Bits: Virgin closes HK Clubhouse, 1500 Virgin miles with Worldhotels

News in brief:

Virgin Atlantic closes Hong Kong Clubhouse

This news passed me by at the time, but Virgin Atlantic closed its Clubhouse lounge in Hong Kong on 5th February.  Virgin customers flying from Hong Kong must now use the Plaza Premium lounge.

This is not a surprising move.  Supporting a lounge for one flight a day isn’t easy and only works when you can persuade other airlines to pay you to let their customers use it too.  With no shortage of excellent lounges in Hong Kong this obviously wasn’t a workable option.


Triple Flying Club miles Worldhotels

You may not have heard of Worldhotels, which is an independent marketing group for 500 upscale hotels, spread across 65 countries. These are hotels which do not want to formally join a branded chain but still want to be able to offer their guests loyalty benefits and to benefit from global marketing campaigns.

You can find our more about Worldhotels here.

It is currently offering a decent promotion with 1,500 Virgin Flying Club miles with any stay before the end of March.  250 of the 500 properties in the group are taking part.

Full details can be found here.  You need to book a specific rate code which is inserted during the booking process, so make sure you compare the price with any other deals available.  You will not also earn Peakpoints in the Worldhotels loyalty scheme – although the miles are probably better value.

(Want to earn more Virgin Flying Club miles?  Click here to see our recent articles on Virgin Atlantic and Flying Club and click here for our home page with the latest news on earning and spending other airline and hotel points.)

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  1. David says:

    They renovated the HK clubhouse as recently as 2015 didn’t they?

  2. Dave Prosen says:

    Shame. There’s always a ridiculously long queue at that Plaza Lounge with many cash visitors.

    How long until Virgin stop this whole route? They’ve let go of most (all?) of their HK based crew. And the fares for this route are almost always higher than BA and Cathay.

    • I used the Plaza Premium lounge in December and at the time they had 2 queues, one for cash visitors and another for passengers with priority pass etc. The cash queue had a few people in it but the other queue was empty at the time – only been there once so I don’t know if that’s a regular setup or not.

      • Chris C says:

        I was in the HK Plaza Premium Lounge a couple of weeks ago. There were indeed two queues, one for cash/priority pass and one for business class passengers. The passengers were given priority and the queue was a lot shorter.

  3. That just make Johannesburg as their only non north American Clubhouse.

    HK’s writing was on the wall when the Sydney flight was cancelled. There went a bunch of users.

  4. David2910 says:

    Copying OT query from late last night: anyone know if there’s a lounge at Seville airport? Seems to have shut a couple of years ago, then opened this year (according to FT), but no evidence of it on OW page? Any recent experience? Thanks

  5. Wonder whether this space will become the Amex Centurion lounge which is meant to open in 2017. Seems likely as not sure where else they would put a lounge of that size.

  6. Matthew says:

    Got a HKG-LHR redemption in upper class with VS this October – hope the route holds out for then!

  7. Jonny says:

    OT – Hilton honors points pricing has now been updated.

    Points + cash now seems to be a flat sliding scale between the cheapest flexible cash rate and the points rate. So the “bargain” 40% points and cash rates are no more, as expected.

    However from a cursory glance, points redemptions seem to be a fair bit cheaper than they were in periods of low demand.

    Am guessing this will be covered soon by Rob anyway!

    • Tracy says:

      All changes for the worse as far as I’m concerned. Checked my reservations just now. I had booked 2 rooms for 5 nights at 50k per room per night, these are now 80k per night. This is a property with resort fees. At time of booking, theorem room reservation stated cost was 200k points, no resort fees mentioned (5th night free). Checked today, my reservation has been changed, now states 200k points, $250 plus tax. I have this for 2 rooms so resort charges are $600. I thought there was no resort fee on reward bookings. Checked my email reservation, no mention of resort fees.
      I have another resort reward reservation for 6 days, same thing. Plus I need to book two more nights on points, price has changed from 30k to 40k…….time for email I think 🙁

      • Jonny says:

        surely existing reservations will have to be honoured?
        i made a few speculative “cash and points” bookings in the last few days. majority work out cheaper vs the new pricing, but some i’ll cancel, as eg. 50k/night hotel come down to 28k/night on one date I booked.

        The new pricing seems to also but a value on a Honors point at 0.4p, i.e. if a hotel is £120pn the points price is 30k.

        • Brian says:

          Interestingly, a lot of the points-only redemptions have come down in price, but points and cash are now significantly more expensive. For example, I booked the Hilton Hyde Park for £68 plus 20,000 points – if I want to use 20,000 now, it’s £98 for the cash component. The Doubletree Kensington, on the other hand, was 50,000 points for a redemption for the same night when I was booking – it’s now down to 36,000. So, as you say, the points/money bargains are no more, but points-only redemptions may well be better value.

        • Tracy says:

          The two reward bookings I have, have both increased for the same nights. Boca beach club has gone from 50k to 80k and Embassy Suites Lake Buena Vista from 30k to 40k, maybe a lot of Florida redemptions have increased….
          Have tweeted Hilton about the resort fees being added to the booking…..

        • Brian says:

          Unfortunately, the points/money price is based on the flexible Hilton Honors rate, which is fair enough, since redemptions are flexible. But the Advance Purchase rate is always much cheaper, so if one’s plans are fixed, it’s worth paying just cash.

        • Genghis says:

          I’ve analysed two of my bookings for Easter.

          My current Singapore booking for two nights is 48k HH and SGD298 with no change on the reservation. Potential new pricing is 48k HH and SGD297. Hardly worth the effort of cancelling and rebooking. I don’t believe there’s a change to whether these new bookings earn HH points?

          However, my KL DT actual booking has gone from 20k HH which is what I paid to 20k HH and RM130. I called HH who then put me through to the hotel. They said that all they could only see the 20k HH points element and that is the price that I will pay. Something weird is happening here!

        • Genghis says:

          And the KL reservation has now changed back to just 20k HHs.

        • h1tvd says:

          This has just happened to me too. I was complaining above about resort charges being added to two bookings, they have just disappeared again from one of the bookings, the cheap one unfortunately. The other reservation is still showing resort fees of roughly $600 but after speaking to hilton, they say the hotel can only see the points not the resort charge and I will not be charged it. Unfortunately, it is sitting in black and white on my reservation…….weird!

        • I always print the original booking confirmation to PDF – handy in these situations if it comes to it, although in this particular case I think it’s just an IT glitch.

        • h1tvd says:

          Must have been an IT glitch, the charges have now disappeared off my other booking. Hilton have also added a note to the booking that no resort charges are to be added, so no need to argue about it on check out either 🙂

  8. rams1981 says:

    OT if you hold a gold amex, you can’t receive the full sign up bonus for platinum unless it’s been cancelled for 6 months right?

    • Genghis says:

      Short answer ‘no’. Explanation – per T&Cs you cannot receive any sign up bonus for a reward card if you have held a card with the same reward currency in the last 6 months. Some have reported getting a bonus in less time but not worth risking it IMO as you put back your next sign up bonus another 6 months.

      • Radiata says:

        Indeed but there are scenarios where the risk palatable.

        A friend applied for a Gold on being referred by myself and later upgraded to Plat with an additional 20k MR bonus. As she missed the double MR points for flight bookings she thought to apply for a new Gold. After hitting the Plat spend target she rang AmEx and advised that unlikely to receive a sign up bonus but that chance improved if referred… I counselled that this most unlikely but referred nonetheless and pleasantly surprised by referral bonus showing up in my account which I presume means she will receive her own.

        As all done in quick succession downside in potential delay of six month clock minimal. As ever, no guarantees.

        • Lawro says:

          Unfortunately you receiving a referral bonus doesn’t mean she will.
          You receive a bonus if the person you referred is successful with their application.
          Their bonus will then depend on whether they have held a MR earning card in the last 6 months-although some people have slipped through before….

  9. OT Hilton Honors changes

    Just checked my existing points reservations and Hilton seem to have added a cash portion to my stay. I’m hoping it’s just an IT glitch and will be resolved shortly but if not then I will have to cancel. My understanding of changes was that existing reservations would be honoured, changing the rate is surely breach of contract?

    Booked a deluxe room at Hilton Bomonti (Istanbul) for 2 nights at 37,000 points, it’s now showing €96 + 37,000 points.

    The strangest one is this – Booked a single night at WA Dubai Palm using my Barclays free night cert, rate is now showing as 240AED + 60,000 points.

    In both cases cancelling and re-booking can be done with minor inconvenience but might be worth double checking your award stays.

    • Jonny says:

      yeah I have that too – 10k points and a cheeky £13 on top for a night in Sheffield this weekend… wasn’t there whenI booked, hopefully will disappear soon…

      • Just spoke to Hilton and they confirmed it is a glitch and should be resolved shortly.

        Overall changes seem mix of positive/negative – points value seem to be pegged at around 0.4p for UK bookings. p+c rates are no longer worth it, premium room redemptions are through the roof but most standard room rates are now lower.

    • xcalx says:

      Reservation for Hampton Ybor City now showing as 30K points plus $16.80 New booking 40K. With the BA cancellations I’m having one of them days.

    • It’ll just be a glitch, I wouldn’t worry.

    • ankomonkey says:

      Premium Hilton redemptions (using just points) have shot through the roof.

      Last weekend I booked and stayed in a premium room redemption for 29k points. This was cheaper than the standard redemption at 40k. I booked the premium hoping to get upgraded (as Gold) to the next room level – executive with lounge access. I got the upgrade and had a great stay – and great value for the 29k points with free brekkie and lounge access.

      Same hotel this weekend (under new rates system) – standard redemption 21k (massively reduced from 40k), premium redemption 61k (more than double what I paid). The cash rates are nearly identical between what they were asking last weekend and what they’re asking this weekend for both the standard and premium rooms. Also, the cash difference between the standard room and the premium room is about 15Euro both weekends.

      So standard redemptions look good while pegged at grandfathered level maximums, but premium redemptions are now horrible value. Maybe this enhancement was to sell more cheap rooms to redeemers and stop them getting the massive extra value like I just managed.

      • I noticed this too.

        My stay at the Hilton Bomonti is for a premium room which I booked at 18k points (regular room was 40k) – now regular room is showing as 16k and the one I booked is 41k.

        • ankomonkey says:

          I often booked premium rewards as they were often less than the standard rewards and better rooms.

  10. Wally1976 says:

    OT sorry – Virgin white credit cards – can someone confirm please that spending on the VISA card counts towards the ‘spend £1000 in first 90 days get 10,000 points’? Thanks. I know VISA spend doesn’t count towards the upgrade vouchers.

  11. Waribai says:

    This is a shame. Although not as luxurious as the pier and no noodle bar, it was a good place to chill out before the late night VS flight. Staff were also much more personal than in the Cathay lounges I found.

  12. OT – Bits – major SQ redemption changes just announced. Saver miles rates increased and full removal of the online discount… bad news
    BUT some great news… removal of the YQ on redemptions 🙂

    • Ooh interesting – removal of discount and increase in rates bad, but their YQ is at BA levels, so that could actually more than offset the increase!

    • Where are the changes – I have just enough saved for a one way redemption from SIN-BNE for a booking I want to make in May

    • xcalx says:

      OLD award chart for bookings before 23 March 2017

      NEW award chart

      I can see 5k increase for business and 7.5k for Suites. OW SIN to Europe That’s not a bad increase if it takes the YQ to zero

      • xcalx says:
        • Found it but the numbers for SIN to BNE are not listed so need to do a dummy booking

        • Duh! Dummy booking still shows 55k until after 23/3 !

        • OK just phoned Singapore Airlines and the 55k has gone up to 58k – you can buy 1000 miles for $40 US

        • The biggest headache is not the rates increase but the removal of the 15% discount for booking online. Obviously if you only ever booked by phone you won’t notice this.

        • Genghis says:

          In the email I received, they give two examples.

          One was Singapore to London one way in business
          – currently 68k with online saver + SGD241 fuel surcharges + airport taxes and fees
          – from 23 March, 85k + airport taxes and fees

          So delta is 17k miles for SGD241= £138 so worse overall for this redemption as only getting 0.81ppm

        • Just got email from KF now too, annoyingly airport taxes and fees all still excluded so looks like I’d be better booking under the current deal if I can. I wonder if existing bookings can still have dates changed for free if required, without being subject to the new rules…

        • Matthew says:

          Liz – You will prob better off buying 3000 SPG points at $105 then converting to SQ. There may even be a point sale soon too. Small saving but worth it!

        • Thanks Matthew I will hold out for a bit longer to see what happens with SPG pts.

        • xcalx says:

          Liz after 23/3/17 E 28k PE 44k J 58k Suites 80k the links I posted don’t seem to work on HFP

        • xcalx says:

          PE 45k

        • NIck I had saved the full 55k in my hubby’s account then discovered the 15% online discount – I now have 46750 in my account for the booking with the 15% discount – fortunately I kept my 5100 SPG pts in my account just in case I needed them for SQ – so now I will be 6150 short which I will get hopefully from the Plat card. Called them again to ask if I can use additional 3k miles from MR pts to pay for hubby’s shortfall but no can do so we need to buy his 3k for $120 US.

        • Had a look at SQ Suites redemption to NZ – looks like 71k increase in miles vs before (given increased award chart plus loss of 15% discount). Question is whether ALL taxes/fees will go (saving £700, reasonable deal for mileage increase) or whether only ‘carrier-imposed surcharges’, as that’s £400 or so, making it a less appealing price to ‘buy’ miles at.

  13. Tilly71 says:

    Anyone had VS – IHG points transferred since 22nd feb hit their accounts yet? If so, did they post as elite qualifying?

  14. Scottydogg says:

    Im pretty bummed about the loss of the CH at HGK airport . I booked my first upper class redemption to return from HGK to Heathrow in 3 weeks time , I was looking forward to using the club house before the flight . Learning that it has now closed and that you have to use another lounge where anyone can walk up and pay to get in has slightly soared this experience .

  15. Genghis says:

    OT – Hilton related. Having a look at some redemptions, the Waldorf Amsterdam seems to have increased to whopping 180k a night as a ‘premium room reward’ as standard.

    • The Original Nick. says:

      Hilton Tallin has gone down from 30000 points/night to 27000 for 1st May when I’ll be there. Cancelled and re-booked.