Bits: IAG / BA buys Monarch’s Gatwick slots, MyFlights to close, new Amex cashback deals

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News in brief:

BA owner IAG buys Monarch’s Gatwick landing slots

IAG, the parent of British Airways, confirmed last night that it had bought the landing slots at Gatwick Airport previously used by failed airline Monarch.

Whilst many of these will end up with British Airways, it is also possible that we will see LEVEL – the new low-cost long-haul airline – launching from London.  The BA strategy appears to be to put Norwegian under enough pressure that it decides to move its aircraft out of the UK for easier pickings elsewhere.

We may also see Vueling and Aer Lingus picking up an extra slot or two.

Monarch reportedly had 155 weekly slot pairs at Gatwick.  This gives British Airways substantial scope to grow, but at the same time may give a short-term headache due to the ‘use it or lose it’ rules.

BA will need to rustle up 5-10 aircraft to fly these slots even if they are empty ‘ghost flights’.  A more likely option is that IAG will lease slots out to other airlines for a number of seasons whilst it finds suitable aircraft and routes to fill them.

Short term this could be a problem.  Unless it can get an exception from Gatwick, BA must operate 80% of the Monarch slots over the Winter season or they will revert to the airport.  Would BA really allocate a couple of aircraft to Gatwick which take off and land immediately, with no passengers or cabin crew, 20 times per day, seven days a week?

MyFlights to close

Unfortunately – very unfortunately, as it is my main flight bookings tracker – the MyFlights iOS app and website is to close at the end of the year.

MyFlights is reliant on an agreement with Amadeus, the global flight distribution system, to operate.  From January, Amadeus will introduce new security procedures that require approval from the booking agent before a booking can be accessed.  Since it is impossible for MyFlights to get such agreements from every airline and travel agent, it has little choice but to close the consumer facing version.

It will continue as a B2B product, marketed to travel agents to offer as a service to their customers, although it will only be able to track bookings made via that specific travel agent.

I have known Chris, who founded MyFlights, for many years and it is a shame to see the product end like this.  There is nothing else on the market that can track, in real time, the current status of your flight bookings and update you as soon as there are any changes.  It has saved my bacon a few times when British Airways has cancelled flights or changed aircraft types, allowing me to call and make alternative arrangements before my fellow passengers found out what was happening.

Anyone who has paid for the premium version of MyFlights will receive a pro-rata refund at the end of the year.

Three generous new American Express cashback deals

Three cashback offers appeared on my American Express account over the weekend which may come in handy over the Christmas shopping period.  These may or may not be available for you – check the ‘Offers’ tab of your online statement page for every card you own.

The most relevant is £5 cashback when you spend £50 at World Duty Free.  This deals runs until the end of the year.

For our male readers, Mr Porter is offering £75 cashback on a £250 spend.  This is valid until 18th December.  Mr Porter has a very broad selection of high-end clothing, footwear and accessories.

Harvey Nichols is offering £30 back on a £100 spend.  This runs until 10th December.  A £100 in-store gift card purchase should do the trick if you want to conserve your spending for the January sales – I bought a £100 Harrods gift card last week to trigger an identical offer.

The annual American Express ‘Shop Small’ campaign is also back from 2nd December, getting you £5 back on every £10 purchase in participating independent shops (and occasionally bars!).  We will cover this later in the week.

(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.)

FIRST LOOK: The brand new Qantas lounge in Heathrow T3 (accessible by BA passengers)
Good Best Western promo - £10 gift card for every stay
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  1. Mr Porter not showing for me. Targeted? Will a call to AMEX help?

  2. Hi, on the Amex Harrods offer(£30 credit for £100 spend) it states no gift cards for the deal, can you still use the gift card route?

    • I bought a gift card last week, ask me in 2-3 days if the £30 credits. I got the email from Amex saying that I had triggered my bonus although the money isn’t showing yet.

    • I bought a gift card online on Sunday and it came today – special delivery!
      Also received the email from Amex confirming offer redeemed

    • Eli Goldberg says:

      Same here with Harvey Nichols, T&C’s clearly say offer not valid on purchase of gift cards


      • My £30 from a Harrods purchase 8 days ago has not appeared. It did trigger the ‘offer completed’ email though. Hopefully it will appear.

  3. OT – And probably old news

    There is a IHG avios bonus available on BA Exec club page (dont think its targeted as it appears in both my wifes and my account)

    500 avios for new members joining IHG, or 500 bonus avios for existing IHG members (triggered with 3 nights stay, between now and end of Feb)

    • thanks didnt see this

    • Is that forgo IHG points for IHG stays (and therefore accelerate) and earn avios? If so, looks like a bad deal.

      • Good point, Genghis.
        I’d signed my wife up as a new IHG account, for the 500 avios.

        I’ve already completed my accelerate for the quarter, but a quick read of the T&Cs shows

        “Members must change their earning preference to Avios in their IHG Rewards Club account to collect Avios otherwise 1,500 IHG Rewards Club bonus points will be awarded”

        So hopefully a winner for existing IHG members as well..

      • With the Iberia version signing up and subsequently switching the earning preference back to points got me 1500 bonus points.

  4. johnny_c-l says:

    OT – New And offer just arrived on an email…

    Redeem 15k MR points and get a 3k bonus credited back. Valid until Christmas Day.

  5. Hi,

    I have a BA gold question.

    Is BA gold have separate reward flight availability? My BA gold friend can see more available flights than me. I’m BA Blue.
    I know Ba Gold can book double avios rewards even if there is no reward availability, but this is not like that. My friend can see more flights and the prices are just default avios.

    I couldn’t find anywhere on BA website that states BA Gold has more avios reward availability.


    • There is extra availability loaded in Y for golds. Is good for weekend RFSs in my experience. A message appears on the booking page when you’re benefiting from the additional availability.

      • Lady London says:

        Yes better flights and generally wider choice if you’re Gold.

      • Thanks.

        What did you mean by Y ?

        Also, is there a way me transferring points to my Gold friends, and he buys ticket for me?

        • Y = economy class, not sure on your second question

        • You = economy

          I think transfers are only free for Gold (up to an annual limit), but can’t remember for certain. Depending on cash flight cost you may of course still be cheaper agreeing a price for the Avios with your friend and him booking it with you paying him cash.

        • Depending on his and your BAEC account set up, potential for you to join his / he joins your HHA. Some movements of avios to and then he can book your flight using your avios?

        • Although with HHA you can’t transfer per se, it just pulls in proportion when making booking. For HHA you could form and then break up with him getting points but seems like a lot of hassle. Assuming RFS flight then probably simpler to just agree a price and get him to book then give him cash?

        • the real harry1 says:

          @ Bob – I reckon your only reliable method will be to buy points via your friend when a 1p deal comes up, ie you pay him £1000 to put (say) 100,000 Avios into his a/c – ready for you to use/ get him to book for you when needed

          I must say I didn’t realise Golds got better RFS availability than plebs! 🙂

        • Yep, one of the few handy benefits when redeeming from the regions as it helps increase availability on connecting flights!

          Also get free transfers to friends up to 162k/year (27k per friend) –

        • Yes but if Bob and Mr Gold for a BAEC HHA and Mr Gold transfers all his avios to then when Mr Gold makes the booking it pulls all the avios from Bob’s BA acct. Agreed it’s a bit of a fanny.

        • Yep agree route an option, just not direct BAEC. Given it also relies on the friend doing it (who’s already doing a favour) I’d be more inclined to go down the good old cash route (or booze, etc!)

  6. OT. Mrs xcalx referred me from her Plat for SPG card on Friday evening. Card arrived today and the 18,000 MR points hit her account today also. Nice speedy service from Amex.

  7. the real harry1 says:

    O/T news for travellers 🙂 – IMV entirely indicative of direction GBP will take once things settle down

    The pound has spiked against the dollar in the wake of a report that the UK and the EU have agreed a deal over the UK’s Brexit divorce bill, which could unlock vital trade talks next month.

    The currency jumped around 0.9 per cent to $1.3367 in late trade on Tuesday, after the Daily Telegraph reported that both sides were on the verge of agreeing a €44-55bn UK bill to settle its liabilities with the bloc.

  8. the real harry1 says:

    One4All card/s – you could always use it/ them to part-pay for an item at a retailer that allows this (eg Halfords), pay the rest on your debit card – then take it back for a refund if unsuitable

  9. Does anyone have the offer ID url for the Harvey Nicholls or the Mr Porter offer?

  10. Bits OT – Priority Pass have just added two more restaurant options, this time at Melbourne (previously an airport where they had no PP options).

    Both in T2 (international) – Bar Pulpo by MoVida and Urban Providore.

    Should make for nice additions, you get A$36pp to spend, usual PP guest rules apply.

    Just update your PP app to see the new additions. I’m looking forward to trying them out in Jan 🙂

  11. Seems amazing nobody has commented on the Monarch slots that IAG has acquired at Gatwick. Just the usual suspects prattling on about various piddly geeky points collecting opportunities.

    Can’t imagine why Rob thinks BA is going to run empty flights when previously BA has started up new routes on very minimal advance booking notice of only around 4 weeks and then simply heavily discounted the earliest dated flights on the new route to ensure that they fill up.

    As to sourcing the necessary aircraft and crew presumably there’s currently a plentiful retinue of both Monarch branded aircraft and former Monarch cabin crew who could fairly soon be repainted or re-uniformed in to BA colours.

    • the real harry1 says:

      not cracked the ‘older comments’ button yet then, Julian?

      • It really needs to be at the top of the comments. You have to scroll past all the newer comments to get to the older comments link so the only way to know if there are older is to scroll past to find out (or check the time of the comment as a hint).

      • Yes unlike you and Genghis some of us here do also have a real life and so are not yet expert in every single arcane oddity of this extremely difficult to use and also very poorly structured Discussion Board.

  12. Of course one thing BA could do with the slots is swap some of their existing BA flights on to the new Monarch slots to use them.. they may want to anyway due to improved timings or what not. Do the current BA slots have a use it or lose it clause? If so and its the same they can reduce usage on their current slots to 80%.

    I’d guess 20% decrease of BA’s current slots would be more than 20% of monarch’s so they could end up using more of the monarch ones by reducing the BA ones by 20%.. thus less wastage.

    • I would have thought the most logical approach would be to reactivate any of the more profitable destinations served by Monarch from LGW but to find alternatives for the ones where money was latterly being lost hand over fist (eg those in the Middle East or North Africa). Ideally BA would also avoid any routes where it is head to head against Easyjet, or at least where it is flying at anywhere near the same time of day.

      Fundamentally BA’s revised and downgraded (no drink or meal and no hold bag included unless you choose to pay for one) Euro Traveller offering lines up very well with the Monarch customer base (who are used to paying for those things but also expect rather better quality cabin service than is typical with Easyjet), except of course that BA Club Europe still seems to be quite unreasonably expensive (especially in its new dumbed down form) compared to the small additional premium charged for a Monarch Extra Legroom seat.

      As to the endless Off Topic chatter by a small hardcore of the usual suspects this could easily be stopped if Rob and Anika would pursue a policy of simply deleting those posts and/or sending a warning message to the offenders involved. Of course I have a horrible feeling that those people (for some reason Genghis springs to mind as their natural spiritual leader) will actually constitute 70% of the attendees at the Christmas Party so perhaps its just as well that I was unable to buy a ticket before they sold out.

      • What’s your beef?

        • Wow a reply in less than 5 minutes on a more than day old thread on a Board that doesn’t even support any form of proactive email notification of new posts (yes I know there are third party sites that can monitor that stuff but most “normal” posters in this forum, myself included, find that far too much of a faff to bother with).

          I also can’t decide whether Genghis simply doesn’t have any other life or is merely an alter ego of Rob? Perhaps that is why all tickets for the Christmas Party disappear the very moment they are put on sale (thereby making it impossible for anyone other than that normal small number of people who clearly suffer from HeadForPoints addiction to get hold of one). After all if normal members of this site were also allowed to attend the party then all of these various longstanding mysteries would end up being uncovered (which I suspect is not in any way in Rob’s best interests).

        • You are welcome to pop into the office at any point for a coffee, as readers often do.

        • Julian, on your point re airmiles and points being a taxable benefit, etc.
          HMRC have been clear for the best part of a decade that they are not a benefit in kind when received in the same way that they would be if the ticket was purchased on a personal basis. Latest guidance is here:

          On a related note, I used to have this discussion with colleagues at a former workplace. Because we were funded from the public purse, management took the decision that we had to refuse airmiles because we were gaining a personal benefit from them and this may sway our choice of carrier. I fundamentally disagreed and argued, unsuccessfully, that we should be allowed to keep them as long as we could demonstrate we had chosen the best value fare.

      • Ouch again. Keep your knickers on – it’s just a bit of fun. I’ve gained a lot of knowledge, not just from this site, but also the regular posters. I’ll take a guess I’ll learn nothing of substance from yourself.

        • I don’t think it is just a bit of fun is it though really.

          Its serious enough business for Rob and his wife to make a near enough full time living out of this site plus if all these horrendously complicated points schemes with their attendant unethical regular massive devaluations (somewhat reminiscent of the currency of a banana republic) did not exist then fundamentally the cash price of all these business class tickets would then have to fall substantially as the airlines would then have to sell the resulting empty seats to real cash money customers rather than to frequent fliers who they make a shed load out of when their business buys them a vastly over priced full price business ticket.

          Also fundamentally airline points schemes allow employees to earn benefits in kind that are not being properly taxed as part of their salary. And these are more often than not already very well paid employees usually earning already very large salaries.

          Clearly travelling Club or First class long haul is nicer and most of us would like to do it if we could but a large part of the over charge for First and Club (especially on BA out of LHR where the cash fare ticket prices are quite disproportionately expensive) would surely disappear if it wasn’t being used to try and lock customers in to travelling only with that airline through the existence of airline points and loyalty schemes.

        • Anika is not my wife! I have a wife too 🙂

          You are correct, of course. If BA had the greatest product in the world it wouldn’t need a loyalty scheme to attract customers, that is why Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental etc do not have one. However, at the end of the day, BA is flying exactly the same planes as its competitors and there is a limit to what can be done (although you could argue that Four Seasons is just sticking beds into buildings and still manages to differentiate enough.)

        • If I were you Julian, I would ask for a full refund of my subscription since you find the subjects discussed so distasteful.

        • And another thing: you missed the constant encouragement of tax avoidance by breaking long haul flights at an intermediate point.
          Also there are usually only two CW seats per flight available for redemption, as is constantly complained about.

  13. Wow a reply in less than 5 minutes on a more than day old thread on a Board that doesn’t even support any form of proactive email notification of new posts (yes I know there are third party sites that can monitor that stuff but most “normal” posters in this forum, myself included, find that far too much of a faff to bother with).

    I also can’t decide whether Genghis simply doesn’t have any other life or is merely an alter ego of Rob? Perhaps that is why all tickets for the Christmas Party disappear the very moment they are put on sale (thereby making it impossible for anyone other than that normal small number of people who clearly suffer from HeadForPoints addiction to get hold of one). After all if normal members of this site were also allowed to attend the party then all of these various longstanding mysteries would end up being uncovered (which I suspect is not in any way in Rob’s best interests).

  14. Julian, the only other time that I have posted (like you life is busy) , it was on the theme of values. I genuinely believe that you should be allowed to express your views on this or any other forum. If you values are fundamentally against these types of sites, schemes, and behaviour then its reasonable for you not to participate. For others their values are different and they (myself included in a very amateurish way) actually enjoy it. Live and let live.
    p.s. also did not get tickets for me and better half, but that’s life

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