Nutmeg Avios

Bits: last chance for the BA Winter sale, US and Canada ESTA changes

News in brief:

Last chance for the British Airways Winter Sale – ends Tuesday

British Airways is winding up its Winter sale with the deals ending tomorrow night.  The home page for the sale is here.

Travel dates vary by destination.  The deals appear to run throughout 2016 for most destinations although prices move around by season.  The easiest way to check out the best prices to a specific destination is with the British Airways Low Fare Finder tool on This will show you the cheapest price on any route, in any class, on month by month basis.

If you can be flexible with dates, there are some decent fares available.   Here are some major destinations, priced as World Traveller / World Traveller Plus / Club World / First:

New York £362 / £797 / £1,391 / £2,416

Miami £432 / £872 / £1,534 / £2,535

Abu Dhabi £374 / £715 / £1,339 / £2,061

Mumbai £453 / £664 / £1,945/ £2,879

Bangkok £491 / £1,074 / £1,941 / na

Tokyo £509 / £969 / £2,033 / £3,677

The US and Middle East Club World and First fares are very aggressive compared with usual sale prices out of London.  £1,391 Club World to New York is very, very cheap – in fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen it cheaper on BA in a mainstream sale.  Abu Dhabi, note, is £300 cheaper than Dubai in Club World on certain dates even though they are only a short cheap taxi ride apart.

The Caribbean is looking OK – Barbados is down to £1,692 on some dates in Club World.  Kingston and Punta Cana are a shade under £1,300.

In general, the £2,000 Asia fares I quote above are as good it gets, apart from perennial dog Chengdu!  This is £1,698.  Similarly, Africa doesn’t have any standout deals – Cape Town never gets below £3,000 whenever you book.

The best thing to do if you are interested is to pop over to and have a look around.  The sale page is here.

Remember that there are also some excellent Club World deals to be had if you are willing to start your trip in Dublin.  My original article on those fares is here.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

Fairmont Banff Springs 350

ESTA changes for the USA and Canada

Both the US and Canada are making changes to the process for entering their countries which could make your travel trickier.

With immediate effect, the US will not be allowing anyone who holds dual nationality with  Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria to enter under the Visa Waiver Programme, irrespective of who issued their other passport.

In addition, anyone who has visited Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria since 1st March 2011 will be unable to use the Visa Waiver Programme.

Over in Canada, the online ‘Electronic Travel Authority’ system is being launched for the first time.  From 15th March, an ETA will be required for visa-exempt foreign nationals travelling to Canada by air. US citizens are exempt.

The cost of the ETA is C$7 per passenger, and the validity is five years or until your passport expires, whichever is shorter.

1,800 Avios with £150 Tesco Wine purchase and other current Avios-earning Tesco deals
HFP had 1 million page views in January .... which is a bit spooky, actually!
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  1. I’ve been inconvenienced by the ESTA changes as I went on holiday to Iran in December 2011 (with no regrets as it was a great trip!).

    I have two transits of the USA upcoming at the start of May to get to/from the carribean and will likely travel to the US in the future so am now having to apply for a tourist visa, pay $160 and attend an interview at the USA embassy in London. I’ve never had to supply so much information for a visa application!

  2. Any rumours of a BA Avios Reward Seat Sale after this revenue sale….?

    Where BA go, Virgin are sure to follow….

  3. It’s just crazy… Haven’t they just built the best relations with Iran since the 1980’s?

    • The cynic in me would say they just wanted Iran to get exporting half a million barrels of oil a day to keep the price down and strangle revenue further to the Middle East.

      • Only the cynic in you???

      • The price is already low and it’s damaging their large domestic oil industry. While people often think everything the US does is about oil, the conspiracy theories rarely make sense!

  4. I’m affected by these new ESTA restrictions as I went to Iraq on vacation last year. The list of countries does seem rather arbitrary.

    I have a feeling they’ll be relaxing those new ESTA restrictions for visitors to the named countries pretty soon. If not I’ll be cancelling my upcoming trip to the states and booking a trip to Iran instead.

    • Whil incredibly annoying, those three countries make up the US’s state sponsored terrorism list so it’s not really arbitrary. I can’t see it being reversed any time soon – certainly not if the Republicans win (a rather long shot thankfully!) or probably Clinton.

    • Same problem Alice, I went to Iran for a holiday in 2014 (and can assure you it was wonderful). Now I can’t go to the US for my graduation trip as the nearest US Embassy in London is 250 miles away, boo hoo. Guess I’m gonna be back to Iran again.

  5. Just interested to know, how exactly would they know about your dual citizenship? Or is it like most of the questions on the ESTA application where they rely on you incriminating yourself? Technically, if you’ve ever been arrested, even if you were later released without charge (even mistaken identity) you should apply for actual visa.

    I also wonder if you could get immigration in these countries to stamp a separate piece of paper rather than your passport (as is recommended for visiting Israel, if you want to travel to many Middle East countries later)

    • As a frequent traveller to Israel, they no longer stamp your passport. Instead they print out an entry/exit slip

      • Was in Israel with a group of friends three weeks ago and some of us who didn’t specifically ask for a separate slip of paper got their passports stamped. I was asked to explain why I asked for no stamp.

    • The new questions are even stricter on this, it now asks if you’ve ever violated (not been arrested or convicted) a law regarding, possession, use, or supply of drugs. So technically anyone who has ever “inhaled” to quote their President needs to apply for a visa.

      • I’d like to know if anyone has every answered yes to the question about “are you seeking to engage in terrorist acts?”

      • Yep, went through the ESTA application process at the weekend and it seems significantly longer than I remember it having been in the past.

        Then after all that, it told me I had a current ESTA – the email I had been sent late last year related to a passport which had expired some time before hand. grr…

    • ESTA applications now ask if you hold dual nationality

  6. Have to admit some great deals in theBA sale – got Miami from Edinburgh in October for £385 – which was even cheaper than starting at Heathrow, glitch??

  7. For people with two passports or with passports issued after a visit to one of the countries on the list, i don’t suppose there’d be a way for them to know you’ve been there?

    • Don’t believe it… intelligence agencies share movements of citizens with each other!

    • Airlines share passenger manifests with intelligence agencies and governments. They’ll know that you’ve been to Iran, if you’ve been.

    • Lady London says:

      I wouldn’t mess around with them. Tell the truth. They can, and will, go back to your previous applications since forever if you ever find yourself in trouble with them. If there’s mismatch or something not declared, you will then be in a world of hurt. So tell the truth.

      • Sussex Bantam says:

        Do people actually not tell the truth to immigration staff ???

        How do they manage that ? I used to be a nervous wreck just trying to buy more than 2 3V cards at a Tesco till…

        • in that case never never tell that your US trip is for manifactured spending purposes or point arbitrage/MR if they challenge you asking why you are flying from East coast to Dubai/Bangkok via Capetown to reach Miami !! 🙂

  8. Completely off-topic; but I need to fly to Tokyo next week. What’s the best way to maximize tier points?

    I can fly directly from LHR->TYO, or am I correct in thinking I’ll get more tierpts if I fly via Doha/Dubai.

    BA/OW partners preferred flying in biz

    • As long as Doha to Tokyo is over 2,000 miles, then Qatar is a decent bet. You’d get 560 TP return.

      You could also do it on Emirates AS LONG AS you get Qantas codeshares and all flights carry a QF flight number.

    • I’m going to Tokyo in a couple of months and was looking for the same thing. The connection timings in Qatar didn’t seem to be great so I went for LHR-HEL-NRT return where you can get 440 tier points. First part with BA and the second with JAL on a 787 with some new seat which gives aisle access to everyone.

    • Go the other way with some US/AA F-class domestics included. Something like LHR-PHL-PHX-HNL-TYO should just about get you BA Gold in one trip

      • I would have suggested that but it sounded like a business trip and I didn’t think the company TA would be amused!

  9. Lady London says:

    @KC this is the official tier point and avios calculator. Enter your flights segment by segment.

  10. Waribai says:

    “Apart from perennial dog Chengdu!”

    Raffles, I’m guessing you know about the dog festival there. Rather close to the bone!

    Slightly OT, a couple of weeks ago I booked AMS-BKK on BA for December 2016 in J for £1000 rtn. The lowest rate on the outbound was to do AMS-LHR-HKG-BKK. Now though AMS-LHR-BKK is pricing out the same. If I ring up BA, will they let me change to the latter (more direct flight) flight?

  11. Raffles, on the subject of US immigration… One of the travel benefits of the Amex Plat card for US cardmembers is the $100 fee credit for enrolment in Global Entry. With this program recently being extended to UK passport holders, any chance Amex will offer this same benefit to us on this side of the pond? Maybe you could have a word with them?

  12. I am choosing not to visit the US any time soon for 2 reasons. Firstly, as long as the idiot hairpiece is at all likely to win any kind of elected office, I’m not going there. But, more importantly, as long as the US authorities are randomly preventing British citizens from boarding a plane to the US with no explanation, I’m not going.

    The first may all be done & dusted by August. The second will potentially be an ongoing situation. My US friends can get used to coming over here to see me!

    • Have to say, if old wiggy wins this year could be my last visit to FL, let’s hope that our US cousins make a kind informed choice based on a mature, outward looking world view…

    • Unfortunately it looks like you’re never going to the US again then! They’ve been doing that for years and years already – it’s only received publicity recently because people made the claim they were blocked just for being Muslim (which wasn’t true – rightly or (most likely) wrongly, it was due to the computer flagging terrorist links at their address).

    • And I refuse to believe Trump would win (though I am still in shock that he’s remained this popular…), but if he does I think a lot of people will be joining you on that US boycott!

      • Why would people be boycotting the States because of Trump? I don’t see many people boycotting Qatar because of the government’s human rights abuses. Or China, for that matter. And some people in the comments above are saying they’d choose to go to Iran instead. Each to his or her own, of course, but it’s silly how people just jump on a bandwagon without actually thinking about things.

        • Just because we don’t say why we don’t go to countries doesn’t mean we don’t go there. I’m not jumping on any bandwagons and I have thought about this a great deal.

          I’m actually still waiting for him to say it was all a joke. He would hate to be POTUS, as he wouldn’t actually be able to do any of the things he says he will and the US would lose all international credibility.

          I am bothered about the nutters who support him. They are the real reason why the US is such a weird place.

        • Some people on here, me included, do boycott the ME three, it’s been mentioned on here before. I will have to think long and hard about visiting if Trump gets in, even though my dad lives in Miami.
          I’m hoping it’s all some elaborate comedy satire show engineered by the US TV networks to parody American politics 🙂

  13. Concerto says:

    I wonder when and where this security sickness is going to end. For a long time now I’ve viewed the US as the least free country in the world. The result will be the total end of freedom of movement a la North Korea.

  14. Michael says:

    Related to Emirates/Qantas/TierPoints mentioned above…

    I need advice….I’m booking my elderly parents on a trip from Ireland to Australia, with a visit to Singapore and Perth, Melbourne and Sydney compulsory. Routing from DUB/BHD via LHR with BA/SQ is costly. Best route seems to be:
    It totals about £1K in Economy – all flights are marked QANTAS (Operated by Emirates) or EMIRATES (Operated by Qantas). I’d love to send them BIZ (even part of the way) but there seems to be no way without spending a small fortune! (I do have a stash of Avios and a BA 241 voucher but don’t think they’re any use here.) Parents want to see NZ too but I think I’ll have to book those flights separately from MEL/SYD, as no online booking service seems to allow more than 6 flights.

    Anyhow, my parents are NOT part of any airline loyalty scheme – so what’s the best thing to do?
    If I enrol them in BAEC separately can I credit the QANTAS/EMIRATES flights to gain them Tier Points (as they’ll probably use BA in Europe), or is that a waste and I’d be better crediting direct to Emirates? Also am I missing something and is there a better way to plan such a trip (I’ve used ITA Matrix to search flights)? I’m very confused so any advice would be much appreciated. Thank you!

  15. Good timing on the article, as I just booked a trip to Iran this year. Does this mean once I enter Iran, my Esta will no longer be valid?