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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? – October 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 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 Preferred Rewards Gold

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

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points (SPECIAL OFFER), £200 travel credit and unbeatable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

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:

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

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 and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (181)

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

  • Jaspr says:

    I didn’t get the offer and I’ve just flown with them AND I used my BA amex …gutted

    • mark2 says:

      Perhaps they feel that they don’t need to send the offer since you have already bought the product.

  • Nick_C says:

    My OH uses Ryanair about once every six weeks to visit his Dentist in Lisbon. Usually a day trip. Usually costs about £30 – not much more than a train ticket to London. Not for me though.

    Seeing my local dentist next week. Will try to split the bill over two Amex cards to max out on shop small.

  • Ryan says:

    Could anyone share the ‘special’ way to get the Eurostar offer loaded to my card?

  • rams1981 says:

    OT Amex offers.
    Now it is impossible to manufacture offers on cards, I wondered if having them all stored in same account make a difference to the offerss you get? Eg if I keep my 3 Amex cards in 3 different account will they get more offers overall compared to keeping all in one account?

    • Genghis says:

      Not sure it makes a difference. We got the PO offer on 4/6 cards. The two that didn’t are my wife’s supp on her card but in a separate online account and my supp on my wife’s card which sit in my main online account. Confusing describing it!

  • Lumma says:

    I don’t get the hatred for Ryanair, although I do hate getting to Stansted for early morning flights and going through security. (Although getting to Heathrow from East London isn’t easy without paying for a taxi early in the morning. N9 night bus?). But they do seem to offer real bargains as long as you’re flexible.

    My work schedule changes all the time but I find I can often go on sky scanner and look at London to “everywhere” and there’s usually something available. Went to Nuremberg for £24 earlier this year, booked a few days in advance only.

    If they auto allocate me a middle seat for a couple of hours, I can certainly deal with that for the prices they charge. Having said that, with Ryanair, I find if you wait till the last few minutes to check in, you often get a better seat than checking in way in advance, presumably because they allocate the cheaper seats first and leave the more expensive ones for longer on the hope that someone will pay for them.

    • Michael Jennings says:

      I fly Ryanair from time to time, but not nearly as much as I used to. This has relatively little to do with the airline product, other than that so many of their flights fly out of Stansted at ungodly hours in the morning. I used to be willing to put up with that, but these days I am willing to pay a little more to fly at more civilised hours and/or from LCY, if possible. (I’m a big fan of British Airways short haul Avios redemptions out of LCY).

      • Lumma says:

        Yeah, my strategy for those early flights from Stansted is to get a 3am national express bus and get there just before security opens. Then find a quiet corner until the flight is ready for boarding

  • Liz says:

    OT: Lloyds Avios Credit Card Update – phone call last night from my Complaints Manager – my account has finally been fixed 3 days short of a full year since we applied. Was offered a further £50 compensation but I asked for the £24 2nd year fee to be added to that which they agreed – now received £386 in cash, I earned 24250 pts but have received all those points again plus a few thousand more – in total received 54129 Avios. I had the upgrade voucher manually added back in June and I have been told I will receive that again within 14 days. Proof will be on statement date on 18/12 if the pts transfer automatically but it looks like it has been fixed. Now I need to think of an extra unplanned holiday to use the 2 vouchers!

    • mark2 says:

      More bad news. It sounds like another gravy train is ending.

      • Liz says:

        I am happy it is finally fixed and happy with the compensation. This year between Lloyds, Barclaycard and BA for a delayed flight we have received £983 in compensation which has gone in to our holiday pot towards the taxes and surcharges for our flights. Without this blog I would never have known to ask for compensation for things like this!

    • TripRep says:

      Nice work Liz, I’ve just started with my Lloyds Amex/Mastercard, yet to see how it goes, their fraud prevention seems weird, lets me buy electronics on Cyber Monday and book hotels in Germany, + expensive flights from Oz to KL in a foreign currency, but trying to use for a £5 at my local Tesco flags up as suspect and requests me to call in for verfication!

      • Liz says:

        I asked the guy about all the fraud on the Lloyds cards and he said it was an Amex breach not a Lloyds one. Our account so far hasn’t had any fraud – touch wood!

    • Anna says:

      I’ve been told they can’t fix it in 26 weeks and it’ll be the end of Jan. Fingers x’d for double points and voucher!

      • Darren says:

        Is double points an error on their parts org compensation for the appalling CS? I’m 4 months into the 6 and received £250 so far. Double would certainly sweeten the pain.

        • Liz says:

          The double pts is not an error. If you insist that they manually transfer the points because you need them for a redemption they will do it. When they do fix the problem it will trigger all the points again. So for those who are having the same problems you should use the card as much as possible and get them transferred manually each month. I stopped using the card after the first 6 mths to do spend on other cards – I probably should have kept going with the Lloyds card.

    • xcalx says:

      I got the card in June and used it to pay sons tax bill, points and upgrade voucher went through perfectly. Gutted.

    • Alan says:

      Woweee – never been more annoyed that my card has worked without a hitch!!

  • Doug says:

    OT ShopSmall: I think this year offlicenses will shine again, but not about topping up your oyster, but with amazon top-up! It is really hard to come up with a list of offlicenses that will take amex (or at least it is listed). Some may charge 50p extra for card, but still worth it. Any tips?

    • mark2 says:

      How about high class grocers/delis depending on where you live.
      There are plenty of bottles of wine at 9/99/10.99 or a few beers. Some will split across cards.

    • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

      Would love to see an article about shop small sweet spots (even if they’re just nice pubs). How about it Rob?

      • lev441 says:


        • Genghis says:

          Might be too London centric for some? I presume Rob might find it difficult to write about good pubs in Liverpool…

        • lev441 says:

          @genghis – perhaps, but could there could be a ‘central’ article based on readers comments as no doubt there would be quite a lot of o/t conversations going on throughout the two weeks of shopsmall.

      • Cate says:


      • TripRep says:

        Good quality independent off licences are your best bet.

        £11 decent bottle of vino for £6.

    • CV3V says:

      I go to a very nice whisky shop in Glasgow and buy a few £10 gift vouchers, just used the ones from last year at the weekend before they expired.

  • New Card says:

    Any idea whether the Virgin policy for infants also applies to redemptions using Flying Club miles on partner airlines? e.g. redemptions with Air China?

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

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