Bits: Free helicopter with BA Monaco holidays!, Holiday Inn Heathrow rebrands, Avios app for Apple Watch, BA sale ends

Some news in brief:

British Airways offering a free Nice-Monaco helicopter transfer with ‘flight and hotel’ packages!

I think I’ve only ever been in a helicopter twice, and one of those times was to transfer from Nice Airport to Monaco.  (This was a corporate jolly, I wasn’t spending my own money.)

BA has teamed up with the Monaco tourist authority to offer free return helicopter transfers with a ‘flight and hotel’ booking of just two nights during the Winter season (1 November to 31 December).  For the rest of the year, you need to book a minimum of 5 nights hotel stay.  You also get a free transfer from the heliport to your hotel and free tickets for certain Monaco attractions.

This is a really good deal in November.  I found 2 nights at The Fairmont plus economy flights plus helicopter transfers for just £432 for two people (ie £216 each) for the first weekend in November.  Note the small print re the transfers, especially the operating hours of the helicopter.

Full details can be found on here.

Monaco Helicopter

Holiday Inn Heathrow becomes a Leonardo hotel

There were, as of Sunday, three Holiday Inn hotels at Heathrow.  The Holiday Inn London Heathrow – Aerial is the slightly odd circular building which is (in)famous for the single-bedded rooms you can receive if you are not careful when you book.  The Holiday Inn London Heathrow M4 is the one people see from the motorway as they approach the airport.

The third option was the Holiday Inn London Heathrow, pictured below, on Bath Road.

As of yesterday, this property has been rebranded as a Leonardo Hotel, followings its acquisition by an Israeli group.  There are already a handful of Leonardo properties across Europe but there are plans for a larger roll-out in the coming years.

This will be a bit of a loss for anyone chasing qualifying nights for IHG promotions.  A new Holiday Inn, called Holiday Inn London Heathrow Terminal 5 (see here) has recently opened, but there is a large degree of poetic licence in the name given that it is in the village of Colnbrook.  Even the IHG website describes it as being in Slough.

Avios to launch an app for Apple Watch

If you intend to be at the front of the queue to buy an Apple Watch when it launches on April 24th, Avios has you covered.

The Avios Watch app will “allow members of the Avios Travel Rewards Programme to easily see their total Avios balance, alert them when it increases, and help them understand the many ways in which they can spend their Avios.”

Not surprisingly, Avios claims that it is the first loyalty programme in Europe to launch an app for Apple Watch.

There is no word yet on what British Airways and British Airways Executive Club will be launching.  In terms of practicality, I think BA has more to gain from Apple Watch than any of the Avios loyalty schemes.

Apple Watch

Finally …. the British Airways economy flash sale ends today

The short BA World Traveller sale in long-haul economy ends today at midnight.  Take a look at my article from Saturday for more details.  As usual, the Low Fare Finder tool is the quickest way to check the cheapest price, month by month, on a particular route.

Bits: Indian Visa changes, Sofitel Terminal 5 back as a 'secret hotel', how HFP impacted East Coast Rewards
My review of Etihad's Boeing 777 First Class Suite
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  1. Henry C says:

    Interesting to see the HI go, but glad its not the Ariel as that’s always been my favourite.

    • Hehe the irony of them announcing it on Google+ when they still haven’t released an Android Wear version!

  2. FlyingChris says:

    According to their Social Media team on Twitter – BA have an Apple Watch app ready to launch.

    • flyforfun says:

      I think smart watches are pretty pointless. I haven’t worn a watch for over a decade now thanks to smart phones and even the early not so smart ones!

      Until they make a smart watch that I only have to charge up once a month, I don’t think I’ll bother.

  3. Gabbai says:

    The Holiday Inn Express London – Heathrow T5, not to be confused with the Holiday Inn London Heathrow Terminal 5, you write about, is another option. It is even a little further out than the HI but I got to T5 on the Hoppa shuttle in 15 minutes. It is a typical HIEx but a high grade example. Staff were friendly on my visit when I stayed overnight before a fairly early flight. The room was comfortable and the value was excellent. When I arrive at 10pm and leave at 8am, a clean room with a decent shower and a good value price is what I am looking for. The quaint country location was a minor bonus and the 15 minute shuttle as opposed to the 5 minute walk at my last airport overnight [Radisson Blu in Zurich] was a minor inconvenience. I stayed in the Radisson even though it was much more expensive because I really was in transit. In London I had been on vacation and was moving on.

    • Felix Flyer says:

      I liked the HiEx T5 too. There is also a bus stop outside for the regular services but I have always driven there. A shame about losing the HI on Bath Road as that was my favourite of the 3 around there.
      Slightly OT but can anyone remember if the HI M4 J4 used to be a Sheraton? Just curious.

      • Irons1980 says:

        Prior to being a Holiday Inn, it was variously a Forte Crest, PostHouse and various iterations of the two when it was part of the Forte group. When that went, most Crest and PostHouse hotels became Holiday Inns (and the odd Crowne Plaza)

        • Indeed. I remember spending 2 weeks in the PostHouse Taunton (M25, J5) back in 1993! That is now a HI.

        • Felix Flyer says:

          Thanks for the clarification. I had a memory from about 30 years ago that my Grandma stayed there and it was a Sheraton. Obviously as a child I wasn’t as brand aware!

      • It used to be a Trusthouse Forte.

  4. For the Monaco trip, I can’t see it saying 2 nights for the Heli transfer in winter. In the terms I can only see minimum 5 night stay with breakfast?

    • Eh?!

      “The “Passport to Monte Carlo” includes return helicopter transfers between Nice and Monaco and entrance to attractions within Monaco. To qualify for this exclusive benefit, you must book a flight + hotel package for a minimum 2 night stay on a Bed & Breakfast basis for travel between 1 Feb 15-31 Mar 15 & 1 Nov 15-31 Dec 15*.”

      • thank for your reply. That’s on the front page / advert. If you go to book and look at the terms of booking, there is no mention of a 2 night stay. It simply says to qualify a minimum of a 5 night stay with breakfast is required. I’ve taken a screen shot of the front page and booked anyway!

        • pazza2000 says:

          I wonder which is correct? 5 nights in MC is 3 too many but 2 nights, at that pricing, is a good deal…

        • If you do a 2-night booking for November, it also says ‘free helicopter transfer’ in the summary pricing box for the hotels which are taking part.

        • It definitely includes return helicopter flights from 1 Nov. I’ve just received my vouchers and there’s one for each way for each of us, clearly labelled Nice to Monaco and Monaco to Nice. There’s also vouchers for cocktails at the hotel. Very nice!!

  5. Cheshire Pete says:

    The point about the Apple Watch App is will you be able to scan the barcode under the scanner with the watch still on your wrist! I’ve seen the AA App too, which was part of the launch unveiling, and as with the BA one it only shows boarding information, indicating the main main purpose of not having to give over your valuable phone to be scanned, may still be necessary?

    Perhaps there are security reasons/clearances which need to be addresses before we will be able to do this.

    • Frenske says:

      It seems that at the moment smart watches act like an extension for the mobile phone. Albeit a very expensive add-on.
      I don’t really see the point of smart watches and why the big electronics companies are pushing it other than the market for mobiles is saturated.

      • Hingeless says:

        I agree that they are pointlessh , however lots of people said that about tablets when the iPad first arrived.

        • But tablet sales are falling again, as people realise that they aren’t really using them that much and phones are getting larger.

        • We use ours heavily but they have a long life, my kids still use an iPad 2 quite happily and it still runs along at full speed for the things they do. There is no logical reason to upgrade my 18-month old iPad Air this year either unless I am paranoid about shaving another 10% off the weight.

  6. Is it just me who was underwhelmed by the latest BA economy sale? Still £250 more expensive than Delta in April for a lot of routes.

  7. Perhaps it’s my knowledge of geography but all these Monaco hotel deals seem to be in Monaco. So where does the need for a return helicopter from Nice to Monaco come in???

    • Ahhhh, I got it. You fly into Nice then get a free helicopter “airport transfer” to Monaco, where you stay.

    • Macca, Monaco doesn’t have have an airport you must fly to Nice in France (32km away) and transfer by taxi/train/bus/boat or if doing it in style via helicopter.

  8. Nathan says:

    Off topic im afraid – Rob you recently did an article about Turkish airlines sale etc with some very attractive business class flights. Could you try and include those sorts of things more often? It was very useful 🙂

    • It was Qatar, not Turkish. Turkish is not very aggressive out of the UK because – I think – they don’t have the feed capacity, running mainly short haul planes. They have just paid $20m for another Heathrow slot pair which may encourage more fare deals. They need to start running long haul planes on every Heathrow departure before they can start aggressively discounting.

      In general, I have increased the ‘fare deal’ coverage, especially when the prices are similar to BA redemption taxes (!) or, if Qatar, because you earn Avios and tier points.

  9. It seems like not all hotels participate in the “helicopter” offer even though they meet requirements stated in T&C. So make sure you buy through the link provided here, not any other way. It might be just a bug though…

  10. Colin MacKinnon says:

    Fairmont Hotel looks nice, helicopter trips fun, price from London great…..

    Except I live in Scotland.

    So it is £300 more for two people to fly from Glasgow to London to NCE with BA holidays than straight from London.

    Of course, the straight return to LGW on those dates is just £85 per person, ie £170 – which is £130 cheaper.

    And RFSs are available those days for 9,000 avios and £35 quid each

    But with a separate flight, there is no missed connection protection in foggy November, and with Avios I don’t get the cheaper hotel rate and the helicopter.


    • richie says:

      No protection but you can be sure ba would look after you after being delayed on a ba flight-as long as you leave 2h between

    • Classic BA pricing nowadays sadly 🙁 Agree that 2h connection time spare they should look after you but so frustrating they can’t just offer it as an all-in-one price.

    • Colin MacKinnon says:

      Oh well,

      Now took the plunge and booked 1st weekend in November – and took advantage of the third night free at the Fairmont.

      With a 70 min connection available at Gatwick – have no BA status, so if a delay then Gatwick and Priority Plus is an advantage – I didn’t want to risk two bookings.

      Now to confirm with BA it is a return heli in winter!

  11. anyone spotted any monaco/helicopter availability before 31st march? i’m due a few days break in the next two weeks – this sounds good!

  12. Graeme says:

    Booked a weekend at the Le Meridien Beach Plaza with helicopter transfers for the first full weekend in November, came to about £245 each. I checked the prices for the flights, hotel and transfers and they came to around £900 if booked separately.

    For what it’s worth, for the same dates (6th-8th of Nov), I could have booked the Fairmont WITH the transfers but WITHOUT breakfast (it came to quite a bit more for a sea view and breakfast, which is why I chose the Le Meridien).

    This is a fantastic deal and should be a great experience – thanks again, Raffles!

  13. Endorse what Raffles says abou timing of helicopter flights, esp as we are travelling from GLA.
    If you don’t leave in time to make NCE by dusk you’re making your own way to Monaco. However if the helicopter is off due to bad weather they will chauffeur you to Monaco.
    We booked 2 nights in Nov, leaving Sat morn instead of Fri night.

    • I think there are going to be quite a few of us in Monaco on the first full weekend in November!!

  14. Gulliver says:

    My “Monaco Passport” vouchers arrived yesterday for a two-night trip booked for December. I can confirm that I received return Nice to Monaco helicopter transfer vouchers (plus a number of museum / visitor attraction free entry vouchers, and vouchers for a free gift or drink/cocktail from my chosen hotel) for each named passenger. The accompanying leaflet did not provide much more in the way of information on how to use the vouchers or other restrictions.