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Bits: Virgin redemptions with infants, Qatar increasing Scandi frequencies, Amex and Ryanair

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News in brief:

Virgin Atlantic has still not changed its infant policy, one year on

When the Virgin Atlantic website was relaunched last December, it changed its policy on the pricing of infants on Virgin Flying Club redemptions.

Redemption tickets for infants had historically been charged at 200 miles (Economy), 750 miles (Premium Economy) or 1500 miles (Upper Class) plus taxes and charges.

From last December, they were charged at 10% of the lowest cash fare, plus taxes and charges.

This appears to have been forced on Virgin by the limitations of the new booking software, which they inherited from 49% shareholder Delta.  The new policy is identical to the Delta policy.

The problem is that 10% of the lowest cash fare can be a LOT of money.  This is especially true on one way bookings where no discounted tickets are available.  A one-way Upper Class flight to New York on 1st February will cost you £5,897.  This means that Virgin will ask you for £589, plus taxes and charges, for your infant redemption ticket.

Virgin Flying Club told me a year ago that they were fully aware of this problem and that a fix would be in place in H1 2017.  It is now December, and a recent email from a reader confirms that nothing has changed.  Whether you book a cash ticket or a redemption ticket on Virgin Atlantic, a lap infant will still cost you 10% of the cheapest cash fare at the time of booking.

British Airways, for comparison, will charge 10% of the adult Avios and 10% of the adult taxes for a lap infant.  This is more like it.

Qatar Airways increasing frequencies to Scandinavia

Qatar Airways has been offering some truly exceptional deals out of Scandinavia this year, such as the recent £1300 business class fares to Australasia.

They have proved so popular that the airline is increasing its frequencies.  Oslo will increase from seven to 10 flights to Doha per week whilst Stockholm will increase from 14 to 17 per week.

17 long haul aircraft a week out of Stockholm is a lot of premium seats to fill, so hopefully the flow of good value business class deals will continue.

Do American Express customers fly Ryanair?

Whilst this is not ‘news’ in any sense of the word, I found it amusing.  A reader sent me an email he had received from American Express encouraging him to sign up for new cashback offers.  See here:

Whilst 12,000 people had chosen to register for the ‘£20 back on a £60 Eurostar spend’ deal, only a paltry 311 had signed up for the offer of ‘2000 bonus Membership Rewards points when spending £80 on Ryanair’.  There isn’t even any guarantee that those 311 people were eventually going to fly to Ryanair – many will have saved the offer ‘just in case’.

Want to earn more points from credit cards? – August 2022 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit card, here are our top recommendations based on the current sign-up bonuses.

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the best of the other deals currently available.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

American Express Amex Gold

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points, £200 travel credit and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review

Earning miles and points from small business cards

If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these offers:

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,500 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa for a limited company Read our full review

For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending.

Barclaycard Select Cashback credit card

1% cashback (3% on business travel for four months) and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (182)

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

  • Simmo says:


    Earnt my 2-4-1 on the BAPP – Voucher in my BA account.
    Is it still the case I can cancel the card (not downgrade to Blue) and keep the voucher?
    Only risk being booking using the voucher then needing to cancel?

  • mark1980 says:

    Re: Shop Small – how accurate is the map? If you know a local offy or grocer takes Amex but its not on the list – will it automatically register or is it a case of if its not on the list, you dont get it? Thanks.

    • Nick_C says:

      I was wondering that as well. Our local garden centre was on the list last year, but isn’t this year. But oddly, if you search by name, it then appears.

      I plan to pop in anyway at the weekend and get £10 of fire wood. If it triggers the cash back, I’ll go back with the other three cards.

    • mark2 says:

      Q. how accurate is the map? A. Not very including correspondence between map and list as above.
      If a shop is shown on the list/map but do not take Amex then CS will give you the £5 credit.
      Have never tried it the other way round.
      Shops do need to register, I believe, but many have had no contact with Amex as they only deal with the terminal owner like Worldpay or Barclays who are probably not interested in ShopSmall.

      • the real harry1 says:

        got most of my Shop Small buys LY from outlets not on the map, but which I remembered from the previous year – did a test, worked fine so did the rest

      • Gavin says:

        I found that maybe 20% of the places I went into (mostly corner shops for oyster top ups) that were on the map did not take Amex, or didn’t want to, but as you say I claimed them all back via message on Amex website. Might be more hassle now that they have removed the messaging function though – don’t really fancy ringing up and listing a load of retailers/addresses.

        • the real harry1 says:

          I did my claims on the phone and it was really quick – don’t fancy Chat much as that takes longer, but is another option

  • The Original Nick says:

    O:T, I’ve made an Avios redemption on Aer Lingus in Business Class via BAEC. Dies anyone know how to pre-assign seats? I managed to do it 2 1/2 years ago but for the life of me cannot remember how to do it now.

    • memesweeper says:

      I have given up on managing my EI seats online/onapp booked through BA. Phone ’em up, they’re pretty helpful in my experience. I have some BA status but I don’t think that’s relevant.

      • Lynx says:

        Agreed, I couldn’t see how to do it on the EI or BA apps, so I rang BAEC and they booked my seats quickly and easily for free.

  • Rob says:

    O/T – Amex Platinum question re car hire excess insurance, do you have to pay with the Amex Platinum card for the insurance to be effected or is it ok to pay with a different card. Where are the rules stated for this?

    • xcalx says:

      I contacted Amex a while ago and they confirmed that if the rental company did not accept amex I would be still covered using a Visa/MC card.

    • Alan says:

      The T&Cs don’t require payment on the Amex for this benefit. Personally I still do it (or at least use the Amex Plat for the deposit) to make it easier to claim if there are any issues.

  • The Original Nick says:

    That’s handy to know. LTN is only 45 minutes away from me.

  • Roger Wilco says:

    O/T. Off shortly to Domes of Elounda on a Marriott 7 day travel package. That gets you B&B only. Half board looks half ok, but is a 40 Euro pppn add on for an evening buffet only. Am only Marriott silver. Gold gets access to the Exec lounge. That’s beer, wine, champagne, soft drinks and snacks free apparently. I’ve just closed my MR account and am in fallow period so gold is hard to get. Who has been to The DofE (aka HfP’s place in the sun) and is it worth my OH applying for a plat just for the exec lounge?

    • Alex says:

      Just a reminder that it takes few weeks to get gold Spg status after applying through amex plat- keep that in mind.

    • Jonny says:

      Exec lounge is only for Marriott Platinum (I’m gold and I didn’t have access). Though might be worth getting Marriott Gold to give you more of a chance of a decent upgrade (which we were lucky enough to get).

      Evening buffet is very fresh and varied- didn’t get bored when staying for a week though obvs depends what you like. If you contact them directly, they may offer a lower price for the buffet if you add in advance.

      Drinks not cheap there but not exhorbitant either given the nature of the resort.

  • Roger Wilco says:

    Thanks both. Appreciated.

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

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