Bits: Good Etihad fare to Oz for Christmas, 100% bonus buying Hilton points, F1 and tennis with SPG/Marriott

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News in brief:

Good Etihad fare to Australia for Christmas

I’ve had a few emails recently asking about cheap cash flights to Australia over Christmas.   As this is a non-starter for Avios – and anyway is terrible value given the taxes – you need to look for good cash deals.

The fall-back is China Eastern out of Amsterdam.  Last year I checked this in early December and they were still selling seats for £1900 for Christmas and New Year travel.

You can do better, in terms of price and quality of carrier.

Etihad has launched an excellent deal from Stockholm to Sydney, Melbourne or Perth for around SEK 20,000 (£1700).  Availability is excellent all year, including Christmas and New Year.

The one pain is that Etihad does not fly to Stockholm.  You are looking at three flights each way – Stockholm to somewhere in Europe on another airline, somewhere in Europe to Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi to Australia.

Here is a typical routing for SEK 20970 (£1770):

Out 8th December – Stockholm to Heathrow (SAS), Heathrow to Abu Dhabi (Etihad A380), Abu Dhabi to Sydney (Eithad A380)

Back 8th January – Sydney to Abu Dhabi (Etihad A380), Abu Dhabi to  Brussels (Etihad A330), Brussels to Stockholm (SAS)

Is this a messy routing?  Yes.  Is it EXCELLENT value for money for the peak Christmas and New Year period?  Yes.  Is the Etihad A380 Business Class seats very very nice?  Yes – here is my review of Etihad A380 Business.

Check out the special Etihad A380 page here showing the Business Class Studio too.

The best thing to do is have a  play with dates on the Etihad site here and see what routings come up.  You can credit the flights to Etihad Guest or American Airlines amongst others.  AA would give you the opportunity to redeeem on BA or another oneworld carrier.

PS.  This is an all-year fare, not just for Christmas – it is just a far better deal over Christmas given the high prices charged by others

In addition, if you are not already an Etihad Guest member, you can sign up here and receive 500 bonus miles.

Etihad Sydney fares

100% bonus for buying Hilton Honors points

Hilton Honors is offering a 100% bonus when you purchase 5,000+ points.  This is the highest bonus we have seen for quite a while.

The Hilton ‘buy points’ page is here.

Regular readers of Head for Points will know that I tend to value Hilton points at 0.3p each.  You are paying 0.35p here (the maximum is $800 / £570 for 160,000 – although some people have been offered a higher annual cap) so it isn’t a slam dunk.

Five star Hilton, Conrad and Waldorf-Astoria hotels typically run to 80,000 points per night.  In this sale you would be paying $400 for 80,000 points.  You will rarely find a cash room higher than that but it does happen.

However, Hilton Honors IS a decent deal at cheaper point levels.   To dig out my ‘usual suspect’ examples, the Hampton by Hilton in Sheffield, for example, is 10,000 points per night on most nights.  At 0.35p per point you would be paying roughly £35 per night if you bought the points.  That is a 65% discount on the typical nightly rate of £100.  Hampton properties include free breakfast as well.

On the other hand, the Hilton Sheffield is 30,000 points per night.  You would be paying around £105 for those points which is close to the typical £125 cash cost when you offset the points and miles back on the cash rate.

If you just buying a handful of points to top off your account, the price per point doesn’t matter anyway.  If you a few thousand short of a redemption then this is a decent opportunity to buy them.

More Formula 1 and tennis tickets via Starwood

SPG Moments has added some more Formula 1 packages for points.  The Silverstone packages are all auctions, but if you want a trip to Hockenheim then there are ‘buy it now’ packages for the Qualifying Day on 21st July.  These are 10,000 SPG points (30,000 Marriott points) for two tickets.

There are also LOTS of VIP packages – as a ‘buy it now’ – for the Mutua Madrid Tennis Open in May.  AC Hotels, a Marriott brand, is a core sponsor.  When I was with Marriott last week, one of the staffers told me that she had been to this and the quality of the hospitality in the private box and VIP area is excellent.  Tickets start at 10,000 SPG points (30,000 Marriott points) for two tickets.

It is important to note that Marriott Moments and SPG Moments now appear to be showing the same events and may be using the same availability.  Previously there were separate allocations and occasionally different pricing across both sites.

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Why NO-ONE should spend £20,000 for a 2-4-1 on the free British Airways American Express card
My review of the new(ish) INNSIDE Hamburg Hafen
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  1. On using points: if I recall, another blog recently noted that Miles and More points can now be used to book Cathay out of Hong Kong to Australia and NZ with taxes at £50ish due to Hong Kong. So maybe cash single to HK, Cathay down under and back to HK, then BA redemption out of HK back to London might make good use of points?

    • You have been able to burn M&M on CX (AKL, SYD, MEL, CNS only as they have an LH codeshare) for a year now, what’s new is that you can now do it online instead of calling. But you know you can also use Avios or Asia Miles on CX… Of course, Avios is bad value if you consider them equivalent to M&M at 1:1.

      The problem with your plan is the ‘cash single to HK’, unless you were thinking of doing it in Y with several stopovers in India/China.

      • AMS-HKG is low taxes and seems to have decent availability if someone wanted to try this

  2. I have the £50 off £250 Hilton offer on my Amex. Can it be used to buy points?

    • interesting, can you post the terms and conditions?

    • I don’t believe so – think it credits as on the statement. Note however I just did a points & cash booking as I was a bit short. That left me paying 0.3p per point, so even with the bonus in this instance I came out ahead.

    • Only if the hotels on the list are selling points directly.

    • @270 – I’m pretty sure it won’t post as the purchase is made via and not Hilton direct, like your thinking though!

  3. Bagoly says:

    While one can indeed use M&Ms for Cathay, one can use Avios too.
    Is there a difference in how they treat the Australia-HKG return leg?
    Does that leg benefit from the HK rule on no fuel surcharges?
    If so, the idea of using the HK rule for 3 of the 4 legs sounds neat, but leaves the challenge of finding a cash single to HK that does not cost almost as much as a return.

    • Hong Kong does not have a ‘no fuel surcharge’ rule. The maximum fuel surcharge on airline tickets issued from Hong Kong is set by the Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department. Currently, the maximum is HK$0, but with oil prices rising there is no guarantee that it won’t be raised at some point (though probably not in the medium term). A return ticket originating in HK is subject to the HKCAD fuel surcharge rules.

  4. PalCsaky says:

    OT: I’d like to do an avios + cash booking for a flight operated by Cathay 6 months ahead but I’m put off by this statement in the T&Cs: “For bookings cancelled within 24 hours of outbound departure where the member has paid the taxes, fees and charges, these will be refunded to the original form of payment. For bookings made using Avios and Money the cash portion of the price will not be refunded. Avios will not be refunded.”
    My understaning was that avios and cash bookings are fully refundable up to 24 hours before departure with the cash portion used to purchase avios being fully refunded, the avios being fully refunded and the taxes being lost up to the value of £35. Does this only apply to BA operated flights and not to oneworld partners? Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you

    • Hi – as long as you cancel >24 hours out you’ll get the cash and Avios back. I have a Cathay redemption booking (HKG-Phuket one way) that was part paid with Avios – so effectively buying Avios for 0.83p.

      I was happy from my reading of T&Cs that I’d get a refund of cash and Avios if cancelled. I’ve just checked on the cancel booking screen on desktop site I will get a refund of most of the cash and all Avios – BA will keep £31 each which is “taxes and charges” element. Hope this helps.

  5. Re HH points – I’m a slow collector, spending around £500 pm on the Visa card and staying maybe 4 nights per year in the hotels. So while I collect regularly, I probably won’t use the points for a couple of years – will this have any effect on their expiry or is simply collecting enough to keep them live?

  6. Alistair says:

    If you have a problem buying points, such as being charged three times instead of once, just use the Hilton live chat, explain the problem, and get this response: “Hi there! To buy points kindly click this link and follow the processl”…… Great. PS once you’ve used your cheap points at the Sheffield Hampton to gain Hilton Diamond, My Millennium will status match you straight to their top Elite tier and you try the Copthorne instead, including 2 suite upgrade vouchers

    • Alistair says:

      and you can match to Jurys Inn Rewards “floor 3 ” (top tier) but they only give it for 6 months so timing matters

      • FlyingChris says:

        Interesting. I matched to Jurys about 4/5 years ago and was happily surprised when I stayed recently and found I was still Floor 3!

      • Or get into the spirit of this blog which generally is about spending a bit, frequently, and gettting a bit more. Rather than spend diddly squat and expect the world.

  7. Lucinda says:

    AMEX upgrade and Companion Credit card links-Getting the points.

    I have churned AMEX a lot but never done the upgrade route or the Companion Credit card.

    Just tried this with the Companion card and had to fight to get the 5000 bonus points as the “Chat” said I was not eligible as I was not targetted (just used the link others had posted here).

    I rang the CS and he credited them immediately.

    I asked about upgrading to PLAT and he said I would NOT get the bonus even if I used the link!!

    The OH has just upgraded from Gold to plat using the link (not tergetted0 and she got the points no problem!!

    Sp before I plunge into the Plat upgrade:-

    What’s the official AMEX line here and what have others experienced.


    • Lev441 says:

      You do get the points as your OH did using the upgrade link

      • OT but relating to the Platinum upgrade…I’ve just (yesterday) upgraded to Platinum from Gold. My account has been updated showing the Platinum card so can I now continue to use the Gold card until my Platinum arrives in the post? Will the expenditure on the Gold accrue on my Platinum account? Thanks for any advice.

    • Yes Lev correct. Best not to ask too many even basic! ? To amex cs. The info on this site is way more accurate. Just ask the ? Like you did. Enjoy the points and the 241. Keep referring each other too.

    • soloflyer1977 says:

      I’ve had similar experience as Lucinda. Their chat service appears to be staffed from India and it’s just impossible to get a resolution. Going forward, I will just telephone the lovely staff in Brighton.

      • Hate to say it but Brighton can be just as bad, sadly, but marginally better at giving points for agro!

        • I had nothing but aggro from Brighton CS over the Small Shops promo last December. I complained to Amex but they backed up the agent who had told me only 1 credit per shop for the card holder only and no credits for supplementary cards, I even got a letter from Amex stating I was only allowed to claim 1 card credit per shop.
          I have plat and 6 Supplementary cards. they even had the cheek to say that at the shops where I did get the credit for all cards that it was a mistake and as a gesture of good will they would let the credits stand.

    • What’s is the link to upgrade from Gold to Plat? and what bonus can I get?

    • hey how did you get the companion CC? I rang up to do it 10 days ago and nothing back apart from a dodgy looking email (not normal amex address) saying “We appreciate your interest in a American Express account. To proceed with your recent request, please contact our New Accounts Department on 0800 032 7404 on option 2”

  8. Any other tips on cheap fares to Australia. We are a family of 4 looking to go next summer and wondering what the cheapest way will be. Ideally would live to fly in to Adelaide as that is where the relatives live

    • Qatar Airways has business class deals out of Europe for around £1600 now and then. We tend to cover them when they come up. Often involves a routing like Brussels – Doha – Australia. Best thing about doing it with Qatar is that you are 90% of the way to a BA Exec Club Silver card when you get back and earn a ton of Avios too.

  9. O/T – need to book 5 or 6 rooms for Sep/Oct and I will be paying for all the rooms, am a member of IHG/Hilton/SPG

    Can anyone advise what would be the best course of action to ensure I get points for all rooms

    Thanks in Advance


  10. OT: we are heading down under soon for 6 weeks and doing our first F with BA to SIN. Normally we manage to stick to the 23kg baggage limit but we are taking lots of stuff out to family so our two big cases will be more than 23kg. The limit for F is 3 x 32kg each – is this per bag – so are we ok to go over the 23kg limit. We are starting in EDI and limit seems to be the same for the domestic leg. Stopping in SIN for 5 days and then travelling onwards to BNE Business class with Singapore Airlines. Their policy is 40kg – will the same bags be ok being over 23kg. Hoping not to have to spread the load and travel out with 3 bags or have to reshuffle at checkin. Thanks.

    • sunguy says:

      Is your domestic leg from EDI on the same ticket ?

      If so, then the limit is what the main part of the flight is (i.e. 3x32KG).

      If you are from EDI in business and it is not part of the same ticket, you will get the business limit of 2*32kg (however, showing a connecting 1st ticket might wave the extra bag fee).

      The 23kg limit is self imposed by the carriers – the actual limit that any 1 item can be is 32kg (Health and safety is the reason behind anything more heavy and it has to be cargo above that). So, a 32kg suitcase is fine.

    • Andrew says:

      I understand that the limit is 32 kgs per bag. Health and Safety , someone has to lift the bags !

      • sunguy says:

        Take it from someone who has chucked bags and aircraft around the place – a 32kg bag on the carousel (especially one without a HEAVY tag – either forgotten or ripped off in the system) – it can get a little interesting! (particularly when they are things like drill heads for the oil industry which are in very small plasic cases and weigh a serious amount!).

        • Yes business domestic leg is on th same ticket and it shows 3 x 32kg. Wasnt going to load them to the max – just wanted to,check it could be a bit more than usual 23kg without having to get charged or move stuff to a 3rd bag.

      • Clearly Liz has a sherpa or two. Or at least thinks she has. And all for a bit of top notch black pudding …

        • Taking out booze, Scottish sweets, tshirts, biscuits, posters and cushions from Steven Brown Art and certain items from M&S not able to purchase in Oz! Cases have never been so full on an outward journey! But frees up the space to being new stuff home. A Sherpa would be handy!

  11. $200 spend for 40k points – translating to a five night stay for Gold / Diamond members at a 10k points per night hotel (Hilton Cairo at some times of the year, etc) is terrific value. Any other gems in that bracket people recommend?

  12. Cristian rivera says:

    HI ! One question.. I have 50k Amex points and I want to move them any good airline to do this ? Thank you

    • sunguy says:


      It all depends on what you want to do and where you want to go…..

      There is no need to move your Amex points to any partner until you are ready to make a purchase – infact, you are better off not to due to devaluations.

      The only reason to move from AMEX is if you are closing the account completely.

      So, what is it you are looking to do ?

      • Cristian rivera says:

        Thanks for answering my question. I would like to travel to Middle East using Ethihad or emirates airline but I’m looking to do it with my wife so just planing to get two one way ticket and it looks like is between 45-50k Miles one way . So I’m looking to apply for the Amex Platinum to get the 30k bonus point so I need to move the ones a have to cancelled my current gold Amex . Any suggestions thank you

        • Cheapest option to Dubai using Amex points is Singapore Airlines Krisflyer. They charge 25,000 miles (25,000 Amex points) for a one-way business class ticket from London on Lufthansa or SWISS (for preference) or Turkish or Egyptian (if you are not in a hurry). Krisflyer now lets you check availability for partners and book online, no need to call.

        • American Airlines? Europe to Dubai?

  13. Alistair says:

    OT: I used my BAPP to pay for a flight booked on The transaction on my statement shows it as FRANCE and has a non-sterling transaction fee.

    What’s going on there?

  14. WilliamPH says:

    O/T – I will be in Seattle for the weekend in 2 weeks time, just received an email from the Hampton by Hilton saying that my reservation (made in December) is now cancelled. They say:

    “Since we have more rooms that will be going out of service than we originally anticipated, we will not be able to accommodate your current reservations for this summer of 2018. I’m truly sorry for any inconvenience this may cause you. I have found other accommodations with other hotels very close to our location, Please contact them to make your new reservation’s with that hotel.”

    I’m Hilton Diamond (if that matters at all).

    2 Questions

    1. I’ve noticed that IHG have an EVEN hotel nearby – that’s a new brand to me – anyone here ever tried an EVEN?

    2. Should I complain to Hilton Honors about the short notice of the cancellation?


    • Yes, I would complain to Hilton. Argue that you will now have to pay more than necessary because it is a short notice booking.

      We are reviewing an EVEN in New York this week so we should have something up in a couple of weeks.

    • Same thing happened to us last year. We booked 3 nights in the HIX at Santa Monica after driving Route 66 for a month. No explanation was given or compensation offered given the short notice of the cancellation having booked it a year out. When I called IHG they didn’t know either and they couldn’t get an answer from the hotel. We ended up booking a Crowne Plaza further down the coast which cost us an extra 15k. When we told them we had just finished the route and had our previous booking cancelled we were upgraded to a huge suite, given free breakfast for 3 days, free drinks, welcome pts, reduced parking rate and ended up meeting their lovely Food and Beverage Director. He wanted to talk about Scottish whisky and so invited us both down to the bar for more free drinks and an invite to his home in Santa Barbara. He is hoping to visit Scotland next year so hope to see him again. So ended up being a very positive experience in the end. Best ever value of points!

    • I would recommend against Hilton Seattle if you have the choice.

  15. MattyS says:

    Apologies if covered elsewhere but Marriott have released a sneak preview of the first 100 new SPG and Marriott categories

  16. I opened an Amex Platinum two months after cancelling the previous. I know I am not entitled to the 30,000 sign up bonus but the tracker keep showing my progress. I still need to spend £1k on it.So tempted to go ahead and see if I get it! Just checking if other have also seen the tracker and got/not got the points.

    • I had this when I mis-timed a BAPP application at the beginning of the year. The tracker showed for the whole 3 months but stayed at zero (the 10k tracker moved along fine)

  17. OT:
    I am struggling to get the 5000 for gold companion credit card. I called Amex and they say I am not eligible coz I already had an MR account. However the MR account they are talking about is the PRG that I added PRG to. Called twice and both agents read the same note. How else would anyone get this bonus without already having an MR account? It’s a companion credit card. How have people got it?
    PRG applied for in feb, companion cc in early March.
    Ps help.

    • Alex W says:

      I got rejected for the plat version. They said I had to write to them and they couldn’t do anything over the phone.

  18. I was wondering if lon-hkg-mel would be good value using flying club miles….. Virgin atlantic to hkg and then virgin aus for hkg to MEL.

    Other route I was looking at was Singapore Airlines using flying club miles…

    Anyone know if the above is feasible?

  19. Did I miss it or it was widely publicised that Amex replaced its product offering for its Gold card from charge to credit card? At least i dont see a charge card offer anymore – only the Gold credit card.
    Besides the fundamental difference between charge and credit cards, bonus/points offers seem to be unchanged.

    • Happened last night with no notice. Even the press office and the marketing agency did not have any notice.

      • i was about to cancel my Gold charge card today (or considering of upgrading to Plat) – any reason why I should hold on to the charge card? Is it gone for good? Will the Gold credit card be the only option from now on?

  20. David says:

    We went to book the Etihad fare this morning, however it has disappeared. Instead we picked up a companion fare on Malaysia Airlines at £2225 each LHR to Sydney departing on the 10th December. An excellent fare, none of the agents could match it or get close and it’s only available on their website. I’m not sure if this is a system error as the sale says it only runs for travel upto 30th November.

    • Garuda had a £1600 offer running which I was planning to cover although of course may not cover Christmas.

      • David says:

        That’s a pretty good deal. My parents are happy as they enjoy flying Malaysian and will earn some Avios back!

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