Hilton

Bits: American Airlines to add new UK routes, Marriott / SPG account merger working and what I booked

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News in brief:

Changes to American Airlines’ international destinations

American Airlines has announced changes to its international network with new destinations in Europe coupled with a number of route cancellations.

The newly added routes to the UK and Ireland are:

  • Phoenix to London Heathrow, seasonal between 31st March 2019 and 26th October 2019 (daily)
  • Dallas to Dublin, seasonal between 6th June 2019 and 28th September 2019 (daily)
  • Philadelphia to Edinburgh, seasonal between 2nd April and 2019 and 26th October 2019 (daily)

The flights will be bookable on the American Airlines website from 27th August 2018.  They should also be available as Avios redemptions via ba.com at the same time.

The current UK and Ireland routes which will be closed are:

  • Philadelphia to Glasgow (as of 29th September 2018)
  • New York to Dublin (as of 27th October 2018)
  • New York to Edinburgh (as of 27th October 2018)
  • Chicago to Manchester (as of 3rd September 2018)

You can now merge your Marriott and SPG accounts – and what I booked

Whilst the functionality seems to be coming and going, it is now possible to merge your Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest accounts – I’ve done it.

If you log in at marriott.com (I had trouble at marriott.co.uk) you will see an option under the booking box.

A few clicks of the mouse and everything is done.  Your points balance is automatically updated.  Other information, including SPG stay history, is theoretically imported over the next 48 hours.

Once I’d done this I made my first two bookings to take advantage of the revised reward chart:

I rebooked the excellent Marriott Berlin (reviewed here) for the ITB travel show next March, as it dropped from 40,000 points to 35,000 points per night.  Cash rates are €699!  The Ritz-Carlton next door is 50,000 points but I don’t think it is worth the extra, especially if you have lounge access at the Marriott via your status.

I booked three nights at the St Regis New York, photo above, for 60,000 points per night.  Cash rates for my stay are $1,100 per night (plus a $50 resort fee ….) and I’m intrigued to try it out.

As I wrote the other day, I am not rushing off to book the Maldives, Bora Bora etc.  My kids are too young, I think, and it would still be a pricey gamble given that I would need four flights.  I am happier to wait a couple of years, spend more points but know that everyone will enjoy it.

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Comments

  1. Is there any reason why we would choose not to merge SPG and Marriott accounts? I don’t understand why it is a manual choice and they haven’t merged everyone automatically…?

    • Contractual / legal I think. No reason at all.

      • Pangolin says:

        Well I can think of one good reason: after merging the accounts you will see one combined figure for total nights this year. If you are aiming to achieve Platinum by SPG legacy stays (25) then it will be less clear how close you are to hitting your qualifying target (you’ll need to remember how many to subtract for Marriott stays).

      • Richard says:

        Took platinum Marriott and ‘downgraded’ to expected gold. Better to have kept separate for now

    • My Starwood app has deleted itself now (I have an Android phone), so I’m guessing we won’t be given a choice for very long…

  2. OT – Looking for a hotel at Heathrow for an early flight that can accommodate 2 Adults and 3 Children …with easy access to T5. Happy to take a taxi in the AM, and convenience is more important than cost… Lots of place OK for 2 Adults 2 kids…not so much for 3…ages between 5 and 11…

    • Book for 4, sneak in the 3rd?

      • James Whitehead says:

        Very interested in this point.

        We’re looking at a hotel for 2 x adults and 2 x kids (6, 4 and 16 months) in Miami for Feb. Emailed a few hotels and they said it’d be fine to bring a baby as well – so we figured we’d get away with the youngest being so young, albeit not really a baby.

        Any hints on how long you can get away with this for, how likely are the hotel to ever kick up a fuss, etc?

        • You need the cleaners not to notice because you might be breaking fire regulations and could be thrown out. The extra kid would need to share the adult bed and you’d need to hide the pyjamas the next day! You’d also need to be careful eating in the hotel.

    • Hilton Garden Inn Heathrow has 2x double bed rooms. Easy tube access to T5. Just book for 2 adults & sneak the kids in – they wont care. Otherwise, not sure if there any options that contain more than 2 beds in a room.

    • Thistle T5.
      POD to T5. Fun for the kids, and the large rooms will fit 3 children fine( I can say from recent experience)

      And I can also say from recent experience don’t touch Airportr with a barge pole…

      • Londoner says:

        What was your issue with Airportr?

        I have used them a few times and never had problems. The bags arrived without the strips the first time but thats all.

    • Check in with 2 kids and the other adult can come after

  3. pointsarb says:

    Marriott & SPG account merge question please for anybody that knows the answer: I’m SPG Gold and Marriott Plat. If I merge the accounts is there any risk I will become Marriott Gold instead of Plat upon the account merge?!

    Thanks

    • Pangolin says:

      It should be zero risk, but there is an issue at the moment that even people who had qualified for Marriott Plat (w/o linking) are seeing their status as Platinum in many cases (whereas they should have Platinum Premier). They’re seeing it will be about a week before these problems are ironed out.

    • Hi, there is a risk, my wife was SPG Gold and Marriott Plat and is GOLD in the new combined programme. I’m sure this is to do with the AmEx card and gain/loss of status, but she is now gold nevertheless. I was happy to merge her accounts as we are leisure only travellers and essentially don’t use it anymore as I’m plat, I don’t believe you have anything to lose by waiting if at all unsure.

  4. I’ve finally managed to get into my Marriott account and been hit with a double whammy for the NY September reservation I have, not only have I dropped down membership level and hence lose out on breakfast and lounge access (as expected) but the number of points required for the hotel has increased by 15k a night (not expected). Are Marriott not keeping existing reservations at the points required at the time of booking?

    • Tilly71 says:

      How long at the moment can anyone advise me how long are Amex taking to process applications for the Amex SPG card?

  5. All – any suggestions for the ‘best’ seat to reserve in 1st class for our flight to CPT? Seems to be some conflicting reviews on seat guru, we’re travelling as a couple so one of rows 4 or 5 would appear to be the best bet, however it does appear that other seats offer more privacy. Is anyone able to proffer more of a view or opinion please?

    (I’m very much aware this a First-world type of problem to have, but our first time in 1st, so would like to make the most of it!).

    Cheers

    • You bothered about sitting next to each other? (I’m not, my OH certainly isn’t!)

      In F I’d always choose (any) window over middle pairs.

    • Don’t look at seatguru for a start. Best seats depend on aircraft. Take a look on FlyerTalk forums, this thread is a good starting point: https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/british-airways-executive-club/1612603-seating-queries-first.html but there are others dedicated to aircraft type too.

      As SHD says, it will vary about what you are looking for. Being able to talk to each other, middle pairs its possible but you have to lean a bit. Remember you can ‘buddy dine’ on the non 787 aircraft facing each other.

    • I’d say take row 5.

      There’s a degree of privavcy because of the layout of the seats, and you ge to talk if you lower the divider.

      OH and I would always want to be seated by each other (sort of the reason we travel together) so 4 or 5 for certain. Row 1 would be close-ish too, but likely not available

    • Use thebasource rather than seatguru for BA planes

  6. OT: is there a BA sale coming up? Looking for a CW flight out to SFO next April but don’t want to book now if there’s a sale next week… There’s been sales end of August most years, correct?

  7. Did I imagine a chart showing SPG golds being migrated as Marriott Platinum elites (till the end 2018)?

    The conversion website shows Gold for Gold now. I’ve just merged my accounts and that’s what’s going on too…

    • There was a brief time when it was believed that it would be gold->Plat til end of year (and confirmed ot Rob by the head of MR IIRC?)

      But that got dropped, it’s Gold only I’m afraid…

  8. RakishDriver says:

    Re the spg amex card; I’m thinking of self-referring from my plat but unsure whether going for the spg amex now makes sense, having combined (status pending) my Marriott & SPG accounts today.
    I assume amex shall process the posting of future spg card spend points correctly to the ‘combined’ marriott a/c ? I haven’t received the new marriott loyalty number, still the previous one; maybe wait for that to arrive?

  9. OT: what’s the latest on IB 90k promotion and being left with a negative balance if you transfer to BAEC? I used my 90k to book a reward flight on QR. Booking was cancelled..don’t know why. Called IB and they offered to refund the Avios and charges in full. I tried to spend them but wasn’t successful. What would you do? Move them to BAEC or plead with IB not to cancel them in Dec because tried to use them??

    • Peter K says:

      Iberia are a law unto themselves so your guess is as good as anyone’s. Their IT isn’t great so you may well get away with not using them/sending them to BA…but the safe option is to use them with Iberia.

    • Now they have been returned they may be flagged differently? Claiming you tried to use them will get you nowhere given you can book hotels with them.

      • Thanks Rob and Peter K. Think I may have found another replacement reward flight so will use the Avios. Thanks guys!!

  10. Is there an easy way to search for avios redemptions to anywhere based only on date? Trying to find flights for this weekend, not bothered where to but dont want to pay the overinflated prices that are typical for 2 days before a flight.

    • Neil Spellings says:

      You can search for award availability to regions and countries on a monthly basis in the BA app and then it allow you to narrow it down to cities or specific dates.

  11. In case anyone is hitting unprocessable condition when they try and do the Marriott / SPG merge – both of my accounts had the same email address (and different passwords) which seemed to confuse it. I changed them to separate email addresses and reset the passwords for both and they merged just fine.

    • FlyUpTop says:

      I merged this afternoon the two, different passwords and it all worked fine. It was working very slow earlier on a smartphone so i switched to a tablet and all worked fine.

      • OT. I have paid for specific seats on an an Avios booking in club. I have noticed that there is availability in first class on the same route but on a flight the day before. There is no cost to reserve specific seats in first class. Having checked BA’s t&c’s on seat selection it is vague as to whether I will get refunded for paying for the seats if I change flights. Can anyone confirm whether I am entitled to a refund ?

  12. KBuffett says:

    Rob – is the one night free when booking a redemption for five nights now not available with Marriott Redemptions?

  13. Should I be worried that both my SPG and Marriott are showing ZERO points now?

    Has this happened to anyone else?

  14. James Whitehead says:

    I’m seeing similar value looking at Marriott redemption for Miami in Feb half term.

    On this basis looks easily able to get 1.5p – 2p per point converting Amex MR –> Marriott – especially when taking into account the 5 nights for price of 4 deal.

    Does this now make Marriott the top value redemption for Amex MR?

    • Yes and No. Clearly in your example you can get excellent value and if you specifically save your points for such circumstances then you can get those sort of numbers. I am sitting on 1m Marriott points and would never spend them if I waited until that sort of opportunity came along, so I still think 0.5p per point (0.75p per Amex point) is fair.

      What DOES increase the value of Marriott points now is the ‘guaranteed availability’ if a standard room is available for cash. Marriott Berlin wants €699 per night when the ITB travel fair is on, and could sell out many times even at that level. I booked for 35,000 points.

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