Bits: Starwood’s new Element in Amsterdam open, warning on Emirates MR conversions

News in brief:

Starwood opens 2nd European ‘Element’ hotel in Amsterdam

Starwood opened its Amsterdam ‘Element’ hotel yesterday.  This is looking like a good value Starwood Preferred Guest redemption at 7,000 points per night – cash rates seem to hover around €200 on busy days.

It is only the second ‘Element’ property in Europe, following the earlier opening near Frankfurt Airport.  A UK site is earmarked for Tobacco Dock in Wapping next year.

I have never stayed at an ‘Element’ but the idea is that they are themed around a ‘healthy mind, healthy body’ lifestyle.  You will find a large fitness rooms, large double-height lobbies with water features and areas for working, eating and socialising and healthy free breakfasts.  Open plan rooms include ‘plug and play’ docking stations so you can bring your own entertainment, ambient lighting, the Westin ‘heavenly bed’ and rainfall showers.  Studios include kitchen facilities for those wanting a longer stay.

Amsterdam is location in Amsterdam Zuid, the main business district.  You will need to take the metro into the city centre but this is not a huge strain.  The hotel is connected to a shopping mall.

Details can be found on the Starwood website here.  There are no actual photos up yet – that is how new the hotel is!

(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.)

Emirates A380

Amex Membership Rewards to Emirates glitch

Three people have been in touch with me recently about problems transferring American Express Membership Rewards points to Emirates Skywards.

The rule, which is not publicised, is this – you can only ever convert Amex points from one Membership Rewards account into Emirates.

What does this mean?  It means that, if you close down your Amex Gold or Platinum card and later re-open one, you will no longer be able to make transfers to Emirates.  Similarly, if you have a non-UK Amex card, you will not be able to convert points to Emirates from both that card and a UK card.

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

This seems totally bizarre, but when three people have the same problem and are given the same explanation then it is worth flagging up.  The fact that I had never heard of this problem before suggests that it may be a new rule or a new problem – whether it is permanent or not is a different question.

Understanding the rules when booking an 'open jaw' redemption using Avios
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  1. Hi, I need to top my miles account up, I have an MBNA Emirates Elite card which give 25% off the cost, I can’t see anywhere on Emirates re this when looking to purchase, is it just taken off by MBNA or is there a special link to buy miles with to give the discount?


    • Honestly don’t know, never heard of anyone using this benefit before.

      • When you go to buy the miles, it should display the card you want to use and if you select MBNA Emirates then it reduces the price

        • Hi Tom C
          just looked and your correct, I was looking on my Ipad which didn’t bring it up, and my computer its a clear as day


  2. Amtexfly says:

    How great will the ME3 be when their FF scheme catches up with the competitive pricing and excellent product.

    • It used to be competitive – then it got worse. Emirates has really been chiselling away at it. However, since Avios devalued, Skywards looks a lot better. Saver reward in Business on an A380, with chauffeur service, is only 90k return. Avios return on a peak day is 120k with no chauffeur, no A380, no onboard bar and worse seat (and worse IFE).

    • Qatar doesn’t need a decent FF scheme with their fantastic sales.
      Etihad’s scheme isn’t too far off Emirates in terms of cost.
      Not flown Emirates, for a long time, but the high taxes put me off.
      Luckily I haven’t done any transfers, to my Emirates account, so can’t fall foul of this rule atm 🙂

      • I’ve had same problem. Both wife and I have platinum, I can transfer but not wife. I wonder if it is because she is named on mine.
        Word of warning. Looking for seats using expertflyer beware that seats may appear as available but may not be as traveller may not have checked in. Seats only become unavailable at that point. I got caught out trying to book GLASGOW Dubai on Emirates.

        • Expertflyer only shows seat reservations, it doesn’t give an indication of the number of seats booked in a cabin, an error I have made in the past thinking my cabin looks almost empty and then getting on a fully booked flight! At least with Emirates you can make a seat reservation at time of booking (or whenever you want) for free unlike BA. I have often changed seat reservations based on all sorts of factors, when in economy it was based on being as close as possible to the door to then be at the front of the stampede for security. Also, whence in Economy if you make up a suitable excuse (e.g. short connection time) the crew will give you a fast track pass for security if its available at your arriving airport.

          The constant devaluation of Skywards versus the ease of earning Avios means Emirates are now ditched – I will have to go without the bling bling of their business class cabin and accept the ‘solid’ BA Club World cabin! Also if paying cash, then Qatar is only a short drive over to EDI and will earn avios. Will be interesting to see if the MAS codeshare, which is supposed to be a widespread agreement, will allow me to book a GLA Emirates flight on the MAS website and allow me to earn avios, that would give another option for earning avios!

  3. Funnily enough I managed to recently transfer membership rewards from my wife’s account into my delta account. Went through immediately, and I was able to book a flight around 20 minutes after conceiving the crazy concept

    • Some partners do not match names. I have done Carlson and Nectar from my wife (diff surname) in the past.

      • Genghis says:

        It also seems to work with Iberia as by mistake I put my wife’s Iberia number in on my MR account when transferring and avios appeared in her account.

    • ankomonkey says:

      Hilton/Amex let me transfer from wife’s MR account to my HHonors.

  4. Charlie T. says:
  5. Kevin Fisher says:

    More about BA and the proposed Stansted flights reported in the attached c/o The Telegraph.

    Interesting to read there will be no charge for seat selection.

    They are clearly looking to compete head on with the LC carriers.

    • The_Real_A says:

      A positioning flight from LCY to STN on a friday night would be very welcome 🙂

    • That simply looks like a reporter’s mistake / failure to understand the press release – but I guess worth checking. Article actually says no charge for seat selection 24 hrs before the flight – same as LHR departures. The bit about no £14 seat selection charge is probably incorrect.

      And I bet HBO from Stansted won’t offer free seat selection at all.

  6. OT but I noticed today that a Kimpton hotel popped up on a search for Miami beach in October – it wasn’t there yesterday!!

    Unfortunately it doesn’t look like it’s available for IHG rewards redemptions as there’s a redirect to Kimptons own scheme.

  7. The_Real_A says:

    Looks a great redemption options for Amsterdam. Will probably book this for my upcoming trip. Thanks Rob.

  8. Yes, I’m one of those unfortunate people.
    I held an Amex Gold card a couple of years ago and collected points and transfered points without any problems to Hilton, Virgin and Emirates.
    I applied for a new Amex Gold in October 2015 and spent thousands on it as I knew I would be travelling with Emirates and would be upgrading from economy to business.
    Unfortunately when I accumulated enough points I tried to transfer the points from Amex without success.
    The points would leave my Amex account but never arrive in my Emirates account.
    This was tried about four times and eventually Amex would just put the points back in to my account.
    On numerous occasions I spoke with Amex who told me that they just needed to de-link my old Amex gold card from my Emirates.
    I have tried transferring points over to Hilton and Virgin without any problem, so the problem is only with Emirates!
    Again after numerous calls Amex never managed to de-link my old Amex card with my Emirates account, then they told me that this was a new problem and that they could not rectify it.
    Amex tell me that I could open a new Skywards account with Emirates and then link my old Skywards with my new Skywards and then I could start transferring points, but I have never clarified this with Emirates.
    I already have my Skywards account linked with MBNA Emirates Amex so didn’t want to confuse matters.
    I complained to Amex who tell me that they are now going to change their terms & conditions to reflect this new information stating if you have had a previous Amex card then you will not be able to transfer points over to Emirates.
    I have since wrote to the Ombudsman and am awaiting a response as Amex never had this in their T&C’s when I applied for the card.

    • Good luck, Craig. I’m in the exact same situation and am currently waiting for Emirates to come back to me and confirm what they are willing to do in order to help fix this.

      • Tom C – Have Amex offered any compensation and have you also wrote to the Ombudsman?

        • You’re a bit further along in the process than me. I phoned AMEX yesterday evening and they said they sent a letter out saying it could not be done and I would need to setup a new Emirates Skywards account. As Emirates have been pretty good at coming back to me, I was waiting for them to confirm whether they can do anything at their end. I suspect not, in which case I’ll take the same action you have. I have 100k of miles with Skywards currently, so unless Emirates offer to just transfer everything to a new account for free, then I’ll definitely kick up a storm.

    • Craig, I’ve had success today and finally got this resolved, all done via Emirates finally having come back to me and unlinking the account at their end! Have just spoken to AMEX and transferred 70k miles through to my existing Emirates account and I can see the miles there.

      If you want to chat about this extra and or/need any help, please ask Rob for my contact details (I don’t want to post them publicly) and I’ll be happy to talk to you more in detail.

      P.S. Woman I spoke to at AMEX said she had worked there almost 10 years, never had this issue, but it’s suddenly appeared in the last few months with Emirates and Nectar.

      • Tom C. Thanks for the advice. I have already got the Ombudsman involved now as both emirates and Amex said nothing could be done. I’ll wait and see what they come back with. It’s more of an inconvenience for me as I wanted use skywards for upgrades but couldnt due to me not being able to transfer. Also I’ve had to fly to other airports rather than my local using BA miles and Virgin miles because of this. But I may get in touch with you after I hear back from the Ombudsman.

  9. O/T transferring Avios out of IB.

    1. won’t let me transfer to BAEC, is that to be expected? A/c now over 125 days old. Would a phone call work?

    2. on IB transfer to, running up against ‘Your selected account is a household account. To use Combine my Avios, your account must be a non-household account’. What is the neatest solution here?

    • No solution. You cannot do CMA into an HHA because, technically, an HHA does not belong to an individual.

      BAEC should work but often does not. Have you tried from IB and from

      • yes I tried both the latter options, no go but maybe another day I suppose. Or I could play with different browsers, these days I often find that IE is rubbish at this kind of thing but Chrome, Firefox or Opera are fine.

        I guess I could close down the HHA element as not needed any more, do you know what they are looking for in terms of name/ address/ email match etc?

  10. Andrew Scott says:

    I had the same problem recently trying to transfer MR points to Nectar. I wonder how many other schemes might be caught by this ‘rule’….?

    • I’m sure I’ve transferred in to nectar from 2 different MR accounts in the past?

      I did discover that when entering the nectar number you need to exclude the first block of numbers for it to link.