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Bits: BA ‘Upgrade to First’ back, SPG / Marriott merger clue, IC Ambassador bonus goes

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News in brief:

British Airways brings back ‘Upgrade To First’

BA has brought back its regular ‘Upgrade To First’ promotion.

This offer is only suitable for people travelling for business, as you are required to book a flexible or semi-flexible Club World ticket (in R, D, C or J ticket buckets) in order to qualify.

The rules are:

You must book by 10th December for outbound travel by 23rd December and return travel by 31st December

You must book a return Club World ticket, of which one leg (your choice) will be upgraded to First Class

The offer is also valid on American Airlines flights from the UK to the US, Canada and Mexico when booked under a BA flight code

The upgrade books into the ‘A’ ticket bucket in First Class.  If there are no seats available in the ‘A’ ticket bucket, you cannot upgrade, even if other seats in First Class are available for sale.

You cannot book this offer on – it must be booked via BA’s call centre or a travel agent

You can take advantage of this deal as often as you like

You will receive First Class Avios and tier points for the upgraded leg

Full details are on here.  Remember that only selected British Airways routes have a First Class cabin!

British Airways First Class middle pair

Clue to the Marriott / SPG merger date

If you were wondering when Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest will finally merge into a brand new programme – which may or may not be an improvement on what we already have – there is a little clue.

The Starwood Preferred Guest American Express has, all year, been offering double points on stays at Marriott hotels until November 2017.  This wording has now changed to say:

Earn 2 Starpoints for every £1 of eligible purchases charged to your Card at participating SPG & Marriott Rewards hotels. Until 31 December 2018.

This could imply that both programmes will continue as they are until the end of next year.  This makes sense because launching a new scheme in the middle of the year – when status requalification is based on calendar year stays – would be crazy.

This also means that the Starwood Amex should survive for at least another 15 months which is good news.  My review of the SPG Amex card is here if you want to look at what it offers.

InterContinental Ambassador

InterContinental drops 5,000 point Ambassador bonus

I have written about InterContinental’s ‘pay to join’ Ambassador loyalty programme numerous times – my last article was here.

I find InterContinental Ambassador good value and have been a member for many years.  The free weekend night voucher (really ‘buy one get one free’) offsets the $200 joining fee by itself.  Renewing is just $150.

New members used to receive a voucher for 5,000 IHG Rewards Club points as an extra bonus.  This now appears to have ended.  A reader told me that he did not receive a code when he joined recently, and the IHG contact centre has confirmed that these points are no longer offered.  All mention of 5,000 extra points has been removed from the IHG Ambassador website here.

The bonus points were never a key reason for joining Ambassador so I can see why IHG may have decided to drop them.  What I don’t understand, however, is why they still continue to charge an extra $50 for first-time joiners.

Bonuses for renewing members are unchanged.

The Ambassador website is here if you want to find out more.

IHG One Rewards update – March 2023:

Get bonus points: Click here for our article on IHG’s ‘2k Every 2 Nights’ promotion, which runs from 9th February 2023 to 14th April 2023. You can register here.

New to IHG One Rewards?  Read our overview of IHG One Rewards here and our article on points expiry rules here. Our article on ‘What are IHG One Rewards points worth?’ is here.

Buy points: If you need additional IHG One Rewards points, you can buy them here.

You will receive an 80%-100% bonus when you buy IHG points by 21st March 2023.

Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from IHG and the other major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.

Comments (111)

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

  • Gavin says:

    OT – Amex customer service awful this evening – awful voice recognition software! Surely they should know how much this annoys people!

  • IanMacK says:

    In the fine print of T’s & C’s – Upgrade to First only eligible for flights departing UK – or what they should say is bookings originating in the UK.
    So offer only really valid for UK residents (UK point of origin).
    Won’t work for myself as all my tickets are of foreign origin.
    Long time back the eligibility was all tickets regardless of point of origin

  • Graham Walsh says:

    O/T – Just checked into HI in Slough and went for the Welcome Drink this time. Nice large glass worth £7.65. Whilst sipping said wine, welcome points email arrives 🙂

    Reverting back to my query on receiving points on reward nights, this is what I got back from the IHG club via email. Have asked about Reward Nights as it’s not clear.

    Thanks for reaching out! So sorry about the delay in reply. We’re receiving high email volume lately, but we’re looking to catch up so we can reply to your emails right away.

    Please see below details about the Welcome Amenity points:

    > The IHG® Rewards Club Welcome Amenity is a standard designed to recognize our IHG® Rewards Club members loyalty with a gift at check in.
    > Receiving a consistent Welcome Amenity shows appreciation for our members
    > The Welcome Amenity standard is offered at our hotels in the Americas, Greater China, and Europe regions.
    > Members who chose points will be able to see them in their account by the end of stay. Hotels are instructed to add the Welcome points on the arrival date.
    > Members who booked via an Online Travel Agent(OTA) are not eligible to receive this member benefit, as per the IHG® Rewards Club Booking Benefit. Reservations booked through a Global Distribution System (GDS) are eligible for a welcome amenity. GDS bookings are booked through travel agents whom book reservations using a company’s travel portal. Examples are Cliqbook and Carlson Wagonlit).

    I hope this helped to clarify your concern but if not, please let us know – we’d be happy to follow up.

    • John says:

      Would you really pay £7.65 for a drink in Slough…? At least this was truly free since you got the points too.

      Not sure what isn’t clear, you should always get points and/or drink+/-snack on all stays including reward nights.

      • Genghis says:

        Agreed. You’re still being fobbed off, Graham.

      • Graham Walsh says:

        True. It clearly doesn’t exclude reward nights. Correct I wouldn’t pay that for a glass of wine would of had a water probably.

        I’ll keep contesting it as a matter of principal now. Seems over on F T there are many people not getting the top but then also getting both. Hard being a consistent global brand when run by franchises

        • Graham Walsh says:

          And it seems that can’t provide proof so just posted the points for me 🙂

          Hello Graham,

          Warm greetings from IHG Rewards Club! Thank you for letting us know. I apologize for the delayed response as we are currently receiving a high volume of emails.

          On behalf of the hotel, please accept our apologies for the delay in posting the welcome bonus points to your account.

          We’ve just credited the 600 points to your Platinum Elite account, so you now have x points.

          We appreciate your patience regarding this matter. If this happens again, kindly inform us immediately and we will be delighted to be of assistance to you again.

          For all other concerns regarding your account or the IHG Rewards Club program, please contact us anytime and we’d love to help you out.

          Thanks for your usual support and understanding! We look forward to being of assistance in the future.

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