Bits: 20,000 IHG points bargain in SanFran, Thistle Heathrow brings back free pod trips!, SAA sale

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News in brief:

IHG points bargain in San Francisco

A new Holiday Inn Express opened in San Francisco a few weeks ago.  This would not normally be big news, even on Head for Points.

What is interesting, though, is that the hotel is only 20,000 IHG Rewards Club points per night at the moment.  As San Francisco hotels are ludicrously expensive at the best of times, this is a great deal.

Even better, as its name implies the Holiday Inn Express San Francisco Union Square has a great central location, just off Union Square.

As I wrote the other day, it is now possible to buy IHG Rewards Club points for 0.4p each.  This means that you’d be paying around £80 per night if you bought all the points you needed.  That is at least 50% less – and on many nights it is 65% less – than you would be spending if you booked this hotel for cash!

The hotel home page is here.

Heathrow Pod 350

Thistle Heathrow brings back free pod travel to Terminal 5 for guests

A year ago, I wrote about the interesting transfer option available if you stay at the Thistle Hotel at HeathrowYou can transfer to and from Terminal 5 in the driverless pods which take customers to and from the car park behind the Thistle!

The only downside – apart from the fact that the Thistle is not the most modern hotel at Heathrow – was the £5 per person, each way, cost of taking the pod which is added to your room bill.

Thistle is currently letting you use the pods for free.

You need to stay before 31st March to take advantage.  More importantly, you need to book your stay via the Thistle website.  No other booking method is accepted.

Full details can be found on the Thistle Heathrow ‘pod page’ here.

Cape Town

South African Airways sale now on

Finally, if you read Head for Points on a desktop or tablet, you will have seen some advertising from South African Airways over the last few days.

For those of you who read the site via the daily emails or on your mobile, I thought I’d let you know what you’ve been missing.

The January sale prices can be found here on the SAA website.

In Economy, for travel up to 23rd June but excluding Easter, Johannesburg is as low as £595 return.  Cape Town is £610.  There are also special fares to other destinations in South Africa (Durban, Port Elizabeth, Kruger Mpumalanga and East London) as well as Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana.

It is worth noting that, looking at the T&C’s of the sale, SAA allows all of its economy tickets to be changed for a fee of £80 subject to any difference in fare.

In Business, Johannesburg is £2699, Cape Town is £2685 and Durban is £2909.  Check out the SAA site for more details.

Remember that South African airline Comair is a British Airways franchise (it flies planes in BA colours) and you can book seats with them using Avios.  This would give you another option for connecting from an SAA flight to elsewhere in the region.

Thanks to SAA for their support of Head for Points this week.

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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Comments

  1. We used the Thistle Heathrow hotel the night before we departed for Stockholm to start our ARL-AKL flights. The family room we booked was really nice. It was two rooms (not separate rooms interconnected). It seems as though it had recently been refurbished. The price was £75.00. We used the public bus to get to the hotel which took around 5 minute from T5. The bus is free in the Heathrow area. We tried the POD early the next morning, £20 (4*5)is a bit steep but the novelty value was there first time around. Overall I was I’mpressed with the hotel. It does look a bit grim from outside 🙂

    • very easy to avoid paying….just follow others out (and in, from the carpark)

      thereafter, if you didn’t want the ‘hassle’, you only had to pay for one person to use the pod (with all others following behind like ducklings)

  2. Stayed at Thistle Heathrow with my girlfriend last summer and was not asked to pay after being buzzed through the gate on arrival. I guess it’s a bit difficult for them to keep track of who’s been using the gate and who hasn’t. When we left I did not mention that I wanted to use the pods until after I had checked out, and only had to pay for one person. So £5 instead of £20

  3. Grabbed myself a bargain couple of nights in San Fran for an upcoming trip in May 🙂

  4. MrHandBaggaeOnly says:

    If anyone from Thistle is reading this thread they should note that I have just decided not to stay at the their hotel despite finding a decent priced room, a refurbished one apparently, because of the charge for access to the gate to the Pods. If the access to/from the Pod parking was made free then Thistle would move right up my list of hotels to consider for Heathrow trips and I would happily pay for the extra parking charges to leave my car there for a few days as well.

    As it is I have decided to take a cheaper hotel further out and pay more for Short Stay parking, which in total is a slightly lower price and less hassle (especially for MrsHBO has done the Pods once, doesn’t need to do them again and is just happier walking straight to the car).

    • Completely agree. I picked a different hotel last summer over the Thistle and caught the free TfL bus into LHR. If the pods were free, I’d much rather stay at the Thistle.

    • Aeronaut says:

      Signage at the access gate states that the whole £5 charge for the pods goes to Heathrow and that the hotel doesn’t see any of it. I don’t know how accurate that is, but if so, then room rates at the Thistle would presumably have to rise to cover the pod access cost.

  5. Radiata says:

    Booked several SAA domestic flights to and from JNB in the last fortnight whilst visiting but the sale proviso – certainly for domestic flights – was for bookings to be made at least 28 days in advance.

    Somewhat OT, one of my DUR-JNB bookings made on SAA website included a single letter typo. Call centre remarkably difficult hence booked a second ticket (at double the price). CS at the airport refunded the higher fare (less ZAR 285 admin fee) and apologised, saying that single letter typos, where not introducing doubt as to identity of passenger, are overlooked.

    Also, do check both the SA and UK versions of site for prices. Rand volatile at present and it can pay to book in ZAR notwithstanding 3% fee many UK cards will add for foreign transactions.

    • It’s quite a good point. We still need to book my wife’s last flight for the summer. On UK version of BAEC it is £180, but in local currency it is £130.

      On Amex Travel it is £145 – which is why I am still looking for a way to combine flight + £6 experience to get above £150 (=£50 off, ie £100 net) – but it seems this cannot be done in one transaction.

  6. Thanks Rob, last night got 22nd-25th July at HIX Union Sq. for the 20000 points a night Reward nights now gone for those dates and cash price is $399. Massive saving , thanks again.

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