Bits: poor BA Amex sign-up deal via, IAG’s NIKI deal collapses, Carlisle Lake District Airport reopens

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News in brief: offering unreasonably poor BAPP Amex sign-up bonus

For a while, has been promoting British Airways American Express cards to random visitors during the booking process.  Whilst this is a perfectly logical time to try to catch a new customer, the sign-up offer is deliberately poor.

Take a look at this (click to enlarge):

BA is offering you £50 and 6,000 Avios for signing up for the Premium Plus card during the flight booking process.

The problem is that the current public offer is 25,000 Avios as you can see here.

If you value an Avios at 1p, you are getting a sign-up package worth £110 via the offer compared with £250 via the usual offer.  The only difference is that you do not have to spend £3,000 to receive the bonus if you take the deal – but if you can’t spend £3,000 in three months then you shouldn’t be getting this card, as it means you are unlikely to trigger the 2-4-1 voucher.

Whilst BA is free to offer whatever deal it likes through whatever channel it likes, what does it say about an airline that is basically trying to fleece people who have just spent money with them?  And what will the customer think when he finds out?

IAG bid to buy NIKI collapses

IAG’s plan to buy Austrian airline NIKI falls through

What everyone assumed was a ‘done deal’ – for BA’s parent IAG to acquire the Austrian low cost carrier NIKI from the wreckage of Air Berlin – has fallen through.

The original deal collapsed after the German courts allowed the insolvency process to be moved to Austria.  This gave other bidders a period to revise their offers, and Niki Lauda – ex racing driver and the original founder of NIKI – was successful in the second process.

You can read a full report on Reuters here.

Carlisle Lake District Airport reopens

Carlisle Lake District Airport to reopen

Stobart Group, owners of Southend Airport, announced yesterday that they are reopening Carlisle Lake District Airport to commercial flights for the first time since 1993.

Flights will begin on 3rd June.

Exact routes are not yet known but the airport talks of connecting “major tourism and business hubs including London, Dublin and Belfast”.  It doesn’t say which London airport but logically it would be Southend given that Stobart Group also owns that.

Stobart Air currently operates some flights under a Flybe franchise deal so it is possible that this may be used here, meaning that the flights will be bookable with, and will earn, Avios.  Stobart also operates some flights for Aer Lingus so it is possible that brand may be used for Dublin.

The airport is located six miles east of Carlisle and 20 miles north east of the National Park.  It is currently used by a number of general aviation flying schools and an aircraft maintenance facility.

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  1. For anyone’s who is keen on applying for the BA cards, if you’re a BAEC member and have opted in to receive their marketing spam, they sent an offer two weeks ago for the BAPP with a 30K and the free BA with a 10K bonus. Might be targeted but I assume they sent it to anyone who hasn’t signed up as yet. This is by far the best offer I’ve seen on these cards.

    • Sideshow Bob says:

      Yeah got that too but it is only most generous as a standalone application. Referrals beat that rate.

  2. Is there a bonus for upgrading from the free BA card to BAPP?

    • No Avios bonus, but you get to unlock the companion voucher at £10k.

    • Not officially. Unofficially most people get 6,000 Avios but no-one knows why – Amex know nothing about it. Seems to be an IT glitch or an old promo someone forgot to delete from the system. Has been going on for literally years.

      • I upgraded from the free card to the premium to hit the voucher spend. Although I never received the 6,000 Avios bonus. That’s a Shame!

      • Is that 6k Avios referral-related or just seems to happen with any such upgrade?

    • I got the 6k bonus back in October; but as Rob wrote – this doesn’t appear to be the case across the board. I wasn’t expecting it & didn’t make a fuss of it to Amex!

  3. Graham Walsh says:

    Interesting tweet from BA. Telling customers to delete internet history to clear the price hike.

    • Well that’s a serious admission to make but not surprising!

    • Lady London says:

      HaHa @Julian Walsh I enjoyed that. I’ll bet British Airways will take care not to openly admit that again. If anyone does car hire IME Hertz has ratcheted up the price on repeated searches in the past and definitely don’t log in before you do your first search so you can get a truer result quickly about the pricing.

  4. rams1981 says:

    OT virgin premium economy vouchers from credit card.

    I have these. How do they work? Do they upgrade two one way journeys so you’re a couple only one way works? When is the best time to use it?

    • yes if you only have one voucher they allow 2 people one way upgrades from EC to PE on reward bookings, so effectively you pay the miles for an EC ticket but get PE but you do need to pay the PE taxes and charges. There has to be availability in PE to use them. I used them this year for orlando no problem. Literally could pick any day I wanted there was a lot of availability.

    • Best time to use it in the past was in conjunction with a reward seat sale – but these seem to have stopped since the change to peak/off peak pricing.

      Nowadays, best time to use it (like most miles) is during school holidays when cash seats are high. I believe that the old cards gave 2 x vouchers per year for spending £5k and then £10k on the black card so in theory you should be able to use both vouchers for both of you on a trip as each voucher is 1 return journey.

  5. I’d expect 90% of the people who apply for the BAPP card through the booking process will never discover that the sign-up bonus was better elsewhere.

    Of those that do discover, some of them won’t care.

    And, in any case, it depends how you value Avios. As I use mine for a lot of short haul RFS, I haven’t got more than about 0.5p recently, so the £50 plus 6k Avios is a lot closer to £0 plus 25k Avios in cash value.

    • unless you value 19k Avios at less than £50 i.e. 0.26p, you’re still worse off.

    • I think it’s a really bizarre offer. Get a £50 statement credit but we’re going to charge you £195 on your first bill.

      If they offered a credit with no avios on the free card I’m sure they’d have lots of takers, especially if the credit could be applied to the card if you were approved immediately by Amex.

    • They will discover as soon as Amex tell them to refer a friend! I hope no-one who values an Avios so low would pay £195 for a card.

  6. OT:
    Does my BA companion voucher need to be used within the 2 year period or do I just need to redeem a flight within the next two years with a view to taking the trip later? E.g. Can I book in January 2020 for a flight in May 2020?

  7. Talking about cancelling BAPP and keeping the 241, is it possible that Amex/BA may tighten up the T&Cs to prevent this while they are removing other anomalies?

    • This is more of a BA IT limitation I think.

      • I cancelled a BAPP recently, having hit the bonus and earned a 241 (unintentionally), and the agent insisted I agree to this:

        “If you have earned a British Airways Companion Voucher, please be aware that Companion Voucher bookings must be made using the British Airways Card they were earned with. This is set in the Terms and Conditions on the Companion Voucher. Cancelling this Account may mean you are unable to redeem your Companion Voucher.”

        I took with with an A380 full of salt 🙂

        • BA are not enforcing this at present, but in a general tightening-up it would be very easy to do so.

      • Isabella says:

        Maybe Alex reads your site after you bumped into him on the tube…. I’ve just received a ‘30,000 bonus Avios sign-up offer email from BA -‘ just for you’ – BA Gold.

        • Down the Back says:

          When booking flights on BA website yesterday I was offered the 6k bonus but then today recvd email from BA offering 30k if I sign up before 31st Jan, nice improvement…… wonder if somebody from BA is monitoring HfP or just coincidence ?

      • Scallder says:

        Thinking about the logistics of this if it were implemented, given the 2 year validity of the BAPP surely that would mean having to pay up to £390 extra to use the voucher (c £390 at the 2 year mark, used the day before flying). I know it’s in the T&Cs but surely that would be a pretty outrageous thing to require someone to do for using something they earned in ‘year 1’ of holding the card.

        Am I right to presume that if you downgrade to the free BA Amex you get a new card number different from your BAPP? If so that would mean having to keep the BAPP itself.

        Not got anything to hand, but surely consumer laws have to be fair and reasonable do they not? If you couldn’t downgrade the card, I would like to think a court would side with the card holder over Amex (even of the ombudsmen might not)…

  8. Alexander says:

    OT – anyone know why the referral bonus from basic BA to BAPP has gone down from 9k to 4k?

    • The rules have changed so that the bonus now depends on the card referred from rather than the card referred to.
      e.g. if I refer from Platinum to BA blue I get 18,000 at present but I wonder how sustainable this is.

  9. O/T: Re: BAPP — Took out BA free card Nov 2016, hit 10k April 2017 after which I upgraded to BAPP and 241 voucher triggered (but no 6k bonus some people have reported). Account shows that I need to spend 10k by Nov 2018 to get another voucher – so it looks like card membership anniversary is being counted as Nov (ie free card anniversary) rather than BAPP anniversary (April) — is this correct?

  10. “Carlisle Lake District” does not feel right to me at all, since it’s not really that close to the Lakes, but if it means I get better connections then I’m all for it. Booking Carlisle to Dublin and then being able to use my Avios on Aer Lingus sounds great.

    • Really? 20 Miles is pretty close in my book and by far the closest airport to the Lake District

    • Great that CAX is re-opening to commercial traffic. It’s a long time since Air Ecosse operated SD360’s LHR-CAX-DND with Home Secretary/local MP Willie Whitelaw a regular passenger!

  11. OT: very basic question – when applying for a new amex do I include a supp card when asked if I have another Amex. I’ve only just got a supp card for the first time!

  12. Completely OT and more following from yesterday’s article, how likely is it that Amex will release their new Hilton card to UK consumers?

    • Nil, until Barclays gives up or loses the licence.

      And even if it does, as it would be ‘interchange fee capped’ I doubt Amex could make the maths work. Apparently the final appeal on this is due within 3 weeks.

  13. O/T on cards
    For the platinum upgrade from Gold, does anyone know if this involves a further credit check?
    Given the rumour mill I’m looking at bringing forward an upgrade for some planned referrals, but are in the middle of getting a mortgage so want to avoid any hits on the credit record.

    • Don’t take this as gospel, but

      I recently (last couple of months) did the Gold to Platinum upgrade, and there is no note on my credit report of any additional search/check.

      • Andrew S says:

        Was a hard search for me, but my credit file shows it as one continuing card rather than closing and opening a new card.

  14. Dominic says:


    My curve card arrived yesterday and just getting going with it.

    You can withdraw £200 cash a month and not be charged but do any of the business customers who have had this a while know if that’s £200 a month per card or £200 total amongst your credit cards? FAQs not that clear. Thanks.

  15. OT as bits – I was thinking of using my Hilton voucher for the DoubleTree Madrid – Prado. Has anyone been there and would you recommend Madrid in general?

    I am also gold but i notice there is limited scope for upgrade – just wondering if the rooms are decent enough anyway that this is not an issue.

    • Nothing can add on the hotel. Don’t rely on my view alone but personally I found Madrid a bit sterile. It will probably appeal to you more if you like palaces and museums/galleries, but personally I’m more drawn to unique sights and a dramatic setting so I would rate it behind Barcelona, Lisbon, Rome, Stockholm for example. My favourite thing in Madrid was probably wandering the backstreets as a shortcut back to our hotel.

      • Tempted to agree. Something about it doesn’t grip me.

        • That confirms the general impression I was getting from looking at tripadvisor… might need to rethink…

        • but Rob – you’re a Dubai type of guy. Thats says it all.

      • There’s nothing sterile about Chueca 🙂 I *love* Madrid – far more than Barcelona for example. We’re giving Seville a go in a few weeks – booked when CE fares were cheaper than Euro Traveller with a bag.

    • If you go, remember that BOTH BA and Iberia run long-haul planes with flat beds on some Madrid flights. A great excuse to book yourself into Business Class.

      Remember too that Iberia Plus has better reward availability on Iberia than

      • thanks Rob – that was one of the reasons I was considering Madrid in the first place as you’d mentioned it in an article a while back

        • Only been once but I found it very pleasant. I love Valencia and Barcelona too. It’s not difficult to do all three in one trip if you have the time, and I’d highly recommend it for the contrasts.

    • This just shows what a subjective subject travel is. I REALLY like Madrid and probably prefer it to Barcelona. There are great palaces and museums etc. but it’s also really vibrant in my opinion. Great restaurants, excellent night-life – also really easy to get around. I think Madrilenos are much friendlier than their compatriots (for now) in Barcelona. I always think Barcelona is just overwhelmed with tourists – you don’t get that sense in Madrid. But it’s entirely subjective – I don’t think Madrid though is a great city for points redemptions although there is an Indigo and an IC. I think the Indigo is better located. I last stayed at the Urso Hotel which is SLH and got free breakfast due to the status I got in their loyalty program after finding out about it on here. One of the many times I’ve had cause to thank HfP.

      • I too really like Madrid. Not a sights place as such but good food and drinks. When the weather is nice, sitting outside having a cafe con leche in the morning and a cerveza or two in the afternoon and evening is excellent.

        • I see we are of the same mind Genghis :-).

        • have to admit that does sound pretty good!

        • i tend to judge my holidays (and locations) not by the attractions but by how good the atmosphere and food was. In Madrid Mercado De San Miguel, or the top floor food court at El Corte Ingles (!), in Bangkok the madness of the food court in Siam Paragon. I dont get much of a sun tan on holiday.

      • RussellH says:

        We are going to Madrid in March. Again, having read HFP we have booked a BA Hols package rather than using points. My partner paid the deposit on her BA Amex and got 1500 extra Avios, there are another 700 due as a bonus for me, and I shall get nearly 1100 SPG for paying the balance with that card. And we shall get enough tier points to push me into Bronze just before my year ends.

        We have been once before – our best memory is sitting in the park feeding the ridiculously friendly squirrels.

      • We loved Madrid. Enjoyed exploring the city, chilling in the park, the food amd drinks. The Segway tour was great fun too!

        Personally I prefer it to Barcelona.

        We’re going to Valencia in early March. Really looking forward to it!

    • Pangolin says:

      Even though I can see why others might not put Madrid top of their list, why not just go and decide for yourself?

      There are plenty of times in the year when it is an awful lot nicer to be strolling around in Madrid than it is to be stuck in the UK, and early spring or late autumn is definitely one of those times.

    • Been to Madrid 4 times, Barcelona 3 times. Barcelona has some stunning architecture but is overrun by tourists and not always the best of food.

      In Madrid every trip has been really enjoyable, hotels are better value and the food options are great. There are a few must visit tapas venues to try, on last trip i found Platea for first time, another great venue added to list. Also at Madrid airport the lounges are pretty good, quite quiet, the paid for lounge is surprisingly good.

      • by best of food i mean there are a load of tourist traps. BCN is famed for its modern cuisine.

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