Bits: Jo’burg £1228 in Qatar Business, IHG UK and Germany sale, new UK Finnair services

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News in brief:

Another Qatar Airways sale bargain ….

Here’s a quick update to our Qatar Airways sale article yesterday.

The best Johannesburg business class deal looked like it was the Frankfurt departure, at €1702 (£1500).  It turns out that, if you are willing to head down to Bulgaria, there is a stonking price out of Sofia – just BGN 2,715 which is £1228.  You need to use promo code PCGTBGIFT to get that price.  It comes down a little further if two people travel.

The Sofia sale deals page is here.

If you want somewhere to stay in Sofia, pictured below, the night before, a new InterContinental (the fully refurbished ex-Radisson) is about to open – see the IHG website here.

IHG launches a new sale, including free breakfast

Until Monday, IHG is running a sale covering the UK, Ireland and Germany.

There are some genuine discounts here, and I have rebooked a stay for next week to prove it!  You need to book by 15th January for stays until 15th April.

Most Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo and Staybridge Suites hotels in these three countries are included.  The discount is calculated as 35% off the Best Available Rate.  Rooms are non-refundable.

If you are not already a member of IHG Rewards Club, you will need to sign up for free during the booking process.

You can find full details, and book, here.


Finnair expands from Gatwick and Edinburgh

Finnair has made some announcements regarding its UK services as part of a general expansion following the arrival of new aircraft.

From 25th March, the current summer-only Edinburgh to Helsinki service will become a year-round route.  There will be five flights per week during summer and three flights per week in winter.

This will be a good option for flights to Asia, given Finnair’s excellent coverage of the region and – geographically – its position ‘on the way’ if travelling from the UK.  You can earn and redeem Avios, and earn British Airways tier points, on Finnair services.

The airline will also be running two Lapland routes again this year, one between London Gatwick and Kittilä and one between London Gatwick and Ivalo.  Even better, you can use Avios to make it happen.  This is an opportunity to try winter activities such as ice fishing, seeing the Northern Lights, skiing, husky safaris and reindeer sleigh rides.

Last year the flights operated between mid December and March.  For points, an economy return to Kittilä will cost 20,000 Avios plus around £100.  This feels a little pricey so do compare cash prices.  Business class is not available.

Melia hotels launches January sale

Melia Hotels International, which hosted our Christmas party last month, is running a European city breaks sale.

You need to book by 23rd January for travel by 30th April.  Full details are on this special website here.

Remember that Melia is now offering 3 Avios per €1 when you stay with them.  American Express Platinum cardholders will also have their free Melia Rewards Gold status.

(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. OT has anyone else had problems claiming missing small shop credits from Lloyds? Just done battle with them over 2 missing credits. No one seems to know anything about it and I got the usual run around saying it is an Amex problem and not Lloyds. After asking for it to be escalated to a complaint because they manually credited one transaction last year then eventually agreed to credit my £10 but have put a note on our record to say that under no circumstances will they do this again. I will lodge a formal complaint in writing to get this removed – what are others experiences. Still got one to do with MBNA for the same shop.

    • No experience with Lloyds but some difficulty with my Virgin AmEx. When I called MBNA they advised they were unable to help as the promotion is run by American Express.

      I filled in a form on Amex Connect for this card about a week ago and the missing credits not yet showing.

      The same day I also uploaded evidence for a missing credit on my Amex-issued Amex, and my wife received a letter yesterday (as primary cardholder) to advise of the credit.

      • Great I didn’t realise you could do it that way – I will start sending in evidence of my othe missing transactions. I have written to AMex to try and get an answer from them.

      • EwanG – how did you upload evidence on the Amex issued cards. When you put in Amex issued it says to phone them. Last time we phoned I was told we had to wait 90 days.

        • Liz
          For my Amex issued card they requested I use the Document Centre to upload my receipt. Log into your account and scroll down to the bottom of the page where you’ll see a link to “Form & Document Centre”. On mobile you’ll need to expand the Important Links menu. That gives you a link to document centre. As there was no facility to add a note, I took a screenshot of a note explaining why I was uploading a receipt. A bit faffy but hopefully worthwhile if you have a few credits missing!
          I was also told to wait up to 90 days when asking about missing credits on my Nectar Amex but they did manual adjustments when asked.

        • Thanks Ewan

    • jovanna says:

      I was in a restaurant and I tried to split the bill across my Lloyds Amex and my Virgin Amex. I used the online form. I was knocked back about 10 days later for one of the transactions because I’d already benefitted from the promotion on one card. Fair enough. I found the whole process a bit protracted.

      I also made a similar claim on my Amex Plat card and the Plat supplementary card. Web chat a bit of a pain but 2 x £5 credits applied instantly to my account.

  2. Can someone please remind me if all BA PE tickets are upgradeable. Thanks

    • Yes, let’s say virtually all. So long as you are not booking something obscure from a third party then it should be fine. You can cancel within 24h anyway if ut is not upgraded.

      • Not if bought as a package holiday, unless it was via BA Holidays. Fine otherwise.

        • roberto says:

          I can only think of one other scenario when they are not and that after using the Lloyds upgrade voucher when booking into PE. The T&C state that further upgrades are not permitted although I bet some exception have slipped through the net.

    • Thanks. It’s an OTA ticket but can not pull up the booking class. Presumption it is T

  3. O/T, BA have put my £170 spend through as 4 x £42.50….. will this still trigger the 1500 bonus Avios offer? Has anyone had this issue?

    • It usually is OK with Amex promotions, yes. Although you should, if your email preferences have been set correctly, have had an email from Amex as soon as the charge went through – I got one yesterday.

      • aah yes, was on my wife’s card. will check that first and keep an eye on it. Thanks as always

    • I used the offer on Sunday for an airport hotel we needed anyway. Got 30% off Hilton in the sale and points have posted to BAPP today, very pleased.

  4. guesswho2000 says:

    OT – Just got an email from BAEC for the Amex BAPP – 30k Avios signup bonus for 3k spent in three months – might be targeted, so worth trawling through the junk inbox for those interested. Runs until 31/1.

    • Lady London says:

      OT #1 I got one for 10K avios signing bonus for 1K spent in three months.

      Obviously they’ve worked out I’m cheap 🙂

      OT #2 Did anyone else get a grovelly email from Alex Cruz yesterday about BA having “learned some lessons” and “listened” and “BA are now putting things right”? Or was it just me, in response to some of the frank survey comments I’ve given them in the past year?

      • No got it too

      • Radiata says:

        I could not bear to read it..

      • Not got any offers or email, but I’m assuming if we wanted a second BAPP it would make more sense for my OH to refer me?

        • Yes, especially if he refers you from the BALL or platinum. However, if you can meet the spend target on both he could yet get an offer on his BAPP if emails are coming out in batches.

        • I thought it was just a sign up offer? As he’s already got a BAPP my OH wouldn’t be eligible.

        • @Anna, yes it is sign up sorry. Was reading through them too fast and was thinking extra spend oromotion for some reason…too good to be true.

      • David S says:

        Got the Cruz email- promptly deleted since it was a lot of nonsense!!!

  5. Lady London says:

    OT It seems Ryanair didn’t just delay the implementation of their new luggage policy to 15th January to avoid a storm of “Ryanair ruined my Christmas”, they’ve also made the policy worse.

    Previously it seemed you only had to buy Priority Boarding in order to guarantee both your 10kg hand luggage and your smaller bag into the cabin.

    Just noticed on their website today, they’re now saying you have to buy Priority Boarding AND 2 cabin bags, and not just Priority Boarding as they were saying before Christmas.

    Thank heavens I’ve only got 2 more flights booked with Ryanair. Looks like they’re back to their bad old ways…. defo won’t be booking with them. Might even push some flights over to BA now.

    • Presumably they are starting to claw back some of the money they lost during the cancelled flights/pilot’s leave fiasco? I was thinking about booking a half term holiday to the Canaries with them but may have to reconsider.

    • Meadowlark says:

      I don’t think there is any change in the previously announced policy, just a renaming of “priority boarding”. The 2 bags bit is to try and make it clear that otherwise you can only take a small bag into the cabin (I.e. One bag). If you want to take a second, larger, cabin bag you have to pay an extra 5 euro for “Priority and two bags”.

  6. OT: If I book multiple rooms on 1 night at the same hotel (for a group holiday) on my IHG account, and pay myself up front on a non refundable rate, will I get all the points? Website suggests Yes, but I’m sceptical.

  7. I thought the IHG sale was only using the app?
    I can’t get the discounted prices to appear using the link above. I can see them in the app but the app won’t let me book as it tells me my address is missing from my profile (it isn’t).

    • First couple of days were via the app. Now available on the website, though of course many of the best deals might have gone. No doubt Rob had a reason for not running the article when the sale actually launched…

      If you click on the link in the article, you seem to go to the normal booking page and then have to click on the banner at the top advertising the sale.

      • Aha. Clicking on the Sale banner on the link gives me the same prices as the app.
        Cheers for that.

  8. Richard says:

    One nice feature about Finnair tickets is that with an emerald card you still get one piece of checked luggage. BA remove this benefit gold card holders with their HBO fares. Using avios redemptions for the AY european flights can be a waste of time though. From Helsinki cash tickets to DUB/EDI are going for 150e return.

  9. OT and thanks in advance. It seems like the Starwood Pay Your Birth Year Promotion ( is requiring a username and password to access the site. Has anyone booked such a rate lately?

  10. New Card says:

    OT – Any idea whether the 35% transfer bonus to BA is likely to come back in February this year? Is this normally announced in advance?

  11. OT – I have called as they have changed their website and it now strongly suggests that you can book 2 x 1 way flights online using the Lloyds upgrade voucher. Unfortunately, due to an IT glitch, you still can’t, and after inputting your flight details you will just get an error message. They don’t know when this will be rectified, which sounds very like the Lloyds answer to when they are asked when the problem with posting avios will be resolved. Can it be just a coincidence?!

    • The_real_a says:

      Depends what you mean, but i have always been able to book 2 one ways provided one was IN to uk and one was OUT of the uk. Destinations dont have to be same. Agree if it was an unestricted 2x one ways it would be fabulous enhancement.

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