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 …..

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).

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Comments

  1. Ian M says:

    Off Topic…

    Wondering if anyone else has had their Iberia (9000 avios) flights cancelled? As I posted a few days ago, I received 10 emails from Iberia at the weekend saying my reservation could not be processed so there will not be any charge in the credit card used.

    The bookings had been processed, payment had been taken from my credit card and confirmation emails were received from Iberia for every flight. The flights have all vanished from my account, I’ve received no refund to date and as yet none of promo avios has been taken away from me. All very strange!

    • Ian M says:

      UPDATE – Refunds have hit my credit card for all 10 flights.

      Avios still in my account.

      The flights were booked over a period of 4 months. My Iberia account was opened last year. I’m guessing this must be happening to a lot of people.

      • the real harry1 says:

        Adds: another example of somebody getting their points awarded by complaining to all & sundry (I gave another example yesterday) – looks like involving senior IB mgt is the trick:

        HT FT ” My “new account” followed the same process as others: no credit, request for passport (sent) and tickets (sent), no further communication. No response to any emails or twitter messages since
        So, I took up the GDPR route (and will continue to do so regardless, as I want reassurance that my passport has been removed permanently and securely from their systems). I asked for copies of every single piece of data and communication held relating to me personally, and sent that to their official “data controller”.
        That, and the clear breach of their own terms and conditions for the offer was also then detailed and sent to three senior email addresses this morning pointing out that I would take things further if no response within 2 working days.
        This afternoon – all bonus points credited, with no communication whatsoever. “

        • the real harry1 says:

          and again HT FT ” I had an existing Iberia account with some last activity. I booked 10 one ways and got my 90k in the first round. I created an account for the wife, including her passport number when creating it. All legit. Booked the exact same 10 one ways with her credit card. Received inconsistencies email on Monday morning. Replied to them with a copy of the T&Cs, copy of her passport and 10 PDFs with the 10 confirmations. All matching the passport and all with the Iberia number attached to them. I also filed 10 DOTs complaints. Harassed them on social media publicly and privately. Googled their executives and found 3-4 emails that I sent them this morning again. Don’t think that did it but I recently got the 90ks for her. Been reading this thread for over a week now and wanted to chime in. Good luck everybody! “

        • Nigel the pensioner says:

          Your communication would send shivers down the jellied spines of UK jobsworths sweating to comply with european rules. However, it is very clear to me that such mainland europe garbage is completely ignored by the mainland countries. The EWTD is actually the English working time directive and likewise data protection matters not a tinkers cuss to Iberia……

        • Callum says:

          Nigel – What mentioned above breaches GDPR?

          Why is the EWTD the England working time directive?

          And you’re claiming that the UK is following the law whereas the rest of the EU ignores it? I ask because when most people say things like that, they’re completely unable to prove it!

        • the real harry1 says:

          and another, HT FT ” I got mine in a few hours after emailing a bunch of people like someone else on this forum. I recommend no one should give up and settle for refund . Here is the page I found for iberia contacts:
          https://www.elliott.org/company-cont…eria-airlines/ “

        • the real harry1 says:
        • the real harry1 says:

          And another one gets the points, HT FT:
          “6/23 – purchased 10 qualifying flights that qualified for the promotion.
          7/3 – My account was locked and I emailed in the data rectification form and a copy of my passport.
          7/5 – I received notice that my identity has been verified and my account has been unlocked and was asked to send a copy of each purchase confirmation I received as an attachment in order for you all to study if the flights in my bookings are eligible for the 9000 Avios bonus.
          7/5 – I emailed in the 10 purchase confirmation.
          7/12 – emailed the execs this morning around 9am
          7/12 – got email that my flights qualified and points posted around 12pm”

          Sounds like going mental is the right strategy if you complied with the T&Cs but were denied your points 🙂

        • the real harry1 says:

          Here’s a reminder of the real T&Cs – later T&C changes are just IB BS – and it’s obvious that whilst most new a/cs with the inconsistencies email will probably just roll over and accept a refund & no points, those who are noisy enough will get their due points, obviously not dogs or other pets 🙂

          First rule of situations like this (& getting compo you are entitled to!) – don’t accept the first BS answer at face value but be grateful for it – 95% of people WILL accept getting fobbed off with the BS, leaving noisy 5% to share the pot that is rightfully theirs, when they make their case. Here it is (original T&Cs):

          Special offer of an extra 9,000 Avios for each ticket purchased between 21 and 24 June 2018 (maximum of 90,000 promotional Avios per member) on iberia.com for a flight operated by Iberia, Iberia Express or Air Nostrum. The Avios will be added within 10 days of the purchase to the Iberia Plus account of all customers identified as members of the Iberia Plus programme during the purchase process.

          If the customer requests a refund, either because it is permitted by the fare or for any other reason, the promotional Avios will be withdrawn from their account. The extra promotional Avios not redeemed by 1 December 2018 will be withdrawn from the customer’s account. The redemption terms and conditions are subject to the general terms and conditions of the Iberia Plus programme.

          For example, if a customer purchases tickets on Iberia.com for three people to fly from Seville to Madrid and two of the people are identified as Iberia Plus members during the purchase process, 9,000 Avios will be credited to both of these people within 10 days of the purchase. These two people must have redeemed at least 9,000 Avios by 1 December 2018, or this same amount of Avios will be withdrawn from their account.

    • I also have had all my flights cancelled, and kept (and spent) my Avios.

      I seem to have done quite well out of this one.

      • Ian M says:

        It’s very strange hey! I’m concerned they’ll cancel the flights I booked with the Avios.

        • the real harry1 says:

          Just keep stumm, many of us have Avios mistakes in our favour and never had them clawed back

  2. Michael C. says:

    That is crazy good for Brazil. When oh when will there EVER be a December offer?!!

  3. OT. I referred myself from Plat to SPG but points have not posted.
    How long would it usually take?
    Does self referral usually work?
    I don’t want SPG card if I don’t get Plat points!
    ADvice appreciated.
    THanks

  4. Craig says:

    OT: Has anyone seen the new Iberia app? I didn’t think it possible to make it any worse but they seem to have managed it!

    • the real harry1 says:

      I noticed yesterday that IB also added a special reward flights booking portal to the main site – tried it and it found zero availability on my date! Totally unfit for purpose. Thinks: what the heck am I going to do with these 180K cheap points, then!?

      I just went back to the normal/ legacy way of looking for IB Avios flights and drama over, it was fine, very strange that the new search engine doesn’t use the same available reward flights source.

    • Optimus Prime says:

      Yes, it’s rubbish. Can’t see my bookings in the app anymore. Now only show up on a desktop browser.

  5. Kevin says:

    OT and very niche.

    Tyrrells Poshcorn have an on pack promotion to win trips to Karma resorts. Everyone who enters gets a year’s membership of The Karma club which they claim is worth £350. While this is of little use to most people, if you have a trip to a Karma resort coming up it might be worth investigating.

  6. Nigel the pensioner says:

    Rob…..I have never used the words Dubai and luxury in the same sentence!! Manama and Abu Dhabi, now you’re talking. Muscat is beautiful in parts too but Doha – not yet.

  7. OT. My wife and I have both received “invitations” from Executive Club to get the BAPP with a 30,000 point sign-up bonus. Must be signed up via the email link though so no referral. Am I right in thinking the current bonus if you went through a cross-referral is 18,000 (plus whatever teh referrer gets)?

    Thanks

  8. Gavin says:

    OT – anyone give me some views on the Grand Hyatt Seoul? Considering a one night stay for my wife’s birthday on a Saturday next month before flying back to the UK after our annual Korea trip

  9. I always tried to avoid connecting flights in Sao Paulo, there can be huge queues at security and passport control and sometimes the domestic connecting flight is operated as an “international flight” which means you arrive from Europe. clear immigration. collect your bag. check it in again. back through passport control. take the connecting flight to Rio. then go through immigration again in Rio (even though you started in the same country!!).

  10. Ok so what is the site that cannot be named cut and paste trick please. I have a 10k Avios for BA Amex offer. Can I do better (am Amex Gold holder).

  11. Sarah says:

    Having been into the Habtoor Grand for drinks, I would definitely not say that it’s the best SPG/marriott holiday option in Dubai – it felt like a cheap package holiday hotel. The Royal Meridien and Westin are far nicer properties.

  12. Cuchlainn says:

    OT: Curve / Tesco CCs
    3 weeks and numerous emails and finally have £7.98 + interest refunded by Tesco for monthly £200 cash withdrawal ( as first posted in early June ) !!!
    Not sure if I can fight another battle like that BUT has anyone tried their monthly Curve cash withdrawal linked to a Tesco CC in July yet ?

  13. Rob- which “best resort” article did you read please? I am looking for a family resort for a 3 night stay.
    There’s just too many hotels and don’t know which one to choose.
    Thanks in advance

    Oh yeah, and recommendations of what to do 3-4 days

    • Bsuije says:

      Atlantis probably best option. Currently available as a deal on Voyage Prive, albeit with flights included.

      Things to do – Atlantis waterpark will take a day or two. Rest of the time – shopping, lying on the beach and maybe a trip out to the desert or Abu Dhabi.

    • Madinat Jumeirah is, by far, the best option. Four Seasons is not massively kid focused but would do a good job. I don’t like Jumeirah Beach Hotel but you do get free access to Wild Wadi and if you do the 5 minute walk to Madinat down the beach you can cross-charge.

      Hilton / Meriden / Habtoor a bit tired. One & Only on the Palm has good reputation but a long way out. Some love One & Only in Jumeriah but I’ve been round it and couldn’t see what the fuss was about. We have reviewed Zabeel and Waldorf on the Palm – OK resorts but a long drive on and off (Zabeel comes with free Wild Wadi access).

      • Jonathan says:

        @Rob – the JBH is going through a mega refurb currently…

        • Won’t change much re the number of guests vs the amount of space around the pool, kids club, beach etc.

          I have never, ever understood how they get away with charging roughly the same as Madinat for an inferior experience.

  14. Shane says:

    O/T: very new to this hobby, thought I could use iberia avios to book BA LCY to JFK – showing availability on BAEC but not on Iberia.com spoke to Iberia call centre who say they dont have any availability for that route as a whole. Is this correct? Do BAEC and Iberia not share the same availability for BA flights?

    Apols for the re-post I incorrectly posted on the football thread!

    • KevMc says:

      Have you looked at other dates?

      Also check AA.com and/or Qantas, as BAEC could be showing ‘phantom availability’

      • Shane says:

        Yes cannot see any availability for the London City Airport route via Iberia website but can book (avios plus alot of cash) if i used my small avios balance on BAEC, I dont want to buy avios for mY BAEC when my priority is to spend my Iberia Avios.

        Anyone had any luck booking this route outside of avios.com/BAEC?

        • KevMc says:

          When you called Iberia did you give them the flight number or just the date of travel?

        • pauldb says:

          I thought it might be the one-way restriction affecting other BACF flights (which shouldn’t affect BA1/2) but indeed it isn’t. Oddly I can’t see BA1 but I can see BA2 JFK-LCY (e.g. Oct 18th).

  15. Bits: Tesco Clubcard Fraud !

    Looks like Tesco Clubcard Fraud is still ongoing.

    My account has been emptied and all vouchers spent.

    Worth checking your accounts and consider changing password.

    Awaiting Tesco’s response, but I have to say not overly impressed with my first interaction with the customer services team…

  16. S***o says:

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

    https://www.americanexpress.com/uk/content/platinum-charge/upgrade/?sourcecode=A0000EVVF9&om_rid=NuDp-R&om_mid=_BaezCWB9kaHIP2&om_lid=amex10

    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:

          Yes

    • 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.

  17. 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..

  18. 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.

    thanks

    • 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

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