Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

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

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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.


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.

Comments (100)

  • 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……

    • Rob says:

      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?

        • Liz says:

          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 !

          • Liz says:

            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…

          • Liz says:

            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.

          • Alan says:

            @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!

        • Rob says:


          • 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.

        • Jay says:

          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.

    • Anna says:

      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?!!

  • 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!

      • Mark says:

        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.

        • Rob says:

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

          • Mark says:

            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..

  • POL says:

    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.

    • Rob says:

      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!

      • Pol says:

        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.

  • YL says:

    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.

    • HAM76 says:

      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?

  • 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

  • S879 says:

    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?

    • Rob says:

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

      • S879 says:

        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?

        • Rob says:

          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.”

  • 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?

    • Alan says:

      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!?

  • Anna says:

    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?

    • Anna says:

      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.

      • Anna says:

        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.

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