Bits: Qatar adds Birmingham, Tesco ‘double up’ – better than Avios?, AA ‘buy miles’ bonus

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News in brief:

Qatar Airways to launch services from Birmingham

In great news for HFP readers in the Midlands, Qatar Airways has announced that it will launch daily flights from Birmingham to Doha on 30th March.

Not content with doing things by half, Qatar is starting with eight flights per week. It takes a lot of confidence to believe that you can fill two planes every Saturday from a standing start.

The service will operate with a new Boeing 787.  These are two class aircraft, with 22 seats in Business Class and 232 Economy Class seats.  My review of Qatar’s 787 Business Class seat and service is here.  There is a special 787 page on here.

As a oneworld partner, you can redeem Avios points for these flights.  Qatar generally makes four Business Class seats available per flight.

From 30th March, Qatar will be flying 71 times per week from the UK to Doha.  When you include Emirates and Etihad, we must be approaching 200 weekly flights.  Assuming 250 passengers per flight, we are talking about 2.6 million outbound passengers per year.  This is a huge volume of long-haul business which British Airways has, in effect, surrendered.

Qatar 787 350 business class

Tesco Clubcard Boost returns – better than an Avios conversion?

There are various rumours online, which seem to be reliable, that Tesco is bringing back Clubcard Boost from 2nd November.  It is believed that everything at Tesco Direct will be included.

I mention this because your latest set of Clubcard vouchers will soon be dropping through your door.  If you were planning to convert them to Avios or Virgin miles immediately, you may want to hold off.

With Christmas on the way, a decent percentage of your gift list would be available from Tesco Direct.  You should therefore assume that every £1 on Clubcard vouchers is worth 240 Avios points or £2 in Tesco Direct credit.

Under this scenario, you are effectively ‘buying’ Avios points at (200/240 =) 0.83p each.  This is still a good deal, but you also need to give some value to the ‘cash in hand’ versus ‘free flight later’ calculation.

Love Clubcard, don’t collect Avios?  You should be reading our sister site, Shopper Points (, which covers the latest Clubcard and Nectar offers without any distracting frequent flyer talk!  Why not check it out now?


Another ‘buy American Airlines miles’ promotion

American Airlines is back with yet another ‘buy miles’ promo.  This one seems deliberately confusing to hide what you are actually paying – you receive a miles bonus of up to 35% plus a cash discount of 10%.

The cheapest option – slightly oddly – is to buy 80,000 miles which is the minimum required to trigger the 30,000 mile bonus.  This is a better deal than buying 100,000 and getting a 35,000 mile bonus.  You would be paying $2,313 for 110,000 miles, which 2.1 cents per mile.  This is not bad, by the standards of AA sales, but I have seen better.

This article runs through some of the sweet spots for using AA miles if you are based in the UK.  The deal runs until 13th November.  The link to buy is here.

Credit & Charge Card Reviews (2): American Express Preferred Rewards Gold charge card
New Vueling routes, bookable with Avios, from Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh
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  1. Anyone think there’s a chance QR might be eyeing other EK destinations like GLA (perhaps unlikely due EDI being so close?), NCL and LGW? I seriously hope so as their offering is vastly superior to EK in my honest opinion.

    • QR business class is better than EK, but in economy I prefer EK.

      • I’ve done both on both; I’d have to say thay QR’s economy on the 787 is pretty horrid and cramped but in biz (getting to fly their A380 and 787 biz again on Friday!) is the best there is!

    • Economy on most 787s seems to get bad reviews and puts me off flying QR economy, I’ll always opt for EK who (depending on the cabin refit) have a great economy product. Business class, then QR wins, I don’t like the EK bling.

      Can’t see QR flying out of GLA, EK have quite a monopoly there when you consider they opened their own lounge – and dedicated parking spaces right at the door to the multi storey for the chauffeur drive. However, EK don’t ever seem to offer the same business class cheap deals that QR offers. EK still operate to the old model of overselling economy then upgrading economy pax into business (a friend who is gold status doesn’t buy a business class ticket as he expects a free upgrade, which he does get quite often).

    • James67 says:

      Based on reviews it seems economy on 787s is to be avoided regardless of airline. However, I believe the economy seat on EK a380 is 19 inches wide, only a little smaller than BA CW so I know which I would prefer. EY rumoured to be looking at ABZ so it might be interesting to see if QR jump in first.

  2. I am excited to see what options this creates for feeder services to Asia. Had a quick scout around the Qatar web site last night and I think it could be fun and handy for those of us not in London.

    If only American would put a decent plane on their BHX-NYC service and we would have decent east and west OW options from BHX.

    • James67 says:

      If you mean east and south east asia as opposed to central asia it’s fine for revenue tickets. However, if you are looking at avios redemltions it’s not so good, each way it’s 2x zone 5 sectors at peak rate being a partner airlne so very expensive. Also, while not the most expenive, QR taxes and fees are not the cheapest either. If you can get direct and convenient schedules to your destination from LHR then it might still be preferable to what is often (from regions at least) a middle of the night transit in DOH.

      • Yeah – I’m just interested in the alternative routing. Some different options.

        Great for TP accrual! 🙂

  3. OT but could be important. I’ve bought a traveller cheque from amex but no membership reward points have posted, have they clocked on to the loophole where they counted as purchases or should I wait a bit longer for the points to post?

  4. Isn’t it rather that you are getting the equivalent of 0.83p / Avios in £ value? Sorry, bit early.

  5. AA have raised the yearly buying limit to 125,000 miles by the way.

    • Just to say I booked a flight for a friend using AA miles today – easiest miles telephone booking ever! Checked EY availability MEL-AUH return online beforehand then called them, no hassles at all in finding the flights or with me booking using my points. Total 120k AA (cost USD 2,601) + AUD 130 in taxes and fees for return flight in A380 First apartment – superb deal at £1,755 return all-in (cash price for first is £5,300 – even business would be £3,535) So you’re basically getting it half-price by buying the points instead!!

      • Blimey it’s no wonder there are so many Yank bloggers flying first class everywhere every 5 minutes.

        • Haha quite – and the incremental redemption cost F over C is only 15,000 miles each way! (compared to BA’s 2x miles for C, 3x miles for F setup) – plus remember they have very generous sign-up bonuses and ongoing earnings rates on their cards so they’d be silly not to take advantage. I’m honestly not jealous. Honest 😀

        • PS that’s also why as a UK reader (when not in Oz!) I’d value them more highly than Avios – this will all change at some point when they devalue, but at present they’re pretty powerful miles and I’d avoid redeeming on BA with them if possible given the fuel surcharges that you’re still stuck with. Of course the upside of the fuel surcharges is it makes BA an unattractive option for all those with hefty US card-generated Avios balances so gives us a little more availability!

        • James67 says:

          Enjoy your flight…just keep your fingers crossed Etihad don’t reschedule your a380s to Timbuktu!

        • Yes I’m pleased about that. I’m totally jealous of the Yanks and their bonuses as you say, so yes anything that keeps them off our piddling value redemption seats is a bonus.

  6. If you look at the travel section of the boost page there’s already a 15% additional mile offer on Virgin for Nov, so I cant imagine them including that in boost.

    Avios, maybe.

  7. A good point well made Rob. I think it’s important that people don’t forget that things like Clubcard points do have an inherent value, so swapping them for Avios (or other loyalty scheme points) isn’t printing free money.

    I stopped using Avios for Clubcard points when Avios got devalued. Since then I’ve spent ~£80 in vouchers, all doubled up, on things I was going to buy at the price Tesco were offering. On that basis it seems logical for me to value CC points at 2p (or nearly 2p) each.

    Given that I now value Avios at ~0.6p each due to the devaluation and my flexibility to book cheap cash fares, it makes no sense for me to exchange them unless I needed a small number to make up my balance for a redemption.

    • CC points can certainly be said to be worth 2p each, given that you can always use them for redspottedhanky train tickets at 2x face value. That’s the way I look at it.

      • That’s why I made the point about 0.83p – you’re not buying Avios @ 0.83p, you’re giving up the chance to acquire Avios @ 0.83p when you convert to Tesco Boost.

        I’d rather have the Avios, personally, as I always get more than 1p in value/ Avios. Otherwise I buy in cash.

        The real 3x offers are a bit different & justifiable, eg Eurotunnel 3x, Europcar 3x – they offer a genuine 3p per clubcard point (= 1.25p/ Avios).

        • James67 says:

          That’s why I’m avios poor at the moent and struggling to rebuild my balance. Given the cost of revenue J flights I’m reluctant to pay more than 0.6ppavios so I’m not generatjng many other than credit cards and WTP UUA fares I bought in sales. i may have to relax my rules a bit though to get myself to useful balances, which reminds md I need some new life cover.

        • I’m not sure I see your point; Someone who gets more than 1.25p per Avios wouldn’t see the 3x offers as different & justifiable for themselves. The takeaway from the article should be that you should compare your valuation of the Avios you could get to the lost opportunity cost. If you can get 1p+ per Avios and normally no more than 2p per CC point then clearly getting Avios is the better option; but that won’t be the equation for everyone.

          I don’t value CC points at 2p personally although it has thus far been easy enough to get 2p of value for them due to the risk of devaluation, and needing to time it for Boost offers; so I value at 1.8p.

        • The point is that genuine 3x Boost offers give 3p per clubcard point, which is the same as getting 1.25p of value if you converted them to Avios instead.

          Eg convert £10 clubcard to Eurotunnel which gives you £30 off a Eurotunnel crossing – incontrovertibly a genuine £30 saving.

          Convert the same £10 to Avios, you get 2400 Avios. Divide your Eurotunnel £30 by 2400 Avios to get my 1.25p above.

          If you are happy that 1.25p of value per Avios is OK – and I guess that’s nearly all of us here in agreement on that – then go ahead with your Eurotunnel conversion, safe in the knowledge you wouldn’t do much better by converting to Avios.

          However a lot of the 3x Boost offers are not so genuine, esp restaurant food vouchers.

        • richard says:

          yes you also need to want to use the Eurotunnel or whatever the offer is

  8. ankomonkey says:

    Any ideas on what QR will use lounge-wise at BHX? It’s a really positive move having a significant OW presence at BHX.

    • It can’t be worse than the QR lounge at MAN!

      • Bigglesgirl says:

        Oh it can. I’m so pleased that QR are flying out of BHX and I plan to use them for my SE Asia hols next winter. However, the BHX lounges are horribly small, packed to capacity at peak times (to the extent that those of us with Priority Pass who aren’t flying J class get denied access over those who have paid!) and don’t have any decent facilities. The only proper airline lounge is EK, which is absolutely superb. Come on BHX, your passenger numbers and flights are on the up – get some decent lounges for heavens sake! I only live 1hr from BHX and prefer that length of drive to the 2.5hrs to LHR!

  9. Sussex Bantam says:

    Don’t forget you will also get MR and CC for cash purchases rather than using Boost so your rate is slightly lower than 0.83p. I make it around 0.8p depending on which Amex card you have.

    (I know its marginal but I just spent 20 minutes working it out so wanted to share !)

    • Erico1875 says:

      And if you have a BA 2 4 1 voucher then it potentially takes it back down to 0.4.
      I rarely see much in Tesco Direct that cant be bought cheaper elsewhere

  10. Phill Ramsay says:

    Is there any reason Manchester gets the short end of the stick with regards to the aircraft used with QR. London gets the A380, EDI and now Birmingham will get the 787 but flights into Manchester are on A330-200. I know they are refurbing these but it would have been nice to see the 787 into Manchester as well. Fingers crossed for the refurbed business class on my next trip in Jan!

    • Completely agree. In my view the Qatar 787 is by far the best business class product on the market. Although the 380 seat is the same the cabin is just too big. The 787 is, in my view just as good as the BA First product. I speak as a GGL 20yr BA (for life) member who has moved most of my business to QR – how I wish BA would just step up to the mark.

      • I disagree. By far the best biz product is the QR A350….:)…….outbeats the crappy, dirty, knackered F on BA any day

      • Agree, must did our 4 sectors on one CPH to HKT. Fab comfort levels, def feels more spacious than the BA F cabin, without the duvets etc!

  11. If only Qatar would roster a 787 on the MAN DOH overnight sector they’d get my business any day.

  12. Sebastian says:

    Slightly OT but I am not sure where else to ask. If you’re redeeming Etihad miles for AA am I right in thinking the following:

    1) Your redemption must be on all AA metal. Thus, you cannot book a redemption that involves BA flights?

    2) A redemption that involves a stop is still just counted as one redemption I.e. If you have to change planes on route.

    3) You cannot have a stopover on route to your destination.

    4) AA redemptions via Etihad can be canceled?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  13. OT: But Tesco bits related. Today I received a chit with a Tesco purchase for 125 points for £6 stationery spend. Also through the post today I got a “What to drink now” guide with a voucher and code for 250 pts for buying a minimum of 3 bottles with an online grocery shop. Can be used up to 22nd Nov. I haven’t received any points vouchers for months! Hope to receive more in the future and maybe some with vouchers when they arrive soon.

    • Nice one, roughly the same as £6 off the wine.

      You inspired me to check my a/c but nothing showing yet – I haven’t had any points vouchers for about 2 years now so not hopeful. They do send us plenty of £x off ££shops, though.

  14. I have no desire whatsoever of wanting to travel to the middle east. Can’t think of many places worse than that part of the world.

    • Totally agree, it’s all ghastly, (give Oman the benefit of the doubt), but I have a sneaking suspicion that in a few years time there will be much less alternative to using Doha/ UAE as a hub to get to desirable places from UK – if you want a quality, comfy seat at a knockdown rate thanks to HFPplc 🙂

      Perhaps we can say airside means you’re in No Man’s Land 🙂

      All my favourite non-European places (Europe is best!) are in SE Asia or Aus/NZ…

  15. OT, but as we’re talking about lounges: the NY-LON bar at the O2 was featured on this week’s X Factor, which apparently contestants were enjoying before boarding their flight to LA! And we thought the remote stand bus rides at T5 were lengthy!

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