Bits: changes to HFP August posting, three offers closing today, United launches Denver

News in brief:

Changes to Head for Points posting for August

As is now traditional, Head for Points will be dropping the ‘three posts per day’ schedule for August.

History shows that there isn’t a great deal of news about this month.  If there are three stories worth covering then we’ll do it.  Given that we work a little in advance, I am fairly sure it will be three per day this week at least.

I will also take the opportunity to update a few older reference articles for the benefit of new readers.  If there is nothing worth covering, though, we won’t bother.  If you don’t get three emails in the morning, don’t panic!

There will definitely be new content every day, so continue stopping by.  Anika will be checking out the new Plaza Premium T3 and T4 arrivals lounges at Heathrow this week, as well as trying a flight simulator!  We also have two good competitions lined up for August which you won’t want to miss.

And, if you’re at work twiddling your thumbs because all of your colleagues are away, remember that our ‘Favourites’ page here has links to the best of our older articles.

Virgin Atlantic 787

Last call for these deals ….

As it’s the last day of the month, I wanted to flag these offers one last time in case you had been planning to jump in but forgot.

First up is the 25% discount on Virgin Atlantic Upper Class miles redemptions from Manchester (link).  Remember that the discount applies to EVERY flight currently on sale for the next year, including peak periods.  It may even be worth coming up from London to Manchester given the savings on offer.  Full details in this article.

Today is the last day to earn 8,800 Avios with a subscription to The Economist.  A full article is here.  These offers come and go, however, so it isn’t a disaster if you miss out this time.

It is also the last day to earn 8,000 Virgin miles for opening an ISA (link).  See the article here.  I believe that there will be another Nutmeg / Avios ISA promotion after the holidays, however, so you may want to hold fire for that instead given that you can only open one stocks and shares ISA per year.


United announces new Heathrow to Denver route

Regular readers will know that United Airlines has recently announced that it is ending services between New York and three UK and Irish destinations:

Birmingham to Newark will close on 5th October

Glasgow to Newark will move from year-round to Summer-only, with no flights between 28th October and 4th May 2018

Shannon to Newark will move from year-round to a 75% service, with no flights between 25th November and 9th March 2018

The airline hasn’t turned its back entirely on UK expansion, however.  The airline will start flights to Denver next year during the summer timetable, which runs from 25th March and 27th October.

The route will use a Boeing 787-8 although it is not confirmed whether or not it will use the new United ‘Polaris’ business class seat.  Polaris is not a life changing product – the Middle Eastern airlines are not exactly panicking, and neither is American given its (better) new business class seat – although it is better than British Airways Club World.  You can read my thoughts on Polaris, admittedly based only on sitting in a mock-up, 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.)

Low-cost NYC with, erm, Primera Air from B'ham and London - book or avoid?
BOOKABLE THIS AFTERNOON: New IHG PointBreaks list of 100 x 5,000 point hotels
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  1. I think I flew to Denver on UA in 2009 maybe so technically it’s a relaunch!

    • Andrew says:

      You may well have. We flew that route in 2009 as well heading on our honeymoon. Sadly his was in the days before I understood this hobby, so we were in economy. Although they did give us the 6ft legroom exit row on the 777 and the crew sent us packing with a bottle of the 1st Champagne… Can’t imagine that happening now and it’s not even that long ago.

    • JamesB says:

      Yes you are correct. Denver was one of my favourite airports, fantastic design which enabled very
      rapid transits.

  2. OT – for those who could not get the recent Avis/Iberia competition to work, I tried again this morning and won 9k Avios on each of my completed July bookings. Last few times I had tried it didn’t seem to work but may be worth trying again today if you had similar experiences.

    As to whether they post or not, is a different matter but has got to be worth a punt.

    • David says:

      Has anyone had them post? I tried again this weekend after it hadn’t worked in the past and apparently won 9k. I’d be interested to know if anyone actually gets them.

    • I won 9k and 18k for two one day van hires. Spent just under £80 on both hires in total, and I needed the vans.

      If these post, this will be excellent for me! I’ve put reminders in my diary to chase.

  3. Nick M says:

    OT – does anyone know how busy the T5 Aspire lounge is likely to be on a Thursday morning (11.30 flight)? – i.e. Are we likely to be able to get in? (Planning to upgrade my Amex so will have PP, but don’t want to do this just yet if it’s likely that we’ll be turned away).

    • Same question for Monday 1pm please? I just upgraded my Amex as will be flying next Monday

    • The_real_a says:

      FYI they operate a wait list for priority pass passengers. So even if totally full they will just ask you to come back in 20 or 30 minutes. Personally I have only once been turned away.

      • Nick M says:

        That’s very helpful, thanks.

        Just upgraded and acceptance confirmed, but told that the supp card needed some additional checks… hopefully these won’t take long as I’d like both PPs within the next 2 weeks! – is it normal for an existing supplementary cardholder not to be auto-accepted?

    • If you search in google ‘Aspire Lougne Terminal 5’ ( a chart with the popular times will appear on the right. It will not be exactly correct but you can use it as a good guide.

  4. Wivus says:

    Hi Rob,
    Will there be an August card update? I am hitting all the bonus levels on my existing cards and would like to double check if there are any recent changes before trying to decide what card to take next.

  5. OT – more bad news for regional flyers connecting to long haul, apparently. I’ve just been checking redemptions for next summer, taxes and fees quoted at an extra £200 PER PERSON if you start in Manchester! Anyone else noticed this?

    • JamesB says:

      It might just be an error Anna, check again lzter if tomorrow. Have you tried pricing it up at avios?.

      • JamesB says:

        Update: just checked my usual zone 7 redemptions from EDI via LHR early July 18, about £20 more expensive than I paid for same flight next month which was booked T-355.

        • For 2 x CW next July I’m getting:

          LON-NYC £1071 taxes
          MAN-LON-NYC £1487 taxes
          EDI-LON-NYC £1479 taxes
          ABZ-LON-NYC £1105 taxes

        • Though on the taxes from MAN are coming in at £1112. Be careful who you book with just now!

        • JamesB says:

          I’m sure the MAN and EDI departures are errors. If you need to book do so via avios or call BA with an enquiry. If not, check back soon to see if pricing is adjusted.

  6. the real harry1 says:

    O/T just logging on to HIFX and their opening page reminds me why the Virgin currency guarantee is so useless – they only let you invoke the guarantee against high st banks – so you’re nearly always better off going to one of the specialists, HIFX being one I like but we’ve also used Azimo & Moneycorp (& Sainsburys/ Travelex on EU referendum result morning if anybody remembers that & wants to say thanks again! 🙂 ) – they say…13th June…

    £10,000 will get you + Fees
    HiFX €11,344 No fees
    NatWest €11,115 £30
    Lloyds €11,054 £9.50
    Barclays €11,016 £15
    HSBC €11,010 £0

    • JamesB says:

      I’m not sure about the EU but elsewhere it could be even worse than this because the receiving bank and any intermediate banks involved might also apply fees. The sending banks in the UK always state this in their T&C but it is rarely obvious and staff are usually clueless as to how much these fees might be. Anybody sending large sums really needs to do some serious reseach first.

      • Gavin says:

        I used to do some consultancy work with HiFX and they were very nice people!

        When I had to transfer some KRW(South Korean Won) to Mrs Gavin I think we had to go via a bank due to there being quite a low transaction limit (both annual limit and one-off amounts) via Fintech companies. Fortunately, as she used to worked in banking in Seoul she was able to access some preferential rates – or so she said anyway!

    • Thanks again Harry.
      I only did 15k of USD and EUR at moneycorp but it was very useful for holidays over the last year.
      I therefore also thought to reserve a 5k of USD before our general election and this gave me slightly over spot (the markets didn’t price the close result).
      I guess moneycorp got a bit burned as the limit had reduced.

  7. Andrew H says:

    O/T Any sign of a Clubcard/BAEC conversion bonus? If not I may as well do

    • the real harry1 says:

      none whatsoever but my hunch/ guess is we’ll see the next one in November

      there ‘definitely’ won’t be one this quarter as Tesco just started the usual ‘win Avios’ competition on conversion to Avios and they don’t do both at the same time

      • Would you recommend holding off till November then? Though after I got the quote for the Manchester connection I am seriously considering quitting the avios game! Nearly £1500 in taxes for 2 x CW MAN-LHR-IAD.

        • the real harry1 says:

          each to his/her own strategy!

          but I have enough Avios in the bank so there’s no immediate need to convert, it was worth the wait last time – particularly as in their wisdom they were duplicating the 24,000s so we got a few for free 🙂

          also, don’t forget that multiples of the limit went through absolutely fine last time

        • Andrew H says:

          Thanks Harry. I struggle to remember when the last one was – November 2015?

        • I’ve never had a Tesco bonus, what’s the duplication issue? (If you can say!) I’ve got £200 of vouchers this quarter and don’t need the avios too urgently so would like to get maximum value if possible.

          If I get time later I’ll try a couple of dummy bookings from other regions to see if they’ve had the same increases in taxes. Then I might call BA for an explanation! I can only think they want people to book the connecting flight separately so they have to collect and re-check luggage…

        • Genghis says:

          Last conversion bonus was Nov 2015. The ‘duplication’ was just that the max conversion was £100 but if you sent 5 x £100 you got 5 x conversion bonus.

        • JamesB says:

          @Andrew H, yes, and IIRC it followed a week or so after a competition ended so I have never written one off since simply because they announced a competition. There is a potential spanner in the works because in the past we werd often excluded from conversion bonuses if we had transfered points within a certain time period so if they were to bring a bonus back in Novenber we might find we are not elgible if we convert this quarter.

        • the real harry1 says:

          actually I mean quite a few of us got a free 24,000 🙂

          and the other bit is true as well – together we converted about 17x £100 with no issues whatsoever – all got the bonus

  8. And as of now you can’t book the Virgin sale as the website logins are down – According to chat, no usernames/passwords are being recognised. Got told to try again in an hour.

    Hugely frustrated with Virgin Been trying to book JFK-MAN in the sale for next June but they haven’t released flights for miles after 14th June, even though the outbound MAN-JFK has been available on those dates for over 2 weeks. Nothing we can do say sales, cant speak to anyone.

  9. Roberto says:

    Anyone had the 5000 MR bonus pop up recently for adding a sup to the Amex Plat? I just churned mine and resisted to opportunity to add my wife immediately as a sup when signing up instead hoping for the offer to appear as I logged in once my card was set up and active – it did not appear of course..

    Secondly, did anybody get the offer that did not already have a sup card? Thanks in advance……

    • My wife had it on her BA and there are no supp cards on that.

      • JamesB says:

        Does a supp card have to be held by somebody residing at the same address as the cardholder?

        • No – we add my mother-in-law to our BAPP all the time and she lives at a different address. .

        • JamesB says:

          Thanks Liz, I think I’ve been missing a trick here so long as my family don’t decide to trick me !

        • I have my mother in law well trained – she uses our Amex and I pay for anything big items of spend she has plus buy stuff for her when we are out and about with them – I keep a running tab and she writes me a cheque each month – I also pay her council tax on my Amex – she gets through about £10k spend through our cards!

        • MarkH says:

          Liz – do you ever get charged for adding her?

          I recently got a 3k MR offer on my girlfriend’s PRGC to add supplementary card holder. I am already a supp and so added my dad. Didn’t hear anything for a few days and then noticed the points posted yesterday and I thought all was good.
          However I looked again today and they have applied a £45 charge described as “SUPPLEMENTARY CARD FEE ASSESSED”.

          When I was filling out the form it didn’t mention (or at least I don’t recall it mentioning) that there would be a fee. Obviously had I known I would not have paid £45 for 3000MR!

        • Genghis says:

          First supp is free. Second supp is £45 but refundable pro-rata…

        • I’ve never been charged on the BAPP card. I also asked before we applied if we could get the 3000 Avios that everyone seems to be getting offered and they agreed even though she was a 2nd suppl card. I just need to confirm to them that she was accepted and they will add the points.

        • @JamesB the cards get sent to you though, so if it’s just the bonus for additional cards then you’ve nothing to worry about. If you want them to put spend through it then it definitely comes down to trust!

        • No

        • JamesB says:

          Thanks everybody for comments on supps, had never given them a thought before as my partner and I are fairly disciplined in churning amex. It got a little out of sync of late because my dad is now too old and easily stressed for the hobby but perhaps he and my sister will agree to supps.

        • MarkH says:

          Ah ok thanks. Annoyingly as the email function has been removed I now I have to get the gf to call up and see if there’s any way to reverse, including removing my dad as a supp.

          Has anyone actually ever got through to CS on chat? It always shows as busy for me.

        • Genghis says:

          I’d perhaps leave it a month or so and get him to spend a bit on the card and then call up for a refund. Otherwise they might take away the points? 3000 MR points for £3.75 isn’t bad.

        • MarkH says:

          Another neat little trick – will give it a go. Thanks!

        • Wally1976 says:

          Early-ish in the morning, e.g. up to 8.30am seems to be fine on the chat (closed my SPG card this morning no problem) but it gets busier later.

      • Roberto says:

        Thanks all….

    • Simon says:

      Yes I got it on my BA card, think it was 3k bonus. the card already has one supp on it….. I didn’t do it and the pop up has gone. very annoying!

      • KevMc says:

        I had the BA 3k pop up. As the card was only a month or so old, and had a sup user (my wife) added when I opened it, I contacted them asking if this qualified or if I’d have to add a second…they then credited me with 3k as a gesture of goodwill.

        • I had the pop-up show offering 3K on BA Card for supp but didn’t work when I tried applying. Will call to see if they’ll still honour it.

    • My in-laws travel all the time but can’t be persuaded to collect avios. I tried to tempt them with the MR gold card before their current trip to the Caribbean, thinking that they could at least use the lounge passes but they refused. Is it bad that I had a touch of schadenfreude when they rang to say their flight was delayed by 5 hours?!!

  10. Moktar says:

    I am about to book my first SPG booking and was wondering what would be the best way forward since there are a few options available. I have recently acquired Gold status through Amex Platinum, and got 20k+ spg points.
    Trying to book Le Méridien Pyramids Hotel & Spa in Cairo for 4 days in September 2nd week. Cash rate is €64. SPG Free Nights is 2500 points and SPG Cash & Points is 1500 points and 30 USD. With mastercard 3 for 2, cash rate goes down to €47.
    What is the likelyhood of being upgraded to the pyramids view room (which is not offered on points)? Does the cash & points rate register as a paid booking (and activate my account for uber points)?

    • Pangolin says:

      SPG isn’t a downmarket chain like IHG – they recognise status and give appropriate upgrades even when you are staying on points (you just won’t earn any points from the room itself). Having said that, Gold status doesn’t amount to much in SPG (in comparison to Marriott or Hilton) but given that it’s Cairo in September (not exactly overrun by tourists) you could be in with a shout of a decent upgrade (contact the hotel a few days before and ask nicely – it can’t do any harm).

      Cairo/Egypt is so ridiculously cheap at the moment that it doesn’t really make sense to use points with cash rates so low. Remember also that when you use an award booking you don’t just use up the points to pay for the booking you also lose the points you would have accrued on a cash booking (which is something that many people forget to factor in when doing CPM calculations against redemptions).

      So if it were me I’d plump for the cash rate with a clear conscience and use the 3 for 2 on MC. 47 EUR per night to be in a Le Meridien isn’t something you should need to agonise over for too long!

      • at those price points I’d be looking at booking the cash rates and saving the points for something else. We just did Celine at the O2 (i know its not everyones thing but lots of different concerts come up) with spa moments and i honestly think it was the best use of 15k points. Great food, superb host, free flowing champagne. amazing.

        • We did Celine at the O2! This was the first one, not last week.

        • we were at the front for the first one but I enjoyed the box even though it wasn’t as close.

      • Graeme says:

        SPG isn’t a downmarket chain like IHG – made me laugh DYKWIA..

  11. Rob, did you ever find a dutch speaker to write posts? about to move to Amsterdam and trying to work out if the Dutch gold card offers full travel insurance. Google translate is poor.

    • I had a few people put their names forward but they would all have required quite a bit of time to bring up to speed which was disproportionate for the number of posts they’d do. What I really want is an existing Dutch blogger who wants to make a few £ by letting me run English translations of their existing Flying Blue stuff.

      That doesn’t help you though!

      • Thanks anyway, I’ll try the Amex thread on flyertalk. From what I can make out the gold card has full travel insurance like the U.K. Platinum (minus the car hire cover) but seems too good to be true for the fee.

  12. Landed at T3 this morning, so I thought I will check out the Plaza Premium T3 arrivals lounge.
    I had never used the old Delta lounge before, so I had no idea where it might be.. there were no signs either, so I asked an airport staff at the end. It is located near the bus top 17, outside of the arrival hall.
    In case anyone wants to use it before Anika’s review –
    Priority card is not accepted yet, however, American Express Platinum and Centurion cards are. According to the sign at the eantrance partners also included Drangonpass, Citibank and HSBC.

    • We just tried to find the lounge. Only found the Virgin arrivals lounge that closes at 13:30. Would that be the same one as the Delta lounge?

  13. jamie says:

    O/T I need to purchase some currency and I am looking to do this through Travelex. Has anyone used their Amex Plat to purchase currency.. if so does this show up as a purchase or as cash? Would be great to earn not just avios but the MR points too.

    • Pangolin says:

      You can’t earn MR points for straight FX currency purchases. That would be the holy grail for people who look for manufactured spend on credit cards.

      • the real harry1 says:

        except a lot of us already did…Amex currency portal, sadly deceased

  14. OT: If you book flights using your credit card but cancel the credit card before travel, is there an issue if flight gets cancelled or delayed? I will have my other Amex credit card but my other half said flights were not booked using Amex. Is it safer to not cancel before travel?

    • Money goes back to Amex, contact them and they repay you

      • Thanks Rob, I paid through my Hilton Barclaycard but want to cancel it. Does money go back to them and they repay, irrespective of whether I have a card with them or not?

        • Probably, because the refund will be automated. Whether Barclaycard accepts the money (as Amex would) or refuses it I don’t know.

    • Genghis says:

      Do you mean from a S75 perspective?

      Per MSE, “If you’ve paid for something on a card but since cancelled the card you may still have Section 75 protection.

      The Financial Ombudsman Service told us that assuming you meet all other criteria you should be covered, as the fact you’ve cancelled the card doesn’t matter. The original payment method is what’s key, ie, you paid on a credit card.

      If you have any doubt, put in a claim as the worst that can happen is your claim is rejected.”

  15. rams1981 says:

    OT Curve. I asked yesterday bur fairly late so may have been missed. Has anyone else tried spending over the £200 ATM monthly limit? I did an extra £100 yesterday and from what I can see it has only been charged as £100 to my underlying credit card. Anyone else have any data points?

    • There were at least a couple of replies to your query from what I saw? Looks like at present they’re not strictly enforcing the limits/charges, but given the published FUP you wouldn’t really have grounds for complaint if they did charge you. The revised app has a good progress meter showing how much of your various limits you’ve used.

    • Alex W says:

      Withdrew £200 yesterday, total £300 in the month. It’s just showing as £200 pending on my IHG card.

    • Wally1976 says:

      I withdraw £50 twice a week on mine (so £400/£450 a month) with no issues (so far). On the app it seems to reset to £200 each morning and then £150 if I make a withdrawal so mine seems to have a limit of £200 a day!?

  16. OT – for you frequent Club World flyers. I’ve never used my 32kg per case allowance before, but because of the awful £/$ exchange rate and very high prices in the Cayman Islands, we are packing as much as we can this year, toiletries, books etc for our 18 day trip. I’ve heard tales in the past of baggage handlers refusing to lift anything over 23kg due to health and safety, has anyone ever had a problem with baggage weight?

    • We take a fair bit of scuba/snorkel gear as well so packing light is never an option!

    • The_real_a says:

      32kg is the accepted maximum case in just about all airports around the world. You will have no issues at this weight, I have flown many times at this weight around the world.

      • Great, thanks! I’ll fling a few more outfits in….

        • Kinkell says:

          We had a 32 Kg suitcase on our SAmerica trip, a hard case. It was tagged as heavy. Got a real dunt somewhere along the line on the return flights from Santiago/Rio/LHR before picking up in EDI…the casing was split . So check carefully!

        • Lady London says:

          have also flown a lot rtu using 32kg and even with really solid luggage I can confirm heavier is definitely more likely to get dropped and dented etc.

  17. Jonny says:

    Question re BAEC Household account booking –
    If I were to make a surprise booking using Avios, would my wife be emailed that her Avios have been depleted (due to household account pro-rata)? She wouldn’t spot it otherwise (I hope!)

    • Genghis says:

      She wouldn’t be emailed about the avios going or any booking in her name (booked under your account). She would see the transaction though if she logged in / on the app and if a booking made in her name would see the itinerary.

    • Nick M says:

      Does she use Award Wallet? – She would probably get a notification once the balances update and may then log into the account to check…

  18. the real harry1 says:


    Raffles you could actually make an article here & save people some money