Bits: new Paris luxury option for Hilton, why bad airlines are profitable, Avios / Charles Tyrwhitt promo

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News in brief:

Hilton gains an attractive new Paris option

Hilton has been woefully under-represented in Paris.  Until Hilton Paris Opera opened a couple of years ago, it didn’t have a single property in the main tourist zone.  (Here is our review of Hilton Paris Opera.)

Things are now picking up.  Maison Astor Paris – website here – has joined Hilton as part of the Curio Collection.  Maison Astor Paris sits on a quiet street between the Opera Garnier and the Champs-Elysées, “making the hotel a peaceful hideaway amidst Paris’s bustling city centre.”

Curio allows independent properties to retain their own quirks and charms whilst still benefiting from Hilton’s marketing clout.  This includes allowing guests to earn and redeem Hilton Honors points and receive status benefits.

We have reviewed a few Curio hotels and they are generally very good.  Here is our review of the Ames in Boston and here is the Montesol in downtown Ibiza.

The hotel name links back to John Jacob Astor IV who used to live in the hotel when it was a private house, before drowning on the Titanic.  There are 131 recently modernised rooms which “take inspiration from classic Parisian apartments, featuring large windows, beautiful French balconies and high ceilings.”  There is also a fine dining restaurant called Salle à Manger.

Hilton Honors redemptions are capped at 80,000 points per night although I was struggling to find nights over the Winter where it went that high – for November it is usually around 63-68,000.  You find out more about Maison Astor Paris on this page of the Hilton website.

Maison Astor Paris joins Hilton's Curio Collection

Why bad airlines are profitable

I normally don’t link to comment articles, but as this one is from Forbes magazine and is based on a university survey, I thought you might find it interesting.  Click here to read.

In summary …. it’s all your fault that bad airlines are profitable, because you keep flying them.

Thanks to Saqib for this.

Charles Tyrwhitt Avios

New Charles Tyrwhitt / Avios discount code

Shirtmaker Charles Tyrwhitt has launched a new discount which will also allow you to earn Avios.

Until 14th October you will save 10% on a £50+ spend, 12% on a £75+ spend and 15% off a £100+ spend.

It is valid both instore and on orders placed via the website here.

You MUST add code PWUK for the discount to be applied.

You earn 4 Avios per £1 spent both instore and online.  In a shop, tell the checkout assistant your number and they will ensure your points are added on.  With online orders you can add your number doing the payment process.  Full details of the Tyrwhitt Avios deal are here.

Bits: free £18 with a $ prepaid Mastercard, Virgin launches NYC Pride flight, HSBC Premier gives Langham status
Virgin Flying Club launches redemption seat sale on selected US economy routes
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Comments

  1. Are Charles Tyrwhitt shirts any good?

    • BSI1978 says:

      Yes – in my opinion, although these things are always relative. I wouldn’t ever pay ‘full’ price but they very often have their 4 for £100/£110 which I think is great value. Particularly when compared to say a TM Lewin.

    • Also, yes in my opinion but likewise only purchase in the 4 for £100 option. I would definitely suggest you give them a go as shirts bought from the Charles Tyrwhitt Website can be returned for a full refund or exchange within 6 months of purchase – although I have never had to use this option !

      • The non-iron shirts are great. I recommend the Non-iron twill shirts in sky blue, pink and white as essential for your work wardrobe.

        There’s also an Amex cashback offer of £10 back on a £60 spend before 31/10. I recently got 3 non-shirts and a free tie for £55 after the Amex cashback.

    • Yes, they are. Either pay for made-to-measure if it’s that important to you, or buy from CT. No point paying for more expensive off-the-peg stuff like Pink.

    • Everyone I know uses Tyrwhitt as the default work shirt and have done for years. 4 shirt permanent offer as already described.

    • Oh Matron! says:

      They’re not Thomas Pink, but a step up from M&S. Have a couple myself which are years old and still going well.

      • What you do get is huge flexibility with each collar size also having numerous sleeve length options, plus cuff options. As with all clothing, if it fits properly it looks expensive even if it isn’t.

      • Genghis says:

        I tried Tyrwhitts and TM Lewins when I first started working in the city and thought the quality was very average. M&S luxury shirts bought in a 20% off sparks time with the 3 for offer is best for me.

    • Using code ‘Metro’ will bring down the cost of most shirts down to £22.95, which works well with the amex offer of £10 back on £60 bringing overall cost per shirt down to just over £20 if you buy 3 incl. £4.95 postage. Also 4 avios per £1 as mentioned in the post

      • Sussex Bantam says:

        I’ve worn CT shirts for years. Reasonably cheap, decent quality, nice fit. It is my everyday work shirt…

    • OK, all you guys with 4 shirts, fess up…which day do you wear the dirty shirt?

      • Fridays are dress down

        (A more interesting question might be, who ever wears the same underwear for a second day?!)

  2. Sometimes people have no choice but to fly a ‘bad’ airline. Whether that be because their employer makes them because of travel policy or because the routes they fly are single carrier operated so they are stuck unless they can get themselves to another airport – not always possible – or are willing to change planes en route and in the scheme of things the number of people willing to do that is quite small

    Sometimes we do it to ourselves because we lock ourselves into the credit cards and the loyalty programmes.

    And we as passengers – to a degree – forced the race to the bottom by E.g. demanding fares with no checked bags yet complain when we have to pay when we do need a bag. Same as with food and all sorts of other amenities.

    And we’ll happily force ourselves to fly cheapo airline A to save 10 quid and have a cramped seat than pay that tenner to a slightly more expensive airline with an extra inch or 2 legroom on airline B and say ‘never again’ until we want our next weekend away or annual holiday.

    • Thomas Howard says:

      In the articles example, four carriers operate 80% of flights, you often have the choice of four awful airlines. If I have the choice between easyJet and Ryanair who both randomly change hand baggage rules to catch me out what incentive do I have to preference one over the other?

      • I know which side my bread is buttered says:

        LCC hand baggage rule changes are trailed well in advance, clearly described during booking and normally hard to misunderstand. One exception being the old (current until 1st Nov 2918) Ryanair cabin baggage rules. You are permitted (until then) 2 cabin bags FOC, but the larger one gets tagged (by default) and put into the hold. I defy anybody carefully reading the boarding pass to actually see the 2 cabin bag entitlement. I’ve had my wife go mad at me, shouting ‘you told me I had 2 cabin bags!’ because it only mentions one – I had to go back to the original booking pages on the website to see her proper entitlement. Ie the BP is purposely designed to get passengers to pay extra for the 2nd bag, even though it is included in the fare. Non native English speakers wouldn’t stand a chance.

        No matter, from 1st November it all changes and you only get 1 cabin bag, FOC, which must be small enough to fit under the seat in front. https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/sep/01/ryanair-new-hand-luggage-rules-carry-on-bags

        • which are still confusing / erroneous if u read website detail carefully

        • Shoestring says:

          Wizz Air bringing in new rules on luggage 1st Nov:
          From 1 November, all passengers will be entitled to bring one free carry-on bag up to a size of 40 x 30 x 20 cm onboard to be placed under the seat in front of you.
          Passengers who have purchased WIZZ Priority will be permitted to bring an extra trolley bagof maximum size 55 x 40 x 23 cm.
          Additionally, Wizz Air is introducing a new type of checked-in bag with a 10 kg allowance, besides the available 20 and 32 kg options.

          Wizz Priority can be as low as £5 so sounds like a decent improvement.

      • Michael Jennings says:

        I don’t think they are changing their hand luggage policies to catch you out, specifically. The problem is that for 737s and A320s, if the airline charges for checked luggage and the plane is full, then the passengers bring more luggage between them than will fit in the overhead bins. If the luggage then has to be loaded into the hold, this causes delays and the discount airlines don’t manage the very fast turnarounds that their business model depends on.

        Airlines have tried all kinds of cabin bag policies to attempt to make this not so. None of them have worked, but they keep trying.

  3. Found the Forbes piece highly sensationalised.

    • And it misses the real point: barriers to competition.

      Generally, if all suppliers in a market offer poor service then eventually someone will offer something better, and take the dominant position in the market (then probably lower standards to increase profitability and the cycle starts again!)
      If there were no restrictions on ME3 for transatlantic offerings then the legacy carriers would soon improve or lose market share.
      The competition authorities should never have allowed the 8 US airlines to become 3, nor BA to dominate at LHR, and take over British Caledonian, Dan Air and BMI.
      Just imagine if those three had been taken over by Cathay instead.
      Then they allowed cartels across the Atlantic (and this is now spreading to other regions) so that for E.g. MAD-NYC 100% of the flights are operated by one cartel.

      The legacy airlines are brilliant at lobbying governments and government agencies – if the governments resisted then they would concentrate on being good at customer service.

      • Concerto says:

        This generally sums up my feelings and thoughts about it.

      • I think you’ve also missed the point.

        The “bad” airlines excel because people prioritise price over service. The “natural winner” in a battle between 4 bad airlines is therefore unlikely to ever be the one with the better service.

        Norwegian has just become the biggest non-US Transatlantic carrier at New York for example. As much as we like to moan about them, BA does offer a better service in economy (for now…).

      • RussellH says:

        If you are going to have competition (and to my mind, meaningful competition in public transport is very difficult to to institue), then it has to be fair competition. If ME3 were to be allowed fifth freedom transatlantic flights, then they would have to have comparable working conditions – salaries, NI, pensions, right-to-strike and so on – as other transatlantic airlines.

        Secondly, I do not believe that an LHR-JFK flight leaving at 1200 is in competition with an LGE-EWR flight also leaving at 1200, and neither is a third flight LHR-JFK leaving at 1300 – they are different products. Certainly one product will be more attractive to one than another, but as things stand there are simply too many variables for compettion to work. If the only flight I can get to an airport in time for is the later one, then that is the one I will have to take, whether the seats are comfortable or not, whether the price is £15 more, whether the cabin service is good or not.

        The same sort of competition myths underline our rail privatisation chaos. Yes, back in Victorian times there were one or two places where you had real competition between rail companies. It was not always friendly; there used to be two appraoches to Ardrossan from Glasgow and in the final stages the two routes ran alongside each other. I have read that if the two companies train were literally neck and neck, it was common pratice for the footplate crews to hurl lumps of coal at each other, in the hope of delaying the competition. Not the sort of thing anyone would want in the air.

        • You could argue that LGW-EWR is a completely different market to LHR-JFK (I’d argue it isn’t, but it’s vaguely debateable).

          A 12pm LHR-JFK however is definitely in the same market as a 1pm LHR-JFK flight. The number of people who have such a tight schedule that they could make one but not the other is pretty small. I don’t really understand why you think it isn’t competition – not least because prices demonstrably increased when the joint ventures started and then demonstrably decreased when the disruptors like Norwegian entered the market. What’s that if it’s not competition?

        • RussellH says:

          I do not see that as competition, just as a series of possibly quite complex options. Maybe it is my scientific background, but I can only really see competition in terms of one variable at a time. eg. Is the food better or the seating more comfortable (NOT both at the same time) on A rather than B, with everything else being identical – departure time, price, arrival time, aircraft type etc.
          An economist might well beg to differ.

  4. Richard says:

    Most things common complained at as “wrong” with airlines can be explained by the existence of two types of traveller – the one who will pay loads extra to fly non stop, and the one who does anything to save £10. Those two types of passengers create a critical mass of passengers that ultimately don’t give a toss about service, which makes caring about service unrewarding for airlines

    • There is a class of customer who will look at cost above all else, always.

      Look at talk talk or sky broadband (the latter much improved in recent times but still) – people will go for the super deal and to hell with ‘service’ despite then grumbling at said service when they needed it.

      Plus let’s not forget we’re a BA-biased group here, despite all acknowledging really that they’re second best, at most, everywhere. Hard product and routes outside of London are so poor compared to say Virgin, it beggars belief we all retain this crazy loyalty…

      • We have been on Sky broadband for 4 years. Only had 2 outages that lasted less than an hour each.

        Prior to this i was on a, much more expensive, Virgin connection. Nothing but trouble and call centre were hopeless.

        Wouldn’t go with Talk Talk no matter how cheap they were.

  5. In 2015, an EasyJet rep at LGW outright lied to me about reimbursing the cost of a train ticket to get to my original destination after a flight was cancelled due to weather and they offered me an alternative. I have never flown them again and never will.

    • Concerto says:

      Totally agree. I find it hard to pardon them for things in the past, considerably further back than that. Why should I voluntarily give money to a company that has treated me badly? I’ve never liked them and never will, although I fully accept that they have improved and become much more mainstream now.

  6. Mr D Sims says:

    I wont fly Easy Jet or Ryan Air as they are just awful .
    They suck in every way possible.

    • Nothing wrong with EasyJet.

      • I know which side my bread is buttered says:

        They are both pretty good at what they do. Safe, efficient (excellent record on arriving on time, helped no doubt by not using LHR), I would judge generally clean planes given the short turnaround, young & friendly cabin crew, newish fleet.

      • +1

      • I’ve heard good things about easyJet but never had the chance to fly them as they are always very expensive.

        Meanwhile BA’s prices have really come down since they stopped giving half the plane a free bottle of Gordon’s…. and I still get lounge access (don’t have a Priority Pass) and can choose my seat. I don’t like BOB but if it is the cause of these lower prices then it works for me.

        I’ve used Norwegian a lot and like it, but they may not survive in their current form.

        I don’t see the point of Ryanair for myself as after trekking to and from to some rural airport it costs more than just flying another airline.

        • RussellH says:

          Part of the point of Ryanair is that for those of us who live within a comparitively short distance of a smaller town airport, it is the only way of getting to another smaller town airport. Not everyone wants to go to London / NYC / Paris / Berlin, either to start or finish their flight.

        • ??? EDI, DUB….??

      • I always find it odd when people say they won’t fly Easyjet or Ryanair, particularly if by doing so they cut off their noses to spite their faces. Other than the colour schemes, I honestly can’t see the difference between them and BA.

      • Only flown them twice but based on those experiences I would choose them over BA shorthaul in a direct comparison.

    • Really?

      I need to get somewhere next friday. Easyjet fly there at 8am from my local airport. BA fly from heathrow (a further 45 mins away with fair wind) at 7am. Easyjet are over £100 cheaper. It is a 2 hour flight. I have been striving for, and have finally achieved, Blue status with BA. I have a priority pass and a reasonable lounge at my local airport.

      I’ve been on the receiving end of some pretty shoddy customer service from easyjet, worse from ryanair. And also from BA. But the inconvenience the LCCs have caused me occasionally does not mean that I will cause myself similar levels of inconvenience to book the BA flight.

      Ryanair seem to have grown up recently and no longer go out of their way to deliberately antagonise its customers. BA, as has been documented, have been sliding. On short flights in particular, convenience is the overriding factor in airline choice, followed closely by price. On long-haul, the airline and aircraft do play a much bigger role but for short-haul (which is all easyjet fly). RFS from Stansted or City on CityFlyer routes is a winner; BA from LHR or LGW are

      I am not saying that people are wrong to refuse to fly Ryanair and Easyjet because of course everyone has their own priorities, but to do so must, eventually, cause you to inconvenience yourself.

  7. OT: Not used a lot of hotel points so apologies if this is an obvious one. But booking with Hilton last night and basic room 50K, room selling for $11 more 136K. I didn’t want the better room, but was not expecting that sort of difference. Looked at a few others and big differences, although not as extreme as that one. What gives?
    Also, points and money, the only article I could find was quite old, 2016 I think. Any views on this, it seemed to me to be useful only if you didn’t have enough points.

    • I’m no expert on Hilton, but I think “Premium” room rewards have crazily inflated points rate compared to the “standard” room. It’s not related to the going cash rate.

    • Hilton has had two sorts of redemptions for a long time even before the 2017 devaluation, standard rooms and premium rooms.

      Standard rooms are at a fixed number of points (in your case 50000) regardless of the paid rates, like when you use avios for redemption flights, it’s always the same number of avios. (Except taxes on hotels are much lower and hotels don’t have fake surcharges when you redeem.) However this fixed number can be adjusted upwards at any time, for example your hotel could become 60000 points. This won’t happen on a day-to-day basis, it will happen all at once to a number of properties without any notice (and did happen a few weeks ago, after nothing since April 2018).

      Premium room awards depend on the selling price of the room and usually something like 1 Hilton point per 0.5 US cents. If calculating the points price in this way leads to a lower price than the standard room fixed price, i.e. on nights that your hotel are less than approx US$250, then the points required for a standard room will also be lowered (since April 2017).

      Changes to points and money in April 2017 mean that it can never be a better deal than either redeeming outright or paying outright unless, as you say, you don’t have enough points. Before then, it could occasionally be the best deal.

    • I think points and money IS generally for when you don’t have enough points!

      The “standard” reward rate – e.g. 50,000 points is allocated to a certain number of rooms (often the same type of room but sometimes you see rooms in different price categories for the same amount of points). Once these rooms have been booked you’re left paying the higher amount of points which doesn’t seem to be worth it as far as I can see.

    • Hilton rewards are roughly based on 0.35p per point vs cash BUT standard rooms are capped, at 50k in this case. Premium Rooms are not capped.

      • Which in a lot of cases is great – it’s poor value but better than sitting on 7 figures of IHG points because you have no desire to book the lowest possible room type when you go away with your family (even if that was a logistically feasible option) – or even on your own, in all honesty (some reward!)

        Marriott have it right, but HH isn’t terrible. Standard room for fixed points, any other room for 300HH per £ isb

        • There are some Crowne Plaza’s that will let you book a suite. The CP in Harrogate does, and at the same price as a standard room (probably just a quirk in their system). I’ve redeemed a standard room at the CP in Glasgow twice and been given a suite too. I’m Platinum with them so not top tier status. I’m not sure if there’s a list somewhere, but if you’re looking for a way to get through your points there are options other than the lowest available room out there.

        • Why don’t you get an IHG prepaid card for your points and then book whatever cash rate is available?

    • Thank you all. This obviously explains it. Typically I’m hotels com as retaining all the necessary info for the Hilton, Marriott and IHG schemes is complicated, albeit very useful on occasions. I got .56p and .47p off the two redemptions I did, that seemed OK, especially for the USA which is awash with credit card offers meaning points less valuable. Hilton complicate it with some rates having parking included, and maybe not getting Wi-Fi at a Hilton if not booking direct.

  8. Vistaro says:

    In my humble opinion there’s another side to this, I regularly fly long haul business and note that the traditional national carriers are nearly always amongst the most expensive, have the worst product AND are full, yet the challenger airlines and ME3 typically have a far better product,they’re often lea than full and are cheaper – that to me seems irrational yet I observe it most weeks, the easy example for me is BA (again!) on MAN JNB (thro LHR) the BA price is typically £3.5k, it seems to be nearly always late, the LHR experience (Particularly on the return transit through LHR is appalling) the business class cabin is cramped (at best) the staff are lack lustre AND the flight is nearly always full to busting, use QR and the flight is normally early, the cabin is a delight, the staff are over attentive (OTT sometimes), it’s typically at least £1,000 less than BA and rarely full, end to end it’s typically takes an hour or two longer but after the normal BA delays there’s rarely anything in it – I can only assume it’s a herd mentality that means people just do what they always do!

    Must be said if I was BA then I’d see little reason to change, I’ve said for years that it can’t continue and some disruptive provider will come along and eat their dinner in front of them but then the ME3 have come along and whilst they’ve changed the experience the national carriers still sustain.

    Maybe my idea of “good” in travel terms is different and maybe I don’t understand …..

    • Not everyone is willing to make a stop in then middle of the night in the middle of the desert. Therefore, the ME airlines compete on price and not on product. One stop makes a big difference.

      • Sussex Bantam says:

        Exactly this – I spend a lot of time on planes and I would definitely pay more to fly direct rather than change. I value convenience a lot higher than quality of food for example. Others of course may feel different.

        • Michael Jennings says:

          I travel from London to Brisbane or Sydney about once a year, and the last time I flew the route on either BA or Qantas is so long ago I can’t remember when it was – maybe 15 years ago. If I want the cheapest possible fare, a Chinese airline normally comes up – although occasionally it’s something like Philippine Airlines or Vietnam Airlines. If you want the cheapest “high service quality” airline, it is normally one of the ME3 – although sometimes it’s Singapore or Cathay. Qantas and BA just don’t appear at all in terms of value. On these routes one has to have a stop somewhere, so it is not direct versus not.

      • Vistaro says:

        Living in the north long haul is always one stop and never non-stop

    • ME3 are “traditional national carriers”.

      The difference is that most of their employees are not citizens of the airline’s country, which means they don’t have huge pension liabilities and the employees have no bargaining power, etc.

      If you enjoy waking up at 1am to transit DOH on your way to and from South Africa, then great. Keep doing it.

      Blame the UK government for making LHR transit appalling. Why don’t you lobby your MP to allow UK airports to trust South African airport security?

    • Well as you say, the BA cabin is full.

      You’re not going to build much of a case against what they’re doing with facts like that…

  9. Re bad airlines, especially one particularly BAd airline: despite living in London, I coinciously stopped flying with them unless it’s 1) 241 Amex voucher 2) Vitality-discounted or 3) employer-imposed. You can’t believe how many good choices you have beyond BA: from Aer Lingus and Aegean to Aeroflot and Turkish on short-haul to literally every airline on long-haul!

    • So basically you’ll put up with the BAd airline when it’s cheap.

      • Everyone has their own internal click point of what represents value to them; a low cost carrier to get them to CDG to pick up a long haul QRA380 may be perfectly acceptable whereas just getting to CDG seems like hard work on the same carrier. Just done a trip on Level and really unimpressed and not suitable in my view even for a quick hop. Others may find it perfectly ok. Defining value for others is hard.

      • For me, BA only when very, very cheap, in fact probably only with a 2-4-1. In general, I will happily pay more to avoid BA. I really don’t want to contribute to the bonuses of the management unless I would be daft to avoid flying them.

    • Living in London surely your carrier options are pretty high. So why fly BAd?

      • Chris Palmer says:

        To some destinations, at key times, BA remain the only choice. Personally speaking, on the London to Venice route, I’ve never had a problem.

  10. If anyone has a problem viewing the Forbes article it may be because the referral link seems to get corrupted – the correct link is https://www.forbes.com/sites/christopherelliott/2018/10/07/this-is-the-real-reason-bad-airline-service-is-profitable/#29b5903e5db2

  11. Sussex Bantam says:

    Can anyone help me with lounge access options in Barcelona. Travelling on BA with my family so not enough status to get us all into BA lounge. Can my AMEX Plat or Priority Pass access anything useful ?

    • The only lounge in the BA part of BCN is the Sala VIP Miro, there are no others. Your BA ticket/status will get you in here under the normal rules. Priority pass is accepted but may be restricted – the lounge usually sells tickets but has stopped doing this temporarily as they say they are at capacity, so I wouldn’t like to say if they will accept your PP.

      Note also it is being refurbished from 15th October until next summer, so I expect they will be very tough on access rules, restricting to airline led entry only.

  12. OT – Missing Amex SPG – On Amex Chat yesterday told the points should turn up in 2-4 weeks. Asked for some kind of compensation and was offered 3000 Starpoints.

    • My wife’s points for this month have swept across and actually arrived in her Marriott account today!

      …she is still missing her August and September statement points, however.

  13. The ‘why bad airlines are profitable’ article should be called ‘why lack of competition leads to poor service and the ability to charge slightly more’.

    There are at least two factors that have not been considered which mean that the study cited neither proves or disproves the claim. 1- fuel costs, aka the biggest driver of one half of the profitability calculation. 2- competition, aside from a few markets, there is simply no realistic competition from other airlines (or rail) domestically, meaning you can restrict seats enabling you to price fares/fees slightly higher.

    Causation vs correlation….

  14. Peter K says:

    In the industry I am in most customers go to the large company that is generally cheaper, is certainly perceived as cheaper, but has the worst customer service. Other companies have also reduced their prices, and quality, to match.

    The airline industry is not alone in this sad state of affairs.

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