Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Bits: Free helicopter with Monaco holidays, Holiday Inn Heathrow rebrands, Avios on Apple Watch

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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 ba.com 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.

Comments (42)

  • 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 🙂

    • Rob says:

      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.

  • opal says:

    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…

  • 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.

    Aaaargh!

    • 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

    • Alan says:

      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!

  • n says:

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

  • 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!

  • David says:

    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.

    • Ken says:

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

  • 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.