Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Bits: Exclusive first photos of Qatar’s First Class lounge, earning Jumeirah Sirius points via Amex

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

News in brief:

Qatar Airways finally opens its Al Safwa First Class lounge in Doha!

When I was in Doha last October, the Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Class lounge in the new airport was still under construction.  12 months later, it has finally opened.

HFP reader Chris was one of the first people through the doors and sent me these exclusive photos.  I hope to be there myself in six weeks to write a full review.  Take a look here (note the water streaming down):

Qatar Airways First Class lounge Doha

and

Qatar Airways First Class lounge Doha 1

It has its own shop:

Qatar Airways First Class lounge Doha 3

and

Qatar Airways First Class lounge Doha 5

and

Qatar Airways First Class lounge Doha 6

There is still no sign, of course, of the new Etihad First Class lounge in Abu Dhabi which was also ‘under construction’ when I passed through a year ago ….

Jumeirah Sirius returns as an American Express International Dollar Card partner

This is probably of interest to only around 10 HFP readers, but those 10 people will be very happy!

Jumeirah, the Dubai-based luxury hotel group, was a UK Amex Membership Rewards hotel partner for a short period.  When that deal ended, it remained a partner with the International Dollar Card (click here for why anyone with a very large pile of Amex points should have one of these).

When the Jumeirah loyalty scheme, Sirius, was relaunched this Summer, the conversion option went away.  It is now back, at 4 IDC Membership Rewards points to 1 Jumeirah Sirius point.  This is a little worse than the old ratio (20:1) adjusted for the 7-ish to 1 revaluation of the scheme.

If you have been to Dubai at peak holiday periods, you will know that beach-front hotel prices are eye watering.  Here is an example using Sirius points:

Cost of an Arabian Summer House room at Dar Al Masyaf at Madinat Jumeirah next week including tax:  £913 per night (welcome to super-luxury beach-front Dubai during UK school holidays ….)

Cost in Sirius points:  11,800 points per night

International Dollar Card Amex points required:  (11,800 x 4 =) 47,200 points per night

UK Amex points required, assuming you transfer them to the International Dollar Card on a day when the exchange rate is $1.53:  30,849 points per night

Value per UK Membership Rewards point:  2.95p

You can’t beat that.  You won’t always get such good value out of Jumeirah Sirius, but it is certainly worth a look if you heading for somewhere where they have a property.  The overall quality of their hotels is high – see my review of Etihad Towers in Abu Dhabi – although the Burj Al Arab in Dubai is very much an acquired taste …..

Comments (68)

  • Volker says:

    There has been a number of articles on airport lounges on HFP recently – I like reading them to be prepared. There hasn’t been one about the BA Galleries lounge in MUC yet, but nothing could have prepared me for that anyway (I was there three weeks ago). Apart from an appalling selection of food it was the dirtiness of the seats and carpets that really put me off. If you let some misbehaving teenagers have a party in your living room, the place would not look as disgusting as this particular lounge. I was really shocked.

    • CV3V says:

      I’ve been in a lot of airport lounges over the years, including first class ones (Concorde Lounge, Malaysian, Cathay Pacific) and in general i found all of them a bit of a let down and over hyped. I don’t know what it is i am expecting! the lounge i probably enjoyed most was the Virgin Clubhouse at Heathrow which was actually my first time in a lounge – so after that i have always felt somewhat let down.

      On a visit to the old Servisair lounge in EDI it was so chaotic (mobbed with rugby fans) that i left to go site in the bar, which had a far better atmosphere. I would have asked for my money back but it was on Amex Priority Pass card!

      • Volker says:

        Don’t know if you were also addressing me, Harry, but I was expecting furniture which would not have made me worry about getting dirty clothes. That’s all.
        Galleries lounges at LHR T5 see thousands of passengers every day and still, compared to MUC, the place is in an acceptable condition.
        I would be happy to send you some photos I took in MUC, Raffles, if you are interested.

        • Brian says:

          I’ve been in MUC twice and must say that I’ve never found it to be too bad. Both times it has been relatively full, but not dirty. I wonder if your experience is linked to the fact that the person who is supposed to be manning the reception desk generally isn’t there, which means that anybody could theoretically just walk in. (This is made more likely by the fact that the toilets are outside the lounge, which means that checking who is entering legitimately must be a nightmare anyway.)

          • Volker says:

            I spent several hours there, reception was manned all the time. We all know that the selection of food varies considerably between lounges, and the staff on duty have good days and bad days. That’s not what really bothered me, nor am I talking about some crumbs on the floor or used dishes lying around – all that can be easily fixed. The state of the carpets and seats put me off, bad dirty stains some of which looked as if they could spoil your clothes. I would not be surprised to find that in an old carriage of the London tube, but it has got nothing to do with the “premium experience” British Airways wants to offer to its most valued customers.
            To be fair, I was invited to take part in a survey about my lounge experience, and I did get this reply: “The lounge facilities should be fully functioning and spotlessly clean. I realise this wasn’t the case when you travelled and I am sorry. I have passed your comments on to our Lounge Manager, so that this can be followed up with the team.”

  • Jeremy I says:

    The exchanges in the comments here are brilliant – I’m laughing so hard at the thought of the banker earning 500k a year rushing around all the Tescos in the South East looking for the few remaining 3v cards!

    Keep up the good work Rob.

    • Rob says:

      I find that people tend to see HFP as they want to see it. I didn’t write about pay.com / 3V for TEN MONTHS until the two pieces I did in the Summer. Ten months. The ‘manufactured spend’ content on here is very, very small. Even the Tesco content is small – perhaps 5% of articles are Clubcard related?

  • whiskerxx says:

    TBH – anyone earning £500k+ per annum who scrats around for a few extra avios or looks to save a couple of hundred pounds on EU departures needs to get a life.

    • Brian says:

      Agree. If somebody wants to save himself some money by going to Dublin to fly to Miami in BA F, that’s fine, but if he then blows the money on a hotel costing 800 pounds a night, you have to ask yourself why you wouldn’t just book yourself a 400 pound room (for example) and use the savings to pay the extra cost of the flights. Oh well, each to his own.

      • JQ says:

        OK, but look at it this way: what if someone wants to stay in an £800/night hotel, but can only afford £400/night, then discovers he can free up the extra money by trading some of his time by going to Dublin.

        I think the most I’ve ever paid for a hotel night is £80 rather than £800! Considering that I usually check-in at 2200 and leave by 0630 (this will change after I achieve Hilton Gold), it’s roughly the same as my hourly salary… 🙁

      • Tom C says:

        Or: I can afford to do both, but would rather get the best deal possible, all for the inconvenience of getting up a few hours earlier to catch a flight? This is what keeps getting missed from this discussion; like somehow earning a 6 figure salary means I don’t care what anything costs anymore and will just waste money, cos I can. There is no guarantee of anything in life, so why would I live like I’ll forever earn a good salary, when I can do the same thing, but it costs less? It would be like finding out a Porsche cost 50% less if I bothered going up to Manchester to buy it, then getting criticised for it. As you say, to each their own. I personally don’t care how anyone chooses to spend their money.

        • Erico1875 says:

          Q: Why do U2 tour anymore as they are all multi millionaires ?
          A.: Because they want to, they enjoy the thrill of filling a stadium
          Thats why people earning 500K + may well run around Tesco picking uo 3V and Argos gift cards. Its all about the chase.
          Its (or was) the thrill of walking up and seeing those coloured balloons at 30 yards. How many I wondered. The excitement of getting a load of them.
          I really don’t think Points collecting is earnings related, other than the really poor can’t really get off the starting block.

          • Brian says:

            Hmmm. It may well be the thrill – but they get paid millions to do it. Otherwise, they’d do it for free. If you offered U2 a few 3V cards and asked them to do a concert, I doubt they’d jump at it for the thrill… Otherwise they would be constantly doing charity concerts for no fee to raise money for good causes. Instead, Bono changes his residence to avoid paying taxes.

            Not a terribly good example to use in this case, I’m afraid.