Bits: £973 oneworld deal to Rio for August, Etihad F1 packages, Starwood loses four Dubai hotels

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News in brief:

LATAM launches a £973 business class deal to Rio for August travel

LATAM has launched a very attractive business class fare to Rio, from just £973 in Business Class.

In theory this fare can be booked out of Madrid, Barcelona, Frankfurt and Rome.  By late last night, the two Spanish starting points were virtually out of availability.

Rome and Frankfurt were still available.  Here is a screenshot from 22.30 last night showing Rome to Rio from £973 return (click to enlarge):

LAN availability

Similar fares were also still showing from Frankfurt.  The issue is that Rome and Frankfurt use older aircraft without the newest seat.  Anika did a review of LATAM / LAN business class here, albeit on the short-hop from Madrid to Frankfurt, but that was on a Boeing 787 (the A350 is similar) and not the older Boeing 767 or 777 you are likely to find here.

Note that the 1 hour connecting flight from Sao Paulo to Rio is in Economy.

As LATAM is a member of oneworld, alongside British Airways, you will earn BA tier points (140 points each way for the long-haul segment) and Avios on the ticket.

You need to book by 17th July.  More importantly, all travel must be completed by 31st August.

You can book on the LATAM / LAN site here.  Hat-tip to Flyertalk.

Etihad Holidays Formula 1 packages

Etihad Formula 1 packages available

If you were at our Summer Party on Monday, you will have heard Gurdeep from Etihad Holidays talk about the Etihad Holidays packages to the Formula 1 grand prix in November.  This is the last race on the 2018 calendar.

You can find out more here.  You need to book by 31st July to get the current special rates.  Packages include entrance to the after race concerts which include The Weeknd, Sam Smith and Guns N Roses.  Packages start at £999 per person including flights, hotel, race entry and all the after-race events which would appear, frankly, excellent value to anyone who has ever looked at the cost of attending the British Grand Prix.  And you get a weekend away in the sun in November ….

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

Starwood loses four top properties in Dubai

If you’re wondering why there is a picture of me with Jamie Cullum here, it links back to an opening party for the super-luxury St Regis hotel in Dubai which I attended at Easter 2016.

“Nice party, shame about the hotel” was my view at the time.  Whilst the hotel was, in itself, suitably glamorous inside, it did feel like a ‘luxury hotel by numbers’ piece of construction.  More worrying, though, was the fact that the site was shared with a Westin and a W hotel, both of which literally towered over the St Regis in what is a surprisingly small plot of land.

The lack of an uber-luxury feel was not helped by the fact that the three hotels are literally on the edge of Sheikh Zayed Road, which is the equivalent of building The Savoy 10 metres from the edge of the M25.  See below:

Not surprisingly, it hasn’t worked out well.  It was announced this week that the St Regis, Westin and W at Al Habtoor City will be leaving Starwood on 31st July.  The second St Regis in Dubai, in the middle of nowhere at the Polo Club and which shares the same owners, has already been deflagged.

It isn’t clear if the hotels will be rebranded or not. Habtoor operates the Waldorf Astoria Dubai on The Palm (reviewed here) for example which seems to be working better although could be improved.  It also operates hotels under its own brand, although how it can do this with three totally different properties on the same site remains to be seen.

In the short term, this is a blow for anyone looking to redeem Marriott or Starwood points for a luxury stay in Dubai although these were not exactly ideal vacation choices.  The ‘best’ Marriott / SPG holiday option remains, I think, the Habtoor Grand Resort (Autograph Collection) although I have never been there and it is never discussed in any ‘best resorts in Dubai’ article I have read.  The JW Marriott Marquis is probably the best city option.

In terms of value, you are FAR better at the two The Ritz-Carlton properties just down the road in Ras Al-Khaimah which are exceptional value for redemptions – see my review here (desert resort) and a news article here (beach resort).

(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.)

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  1. S***o says:

    OT// Amex Gold to Platinum – Does the 20K upgrade link still work?

    Also, If I am in the first ‘free’ year of Gold, what will I be charged? seen reports of the £450 + the £170?

    • lev441 says:

      It works if you are wanting to upgrade the gold charge card which is no longer available. My personal experience is that the card fee was never applied whilst in the first year of card membership of the gold..

    • Works if you have Gold Charge, does not if you have Gold Credit.

      • S***o says:

        Great thanks! – have two accounts both with gold charge cards – Taking the punt then referring for BA Prem

        • Genghis says:

          The +£170 probably comes from people upgrading and saying they want a supplementary card (when there was already one on the account) and then getting two supps (only first Plat free, subsequent plat ones are £170). Been there, done that.

        • S***o says:

          So… If I already have a supp on the account – they should auto get the new Plat too? (fee free?)

        • Genghis says:


    • I applied for the Plat upgrade on behalf of my wife’s gold charge card couple of weeks ago and the upgrade was declined based apparently on Experian credit report …was thinking to appeal as not requested any additional credit? Anyone had experience of making a complaint to Amex on something similar or able to suggest how to go about?

      • Genghis says:

        It’s a new application and Amex have the right to reject you – it’s their business. However, I’ve heard that others have written a letter to Amex and have had the decision overturned.

  2. lev441 says:

    It works if you are wanting to upgrade the gold charge card which is no longer available. My personal experience is that the card fee was never applied whilst in the first year of card membership of the gold..

  3. OT – checking my options on transferring avios.

    I’m short of 8k avios to make a booking on a 241. I don’t have enough in my avios / iberia to make it up. My son has 26k MR rewards but no BA or avios account. Am i right in thinking that he should setup executive club, shift MR to avios to cover the shortfall and then we’d create a household account to combine?

    There’s plenty of points across avois / ba in my partners account but I haven’t found a free transfer option.


    • Peter K says:

      Why not add your partner to a household account then the Avios are removed pro-rata from your accounts. It will work with your idea for your son as well. I think you can only make one change to a household account every 6 months. Rob has an article on this.

  4. lev441 says:

    O/T – anyone know how many guests (if any) I can take into the eurostar lounge using my platinum amex

    • KevMc says:

      Off the top of my head, I don’t think you’re allowed to guest anyone in. When me and my wife went, we both had to show our platinum cards to gain access.

      • Correct, no guests. You’d need to issue a supp Platinum card to your partner (first one is free, rest are £170).

  5. pauldb says:

    OT – if you didn’t read, the Amex Platinum Vista email is offering free hospitality at Brighton Premier League games. Seems like you call them up and request, then within seven days they’ll make a selection and let the lucky ones know. Chance of success must be pretty good.

  6. Thanks – I was avoiding as my partner needs to move some avios around to do a Lloyds but I think that will be the quickest solution. Get the points he needs from his ba to then setup the household one.
    I had through the MR to BA was instant but it looks like that would take a day or two.

  7. Hi Rob.
    Interesting read and oddly enough I was at a football event at the Habtoor Grand last night (less said about that the better).
    The grounds and interior for what little I saw last night look very impressive, its a little bit of a pain to get from Black Tap / Rixos perhaps but I will book a stay there next time Im back (it was 44 degrees at 0130 last night) so wont be for a few weeks yet and give you a bit more feedback.
    Glad to see your event went well, I will get to one someday…

  8. Canuck says:

    O/T: Looking for some advice on aircraft changes;

    Booked on YYC>LHR on a BA 787 in Sept. Today it was changed to a 789. All our seats have been shuffled from 21HJK to 30F / 33JK. We did originally have bassinet seats for infant, but not anymore.

    Is this a case of tough luck? or any advice on what to say to the agent? Sounds privileged but I chose BA for the bassinet seats for our infant.

    • the real harry1 says:

      Can’t you choose bassinet seats for free if you are travelling with infant? Have they been grabbed by somebody else?

      Or try booking them yourself if you have an infant included, on the Royal Jordanian MMB site.

      • Canuck says:

        BA show no bassinet seats at all on a 789. I tried Jordianian – picked new seats but get;

        Please provide us with a birthdate. (1429)

        • Crafty says:

          Call them. Depending on age of child I would be kicking up a real fuss about flying without access to one where that access had been expected.

  9. the real harry1 says:


    • the real harry1 says:

      Otherwise ring up, sounds like the seats you want are available, I used 0191 4907901 the other day

      • Canuck says:

        Thank you. Finnair deep linked to BA MMB. I called BA and there are no bassinet seats. Agent moved us to sit together (no charge) but other than that we have to just suck it up.

  10. I’ve just got an email offering HH points for 50% off until August 15th. I’m new to HH so not sure if this is a good deal or not! I guess it depends on the cash price of the hotel room you would redeem them for?

    • Genghis says:

      In general, 50% off / 100% bonus is not good for speculative purchases but may work for specific redemptions, discounting for lack of points earned etc

    • Crafty says:

      Still seems way too expensive from a quick play.

  11. Wally1976 says:

    OT – just wanted to say thanks to whoever posted the First Direct/Nationwide Co-op offers on here last weekend. £30 saved on each of my water bill and council tax :-).

    • Mark2 says:

      So was that two purchases on the same card or two cards?
      I received an email from First Direct about it, some time after the account was transferred to Nationwide so registered both of our accounts for future offers.

      • Wally1976 says:

        It was two cards – one First Direct debit card (our main current account) and one Nationwide FlexPlus debit card (account we have for travel insurance, breakdown cover etc). Both offers were 10% off up to £30 max (I think some people only got 5% (or nothing!)). I pay both bills at Co-ops using Paypoint, usually with an Amex.

        • Mark2 says:

          Thanks. We have each got a Nationwide account (for the £200 to switch) and this £30 each was another bonus (although forgoing 450 Avios for each).

    • Crafty says:

      Annoyingly my co-op has a £100 max for paypoint so only saved £10×2!

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