Bits: BA schedule changes to Italy and Spain, £5 cashback from Amex with Paypal, Necker Island available on Virgin miles

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News in brief:

British Airways announces Spain and Italy service changes

British Airways has announced a number of changes to its Spanish and Italian networks, including a few switches between Heathrow and Gatwick.

Here are the changes:

Almeria – moves from Heathrow to Gatwick from 1st April

Bilbao – moves from Heathrow to Gatwick from 1st April

Valencia – moves from Gatwick to Heathrow from 31st March

The following services are being dropped from 31st March ……:

  • London Gatwick – Barcelona
  • London Gatwick – Pisa
  • London Heathrow – Mahon

…. but are being offset by increased frequencies at the other London airport, with additional seats now available for cash or Avios:

  • London Gatwick – Mahon, increasing from 5 to 6 weekly from 22nd May
  • London Heathrow – Barcelona, increasing from 7 to 9 daily from 31st March
  • London Heathrow – Pisa, increasing from 14 to 17 weekly from 31st March

British Airways cancels Pisa flights from Gatwick

£5 Amex cashback deal with Paypal

A Paypal cashback deal has appeared on a lot of American Express cards.  You need to look at the online ‘Offers’ section for each of your cards and click ‘Save To Card’ if you see it.  Remember that the online site usually shows more offers than the app.

You will receive £5 cashback on any £30 Paypal charge made before 9th December.  This will be triggered when you buy anything online at a retailer where Paypal is an option.  Select Paypal and, at the Paypal website, enter your Amex card details.

Only 5,500 people can register so I recommend doing it now if you can via the Amex website here.

Necker Island using Virgin Flying Club air miles

Necker Island redemptions available again with Virgin Atlantic miles

Few people know that you can redeem Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles for holidays on Sir Richard Branson’s Necker Island retreat.

Necker Island was badly damaged by Hurricane Irma in 2017.  After substantial rebuilding, the resort is about to reopen and this means you can now book it with miles.

Whilst it is not yet showing on the Virgin Atlantic website, US blog Frequent Miler says that it is now bookable.  The reason it is restricted is that Necker is usually booked by private groups and only a handful of weeks per year are available for individual travellers.

Greg, who writes that site, should know as he has done this.  Impressively, he got the entire 1 million miles (it later went up to 1.2 million) entirely from credit card sign-up bonuses …… welcome to the USA!

This is probably the best value Virgin redemption you can get.  A week on Necker Island during those weeks where the island is not let on an exclusive basis will cost you $35,000 for a couple.  That is £26,980.  Flights are not included in this price.

On that basis, 1.2 million Virgin Flying Club miles is a very good deal – you’re getting over 2.2p per mile.

You might think that 1.2 million miles is a lot, and of course it is.  However, it would ‘only’ require £800,000 of Amex spend on the Virgin Reward Plus credit card and I know there are a fair number of HFP readers, mainly business owners, who spend six figures per month on their cards.

Virgin has decided to make life a bit harder for credit card heavy hitters.  You must now have Virgin Flying Club Silver or Gold status to book this award.  This is not hugely difficult but, unless you can find a promotion offering it for free, it would require you to shift some business travel towards Virgin or ask for a status match from any other airline card you have.

PS.  If you were thinking of booking Necker Island for cash for $35,000, you used to earn 50,000 Virgin Flying Club miles if you gave them your number!  It is possible that this offer remains available post-reopening.

PPS.  My wife has 1,418,078 Virgin Flying Club miles and we could book this.  Unfortunately, after watching the BBC2 documentary about Necker Island a few years ago, she’s decided that it is a bit too, ahem, free spirited for her liking …..

How to earn Virgin Atlantic miles from UK credit cards

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Virgin Flying Club miles from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Virgin Flying Club miles.  That page is regularly updated with the latest special offers and will still be accurate even if you are reading this article months after publication.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

LAST CHANCE: Head for Points writer, London, £40,000 pa
£161 return flat-bed 80 tier points business class deal on LAN's Madrid to Frankfurt service
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  1. Had the Paypal offer and spent £30 plus last night on ebay on a few different items from a couple of sellers, but forgot that the transaction is split between the sellers rather than appearing as a single transaction! I’m guessing it’s not a cumulative offer and has to be a single transaction? Annoying!

    • Don’t count your chickens. I did a £16 transaction today via Paypal in the hope that cumulative counts.

  2. King Will says:

    Paypal offer not on my preferred gold amex account

  3. We were booked on the LHR to Mathon service in August next year, and have been transferred to the LGW flights. A bit annoying as it means extra travel there and the times are worse so I may even need to take an extra days leave. Unfortunately dates are fixed so will just have to accept it

    • You’re welcome to ask for LHR-MAD-MAH if you want.

    • Lady London says:

      @Nick is right you’re full entitled to ask for a re-routing. Best to do your research before you call, so you can just name the exact flights you’d want instead. That way you make their job easier and better chance of them agreeing without any fuss but you do have the right to request a reasonable re-routing. More chance of being accepted more readily if you can stay on same airline’s flights (although on this route I would keep the outbound BA and just use IB for the second leg… it will make them happier).

      I will be astounded if they don’;t agree so please let us know?

  4. lgflyer says:

    I was booked in one of the flights from LHR that was cancelled so my booking has now been moved to LGW.
    Since this was a cancellation, my understanding is that I could ring BA and get my booking refunded in full or changed to another date from 3 days before to 14 days after the original booking, right?. And is there should not be a deadline to do this, so I just wait until a few days before the flight (even the day before? or same day?) and if my plans don’t work ring up and get my booking refunded blaming BA for cancelling the LHR flight?

    • I had a flight cancelled this summer, and was told by BA that once I had accepted the alternative they were offering, I would not be able to cancel it (they can, but you can’t, hey ho). So it would be worth checking whether leaving it a certain amount of time allows them to decide that you have accepted the alternative.

      • lgflyer says:

        Yes, I presume that if you explicitly accept the change, there is no way back. But if you never contact BA re the schedule change until a few days before I don’t see how they could refuse a refund or change…
        Guidelines here:

      • Does anyone know for certain what the position is on this?

        If BA move a flight does that in effect render it cancellable provided you don’t actively accept the change?

        • Shoestring says:

          For BA it’s 2 hrs+

        • lgflyer says:

          In this case as there is a change from LHR to LGW, I do not think the time difference matters. Looking at the guidelines it is not an schedule change but a cancellation.

        • Shoestring says:

          @Igflyer – yes, BA have treated the London airports as the same airport in these circs. But you don’t have to accept that.

          They will give ground to you if you appeal. Yet again: 95% of people will accept what BA say first time & walk away.

          No need to be a patsy.

    • Lady London says:

      IB have cancelled a flight in more than two weeks’ time. The replacement flight is nearly 3 hours later on the same day. It lands at T5 exactly conforming to MCT for the following flight. However MCT between these 2 flights is unrealistic at T5 ( I know T5 and which gates it is likely to be, well enough to know. Even though the new timetable conforms to MCT, I am highly likely to miss the flight I am connecting to at T5. There’s absolutely no margin for lateness landing at T5 as well.

      The consequences of missing my connecting flight at T5 would basically ruin the trip as it;s very short out and back but longhaul. I’d take no pleasure even in charging Iberia 600 euros under Eu261. (and the reason for missing my connection might not even qualify under EU261 on the day as it will be winter and weather).

      What are my rights? Can I request to do the leg to T5 the night before and have IB pay the extra hotel night at LHR? I just know I am going to miss my flight out of T5 due to not enough time left on the incoming.

      • Shoestring says:

        I see both posts. I think you’d have to discuss it with them. No use to you (offered unsuitable replacement) if you miss the connection. I gather that BA can actually be reasonably helpful if you suggest alternative solutions, so offering to go a bit earlier & sleep in a hotel might be OK.

    • Lady London says:

      You can also ask for a re-route (different way of getting to the same destination and an acceptably close time). More likely to be accepted more readily if your proposed re-routing is on same airline (and I’d consider IB as the second leg pretty much equivalent to BA). Do you work as to the alternative(s) before you call and request them.

      As Anna mentions you get one shot. Once you agree a new routing/timing with the airline you can;t go back again and change it. Not unless they change it again, of course…. But you definitely don’t have to accept departing from LGW if you were previously departing from LHR or v.v. if a reasonable alternative routing is offering seats.

  5. OT As mentioned on here a few weeks ago, my cancelled flight to DXB and rebooked to the next day, Virgin’s offer was to refund for the overnight hotel and downgrade of taxes from PE > Econ (as on Emirates). A follow-up email last Sunday asking for the delay compensation and up to 75% rebate in the involuntary downgrade, just got a default mail saying here’s my €600 per person and to request payment.

    Can’t believe it is that easy and they avoid it the issue, clearly hoping most give up on the first hurdle. Still waiting for the taxes rebate and see what they say about the involuntary downgrade.

    • O/T can you redeem the Amex Harvey Nichols offer online, with the purchase of a gift card? Ends today so won’t have time to go in store

    • Shoestring says:

      They are all rascals. Long may it continue as it leaves more in the pot for the rest of us.

    • Lady London says:

      ….And they will have to refund the hotel and transport to and from, I think. The 600e is separate from the duty of care.

  6. OT Curve have confirmed via Twitter that *all” Curve cards will be able to add Amex. They said: You will be able to use Amex with your Curve card regardless of your product tier (Curve Black or Curve Blue). Curve Black will have additional benefits.

    They would not comment when as if existing Curve Black holders will be charged for these new ” additional benefits”.

    • Genghis says:

      From that quote, my reading is that all Curve cards can use Amex but not necessarily that all Amex cards can be used on Curve.

      • Yeah. From what little information has been floating around that seems to be the case. Rob also hinted that charge cards won’t be able to be connected.

        Tbh I’m surprised they tweeted this, so close to their big launch. They seem to have a real problem with managing information.

        • Shoestring says:

          I think you can blame the boss for his zest & exuberance! 🙂

          Put it this way: nobody will get sacked.

        • *co-branded

          Anyway, shouldn’t have long to wait. The CEO has been tweeting at certain people to keep their eye out for the new card…

      • Thomas Howard says:

        I think Rob’s said in the past co-branded cards (BA, Nectar) are subject to the 0.3% fee cap so you’d think it’s most likely that these will be included in new Curve and the Amex branded ones will be excluded. I’d be happy with 1.5 Avios per £1 of VAT, Income Tax and NI.

        • js54156 says:

          how could curve know if the card you’re adding is a co-branded card or not? I don’t think that’s possible

        • The rumours swirling around are along those lines, that it’ll be Amex branded cards only. In fact Curve used an image of the old gold companion card to promote the coming service.

          The new “additional benefits” are rumoured to be similar to those offered on Amex’s charge cards, so I wouldn’t be surprised, as Rob hinted, if Amex block charge cards being connected.

        • @js54156
          The first 4+ digits of the card number indicate the card type

        • js54156 says:

          I agree with Simon.. Co-branded cards probably wouldn’t even last long in the market due to the fee cap.

          Charge cards have dynamic (normally very high) limits, which should be more risky if linked to Curve if someone tries to cash out and go bust..

        • Genghis says:
        • js54156 says:


          Thanks for this! Looks like it’s quite dated..Most of my Amex cards don’t follow that rule

        • Amex credit cards start 3717, then the next two vary by type.

          That’s why I said 4+

    • Roger1* says:

      Thanks, Simon, for the Curve info.

      I’m not a Twittersperson and find it odd that I have to rely on fellow HFPers for Curve updates.

      • Aye, they do come off as looking rather amateurish.

        • Shoestring says:

          It’s a start up – they’re entitled to make mistakes or look unpolished

      • I dunno. I’d expect even a newbie fintech company to have a good grasp of social media and how they put information out on it.

        • Shoestring says:

          I think they aren’t actually unpolished – just look enthusiastic and doing it their young way (speaking as somebody who observes marketing tactics).

        • TGLoyalty says:

          Think they are just dropping small nuggets. All part of building suspense without making a full on announcement.

          They aren’t the only company that does this new or old.

    • Here’s the exact message for those not on twitter

      • Tnx G, not a word on email o me from curve. Rather odd way of going about it, l think…

        • This is why I said they look rather amateurish. Only a few days ago when asked about Curve Rob said he couldn’t comment (NDA?); at the same time Curve’s social media team are dropping this kind of info to random people on Twitter!

  7. Jordan D says:

    No Paypal offer on any of my (or my wife’s) cards….

  8. O/T…anyone have any experience of transferring MR points to a different named, but same address, eurostar account?

  9. Scottydogg says:

    The Paypal offer was targeted apparently , it didn’t show up on either of my cards , i was message amex through the chat function and asked about the Paypal offer , she said it was a targeted offer

  10. Not on mine but mine is linked to my pp a/c

  11. O/T – have you seen what Ryanair are doing ?

    I know its not a carrier we chat about much, but they can be useful occasionally for positioning for a TP run.

    With only a few hours notice, they are taking their website down for 2 days – you must checkin before 5pm today online – no changes can be made, nothing bought for the next 2 days.

    But the absolute kicker is that their checkin fee (and all others) will remain in place – £55 for the privilage of checking in!!!!

    I know we are accustomed to BA bashing a little bit around here (and well deserved most of the time) – but, could you ever see BA doing something as pathetic and stupid as this – to actually bring down their own systems for planned maintainance and not help people accommodate their stupidity ?

    • Hadn’t seen this – they are crazy ….

    • It’s 12 hours overnight, not 2 days.

      Still bad, but nowhere near as bad as you imply. I also don’t think they’ll have a leg to stand on if someone waits until 12 hours before departure to check in and can’t do it online.

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