Bits: Interesting Auckland redemption option, Hilton launches an Asia sale

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News in brief:

Interesting redemption option to Auckland

Reader Charlie dropped me a note about an interesting Virgin Atlantic partner redemption that he has booked.

(You may also want to read our article from the weekend about the excellent Jet Airways First Class Suites redemption using Virgin miles from Amsterdam to Toronto.)

Virgin Flying Club is a partner with Air New Zealand.  We don’t cover this much because Air New Zealand very, very rarely makes much reward space available between London and Auckland, which routes via Los Angeles.

Air New Zealand has other routes, of course.  The one that Charlie spotted was Tokyo to Auckland.

Redemption pricing for Air New Zealand is shown on the Virgin Atlantic site here.  As you can see, Tokyo to Auckland is just 40,000 miles each-way in Business Class.

This is for an 11 hour flight remember.  More interestingly, taxes are exceptionally low:

Tokyo to Auckland in Business Class is £35 one way

Auckland to Tokyo in Business Class is £16 one way

Obviously you need to get to Tokyo in the first place.  However, this is generally not a bad route to get seats compared to, say, Singapore:

you can fly on Avios via British Airways – or, if you are not using a 241 voucher, JAL

you can fly on Flying Club miles via ANA (we reviewed ANA’s Business Class here, redemption pricing is here)

There is currently decent availability in Business Class for Tokyo-Auckland in March 2019 with some from Auckland during February 2019.  Air New Zealand seems to release seats on a rolling basis so future months should appear as time goes by.

You can check Air New Zealand reward availability by using the United Airlines website.  You don’t need an account with United.  When you find a day with seats, simply call Virgin Flying Club to book – the availability should match.

Hilton launches a new Asian flash sale

Hilton is running an Asia / India / Maldives flash sale until Monday 24th September.  See here for details.

It includes hotels such as the Millennium Hilton Bangkok pictured above.  You might also want to take a look at the brand new Waldorf Astoria Bangkok which looks very impressive.

The deals are valid for stays up to 30th June 2019

The headline saving is ‘up to 35% off’ the standard flexible rate – albeit these bookings are non-refundable, and not all hotels offer 35% – so it is worth looking to see if any existing Hilton bookings you have should be rebooked. It may also be worth cancelling redemptions and rebooking for cash if the rate is low enough.

If you book a sale rate, you will also get a 25% dinner discount during your stay.  Alcohol and room service dinner orders are excluded, however.

If you are tempted by this offer, please also remember:

to register here for the new ‘double and triple points’ promotion which runs until 3rd January

to claim your Hilton Honors status match here from any other hotel status you may have

Full details of the Asian flash sale can be found on this special page of

(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. OT – SPG Amex

    Has anyone received their points yet? 18th September now and still nothing for me.

    • Nope. Now missing the August and September points. I’m going to chase Amex about this today. Has anyone else had any sort of compensation from them over this matter?

      • Amex are blaming Marriott/SPG. More than likely they’re correct.

        I’ve not received my points for any spend since 1st July.

    • The streets says:

      Spoke to Amex yesterday and they said I will receive them on my next points run …which happens to be tomorrow. Let’s wait and see

      • I am also missing August as September from my SPG card. July points took longer to come through, about a month, so had hoped to see at least August soon. Hope it isn’t next payment run as that is now October for me.

      • Keep us updated please

      • Did you combine you account in Marriott? Still not sure if this will cause more confusion?

  2. Booked flexible rates and reward stays for Thailand several months ago for lower prices than this sale. Don’t see the point of eating in hotels in Bangkok unless you are so busy working that you can’t leave… But room service excluded

    Also the WA is 2-3x the price of the other Hiltons, and it has no lounge, so not interested.

    • Out of interest John, which BKK Hilton do you favour? I’m amazed how low Millenium and Conrad cash rates have gone at times, cheaper than HIXs Siam and Sathorn on some dates. IHG must be laughing all the way to the bank getting customers through the door at over £60 a night when the those prdmium Hiltons are struggling to do the same.

      • How is the Conrad BKK.. Quite fancy staying there, plus I know the management 😉

        • Don’t know, never stayed there sorry. Used to have a house there and now stay with friends or rent a condo if staying longer. Tend to track Hilton and IHG for promotions though and ended up in two HIX for 4 nights last time to complete accelerate. Not sure Conrad works on points, John could advise. One thing is for sure, there is no point staying Conrad at £150/night unless you need the points or elite qualification. I have seen it at £73 though IIRC which is a totally different ball game.

        • Chris Palmer says:

          Conrad Bangkok is very good. It is currently undergoing some refurbishment due to being a little tired in places. I particularly like the pool area.

        • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

          I really liked the Conrad. A bit businessy perhaps, but that didn’t bother me (we had two shortish stays at the start and end of a trip to Thailand that was flying in/out of BKK). Not a perfect location (although a convenient side of town for getting to the airports), but nicely appointed and great, polished service (memorable example is that the doorman knew when we were returning when we were checking out the first time e.g. ‘See you next Friday’).

          We did also pop over to the Millennium to check out the rooftop bar and were suitably impressed.

      • I like all of them if the price is right! The Millennium is good if you want to do touristy things by the river and have time to wait for the boat. Conrad if you want to be around shopping malls and markets. The DT has the largest breakfast range I’ve ever seen for a property that isn’t meant to be at the height of luxury. I’m staying the Sukhumvit Hilton for the first time next week, as I haven’t gotten it cheap in the past.

        • DT is only one I see me doing, at 80k for 4+1 nights it is the one that works on points although I think I saw the Millenium go down to 24000 a night which is temoting if you don’t mind the location.

    • Is the WA Bangkok a refurb/rebrand?

      • New build IIRC

        • That’s interesting, 2 trips planned in the coming months and would like to see something new. Park Hyatt was the one I had my eye on.

          One thing I’ve yet to find is the best lounge in BKK, thinking of the Cathay when I return on BA next year but first it will be Etihads best option or Platinum access or P Pass, the CP/Miracles don’t do anything for me.

        • @Darren, I am hearing a lot of people staying at Imperial Suites on Wireless Road close to Lumpini Park. There is also the new Marriott Suriwongse which is well down the Road towards the river. It looks good but tragic is a nightmare around there.

      • Part of a new mixed block on Ratchadamri next to Erawan.

      • We were there in the first week on a Reward stay. All very impressive, if a little eerily quiet. Teh staff couldn’t have been more willing to help, but they were rather under-employed…

  3. Re: AKL, my idea was to try the new QF direct to PER and redeem on PER-AKL (7 hours on 777) but I can’t get the price of the QF flight down and QR has had decent offers….

    • 15k VS for PER-AKL would be a nice deal. There have also been very cheap fares KUL/SIN-PER that might stitch this all together.

    • The LHR-PER flight seems to be priced ridiculously high, especially when, unless your final destination is Perth, it doesn’t seem to be any better than changing planes in the Middle East or SE Asia. Other than telling people “I flew UK to Australia non stop”

  4. Don’t forget you can fly Iberia to Tokyo in business for a very reasonable amount of Avios and taxes.

  5. OT – my OH had a message on his Platinum Amex account yesterday offering 5k bonus points to add a supplementary card. Applied and points have appeared this morning.

  6. The Hilton sale isn’t bad actually – looking at Conrad Singapore and in the sale is coming in at £160/night vs 60k Hilton points. My dates are fixed anyway with flights so may well go for it.

    • Chris Palmer says:

      Unfortunately, it appears they increased the prices in the weeks leading up to the sale. For example, the Conrad Bangkok was about £135 per night (flexible). Then, a week ago, the price shot up to £180 (flexible). Then we hear of a sale…

      • @Alan – would you rate Conrad Singapore? We have a stay in Singapore in the spring, generally favour Marriott/ Starwood/ Hiltons so it’s one option.

        • We rated the Conrad Singapore when we stayed this year but I know a couple of others on here find it a little bland. Fantastic service from the team who went the extra mile for my wifes birthday!

        • Yes, we stayed at Conrad Singapore last year and thought it was a bit rubbish. Breakfast not too bad. The lounge was always way too busy and the food a bit rubbish when there’s fantastic food courts on your door step. We much preferred the service and the room we got at the Intercon on Middle Rd as SE AMB.

        • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

          I wouldn’t recommend Conrad Singapore. Tired decor and lacklustre service (also our room wasn’t ready at 3). Not in the same league as Tokyo, Dubai or Bangkok. Apparently the newish JW Marriott by Raffles is much nicer.

        • Genghis and I have opposing views on this old chesnut 😀 I really like the Conrad, I’ve had absolutely superb upgrades on multiple occasions (corner suites, etc.) and they even looked after my parents on their trip (Silver but I emailed them as Diamond to ask for a favour). I really enjoy the breakfast spread in the restaurant too, but have found it so extensive I don’t really need lunch 😛 Location works for me too, easy to/from the airport, walking distance to Gardens by the Bay, etc. They’ve also been excellent with late checkouts.

          Have stayed at the IC on Middle Road as AMB – received an OK upgrade (as a ‘special exception’ given it was a reward stay) but of course no breakfast as it’s not part of the benefits. Was underwhelmed overall.

        • Try JW South Beach. I used to stay at Conrad then switched to here. Bit more modern and pool area is not quite as ‘resort’ style but fantastic rooms and great lounge.

        • Thanks, will look at those options.

      • Yes, according to John they did as he has been monitoring regularly. This is their usual practice. At gines during the last couple of years I have seen Milleenium Bangkok sink as low as 2300 baht and the Conrad to jusg under 3000 baht. Even so tgere ard better oogion in Bangkok at those prices.

  7. swhostring says:

    Free BA Amex – my wife got a mystery 1000 point bonus for a £250 PayPal transaction. It’s not the 1000 for hitting spend target. It’s not the 1000 for adding new supp. It’s just a mystery.

  8. Sorry about completely OT, I thought I will ask any question here these days.
    We are travelling to Maldives from Heathrow this Christmas connecting at Rome. Are we entitle to buy VAT free things for non-EU travelling or that restricted because we will connecting at Rome?

  9. David Whitley says:

    Perhaps more interestingly, that 80,000 presumably works for the Hong Kong – Auckland route as well. Combine a 45,000 mile premium economy London to Hong Kong Virgin redemption with that, and this is very tempting indeed.

    • Will do, but availability is always the issue with ANZ ….

      • David Whitley says:

        Plenty in Oct/ Nov. Doesn’t seem to be loaded beyond that on the United site.

        • That is because we are close in I suspect. Got NZ seats to LAX quite regularly in BMI days. Seats were most commonly released 6-12 weeks in advance.

  10. Mike Swann says:

    OT – I’ve just tried to link my Amex MR with Virgin and have been told the entire linking system is down and has been since the weekend, so nothing is getting processed!

  11. OT Thoughts please.
    Yesterday I posted that IB removed 42500 Avios for inactivity on my account ( this was within days of me cancelling a reward booking due to a third date change).

    I emailed them pointing out I had made bookings using Avios during the last three years.

    Here is the response

    Dear Mr. xcalx

    Regarding your request, we inform you that that according to the conditions of Iberia Plus program your Iberia Plus account must have at least one movement (obtaining / using Avios) in the period of the last 36 months since the last transaction to avoid the expiration of the total Avios balance. Avios transfers is not considered an activity in your account, also when you make a reservation and the it is cancelled , there is not movement in your Iberia plus account and the avios may expired .

    We hope to continue with your confidence and take this opportunity to send you our warmest greetings.

    Iberia Plus Service Center

    This is the reply after I pointed out the use of Avios to make reward booking

    Dear Mr. xcalx

    We are sorry to inform you that the use of Avios is not considered a Movement, only obtaining Avios is considered a movement. You can obtain Avios when flying with us or one of our partners (Maybe you had a flight in the last 36 months in which you did not associate your account and we could study your case if you send us the boarding pass) or by making purchases with one of our non-flying partners. Transfers and purchase of Avios is not considered a movement and neither is the use of the Avios, it does not matter if there was an involuntary change on your tickets.

    Yours sincerely,

    Your Iberia Plus Service Center.

    They now claim using Avois is not classed as movement as the flight was cancelled

    • swhostring says:

      Good to know. Different rules to BAEC.

      Another good reason to transfer 1000 MR points to your IB a/cs once a year (just to play safe) then you can transfer them over to BAEC etc.

      • I also asked them to forward me the last 3 years “movements” as I can only search back to May 2018 but no mention of my request in either reply. I know from erewards that I transferred 8000er/3000IB on 17/12/16

    • Lady London says:

      I don;t think they’ve got a leg to stand on.

      You made an attempt to use the Avios. due to reasons beyond your control and fully within the control of Iberia, the Avios were not used despite your best attempts as they cancelled the flight. I think they’d lose on that one.

      More importantly when were you notified of such conditions previously? Were they drawn to your attention at any time (i.e. not buried in small print etc.). Can Iberia prove you were made aware of them? They won’t be able to.

      Personally I’d give them two more chances to be reasonable based on the first of the above and noting that you had not been made aware of such conditions as they are now seeking to introduce. If you get 2 refusals or a “final answer” of no then I’d do a moneyclaim dot gov dot uk and seek the cash value as of now – of the flight you wanted to book instead. plus expenses for correspondence and telephone calls trying to sort this out. They should fold.

      After Iberia trying to change the conditions on the 90,000 offer after the fact also, surely they’ve got “form” for this? Or, can any real lawyers amongst us advise?

      • I was aware of IB Avios 3 year rule but didn’t think that cancelling an award booking would deem the award booking “non movement”
        The account actually belongs to my 88 year old MIL which I manage and am a beneficiary. So wouldn’t be happy to go the court way. She gets confused enough when Amex cards keep dropping through the letterbox bless her.

    • Lady London says:

      “It does not matter if there is an involuntary change on your tickets”! personally I’d like to see a court decide that if you were not givena reasonable chance to find an alternative in that event. IME Iberia are being very scabby here.

      • swhostring says:

        The other way to get a few easy Avios earned is to buy something on (thru the IB shopping portal). Many UK ebay sellers sell exactly the same stuff internationally, ie on for the same P&P.

        • Looks like they have passed the problem on. What really irks me is that I agreed to there changes until the last one.

          This is how the booking went.

          MIA-MAD-LHR-LBA BA cancelled LHR-LBA ( wish I had accepted London overnight now) changed to
          MIA-MAD-LHR-MAN. BA cancelled LHR-MAN changed to
          MIA-MAD-MAN a day earlier.
          Then the MIA-MAD flight was changed to depart 2.15 mins later and the MAD-MAN flight cancelled due to late arrival . IB options offered, stay 3 nights in Madrid or return 2 days earlier and spend 1 night in Madrid or cancel. I cancelled and they removed the Avios. Hardly an inactive account .
          On a side note they also charged E25 cancellation fee.
          I did get the 10500 Avios back for the MAD-LHR-LBA/MAN flights which I luckily transferred back to BA in March.

          3rd reply from IB

          Dear Mr. xcalx

          We would like to notify you that we have requested the extract with movements from 2016 to 2018. In few weeks you will receive it via email.

          We are sorry to inform you that through this department we can only provide support about the Iberia Plus Program. Unfortunately, we are not able to modify, cancel, see or add elements to your booking.

          We kindly recommend you to contact our Customer Service Line at the phone number (+34) 913894357 in Spain or 02 036 843 774 in United Kingdom to request more information about the cancellation of your reservation.

          We hope to continue with your trust and we take this opportunity to send you our warmest greetings.

          Your Iberia Plus Service Center.

  12. O/T – anyone know how the Virgin Money Virgin Atlantic Credit Card treats topping up revolut? Are there any charges (like cash advance) or anything like that? I know pre interchange cap they (revolut) charged 1% so I never bothered…

  13. OT, thoughts please:
    I bought a non-refundable BA economy return ticket to Boston for next month, but my travel plan changed and I have to return from Philadelphia instead of Boston. I have now booked a single Avios ticket from Philadelphia to London (hence will be No Show for the original return leg). On BA system there are two tickets in my name for the same day: Boston-London (planned No Show) and Philadelphia – London. Is this going to be a problem?
    Thanks in advance.

    • No, will be fine.

      • Perfect. Many thanks Rob.

        • What were the charges on the one way back to London ? ( Arm and a leg ?)

        • One way back to London is an Avios reward ticket which is reasonable (comparing to cash fare). If I knew that I need to return from Philadelphia, I would have booked two one way reward tickets – cheaper and much more flexible.

    • There might be a chance they’ll cancel your first booking if they think you’ve booked a cheap return to avoid paying for an expensive one way ticket and never intended to show up for the return sector. I don’t know if any HFPs readers have ever been in the same situation.

      • Hope they won’t. It doesn’t make sense for me to do so, the return ticket I paid for is more expensive than a one way Avios ticket (London to Boston).

    • Whilst non-refundable, would it not be worthwhile still cancelling the Boston flight to prevent any issues on the day with the flight you will be taking?

      • I was told a re-calculation is required, which I assume is based on the current one way fare (very expensive).

    • The number of entries in EY raffles is often huge, I am surprised more airlines have not gone down this route.

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