Bits: Use Virgin miles on East Coast trains, £1k business class to Asia starting in the UK

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More news in brief:

Virgin Atlantic allowing redemptions for Virgin East Coast trains

Virgin Atlantic is now allowing you to redeem your miles for Virgin East Coast rail tickets.  The rate is pretty poor – 6,250 miles for a £25 voucher – but no worse than Virgin offers if you redeem for any of their other voucher-based redemptions such as Theatre Tokens, Virgin Wine etc.

What is good about this deal is the 6,250 mile minimum redemption.  Other Virgin voucher deals require 12,500 miles.  This could be a good way of using up a small amount of Virgin miles.

Note that the vouchers can only be used online and ONLY for the cheap ‘Advance’ train tickets.

Remember that you also earn Virgin Flying Club miles when you buy rail tickets via the Virgin East Coast site.  This is arguably a better deal than taking Nectar points.

Until September 30th, you can also convert spare East Coast Rewards points to Virgin Flying Club at a decent 1 to 6 ratio.  I have already sent my last few East Coast Rewards points across.

More details about all of these offers can be found on the Virgin Atlantic website here.

Virgin East Coast

Excellent Turkish Airlines deals from the regions

Reader James mentioned in the comments yesterday that Turkish Airlines was running some aggressive business class fares.  He was right.

I took a look at prices for departures out of Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh.

I don’t know what dates they are running these fares on, but I checked for mid September.  I found:

Dubai £1,005 return

Singapore £1,415 return

Bangkok £1,208 return

These are business class fares, of course.  Turkish Airlines is in Star Alliance so you could credit them to a variety of loyalty programmes.  The other bit of good news is that the Turkish Airlines lounges in Istanbul are meant to be incredibly good.

The downside, compared to Etihad / Qatar / Emirates, is that the first leg will be on a short-haul aircraft.  You would need to be careful that the second leg wasn’t on a short-haul plane as well.  Flying short-haul from Edinburgh to Istanbul (and then on to Singapore) is worse than flying Etihad and getting a flat bed all the way.

On the upside, you don’t need to travel outside the UK to start your trip.

If you have a long-haul trip to the Middle East or Asia in mind for the Autumn, it is worth going over to the Turkish Airlines website and seeing what prices you can find from the UK regions.

Bits: Tesco / Flybe promo, Tesco / BA competition, 2500 Hilton points for using Keyless
Bits: 2400 Avios with Tesco Wine, £1k Qatar business tickets back!, 16 Avios per £1 at Selfridges
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  1. TK actually runs a proper J class cabin on their short haul aircraft (proper squishy armchair seats; none of this convertible 3-3 stuff) which I’d say is more than adequate for the 4 hour hop to Istanbul. If couples I’d even go so far as to say it’s preferable to the staggered style EY or EK seats. And TK catering (both in the air and on the ground) is the best I’ve ever experienced at a Business Class metric.

    • James says:

      Also note that TK are increasingly flying the A332 to MAN, substituting the regular A321 whenever advance bookings are good. If you’re flexible you could get flat bed all the way if you hunt around a bit.

  2. James67 says:

    Following the EY 30% off Tuesdays and Wednesdays a couple of months back this is the second time this summer we have seen UK to south and east Asia hit the £1200ish mark in J. Typically the cheapest fare is about £1350 rtn with China Airlines from regions via AMS but they are hardly a mainstream carrier and the cheapest fares usually only available on their AMS-BKK fifth freedom route. May be wrong but I think they also only have angle flat seats at best. Given these fares were available in the summer, this bodes well for low season offers. When combined with pssible cuts and/or elimination of APD and continued growth in regional ME3 options it seems promising that the sub£1k fares from the regions may become more common, oarticularly if oil costs remain low.

  3. Erico1875 says:

    What is great is we now have Qatar, Turkish and Etihad all competing for Eastern routes from Edinburgh.

    • Indeed – great news 🙂 Plus KLM flights to AMS for either onward connections with them or an ex-EU BA!

      • James67 says:

        I find CPH a little better as SAS have very competitive one way fares including bags. Eayjet and Norwegian also currently fly the route and Ryanair about to start too. I hope SK don’t get squeezed out due to peoples ignorance about LCCs. What Edinburgh needs now is a daily AY flight to HEL on their own metal for connectiins to north Asia and Japan.

        • Good point re CPH and agree re SAS. OSL is also an option on Norwegian from EDI, excellent fares (~£2k in CW) to Oz with BA from there pretty much year round at present.

    • Options out of EDI are now very good. Its a shame that Emirates have such a monopoly at GLA with the 2 flights per day, and speculation of going to 3 flights per day, they even have their own lounge now. It is a great service, but EK dont offer these bargain fares!

      • James67 says:

        What I find surprising is that so far none of the ME3 have tapped into the potential of Scotland-Canada/USA fifth freedom flights.

        • callum says:

          Why is Scotland particularly suitable above the rest of Europe?

          Not to mention they can’t just fly anywhere they want. The odds of them being granted the right to fly Scotland to US are non existent. Scotland to Canada doesn’t seem a particularly exciting market for them and similarly, the odds of getting such rights are close to nill.

          • James67 says:

            Well there was a time when there were direct flights from Scotlabd to Halifax, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver so demand must be there A few years back most would have argued no market east-bound either but now all three ME3 carriers operating and reportedly looking to increase schedules.

          • Agreed. Also it’s not that they’re particularly suitable over anywhere else, more just that they already fly from EDI/GLA so it would offer an interesting additional routing. If Scotland get rid of APD I’d imagine there would also be interest to many in the North of England!

  4. TK’s Istanbul lounge is probably the best lounge I’ve ever been in – huge, stylish, excellent food, brilliant facilities for children and great showers. And their IST-BKK service on the 777 is also excellent – flat beds, great food.

  5. Daniel says:

    The point to remember as well with using Qatar for example is BA Tier Point Status 4 x 140 TP is something that can easily push to Silver, whereas TA belong to Lufthansa Miles & More which for example for me is useless (still have quite good stack of points I cannot redeem for anything really…(maybe UA flight to states at some point…)

    • callum says:

      They don’t “belong” to miles and more… My preferred star alliance scheme is United’s – Guatemala to Ecuador with a stop in the Galapagos Islands for 10k miles quite possibly being my best value redemption ever.

  6. Rob, how long did it take East Coast point conversion to arrive in Virgin Flying Club account? Mine are taking a while…

    • It did take a couple of weeks at least – but they did arrive. It was such a small number I didn’t really track it.

    • James67 says:

      First time I tried it failed and they were returned to EC. Second time I tried it took exactly a week.

      • Same happened to me – they said there was a security breach so all transactions had been reversed.

        • James67 says:

          That’s same message I got but I think at IT glitch was likely the real reason. Seems to be eorking now though and still some time before the deadline.

          • Mine have been in transit for two weeks so hopefully will emerge soon…

          • James67 says:

            Send them a message but don’t be surprised if rge answer has nothing to do with the questions you ask!

  7. I’ll be in that IST lounge in a couple of weeks. Only heard good things. Not sure anything can compare to Al Mourjan though.

    • Brian says:

      You mean nothing can compare to the soullessness and dead feeling of Al Mourjan? Wouldn’t surprise me.

      • James67 says:

        I too was unimpressed, it just felt like an extension of the normal terminal space. Have never been in IST but my partner has high regard for both the airline and the lounge. As far as lounges go I still fink Thais spa trumps the lot.

        • Brian says:

          Yes, it’s huge, no doubt has great facilities and a wide range of dining options. But zero character and the staff – unlike those on the planes – are as soulless and dead-eyed as the place itself.

      • Waribai says:

        Yes, must admit, I was expecting great things. Nice and shiny but I thought the atmosphere was lacking a certain jnsq. Might just have been because I was there over Xmas!

  8. James67 says:

    OT: ETIHAD HILTON HHONORS INSTANT GOLD. Etihad Guest members take care not to delete emails. It is the latest airline to offer instant gold through 31 October, quadruple miles and gold retention with three stays.

    • Waribai says:

      At this rate, it’ll be spot the non-gold at check in!

      • James67 says:

        There is a rather funny footnote to the effect that diamonds who want to register to try gold should call or email hhonors cs!

        • That’s not how I read it. I read it as ‘if you are Diamond and were stupid enough to register for this, you will find that you have been downgraded to Gold. If you ring us, we’ll fix it.’

          • James67 says:

            Haha, even better. I couldn’t quite believe it and gave them benefit of the doubt thinking it meant diamonds could register for the quadruple miles element

          • That’s what I read it as. Diamonds can register for the extra miles, but will automagically be set to Gold, so ring us and we’ll put it right.

    • Note: this offer IS TRANSFERABLE. The link can ONLY be used once, but anyone can use it.

      I got this via Etihad today. I filled in my wifes details (different surname to mine) and she was instantly upgraded.

      • James67 says:

        That’s interesting, I was under impression previous versions of the offer were nontransferable. Now everybody and their granny will be gold.

  9. been trying to transfer East Coast Rewards for over 24hrs now, seems to be permanently showing ‘out of stock’ with the Submit button greyed out – anyone else having the same issue?

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