APD from INV then? Also your choices for Asia are so much better now from Scotland. Know you are a fan of AY too for their direct routing.

  12. HarryS says:

    Does anyone know how long the approval process for the Lloyds Avios cards typically take?

    • Lev441 says:

      Around a week or so for the pins and cards to arrive

    • Cuchlainn says:

      7-10 days HarryS but then they plague you with “survey” emails, as to how good the application process was. Plus point : Avios miles effortlessly linked by by Lloyds – well done, no hassle.

  13. Steve Blower says:

    Thanks for the postal museum alert, Rob.
    The first 2 weeks are booked solid already……………..