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Bits: Waitrose / Virgin – up and down, BA to launch airside in-app upgrades

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News in brief:

Waitrose / Virgin – what’s going on?

On Wednesday I wrote an article pointing out that the generous Virgin Atlantic earning rate for shopping in-store at Waitrose was due to end.

Giving you 4 Virgin Flying Club miles per £1 was unsustainable as anyone who understands the economics of grocery retailing will tell you.  I suggested that you might want to buy some Waitrose gift cards to lock in ‘4 miles per £1’ for a while longer, since I expected a fall.

And what happened yesterday?  It isn’t clear.

If you are not logged in to the Virgin shopping site, it shows that Virgin Flying Club increased the earning rate in Waitrose to 5 miles per £1.   However, once I log in (with cookies cleared) this changes to just 1 mile per £1.

We have seen this behaviour before with Caffe Nero on the Avios in-store shopping programme.  A high rate is promised, and continues to be promised to new customers, but existing customers see their earning rate cut without warning.  Even worse, anyone who looks at the Virgin site to double-check their earning rate – but fails to log-in – will mistakenly think they are still getting the higher rate and spend accordingly.  Not clever.

Details of how to earn Virgin miles at Waitrose, including how to register your credit cards, are in this article.

British Airways to launch airside in-app upgrades

I got a news release this week about the development of the British Airways app.  This was all very ‘meh’ (“there’s been some good progress on fixing the basics”) except for one nugget of information.

From this Summer, British Airways customers will be able to upgrade themselves airside via the app.  I assume that this has been made possible by the ability to generate a new digital boarding pass automatically.

There is no clue about how this would work:

Will you be able to upgrade with Avios as well as cash?

What will the cut-off be?  (By definition, if you’re airside these are upgrades which will be processed in the 90 minutes or so before departure.)  

Will these upgrades only open up after check-in closes, at which point BA would know exactly how many people are going to be on the flight?  

How will BA handle catering, given that meals will already have been despatched to the aircraft at the point you upgrade?

There are plenty of ways this could go wrong, but it has the potential to be a very interesting initiative.

How to earn Avios points from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (August 2022)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways BA Amex American Express card

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

American Express Amex Gold

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points, £200 travel credit and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,000 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,500 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa for a limited company Read our full review

You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

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

Comments (61)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Joe says:

    I had a really strange experience today. We flew LHR – JFK on WTP, but we had separate booking references and I got bumped to CW. I noticed on the app, that there was the upgrade offer for £420 on place for the return flights. I went to ticketing at LHR lounge to check what can be done, but they said they couldn’t do anything and/or the price would be a lot more. I tried to upgrade my partner on her app and it went through the payment and failed. I called the Gold service line and got poor service, basically she said there was nothing to be done. We got to the hotel and I went online on my laptop and the upgrade option was there again. I starting upgrading and there was the selection available and there was a small banner saying upgrade not available for this flight, yet I was able to proceed. I upgraded us both and the seats were updated on the app.

    • Katy says:

      Where is the upgrade shown on the app and online? I have never seen it and I travel to the US with BA about ten times a year?!

      • Joe says:

        A little star with text upgrade shows up next to the seat number in the app. Online that comes up when you go ‘manage your flight’ and it’ll come up on top half of the page ‘this flight is available for upgrade for a limited time only’ etc.

        • Katy says:

          Thank you!honestly never seen it before. What are the prices like usually for transatlantic WTP to CW?

          • Joe says:

            £420 single, £840 return. I had the option of upgrading both ways, even though I was already sitting in the lounge, but I had a free upgrade to CW already.

  • Chris Cannon says:

    Saw something similar to this last week. My wife and I on different booking references. They upgraded and moved me from WTP to CW but not her. When I pointed out that we wanted to sit together they tried to sell her a 1 way upgrade for £635 to Chicago. We declined as that’s extortionate and then they upgraded her anyway. They were obviously trying to maximise revenue on something they were going to do anyway.

    What I also found interesting was even on their screens, they see the same seat availability as the ticket holder – as Silver I have more free sear options than her on Bronze. I would have thought they would have been able to see it all

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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