How Jason got to the World Cup semi final at 48 hours notice using his miles and points!

Links on Head for Points pay us an affiliate commission. A list of our partners is here.

I had an email from reader Jason yesterday which I thought I would share.  He decided, last Saturday night, that he fancied a trip to Moscow to watch England in the World Cup semi-final.  And he wanted it for as near to free as possible.

Anyone who did this for cash ended up paying crazy sums for the few last minute cash seats available.   Jason paid next to nothing, using his Avios and hotel points.  He was helped by the fact that Finnair is very good at releasing unsold seats for frequent flyer mile redemptions close to departure.

This is how he did it:

£1 – a one-way car rental to Heathrow via the special Europcar offer 

15,000 Avios + £25 – a one-way BA business class flight on Monday from Heathrow to Helsinki

16,000 Hilton Honors points + £46 – a room at the Hilton Helsinki Airport (reviewed here) which he used as an office on Tuesday to avoid an extra day off work

18,000 Avios + £36 – a return Finnair flight on Tuesday evening from Helsinki to Moscow

10,000 Marriott Rewards points – Marriott Courtyard hotel in Moscow for Tuesday night

£140 – Holiday Inn Express in Moscow (no points option!)

Included above – flight back from Moscow to Helsinki on Thursday

15,000 IHG points – Holiday Inn Helsinki Airport for Thursday night

19,500 Avios + £65 – a one-way business class flight Helsinki-Edinburgh on Finnair, then Edinburgh-Manchester with Flybe, on Friday

Total cost to get to Moscow at 48 hours notice plus four nights accommodation …… 44,500 Avios + 16,000 Hilton Honors points + 10,000 Marriott Rewards points + 15,000 IHG Rewards Club points + around £300 in cash.  Not a bad result!

(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.)

Bits: Lloyds Avios Duo balance transfers, Opodo discount code, Carlisle Lake District airport delayed again
Bits: win 100,000 IHG points on Monday, 20% off Manchester IHG hotels, Gold Guest List lounge guesting
Click here to join the 13,000 people on our email list and receive the latest Avios, miles and points news by 6am.

Amazon ad
About Head for Points

We help business and leisure travellers maximise their Avios, frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty points. Visit every day for three new articles or sign up for our FREE emails via this page or the box to your right.


  1. Chris P says:

    I used 25,000 Avios and 117 quid on Qatar from Doha to Moscow, traveled on the morning of the game returned next day. There were 8 Avios seats on the way out available and 4 on the return. Guess the BA and Qatar systems missed the fact that the Semi was on. Friends paid 1200 cash for the same route. I had become disillusioned with Avios (big fuel surcharges) but I might start collecting them again now! Thanks Avios.

  2. Metty says:

    At late notice I booked a ‘Dad and lad’ x2 trip for the group games. Cash tickets were, at the tome, silly £ in economy but managed to get 4 RFS on BA to Moscow (not being an expert I had forgotten that it was a RFS route despite being a World Traveller service). Then we were upgraded to WTP, my second upgrade in 1500 flights.

    I agree that the Russians did a fabulous job, Volgograd was particularly well organised, Moscow great and Kaliningrad had more of an cold war feel in parts but everyone lovely.

    The comment from Paul suggesting similarities to the Nazi regime….well that’s an opinion that was shared by the press here and a factor why so very few Brits travelled. Politicians rule the world, good and bad, but there are billions of people in this world who just want £ to feed their kids, enjoy education and a laugh. We are all the same, so for those more interested in the country and its people than politics, don’t be put off travel to Russia, Myanmar, Iran….

    • Perkypat says:

      Just about the most sensible thing Ive read about Russia in the last 4 weeks. Thanks.

    • Callum says:

      You completely miss the point….

      The Nazis used the Olympics to legitimise their regime and had scores of people saying the exact same thing as you – “I don’t know what people are complaining about, they were just lovely!”. That is exactly what has happened this time.

      It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go to these things (I’m personally desperate to visit Burma and Iran), it just means you should keep your eyes open and don’t get so easily duped.

      • the real harry1 says:

        that’s why I called it massive PR success

        PR was never the naked truth 🙂

        • Callum says:

          Its been a huge PR success! I’m sure Qatar will achieve the same thing too.

    • Delbert says:

      Would love to visit Moscow with the good lady wife. Would go to see the Bolshoi Ballet as well. If you like the ballet and want to see the best in the world then you go to see the Bolshoi. Saw them at ROH in London and they blew our socks off.

      Obviously, missed a trick with the Fan ID as a visa as could have gone for a few days with minimum aggravation.

  3. This BA changing the admission rules always makes me laugh. I remember distinctly how signs used to appear in the summer outside lounges saying ‘don’t even think about it – we’re really busy because it’s summer’.

    Was in T5A north lounge last Sunday – few seats, not enough staff to keep empty plates from piling up and that was before the rule change.

    Does rather take the p1ss when it comes to those paying for premium tickets in the summer…

  4. Lady London says:

    Not a bad result…just a shame about the football!

    Wondering if he already had his Russian visa as also needing time and cost?

    • You didn’t need a visa. You could apply for a FANID (which they issued online in PDF format within 20 mins) and to get this all you needed was a match ticket number or booking number which they didn’t match to your name so you could use anyone’s multiple times (even one from an already played game). The FANID allowed you multiple entries and you could stay up to 10 days after the tournament finishes.

  5. Absolutely brilliant. Despite the result Jason must be fairly smug about getting over there so craftily

  6. Sam Collins says:

    Well done. On the Sunday I was able to get 4 tickets in my basket for the semi (US$450 per ticket though) – and then set about finding out how to get there. Managed to get an Aeroflot from Helsinki to Moscow ticket & Miat Mongolian from Moscow to Berlin for £300 cash, then lost my tickets fiddling about trying to get RFS to connect. And completely forgot about S7.

    Rather glad I lost the tickets in the end. Intrigued how one above poster got BA RFS tickets to Moscow?! There was absolutely zilch in any class the numerous times I was looking.

  7. Ed Warrick says:

    I got RFS to Moscow for the first weekend booking 355 days out.

    For the semi-final, I got S7 MUC-DME return and an RFS LHR-MUC which I booked on the Sunday. Sadly however didn’t get tickets for the match from FIFA! A blessing in disguise…

  8. whiskerxx says:

    For anyone who might be interested, the listed FIFA ticket price for a category 1 ticket for the final is 66,000 rubles or nearly £800 !!!!

    And Harry, no I’m not in Moscow, I cancelled and let a Croatian friend have my ticket

  9. Simon Higgins says:

    So he just happened to already have a visa to Russia?

    • Justin says:

      Think if you have a ticket they have visa free entry. Just need a fan ID

    • whiskerxx says:

      I guess if you had read the other replies you would be aware that no visa is required, a Fan ID is used in its place, and you don’t need a ticket to get a FAN ID

      • Steve says:

        Yes, but he must have already had a fan ID in place as there is no way it would have come through in time for the outbound flight. Not as much of a spur of the moment decision as is being made out.

        • Doug M says:

          The Semi-Final decision was spur of the moment, we don’t know what other games he’d previously attended, or why he may have already had a FAN ID. So much assumption on so little information.

        • FanID comes electronically within 30 mins as a PDF. That acts as your visa. If you then want to go to a game you have to pick up a laminated one at the FanID Center’s.

  10. Graham says:

    I went to first England match on 18/6. Forced a gold priority to DME and standard back, replaced them with standard and then CW redemptions for 18600 Avios and £167. £200 on S7 flights (including a free upgrade inbound) and free accommodation in a friends apartment ????

Please click here to read our data protection policy before submitting your comment.