Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Two great deals: Tokyo on Qatar Airways for £817 Business, Mandarin Oriental Geneva £115

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News in brief:

Qatar Airways launches excellent Tokyo fare from Pisa

Whilst Qatar Airways has been throwing around discounted business class fares like confetti recently, tickets to Tokyo tend to remain expensive due to capacity constraints.  This is why this new offer out of Pisa in Italy is worth a look.

Take a look here at full list of Qatar deals from Italy.  Tokyo is listed as €1,055 return in Business Class.  That is just £817.  You would earn 560 British Airways tier points on that ticket too.

Remember that British Airways flies to Pisa from both Heathrow and Gatwick so a connection will not be a problem.  There are some other excellent deals here apart from Tokyo but that is the one that jumps out.

You must book by 6th June for travel by the end of March 2017.  Availability is excellent once you get into early 2017.   The leg from Pisa to Doha is on a short-haul A320 but these have been fitted with flat bed seats in Business Class.

You can book on the Qatar UK site here.

Mandarin Oriental Geneva

50% off Geneva hotels over the Summer

You may remember a recent competition I mentioned to win one of 1,000 hotel nights in Geneva.  A LOT of Head for Points readers were winners, including myself.

People who did not win were emailed yesterday with an EXCELLENT deal.  Via this link, you can book a hotel room in Geneva WITH BREAKFAST over the peak Summer season between 11th July and 12th September for a 50% discount.  You need to use the promo code geneva50 when checking out.

Some of the pricing is exceptionally good.  Le Richemond, owned by The Dorchester Group, is CHF 165 (£115) on some nights and that is with breakfast.  I even found the Mandarin Oriental available for CHF 165 (£115).  You could probably just about buy breakfast for two on its own, let alone a room, for that price normally.

If you can get the right property then this is a very good excuse for a weekend break in Geneva this Summer.

Comments (60)

  • Gareth Morgan says:

    Swapped a PB at the HIX in Strasbourg for a longer drive and a 165CHF Mandarin Oriental on July 15th. Means a shorter drive to Milan the day after so I can have a looong breakfast.

    Now how do I get there without needing a Swiss carnet?

    • Morgan says:

      If you’re going to drive on Swiss roads then you will need a carnet

  • Catherine says:

    Is there a cancellation charge if you book one night and cancel in advance? It says they won’t charge up to 24 hours before the booking date, but it seems too good to be true!

    • RIccati says:

      There is a cancellation fee of 50 CHF for Foundation Genève Tourisme who will take full payment at the time of booking — it is in the terms and conditions.

  • Sima says:

    Just tried booking one of these cheap Qatar flights however I’m getting invalid dates, error messages. Anyone else had similar?

  • Andrew H says:

    O/T – has anyone got their Etihad points via Heinemann yet?

    It’s been three months since I signed up.

  • AndyR says:

    Hi all, I have a Lloyds upgrade voucher expiring soon and was thinking of using it to Tokyo next year in J but the taxes are a whopping £550 on BA, plus the 78k Avios. I value Avios at 0.75p so total cost is £1,135 to me. With deals like this for £816 on QR I am really not sure if it is worth redeeming the voucher. Have never flown BA CW but the reports sound uninspiring. BA use the 787-8 to NRT so at least it will be a newish plane and I guess flying direct from LHR is a lot more convenient?

    Any advice what I should do?

    • Rob says:

      You still have to fly to Pisa so the net cost won’t be much different. How important are the 560 BA tier points to you? That might swing it for me.

      • AndyR says:

        I should be Silver by the end of this year anyway and won’t be able to make Gold so I don’t particularly need the TP’s. I am leaning towards BA for the convenience and would be a pity not to use the voucher. Thanks.

        • jeff says:

          Yes QR is better product but a lot of tiring hassle

          London – Italy – Doha – TYO (not to mention lengthy layovers)

          If you live in London, door to door is ideal for such a lengthy trip.

          Enjoy – Japan is ACE!

    • Gavin says:

      I’m booking a trip soon to Tokyo next year and despite the super low prices I’m not that tempted by QR – the detour south means 5-6 extra hours of flying time plus the connection. More tier points but less avios earned.

    • CDB says:

      I have just returned from a redemption to Tokyo using 2-4-1. Firstly it’s an amazing city so a good option! We flew F to HND for 204k avios (off-peak) + £1,060 taxes (in total). I think the avios difference from WT+ to CW is more than CW to F so perhaps CW is best value for Lloyds voucher. However if you have sufficient avios (I think 150k return off-peak with Lloyds voucher) an F redemption is definitely more of a treat – this was our 1st first and we really enjoyed the seat and service. In CW in the 787-8 to NRT is much better than the 777-300 to HND, have been on the 787-8 a couple of times in CW and feels more private and a quieter plane. However if you want to go F you need to go to HND, flight slightly earlier but more central (easy to get monorail into centre whereas NRT is almost an hour by train).

      For us the direct flight was important, although 12 hours + 8 hours time difference, we had little jetlag and got decent sleep timings. We also live in London so an Uber to LHR is easy. If you don’t mind the multiple connections, need tier points and expect to use the avios elsewhere then QR seems like an excellent deal. We also used a Hilton voucher for the Conrad Tokyo which was stunning and a high value redemption given Tokyo hotel prices! If you’ve not been before make sure you also go to Kyoto (easiest by train) and you can also get cheap JAL domestic redemptions with no taxes for other Japanese cities.

      • AndyR says:

        Great to hear thanks CDB. Unfortunately it’s not possible to use the Lloyds voucher to upgrade to First so will have to be CW this time 🙁

        For off peak WT+ is 39k Avios and J is 75k so it is quite a good saving using the voucher.

        Can I ask how long you went for and whether you felt it was enough time?

        • CDB says:

          We did 2 nights in Kyoto and 4 nights in Tokyo, had planned to do Hiroshima too but Obama’s visit got in the way. One day in Kyoto was a cycle tour which was well worth doing and covered most of the main sites. It was just about enough time but a busy schedule, 8-10 days would have been better but bear in mind hotels are fairly pricy. You can explore Japan using a rail pass too which you have to buy here first as a tourist.

          • Genghis says:

            Hotels are expensive in Japan – they generally charge per person.
            I recommend a trip to Koya-san, just south of Osaka. In two years of living in Japan, this was perhaps my favourite place. Kurokawa Onsen comes a close second.

          • AndyR says:

            Thanks both, have noted this all down 🙂

            I was looking at doing 7 nights (fly out Sat & back on Sun) but may think about 10. Just need to work out other holiday plans for next year.

          • Dan says:

            Slightly OT (but Japan related).

            I’ve also got a 241 redemption in 1st booked for next March. Any tips on places to stay in Tokyo/Kyoto/Osaka would be very much appreciated?

            I’m considering 5 nights in the Conrad Tokyo (in Japan for 15 nights total), although slightly short of the 360k HH points required until a stay in London at the end of June credits.

          • Rob says:

            Plenty of good options. The Hyatt Roppongi Hills is beautiful, especially the wedding chapel. Lots of people have opened in Kyoto since I was there – Four Seasons is about to open I think so may have good deals. I was at the Westin in a lovely suite (this is 10 years ago though).

          • jeff says:

            Dan – (odd no ‘Reply’ button on your own post)

            Conrad for 5 nights would be nice, but I can throughly recommend the Hilton in Shinjuku (I’ve stayed in both)

            Shinjuku is better location especially for local nightlife.

      • jeff says:


        To fly BA First, why exactly does he/she have to fly HND (as opposed to NRT) ?

        • AndyR says:

          Hi Jeff, it may have been my fault as I incorrectly said they use a 787-8 to NRT which doesnt have First, but as Tom pointed out it is actually the 787-9.

    • Tom says:

      FYI, for what it’s worth, BA have 787-9 on NRT rather than 787-8, so different seatplan.

    • Talay says:

      @ AndyR

      I hear you on the continued worth of chasing down Avios for the 2-4-1 BA offer and my maths seems to indicate that it isn’t worth it on the paid for BA card.

      My redemption is around 180k Avios plus £1050 or so in taxes. However, no chauffeur with BA so factor in another £300 to replicate the same service. Add in free chauffeur at destination which I value at £150 and you have £1500 in costs.

      Running 2 x BAPP cards to make sure child plus either adult can use the vouchers costs £300 a year. If collecting those 180k points takes 3 years then that is £900 in card fees, £600 if two years. Take amid range figure and add £750 to the existing £1500 and you now have £2250.

      But you still have 180k points to give away !

      A quick view of the points needed to pay for a 5* hotel in London seems to indicate around 50k of points for £250 of value, or about 0.5p per point. Extrapolate this and the 180k points you are giving up are worth about £900. When you add this to the £2250 you now have £3150.

      However, though we are nearly done, you have to actually find seats on the plane, which we find almost impossible to do when you cannot commit 355 days in advance. You also have to discount the BA CW product as it is shockingly poor compared to the ME3.

      My thoughts are that we will dump the BAPP and go back to the BA cards and take Avios as a secondary benefit where available. Over time, we should catch the 180k Avios needed and should always have a voucher to use. With free cards and the only other alternative a few hotel points, then I guess paying £1100 for two flights to Asia is ok. Paying well over £3k however is not !

      • Terry Silver says:

        Downgraded to the free BA card for this very reason

  • Tom says:

    OT-ish question about flight to Tokyo we’ve booked in F. Seat map shows 1A and 1K as unavailable – apparently reserved for GCH (we are Silver). Is there a point where those seats open up to non-GCH, does anyone know?

    • CDB says:

      I think it was about 3 days before, however as a couple the middle seats are I think better – we did 1EF and 2EF.

      • Bob says:

        Thanks – we have the middle ones for now so might just stick with them. First time in F so will be a good experience anyway 🙂

      • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

        I’d second the middle pair as better for a couple on a 777.

  • joe says:

    when i go to book the MO geneva it says breakfast included, but after adding the voucher the “free breakfast” seems to disappear – anyone else noted this?

    • Rob says:

      I wouldn’t worry, all of the rates under this promo have it and the hotel is selling rooms every day on this basis. Take a screenshot of the earlier page if concerned.

      • joe says:

        Hmm, yeah, although the offer seems to be booked via the geneva tourist board as opposed to the hotel directly…

        Having said that, we are just as happy having a nice coffee and croissant on a roadside cafe and you can’t beat a night at the mandarin oriental and l’angleterre geneva, allegedly the 2nd and 3rd best hotels in Geneva for £230 so massive thanks to you Rob 🙂

  • Adam Jefford says:

    We were awarded one of the free nights in Geneva and booked the grand hotel Kempinski for a Sunday night in early september -as the best place that came up on the dates we could do. Our plan had been to book a cheaper hotel for the Saturday night to make it a weekend – however just managed to bag the Saturday night at same hotel on this half price follow on offer- so two 5 star hotel nights for around £115 is pretty amazing. Big thanks to HFP!

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