Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Bits: avid hotels confirmed as a new IHG brand, how to save £68 tax on Avios flights to Cape Town

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

News in brief:

avid hotels confirmed as the new IHG hotel brand

Back in June IHG announced plans for a new midscale brand.  It has now confirmed the name and concept, although it doesn’t seem as if they will be in Europe for a few years.

With the motto ‘Fresh, Frank and Fair’ avid hotels are focusing on ‘the basics done exceptionally well’.

The hotels will offer a free breakfast and free wi-fi with a price tag promised to be $10 – $15 cheaper than a Holiday Inn Express.  My best guess is that this will be something like Marriott’s MOXY concept which is now open at London Excel and Aberdeen.  (Rob will be discussing the MOXY at Vienna Airport tomorrow.)

Like other midscale hotel brands like element, ibis Styles and Hampton by Hilton, avid hotels will have open communal spaces in the lobby area where guests can work, eat and “connect”.

Pleasingly IHG seems to be bucking the “no desk” trend by promising that avid hotels will contain a large desk, as well as an entertainment system which lets guest connect their smartphones and watch content on the TV screen.

The first avid hotels will open in the US in early 2019 which means we won’t be seeing the end product for another year and a half, but looking at the images it promises to be interesting. The avid hotels website is here.

How to save £68 tax on Avios flights to Cape Town

There is a little-known arbitrage you can use to save £68 of tax when booking British Airways Avios redemption flights to Cape Town.  I thought it was worth mentioning this again today.

Whilst Cape Town does have a direct British Airways service, it is often tricky to find Avios reward seats.  Most people end up travelling via Johannesburg and changing to a Comair connection.  Comair is a BA franchise and its planes have the usual British Airways livery.  They can be booked using Avios via ba.com.

This is how it works, assuming that you can’t find direct flights to Cape Town:

If you book London to Cape Town via a connection in Jo’burg, the cost (economy return) is 45,500 Avios off-peak plus £456 tax

However ….

If you book London to Jo’burg on one ticket and Jo’burg to Cape Town on a separate ticket, the individual costs are 32,500 plus £332 for the long-haul, off-peak, and 13,000 Avios plus £56 for the connection. The total is 45,500 Avios plus £388.

That is a saving of £68.

There is a trade off.  Comair and BA are also not technically liable to look after you if you miss one flight because the other is delayed.  In reality, I would not be worried about this as Comair and BA effectively operate as one airline and will ensure you are OK.

As per the comments below (and I have edited the article to reflect this), you need to collect your bags at Johannesburg irrespective of how you book.  Even if both flights are on the same ticket you will still need to clear customs and check them in again.

If you are looking to keep your costs down, it is worth considering.

This trick also works for Club World flights, where the saving is a little smaller – £677 versus £553 + £64, for a saving of £60.

Note that as you cannot use a British Airways American Express voucher on Comair, you may be forced to split your trip into two separate tickets anyway if you have a voucher to use.

Comments (82)

  • Mike says:

    OT. Can someone recommend a decent / good value Hilton hotel for the Hilton Honors (Barclaycard) reward certificate. Consider U.K or Europe

    • Rob says:

      Hilton Venice, Conrad London, Conrad Algarve, Hilton Paris Opera, Hilton Tallinn, Hilton Berlin, Waldorf Berlin, Waldorf Rome

      • Mike says:

        Thank you – would Edinburgh be included / recommended?

      • Barry cutters says:

        Same question for me – I just received my free night too. For a Saturday night in London after the rugby , which Hilton ‘free night certificate’ eligible hotel would you recommend? The Conrad or trafalga? Or a different one?

        Other option is I need one night on Miami Beach next month.

        • Rob says:

          Both good hotels, Conrad classier and if Diamond has a good lounge.

        • Cate says:

          We were in the Conrad a few weeks ago. We left early. The Trafalgar and Bankside are on our list.

        • Mike says:

          If not using your voucher in Miami try the Cavalier hotel on south beach – highly recommended

      • John says:

        Tallinn is usually quite cheap on points so a bit of a waste of the voucher, definitely worth a stay though

  • Roger says:

    Amex PRGC -> Platinum

    If you apply within 6 months of last MR card, you do not get sign up bonus.
    Assume the referee still gets his/her bonus 9k/18k.
    More importantly if you apply for PRGC and then soon after upgrade to Platinum do you still get the 20k MR bonus for £1k spend using the upgrade link?
    If it works anyone can easily nab 30K MR between his and her card.

  • John says:

    I don’t understand why we should get excited by something that is designed to be worse than HIX, you can’t really go any lower apart from removing the breakfast and tea-making tray… Which are hardly worth US $10-15! Are there going to be communal showers or what??

    • Rob says:

      Here’s the thing …. based on MOXY and ibis Styles, these are actually pleasant places. No room service etc but I am quietly impressed by them, eg see Anika’s ibis Styles Heathrow review.

      • John says:

        I would agree that MOXY and ibis Styles are quite nice, whereas most HIXs are not, so if AVID is going to be anything like those I would rate it as higher than HIX, regardless of what IHG wants me to think

        Or maybe the crappier UK HIXs will rebrand to AVID

        • Robert says:

          I was thinking that. Never enjoyed a stay at a HIX, so seems logical that they’d replace the brand slowly when they do referbs to remove the stigma and make the hotels slightly more appealing.

        • Michael Jennings says:

          I’ve stayed in two Ibis Styles this year: in Palermo and A Coruña. Both were very pleasant hotels – much nicer than any regular Ibis I have stayed in – and very reasonably priced for what I got. Neither was in the centre of town, but both were in pretty easy walking distance.

          I was at Aberdeen airport over the weekend. I walked past the MOXY, and what went through my head was “What the is a MOXY?”, to be honest. I then Googled it, and remembered. It looked new, and the public areas looked pleasant enough when viewed through a window, though.

          You have five airport hotels right next to one another there: a Courtyard by Marriott, a MOXY, a Premier Inn, a Holiday Inn Express and a Crowne Plaza. The buildings are all the same shape and size, and look like they were made by the same airport hotel making sausage machine. I doubt the experience is all that different regardless of which you stay in. (I stayed in the Crowne Plaza, which was utterly fine).

      • Chris says:

        And I know you’ve had the pleasure of a couple of Premier Inns – I was very impressed with the offering at the Premier Inn Worthing (Seafront) – peak season so wasn’t cheap but still better value than say the Hilton up the road in Brighton (£400 mark for a suitable room for the family) and I think is a generally far better proposition in most places than HIX.

        Basics done well – generally very well, actually, but definitely no more than the basics. I assume that’s the model they’ll aim to mirror, because right now they’re too varied (will your HIX have a tiny bar, a proper bar, some food, no food, terrible food…)

  • Chris says:

    Going to SA in a few weeks. Got Iberia Business redemption from JNB to MAD for 31,900 avios and £80 tax-well worth considering if you don’t mind the MAD factor. In my case, this was actually more convenient than LHR for getting to home here in Cumbria.

  • chris says:

    O/T

    NYC questions again.

    Making a 4 night stay in November.. Is it worth staying the first 2 nights (Wed-Thurs) at the conrad on points and then another 2 (Fri–Sat) somewhere else (looking at the HGI on 35th which has good reviews).

    Dont have enough points for 4 free nights but 2 80k nights at a $500+ hotel the 2 $230 cash nights a few miles up manhatten seems better that using 140K points for about $500-600 of room at the HGI.

    In short how much hassle is it to move hotels during a 4 nigth stay. we’d have a suitcase each perhaps. could hilton help us do this?

    • Rob says:

      Taxi from door to door so minimal trouble if you pack light and can do a slightly late check out or early check in so no hanging around.

  • Chris says:

    Humble apologies for repeating a much-asked question, but please could someone provide a link for PFG to Platinum upgrade? Thanks very much.

  • Scottydogg says:

    OT

    I just got the Gold amex again after about a years break , the cards and pin have come through fine but there is no lounge pass cards yet . Do you only get these first time around , or do you get them every time you take out the gold cards ?
    Its probably about 2 weeks now since i got the gold cards

    • Phil says:

      I had to register with Lounge club separately. Then I got the card through the post.

    • Scott says:

      You get Lounge Club each time you reapply for Gold Amex. I’ve found the pass card comes later than the Amex, perhaps a few weeks

    • Dave says:

      How quickly does the Gold Amex normally arrive after approval?

      • John says:

        I have applied on a Monday and got it by Friday before

        (The lounge club card didn’t arrive till aroudn next Friday)

        and you can now choose your PIN as part of the application so no need to wait

  • the real harry1 says:

    you’ll get them again, patience required! – though if it’s much longer I’d chase it up, 2 weeks is about the limit I reckon

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.