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.

PPS.  If you are wondering how the new South African Airways business class seat measures up, Anika is popping down to Johannesburg for a couple of days to try it out.  We will have a review in a few weeks.

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.)

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Comments

  1. Any room for 1 more flight to JNB?

  2. 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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