Bits: Cathay Pacific sale, book HEx tickets inflight with Virgin, Shangri-La conversion bonus

News in brief:

Cathay Pacific flash sale

Cathay Pacific is running a three day flash sale this weekend, albeit only in Economy. 

You can’t argue with £469 to Hong Kong, however.  Bangkok is the same price and Manila is just £439.  Auckland is £749, not bad for Economy although you’d be mad to book that when yesterday it was £1,300 in Qatar Airways Business Class (that sale is now over).

Full details are here.

You need to book by 13th November for travel by 19th June.

Book Heathrow Express tickets in the air with Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic will soon become the first European airline to offer wi-fi on 100% of its aircraft.

In a new deal with Heathrow Express, which I can imagine will soon be emulated by hotel and car hire groups, you can access the Heathrow Express website for free in-flight in order to book tickets.  Access to Virgin’s wi-fi is usually chargeable, with passes starting at £2.99.

Shangri-La Golden Circle

Shangri-La Golden Circle conversion bonus

If you are sitting on any Shangri-La Golden Circle miles which are due to expire on 31st December, you can currently get a 25% bonus if you transfer them to selected airline schemes.  Asia Miles is offering a 50% bonus.

The minimum transfer has also been reduced to 1,000 points, which makes it easier to empty your account.

Participating airlines are Air China, Air France / KLM, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Etihad, Lufthansa, Singapore, United and Virgin Australia.

Remember, though, that you can also turn your points into vouchers for food and drink at Shangri-La hotels.  If you are in London, it means that 1,000 points gets you a $100 voucher which you can spend in their hotel in The Shard.  This is CLEARLY better than taking 1,250 Avios instead!

Details of all Golden Circle redemptions can be found here.

If you stay at Shangri-La hotels on a regular basis, remember that you can get instant mid-tier Jade status in Golden Circle by taking out an American Express Platinum charge card.

(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.)

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  1. Booking Heathrow Express on free WiFi is really going to get the public excited

    As Virgin have such a small fleet being the first European airline to have 100% WiFi coverage isn’t amazing. But if this fact shames BA into getting their act together then that’ll be good news.

    • And with a fleet of several hundred aircraft, how exactly do you suggest BA do it any quicker? Cancel a load of flights to install it but annoy everyone in the process?
      The fact is that modifications to an aircraft’s structure require a period of testing for certification – and this is required for each individual a/c type, not just once per operator.
      BA publicly chose to wait until the technology was decent enough for its entire network. That was a smart move. Now they are installing it as fast as they can – at least one aircraft a week – but under ASA rules they’re not allowed to publicise it until a certain proportion (I think over 50%?) has it. But it’s there and flying already on some. At risk of sounding uncharacteristically positive of BA, I think they have ‘got their act together’.

      • Thanks for the update Alex.

        Your company and planes still stink.

        • Having done wi-fi on a lot of carriers, it generally stinks. In theory …. if this 2nd generation kit does what it is meant to do then BA will be vindicated in waiting.

        • Delta now give free WiFi for messaging (think WhatsApp, iMessage, Facebook messenger and maybe email too)

          Avoids the Emirates problem at the start of people connecting their devices because it was free, then those devices constantly using WiFi for all apps/downloads etc and slowing it down for the rest of the flight.

          Messaging uses little bandwidth and everyone happy to stay in touch for free. Then those people who want more bandwidth are happy to pay for a service that works.

  2. O/T flying in J on MH from T4 @ LHR. Is it best to use Malaysia’s own lounge or can I access QR?

  3. Morning, my LTN-DUB flight estimated delay of 4h this morning . Ryanair provided a shocking 5 euro voucher, but I used my HSBC lounge key for £15, any tips on claiming the food back and compensation later? Cheers!

    • It will depend firstly on why the flight is delayed.

      • the real harry1 says:

        have a look on the CAA site to see your entitlement

        you can claim back reasonable food & drink expenses (no alcohol) – keep receipts

        Ryanair are currently apparently ‘easy’ to claim compo back from – provided there are no extraordinary circumstances – just use

        make a note of what the captain gives as reason for delay when you are on board

        • Thanks, although paid loungekey swipe has no receipt, sp would have to show credit cars statements!

        • Doug – Would Ryanair really accept a lounge entrance as being a “food and drink expense”? If I was working for them I certainly wouldn’t!

    • Keep all receipts for food (not booze).

      File a EU261/2004 for flight delay, but remember its the arrival time that counts, looks like it was delayed yesterday too.

      You can ask nice peeps on FT for the Flight delay code/reason, but I tend to ask the Flight Services Manager/Check in/Gate staff.

      • Thanks, it is shocking how easily things can go wrong, exEU flights without overnight are always a risk. I always thought that early morning flights were less likely to delay, but all it takes is one delay and your holiday will start stressful!

        • the real harry1 says:

          have you got a connection to make?

        • Not this time, but have used this very same flight for ex Dublin in the past. Guess some people might have done for cheap Avios redemption to US.

        • My advice is always go the.night before it’s just not worth the stress..just imagine if you miss that long haul kiss goodbye to any savings then…
          Good luck with FR claiming even reasonable expenses!

    • Good luck with trying to claim back even reasonable expenses from Ryanair. When they cancelled my husband’s flight last month (air traffic) and I managed to get him onto a Ryanair one a few days later we knew no compensation was payable. You have to submit reasonable expenses as just one jpg. So lay out all relevant docs and take a photo with your phone. Attach to their form, then a few days later get a rejection email. Enquiry why using chat ( another 20 mins of your life you will never get back). Use complaints to enquire further – you need deadlock to go to the next stage, still waiting on a reply.
      They definitely aim to wear you down. I couldn’t work out if it cost them to use the process after deadlock but although my husband is virtually giving up I’m tempted to continue as a matter of principle.
      Needless to say next year he will use Flybe and meet the golf boys out there.

  4. China southern at £2300 one stop business LHR into NZ CHC on 787 Dreamliner… hard to beat

    Can we have recommendations on skyteam FF options

    • Tell me more, Will…

      • Lady London says:

        What’s the safety record like of Chinese airlines on international flights like these days?

        • It’s more the standards in service levels, very variable. Also always check the connection procedure at Chinese airports and potential delays.

        • A lot of Chinese airlines realised that the way to stop crashing was to recruit a few western pilots to instil better ways of working… and it’s paid off. A few ex-BA captains went to Juneyao, for example. For the major international carriers, and particularly long haul routes on new aircraft (where lease contracts will stipulate certain operational standards be adhered to), I’d have very little concern flying on them.

        • Actually Chinese airlines have industry leading safety standards and records in the past two decades, with or without foreign pilots. However CAN layover experience isn’t smooth.

  5. OT: Anyone taken advantage of the new current Avis deal, 9000 Avios for a wknd rental, C class type car (Renault Captur) for £70ish, tempted myself, would save putting a 1000 miles on my thirsty SUV.,travelfurther

    • the real harry1 says:

      I can see Group C for EUR59 (GBP 52)

      = 0.578p/ point

      T&Cs seem contradictory plus first 1000 only…

      • I’m not covering this. For a start, it has been on the IB website since 1st November so it is very possible all 1,000 slots had already gone before they emailed everyone yesterday.

        • Rob,
          I emailed you on Thursday about 5000 -M- with Budget.
          Fine if you don’t want to run it, but I thought I ought to check the email didn’t get blocked somewhere between me and you.

        • No, don’t remember seeing that. Try my old gmail rjb71170 at gmail com

      • PalCsaky says:

        Spanish version even more confusing, says 2 days minimum at the beginning of T&Cs and later says 3 days minimum. Bonus 9000 only for rentals between 8-12 Nov or 5-12 Dec and must include Saturday 11 Nov or Sat 9 Dec.

      • Hmmm, good points, the 9000 Avios not being guaranteed is enough of a deterrent, thanks all! 🙂

  6. OT – can anybody recommend Any good European hubs or routes to fly to Vietnam. I’m flying this December and flights from UK as you can imagine are high.

    • Just find a cheap ticket into Asia. Then air Asia or Vietnam airlines into Vietnam. Regional flights with Vietnam Airlines are quite well priced and the service on the plane is proper old fashioned (hot towels etc), you can also use Optiontown to bid for upgrade (although it’s never worked yet for me).

      You will also have the joys of Vietnamese security staff, very strict bunch!

    • Memesweeper says:

      We flew to BKK (redemption) then to SGN on another ticket recently— it was the cheapest way for us.

      Cathay’s sale extends to Vietnam so you could look at that for a hassle free option with one carrier.

      Emirates and Qatar take a lot of Europeans to Vietnam, so I guess their pricing must be decent. Avoid the former like the plague myself though – never going to voluntarily pass through UAE.

  7. Mark..did you just sleep through the QR Sale that just ended yesterday? Lots of choice leave from osl HEL arn cph any of them…you could have hopped from arn to sin then quick air Asia to nam…sorry it’s just we spent the well.advising folks on how best to.use QR J in that sale. Or want Y try CD current sale…

  8. Sorry meant CX cathay Pacific sale

  9. Sorry – another o/t.

    Hilton – if I book a reward night for my wife and her friend, on my account (gold), if I add my wife as a named guest can she check in and get the upgrade/breakfast for them both?

  10. the real harry1 says:

    O/T some worries expressed past couple of days about Amex getting tougher with churners

    judging by what just landed on the doormat, I’ve just been approved for Gold again (it wasn’t immediately approved online, which is quite normal with us)

    just in time for Shop Small

    • I’m not sure they were getting tougher with churners in fact, I think it may be a positive move by Amex so they can keep on churning.

      The government’s worried about how much credit people have and may make moves to curb this.
      By CC providers such as Amex reigning it in a little now they may look more like they’re being sensible lenders. To be fair we have about 15 dormant credit cards between us and I think it’s time we should have a cull to look like we’re being sensible for our next churn.

    • Hope you got referred by the OH this time and get both sets of MRs!
      Can you make it up on the 1st???

      • the real harry1 says:

        no way – though I would love to meet you guys

        4 hrs up, 4 hrs back

        • Well, maybe the xmas party then. It’s such a hike l agree….if you are ever in town do give us a heads up, and am sure a bunch of us could meet up with you in a ( large ! ) pub somewhere…not meaning to step on any toes here, Rob….

        • the real harry1 says:

          I could always send my wife to deputise -she is always in London 🙂

        • the real harry1 says:

          probably say bad things

    • I just got a letter through my door saying I had been refused the BA blue CC because of my credit rating. I had applied online for this card as a downgrade from the BAPP because I had hit my 10k and banked the companion voucher in 4months, so I was looking for pro rata refund on £195.

      I called Amex as they should not be doing a credit search on this application and apparently they have a new accounts department and treated this as a new application.
      I have to call Amex accounts department on Monday for this to get sorted but the lady said that this has happened a few times recently. Any others had this happen?

      • Andrew M says:

        I was refused the Blue BA Amex this week. It’s the first time I’ve ever been refused an Amex or any other card as far as I can remember. I have a flawless credit history and only one other Amex at present (SPG) as I canceled my Platinum recently. I’m scratching my head on this one and wondering if it’s to do with previous churning.

      • There seems to be some tightening of Amex credit standards in the last 2-3 weeks. I got another SPG with no bother 2 weeks ago but as my Mrs is a senior banker our numbers are atypical.

        • My experience was totally opposite.

          For some reason I ‘always’ get referred, then accepted the following morning. Would really make me cross because my partner was always auto accepted and we both have excellent credit profiles. No idea why (maybe related to self employment).
          Anyway I applied for the SPG amex card a week ago and got an auto accept for the first time ever. (It was my 4th Amex application over the past 15 months).

        • I am planning on applying for an SPG Card tomorrow with referral from hubby. Normally get accepted ok – I have no income so use household income only and usually get a £1500 credit limit which is fine. I don’t have any other Amex cards in my name at the moment but have an IHG and Virgin white Card. Wonder what my chances of getting accepted are?

      • The “upgrade” and “downgrade” malarkey have always been treated as new applications with Amex reserving the right to do a credit check. I guess you’ve just been caught out by Amex tightening up their credit standards.

        • Optimus Prime says:

          It’s been 7 months since wife cancelled her Amex Gold. Is it okay to refer her for Amex Plat now or should wait a bit longer?

        • You’ll be fine

        • I’m doing my first ever churn – on Amex Gold! Its been about 7 months since I cancelled but my old gold card still shows on my Amex online account (as ‘cancelled’). Will this make any difference to me getting the bonus?

        • I thought downgrades weren’t treated as a new application? That’s what the Amex agent told me a couple of weeks ago when I downgraded to the blue card. I was asked a couple of questions relating to salary and address, but was told they would use my Amex history to decide whether to approve the downgrade rather than a full credit check. It all went through smoothly within a couple of days.

        • Yes but the the operator said to me that when they get these requests they are told to say ‘there will be no credit check’ on this application.

          Im awaiting a call back from a customer services manager.

  11. BlueThroughCrimp says:

    Recently used quite a few Shangri-La points in the Ting bar. Managed to shift 3500 points in a pleasant evening.
    The “A Cat With No Name” cocktail was rather nice 🙂

  12. Iberia are also running a mini sale too. Yesterday I priced up 2 return biz class seats to Pudong for around £2,000 cash plus…..wait for it…………350,000 avios!!! Don’t all rush at once….

  13. Steve O'Hara says:

    O/T – apologies

    With a companion voucher, is it possible to open jaw it from London to SFO then SFO to NYC? Ie not return to the UK with it?


    • Must be flown on BA metal, so no not poss from SFO to NYC, am afraid…unless somebody else knows better!

    • Not possible, have to rtn to UK on BA, but if you visit the US frequently you could save the rtn for a few months later?

    • Prins Polo says:

      Has to be BA metal and SFO-NYC is not served by BA.

    • Quite apart from anything else, this would not count as a valid open jaw, as the distance NYC-LON (the open jaw) is greater than one of the sides of the jaw (SFO-NYC).

      If suitable flights were available for use with the voucher (i.e. BA flights SFO-NYC) then it could be viewed as a oneway. But you will have problems with the lack of BA flights.
      So, just do a one-way to SFO, then book SFO-NYC separately.

      Anyway, the main point I was making was that would not be a valid open-jaw.

  14. O/T sorry
    How do you refer from blue amex to premium plus amex?
    I spoke to amex agent a week ago who gave me avios bonus info and said could not be done over phone has to be done online.
    Now i’m trying to do it online and does not seem poss.
    So I phoned amex who now say you can only refer blue to blue .
    Please can anyone help as have urgent spend to put thru on prem plus card.
    Many thanks

    • Don’t mind that agent. You send the referral link from your blue to who ever. They then open that link and apply. See the the drop down box that gives them the choice of both cards. Just chose the BAPP, and you are done. And hope it gets approved of course….

  15. You would be mad to save £550 because you’re not so precious that you have to fly business everywhere?

    • For that length of flight though you’ll arrive in a much better state to enjoy your holiday from the first day and also reacclimatise quicker on your return. Personally I find it’s almost like adding a day or two to my holiday so definitely worth that difference in price. The difference in the amount of Avios (let alone TP earned) also can’t be discounted – even if you never wanted to use them for flights you could get a hotel at 0.5p per point so clearly the price difference is significantly reduced.

      • Weren’t the Qatar flights ex-Europe? So there is the extra hassle and potential hotel night cost to also factor in. From memory, Cathay economy is also one of the better products (if they are still 9 across)…

        • I believe so, although if I can get a good option from AMS or OSL that makes little difference to me when flying from EDI – nice to avoid LHR! Obviously different for folk leaving from London.

        • Oh of course, forgot you’re in Scotland Alan. The ex-EU fares are perfect for those in the regions… Saving money to avoid heathrow on a better product is a triple bonus.

          I have still not used any as I just don’t like changing if I don’t have to, let alone collecting bags etc. I remember coming back from Sing/Bali one January and there was a big saving on flights involving a long layover in Paris. Thought it may be quite nice to spend a day in town… Who doesn’t like Paris? But it was bitterly cold, a lot of things (eg Louvre) were shut (maybe because it was just after new year), and after a couple of hours I just wanted to be home! Never again.

    • It’s 27 hours! I think club europe is a waste of money and nobody is holding a gun to your head and forcing you to go to new zealand

  16. OT – one of my Amex cards has the Amazon offer again (spend £25, get 500 bonus membership points), but the T&Cs state “Offer not valid on purchases made with Amazon Prime or subscriptions to Amazon Prime.” Does anyone know if that means any purchases that are eligible for Prime discounts/free shipping wouldn’t qualify? I’ve made the purchase and got the email saying I’ve used my offer, but curious about whether the points will actually show up. Can’t remember if that condition was listed in previous versions of the offer.

    • Prime subscriptions excluded but fine for purchases – otherwise they’d be disadvantaging existing Prime subscribers.

  17. O/T – recommendations for Free Friday Night stay at Club Carlson Hotels in London? I was thinking of Raddison Blu Edwardian Bloomsbury. Our plan (wife and me) would be to check out a matinee show the next afternoon on the West End.

    I triggered two vouchers from the promotion over the summer and want to redeem one in January in London. Comments and recommendations appreciated – many thanks.

    • The Covent Garden one always looked decent, not sure what the name is.

      • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

        Seven dials? Nice enough, entry level rooms on the small side though.

    • We love the park plaza Westminster Bridge and pay the £50 for exec lounge upgrade for drinks/nibbles in the day time, a few pre theatre drinks, and breakfast, all with a view.
      Perhaps not the best location for the theatre but pros/cons.

      • It is a nice hotel, there is a review on HFP.

      • Stayed there on my first trip to Conrad Rangali in 2015, also paid the upgrade. Gets a mention in my review (click on my username)

        • All, thanks for the replies. I have booked a night at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge. The £50 upgrade to executive lounge, including breakfast, is well worth it. Now to see if I can get an upgrade to a room that doesn’t face the interior atrium…


  18. O/T: My Hilton Diamond is expiring end of March ’18. My husband recently became Hilton Gold through Amex Platinum. We are planning to go away in April ’18 and I am planning to book from his account. I just wanted to check his membership won’t expire at the end of March ’18 too. Is it usually valid for 2 years? Thank you in advance.

  19. Michael C says:

    Re. Cathay – do they ever ever have Business Class sales ex LHR?!

    • Yes they do …. if you click the Cathay tag under the article you’ll see some old articles. Never crazily generous though as they know they have a better product than BA with tier points and Avios too.