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Bits: 10am check-in for IHG Spire Elite, 40% bonus buying Hyatt points, buy Avios bonus

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News in brief:

10am check-in (guaranteed?) now a Spire Elite benefit

IHG Rewards Club sent out an email to Spire Elite members over the weekend.  It said:

“We know that when you’re busy travelling, every second of down time is precious. That’s why we’re making check-in times as early as 10am for Spire Elite members like you.  Just update your stay preference to early arrival when you book a room.”

It has also been added to the list of benefits by tier on this page of

The small print on that page says:

“Subject to availability.  Spire Elite members may check in as early as 10 a.m. Please select early arrival as a stay preference in your reservation confirmation.”

Regular readers will know how I value hotel elite status benefits:

Valued at £nothing – anything with the words ‘subject to availability’ next to it

Valued at £something – anything with the word ‘guaranteed’ next to it

Making an early check-in ‘subject to availability’ is particularly rubbish.   If I turn up at 10am expecting a room, I want a room.  If I have chosen an IHG hotel just because my flight landed at 8am and I want somewhere to freshen up, I don’t want to be turned away at check in.

We need to see, in reality, how this benefit works out.  If it turns out to be ‘subject to availability but you will get it unless we physically don’t have a room available, of any sort, and we will make sure these rooms get prioritised by housekeeping‘ then it should be OK.  If it turns out to be ‘we’ll give you a room if we feel like, but to be honest it won’t be happening‘, then not so good ….


Up to 40% bonus when you buy Hyatt points

Until 15th December, Hyatt is offering a 40% bonus when you buy World of Hyatt points.

This may well be the biggest bonus that Hyatt has ever offered.  It comes after a turbulent time for the programme, with its CEO leaving amid much criticism of the new benefits package and ludicrously high (given Hyatt’s small footprint) qualification requirements.

The deal is obviously worth a look if you need to top up your account.  It may also be worthwhile if considering a stay in a top tier Park Hyatt such as the ones in Paris or Sydney, where buying the points may be cheaper than paying cash.

The bonus is staggered:

20% bonus on purchases of 5,000 to 9,000 points

30% bonus on purchases of 10,000 to 29,000 points

40% bonus on purchases of 30,000+ points (the annual cap is 55,000 points pre bonus)

At the top end, you are paying $1,320 for 77,000 points (55,000 plus a 22,000 bonus).  That works out at 1.71c – or 1.29p – per point.

The new Park Hyatt resort in Mallorca pictured below is a location where buying points may make sense.   Prices for cash are still a little scary – rooms from Euro 495 (£441) in August 2018, or Euro 550 (£490) if you want a cancellable one.  A redemption at 20,000 points per night (£258) would be a good deal.

The Hyatt ‘buy points’ site is here.

50% buy Avios bonus still running on Iberia Plus

If you regret missing out on the 50% ‘buy Avios’ bonus on last week, the offer is still running for an extra week over at the Iberia website.

(I don’t necessarily think you should be worried about missing out, as even with a 50% bonus I do not think the price is low enough to buy speculatively, but if you have a definite plan for using them …..)

The Iberia Plus ‘buy Avios’ page is here.  You will need to pay in Euro so factor in any FX fees on your credit card.

Note that you must be logged in to see the 50% bonus.  Remember that your Iberia account must be 90 days old before you will be allowed to use ‘Combine My Avios’ to move the points out of Iberia Plus and into or British Airways Executive Club.

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

My review of Aer Lingus Business Class from Dublin to Boston and back - Part 2
What are the best UK airport lounges you can visit for free with Amex Gold's Lounge Club passes?

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  1. Optimus Prime says:

    Speaking of guaranteed benefits: is the room upgrade at Intercontinental hotels for Ambassador members 100% guaranteed? Even on peak season? How about late checkout at 4pm?

    I know the website says they both are but then at The Palazzo in Vegas they told me late checkout was 2pm. I didn’t dispute it because I didn’t need it. Also they gave me a welcome letter which said late checkout was 4pm for Spire Ambassador (this is my current level) and just 2pm for Gold/Platinum ambassadors. I thought Ambassador benefits were supposed to be independent of IHG elite status?

    P.S. – I may be wrong and 2pm checkout it’s just for Gold Ambassador. Anyway as per the Ambassador website I thought any Ambassador level should give you 4pm checkout.

    • Prins Polo says:

      Both are guaranteed benefits. Sometimes you need to remind the manager and/or escalate. I had the same issuer at the Westin recently where they’ve tried to tell me late check-out is “subject to availability” where it’s a guaranteed benefits for SPG Gold. Complained to SPG, got 10,000 points right away and the manager was reminded what the rules are.

    • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

      I vaguely recall that SPG has a benefits cop-out for ‘resort’ hotels.

      • As does Marriott, as I find out in Venice every year.

      • Indeed they do – and an ever-increasing number of properties fall into that category!

        Their own advertising does catch them up sometimes though – I Tweeted them after seeing an in-app ad for my stay boasting about the free WiFi & water I’d received as an SPG Gold. I pointed out this seemed to overlap massively with the $30/day resort fee I was paying. Twitter team contacts hotel manager who then comped resort fee for the entire 5-night stay – said it was a one-time thing but I was happy to take it 😀

  2. OT – just boarded Hamburg – Heathrow flight. We checked in 24 hours ago but couldn’t get 3 seats together. Are BA going the way of the LCCs – split up pax travelling together so they’re more likely to pay in advance next time?

    • the real harry1 says:

      I don’t think so – is it a busy flight? it could have a lot of status passengers on board with theoretical seating blocking off lots of middles

      did you just check in once on MMB without going back repeatedly to check seat availability afterwards? that’s what I do when we get ‘toilet row’ seats – and I’ve always managed to move us up the plane

      has Hamburg got self check-in machines for British Airways yet? not that widely available in out-stations yet but that allows you to check in online T-24 (but don’t print BPs) then at the airport you can see all availability/ move seats (and grab an exit seat for free)

      • Louise Sargeant says:

        We are usual BA fliers, flying AA to Miami in December, the only seats we could book for “free” were the middle seats on edge of the aircraft or one of the middle of the 4 in the centre of the aircraft – my solution is booking the middle seat for me for free and the seats either side for husband and daughter for a fee

    • No, they haven’t done this. Are you all on the same PNR? It would surprise me if you didn’t get seats at least very close to each other if you were. If you’re not then all bets are off, as ‘theoretical seating’ will kick in.

    • Just back from Iberia MIA=MAD-LHR-LBA Booked in Business, on iberia seats picked no problems. BA LHR-LBA decided to seat me in 23B and mrs xcxlx in 10D said it was down to balancing the load as only 25% full.

  3. Bits OT.

    Anyone know if this offer for 3000 miles works if you’ve ordered in the past, but you haven’t been a Winebank member for ages….?

    • the real harry1 says:

      you would have to use your mum’s address etc

    • Would be interested too, I want to get somebody a case as an Xmas gift? @TRH1, what’s the best deal at the moment Harry? I guess most of us have all the amex offers. Thanks.

      • the real harry1 says:

        thinking about it, it’s once per Virgin Atlantic FC so won’t work twice even in you get it delivered to mum etc

  4. OT anyone know when the Caledonian Sleeper renovation will complete next year (inc the double bed ensuite cabins) and when tickets might go on sale? TIA.

    • Renovation? I understood it was new carriages?

      • You’re prob right!!


          The first carriages built…in Spain…and tested in Czech Republic! You would think we could do both here in UK.

        • RussellH says:


          Velim (CZ) is where just about all European rolling stock is first tested Siemens have their own test track at Wildenrath, but that is the only other facility I know of.

          You need special facilities these days for testing new kit. With all the electronics on board these days you have to start testing somewhere completely isolated from a working railway and the Velim test track does this. Only once the initial tests have proved the stock safe to run on standard track do you let the new trains onto the track that they will actually use.

          UK rolling stock builders are actually pretty busy at present, and none of them are building loco-hauled rolling stock. I suspect that CAF were able to come up with an earlier delivery date than anyone else, and they are also building Mark 5 day coaches for Transpennine Express

      • RussellH says:

        Coaches, please, not carriages. And yes, it is completely new rolling stock, 75 Mark 5 coaches being built by CAF, in Spain. The first five are complete and undergoing testing at Velim in the Czech Republic. Once those tests are complete, they will move to the UK. Another 12 coaches due at Teesport late this month or early December. UK testing is due to start before the end of this year. The first trainsets are due to enter service spring 2017, full service is due by summer 2018. I would imagine that tickets for first class double bed suites will only be announced once testing is complete. Never a good idea to sell something in advance that turns out not to be available!

        • Thanks RussellH. Any idea if they are running on Fort William route? It would be cool to take a trip from London to Fort William mid-latd Jube and wake up to breakfast on the West Highland line.

        • That’s my plan JamesB. Thanks RusselH for insight. I’d like to do the Jacobite steam train to Mallaig and some distillery visits this time.

        • @Genghis, haste ye back. If you make your way from Mallaig to Skye then the citylink bus ride fiom Portree to Inverness is awesome. You could then pick up a hire car in Inverness and head into the Spey Valley.

        • RussellH says:

          Replying to myself since I cannot reply to the others (cue Rob for longer threads when you get your new IT person!)

          The new Mark 5 sleeprs will be running on all the current Caley Sleeper routes: Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Inverness and Fort William. (Current plans anyway!)

          Serco are looking into options for the to be redundant Mark 3 sleepers. One option, apparently, is a sleeper from the central belt to Wick and Thurso, timed to connect to the Orkney Ferries.

        • Pretty certain the UK has its own rail test track at Old Dalby.

        • David – it does, that’s where our company tests trains

        • RussellH says:

          Re The Old Dalby Test Track:

          I have often wondered why it does not get much use these days. I imagine that it has nothing like the facilities that Velim does these days. It will also be easier to get from Besain in Spain to Velim for the initial testing than to Old Dalby. Even more important is, if necessary, getting the stock back to factory, given that it does not come to the UK via the Channel Tunnel, but by ship.

    • Now that Gleneagles has had a full refurb (and Gleneagles has its own station on the sleeper route) I have got very keen to give this a go.

    • Most articles sadly just seem to give a generic 2018 mention. This Guardian article from a few months ago is a bit more specific, saying Spring –

    • This looks like the page to follow – – first batch of trains gone to Czech Republic for testing. Looks very nice!

  5. Louise Sargeant says:

    So, with the wording of IHG being looked at how do you see this wording from Hampton by Hilton? Would the wording make you nervous, especially booking a standard room between Christmas and New year??


    ‘Book a Standard Room and receive an instant upgrade to Suite. 50% off parking, FREE late check-out until 4PM. Discounted coupon books to Dolphin Outlet Mall, Dadeland Mall, Sawgrass Outlet Mall, Bayside and Aventura Mall. Complimentary Welcome Drink at our Lobby Pool Bar between 5:00pm-11:00pm.

    This offer is only valid when the reservation is made directly through our website. Subject to availability’

    This is from the offers page(Hampton Miami Brickell), elsewhere online you find ‘subject to availability’ on check in on both upgrade and late check out.

  6. I stayed in a CP recently and turned up a bit early. They did the whole ‘you know check-in is 3pm’ thing but then immediately offered either to hold a bag while I went out or a seat in a comfy lobby while they prepared my room. I opted for the latter, heard them make a call to prioritise cleaning, and sure enough it was ready within 10 mins. I was very impressed. So if this new offer means they’ll just do this more often, I wouldn’t have a problem with it.

  7. the real harry1 says:

    O/T Air NZ Black Friday deals

    I doubt if you’ll get the LA or NZ return deals (worth a try, though!) – but I noticed the as yet unannounced Business tickets – I bet they will go quickly as well, but a few people would hesitate before spending (say) £1500 return in Business to NZ – yet that’s amazing value

    top tip: Use Fare Hold

    Fare Hold gives you the opportunity to reserve fares for your selected itinerary at the displayed price for up to 3 days in exchange for a fee of £25 for international flights from the UK.

    The advantage of Fare Hold is that you don’t have to complete your passenger details or select your seats until later. This is substantially quicker than completing your booking straight away but please note that the £25 fee is in addition to your flight price.

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