Bits: Virgin adds new Jo’burg service, Melia extends Avios earning to BA

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News in brief:

Virgin Atlantic adds a second daily Johannesburg service

Filling the gap left by South African Airways move to drop one of its two daily Jo’burg to Heathrow services from late April, Virgin Atlantic has announced that it is doubling its Johannesburg services from Winter 2018.

Launching on 28th October, the service will use a new Boeing 787-9, assuming Virgin Atlantic still has one that is working properly.

Flying daily, it will leave Heathrow at 16.45 and land in South Africa at 5.40.  This makes it the first Heathrow service of the day to arrive.  Unfortunately for Virgin, the $200m aircraft will then sit on the ground earning nothing for the next 17 hours as the return flight to Heathrow does not leave until 22.20.  It arrives back in Heathrow at 7.30am.

Seats will be bookable from 24th March.  Whilst Virgin does not guarantee to make a certain number of reward seats available per flight, you may have a decent chance of finding something for Christmas or New Year with your Flying Club miles if you jump in early.

PS.   If you are wondering what has happened to the 2nd South African Airways landing slot, it has been leased to British Airways for five years.  It is not clear what BA will do with it, but you would imagine that a valuable early morning Heathrow landing slot would end up being used for a North American or Asian service.

How to earn Virgin Atlantic miles from UK credit cards

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Virgin Flying Club miles from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Virgin Flying Club miles.  That page is regularly updated with the latest special offers and will still be accurate even if you are reading this article months after publication.

Virgin Atlantic Economy Delight

Melia Rewards extends its Avios partnership to British Airways Executive Club

Spanish hotel group Melia has, not surprisingly, had a long term relationship with Iberia.  This allowed you to earn Avios in Iberia Plus from your stays, and to convert existing chunks of Melia Rewards at the rate of 100 points to 30 Avios.

Melia has now extended this to British Airways, Aer Lingus, Vueling and Meridiana.  You can credit your stay directly to a British Airways Executive Club account rather than having to move them across from an Iberia Plus account.  Full details are here.

To promote this new deal, Melia is offering a very generous launch offer of 9 Avios per €1 you spend.

This is a good deal.  A £200 spend, excluding taxes, would earn you over 2,000 Avios for example.

You need to book your stays between 9th March and 9th May for stays by 15th June.  Existing bookings do not appear to count and should be rebooked if the rate is flexible and the price has not increased.

About Melia

Melia brands include Gran Melia, Melia, ME, Paradius, INNSIDE, Tryp and Sol.  As well as being the biggest hotel group in Spain, the company has a decent presence elsewhere with 350 hotels in 40 countries.  In the UK you have:

ME London, the Norman Foster designed hotel on the Strand which has a good reputation.  Think of a hotel like The Trafalgar nearby or a more sophisticated W.

Melia White House, a surprisingly pleasant art deco era hotel near Regents Park where we had our 2016 and 2017 HFP Christmas parties

INNSIDE Manchester, the first UK outpost for Melia’s four-star business brand.  I reviewed INNSIDE Manchester and was impressed. 

We’ve also reviewed the INNSIDE New York NoMad here, the Gran Fenix in Madrid here and the impressive Gran Melia Palacio de los Duques in Madrid hereReader Nick reviewed the historic Rome property here when he won a Melia-sponsored competition on HFP a couple of years ago.  A review of the new INNSIDE in Hamburg is coming soon.

If you have an American Express Platinum charge card, you will receive free Gold status in Melia Rewards.  

Melia Rewards Gold offers the following benefits – which, to be honest, are not life-changing except for late check-out:

  • 30% bonus points
  • free breakfast for a companion (so basically 2-4-1)
  • free wi-fi
  • 3 x 20% off vouchers for room bookings
  • 4pm late check-out at city hotels, 2pm at resorts

Late check-out IS guaranteed as long as the hotel is not 100% full.  You will also receive free wi-fi.  There is no upgrade benefit.

Full details of the new Melia / British Airways partnership can be found on this page of the Melia website.

(Want to earn more Virgin Flying Club miles?  Click here to see our recent articles on Virgin Atlantic and Flying Club and click here for our home page with the latest news on earning and spending other airline and hotel points.)

Bits: Book Lapland on Finnair with Avios, Loganair to run flights from Carlisle Airport, £50 off car rental
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  1. Tom Cook says:

    Cancelled my SPG card this morning – only had it for 10 weeks, hit the spend within 6 weeks and transferred all the points over. Closed the account down over the chat function which was fine (used Genghis’s line of not using the card anymore)!

    No mention / threat of not getting any other sign up bonuses when cancelling, all very painless. We now have 30k of SPG points. My other half has just got the SPG card and so I presume that we can combine SPG accounts to get her 10k to add to the fund?

    • Yes you can transfer between accounts at the same address.
      I transfer to Marriott as they give breakfast with Gold (from Amex Platinum) whereas SPG don’t.

      • Tom Cook says:

        So could she give my SPG account number to transfer points to?

        TBH we have booked up our hols and accommodation this year so I planned to leave the 30k SPG where they are though it seems that some say that transferring to Marriott at 3:1 results in them getting more value.

        • That is a different question. Probably not; it depends on the checks made. With same surname and address you may get away with it. I forgot to say that you can only transfer in multiples of 1,000 so earn accordingly.
          I find Marriott to be better value, but as ever it depends on your individual requirements, and in 2019 the schemes may have been merged. Another big advantage with Marriott is that you can make a booking before you have earned the points.

  2. Final OT post about G-MEDN I added a few more pictures since my last post, so the full set is now online

    It looks like the aircraft again might not be operating this weekend. The only unanswered questions are whether there’s any changes to the legroom in row 1 CE, does CE have any power sockets and is the wardrobe still available? If anyone gets to try out CE on this aircraft before I do then post a reply on here.

    • Remember how you were asking why it didn’t fly for a few days last week? It was removed to have wifi fitted.

  3. OT regarding CW on a 777 – I am flying back from LAS to LGW in May. The seat map shows 48 seats in J instead of 40 – I understand that the usual Gatwick fleet has 40 (due to reduce to 32)

    In short, does a 48 seat J cabin mean my plane might be a bit nicer (in terms of refurb, IFE) than if it were a 40 seat cabin?

    Thanks a lot

    • Catalan says:

      Not necessarily so. The LHR fleet of 3 class B777s have the 48J configuration. So it’s likely you’ll be travelling on one of those during the LGW fleet upgrade.

  4. Is anyone able to see the 3 x 20% vouchers for melia this calendar year as a Gold member?

    I have none in the promotions section of my melia account, I’m gold courtesy of Amex plat. They seem to have been removed as the calendar year turned over and I’m not sure if they are gone for everyone or gone for renewals through amex (or maybe even just for me)

    • Just you I think. I auto-renewed and can still see mine. Not that I ever seem to be able to use them!

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Never had them this year.

      Seems hit and miss as to who gets them on amex upgrade to gold

  5. Any room for 1 more flight to JNB?

  6. David Henderson says:

    Interesting to see that BA is cutting its second A380 service to JNB and reverting to a 747.

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