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Bits: now use Avios on Virgin America, new Marriott Amex coming?, a HfP winner

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News in brief:

Use Avios on Virgin America flights from April

Virgin America, the US domestic airline operating primarily on the West Coast, was bought by Alaska Airlines in 2016.

Integration, as always with airline mergers, has been slow.  However from 25th April 2018 all Virgin America routes will carry Alaska Airlines flight numbers instead of Virgin America ones.

This sounds like a trivial change, but it isn’t.

Alaska Airlines is an Avios redemption partner.  A lot of people don’t know this, because the flights are not bookable on – you have to call BA to book them.  This Head for Points article (click) explains all you need to know about booking Alaska Airlines flights.

From 25th April, flights on the old Virgin America routes are also bookable with Avios.

US domestic flights have a slightly different Avios pricing chart.  There is a minimum cost of 7,500 Avios points per one-way flight.  Everywhere else in the world, a flight of up to 650 miles will cost 4,500 Avios one-way.  Inside the US, it will cost 7,500 Avios.   For flights above 650 miles, standard Avios pricing applies.

Full details of the new expanded Alaska Airlines route network can be found on its website.

Is Amex launching a Marriott credit card?

A couple of years ago, the Marriott credit card – operated by Creation Financial Services – was closed to new applicants.

The reason is mysterious, but seems to involve Marriott discovering that it did not actually have the necessary licence from the Financial Conduct Authority to promote credit cards.  This is the same licence that I am obliged to have in order to write about them.

Things are moving on.  If you look at this page of the FCA website, Marriott International Inc received an FCA licence on 22nd August.

More interestingly, as Marriott International Inc is a US corporation, it appointed American Express Europe to act on its behalf – not Creation.

This does not necessarily mean that Amex will launch a Marriott branded card.  The merged Starwood Preferred Guest / Marriott Rewards programme is now expected to launch in January 2019.  My money is on that scheme being called Marriott Preferred Guest and the licence may be linked to that.

However …. many people are expecting Marriott to sever its links with American Express.  These were inherited with the acquisition of Starwood but, in the US, Marriott has worked exclusively with Visa for many years.

The UK is a different market, of course, but now that Amex co-brand cards incur the same 0.3% interchange fee as Visa or Mastercard products there is little incentive to launch one.  Why bother, when a Visa or Mastercard is more widely accepted and has the same interchange fees?

It is all very confusing …..

Hilton Park Lane

A Head for Points winner

Back in January I ran this article on two semi-secret cashback deals for Hilton and Avis that American Express was running via Facebook.

The cashback deals came with a twist.  Five people who triggered both the Hilton and the Avis cashback deal would win a weekend at the Hilton Park Lane in London.

Reader Alex dropped me an email yesterday, from his £1,000 per night Park Lane Suite at the hotel, saying that he had been one of the five winners.  Well done Alex.

Comments (111)

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

  • Fox99 says:

    O/T – BA lounge access. Hello, I am travelling through Gatwick with my wife and 2 (very well behaved) children (11/13) this week. All on same BA flight, however, my wife is in CE and the rest of us are in economy. I am BA Gold. Do you think we will be allowed in lounge as a group of four? Can a CE passenger take in a guest?

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Yes you will each get one guest

      • Fox99 says:

        Thank you, I could not find a clear statement to that effect on the BA website.I knew I could, wasn’t sure if a CE ticket could take a guest.

        • Leo says:

          I didn’t think you could guest into the lounge with a CE ticket without status. Only First tickets allow you to guest someone in. Look for the sub-heading, Guesting Privileges Qualified by Class of Travel in this post:

        • Fox99 says:

          OK, looks like a no then. Might try my luck anyway, worst thing that can happen is that we have to choose one of the kids to come it, give the other a fiver and point it to Pret! Might ask the receptionist to choose, avoids any long term issues with favouritism
          Another question – on check in, I am BA gold, my wife Bronze and travelling CE, can we both take someone through priority check in, security and boarding?

          • Alan says:

            Can’t see it being an issue at all for priority check in and boarding – I’ve always just taken it as status card holder + rest of the folk on their booking (for the occasional times I’ve taken 2 folks) and never been any issues at all.

          • Rob says:


        • Alex W says:

          I think it would be pretty mean of BA not to let you take both kids in as guests!

          • Alan says:

            Although I did like the suggestion of making the lounge agent choose to avoid any claims of favouritism! 😛

        • Alex says:

          No, CE cant bring guests. Why not let your wife and kids in (using your status) and you go to a pub?

        • Fox99 says:

          Pub? well it will be at 06:00 ish, however, having been through GLA early a few times over summer, it does seem a popular way to start a holiday. As you head down to where Easy Jet gates, there is a little coffee bar with a sign saying last Tennants before departure gates. Always makes me smile.

        • the real harry1 says:

          the sun is over the yardarm somewhere in the world! 🙂

  • Simmo says:


    Have a economy seat booked with Avios on AA next week in the US, seems that it’s a hand luggage only fare. Not sure if that’s changed or I just assumed it would include a bag!

    I’ve just lost my BA silver and I’m now a bronze (one world ruby) so as far as I follow that means I get one free bag. But my brother is Blue so gets nothing included?

    Has anybody have experience of this? Can we just pay for a bag on check in? Or does it need to be in advance? If so how?

    • Chris says:

      Hi Simmo, I’m not sure if this is of any help short of checking the t/c of your flight… however I am BA Blue, and have not paid any extra for my 3 avios redemptions on AA (1 piece of gold luggage) in the last 18 months.

  • Yatin Vadhia says:

    OT slightly – “This is the same licence that I am obliged to have in order to write about them.” – Could you elaborate more about this FCA licence? What are you licensed for? Is it free or is there a fee? I’ve seen you mention this before in previous articles and I’ve always been curious.

    • Rob says:

      If you link to a credit card website, you are ‘marketing’ those cards – irrespective of whether the card company pays you. You therefore need to be a Licensed Credit Broker.

      Very messy process potentially involving exams if you have no financial services background since you have to convince the FCA you are ‘competent’ to discuss cards accurately. I had been licensed – for different stuff – by the FCA and its predecessors for 16 years before I started HFP so I got an easier ride. Fees are a % of your revenue.

  • Chris says:


    Please forgive me for simply sharing my excitement ahead of a seat 1A (on a 747) redemption on BA57 to JNB tomorrow. Can’t beat the feeling of having paid 50k avios (shared a 2for1redemption-my mate is in seat 1K) and £349 for a seat that sells at £7k.
    Thank you to Rob and all who make these moments possible.

    • Cate says:

      Enjoy Chris!! 🙂

    • Paul says:

      Hope you enjoy – although looks like you had a 5 hour delay, so extra compensation in your pocket plus time in the lounge.

      Just had a look at this route, a CW 241 Amex redemption is costing me 125k avios + £1,100. Can I ask how you booked this for 100k avios + £349?

      • Genghis says:

        50k (half of 100k as applied 241) + £349 is price for one person one way in F (based on two travelling)?

        • Chris says:

          Yes, that’s right-this is just one way and factors in the 2for1.
          We’re flying back Iberia business to MAD and then on. (31900 avios as booked during a promo +£90 fees).
          I’m flying tonight, no scheduled delay. Looks like last night’s flight was diverted to Barcelona for some reason.
          Thanks Cate, btw.

        • Paul says:

          Silly me – was looking at RTN. Thanks!

  • Cate says:

    OT – just heard that Norwegian are dropping many of its European routes starting March next year to concentrate on their US routes. Those affected from LGW are Barcelona, Las Palmas, Madrid, Malaga and Tenerife.

    • Gavin says:

      Supposedly Norwegian won’t make it through the winter

      • Cate says:

        It’s interesting. We do a fair few flights on Norwegian and especially to Spain and they’re always full – usually with Spanish workers who work in the UK and fly home weekends. I’m wondering if Easyjet is going to pick up their routes which if so, nectar may become more of a travel credit card player.

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