Bits: BA expands Inverness – save APD!, redeem Virgin miles for Vienna-Tokyo, Hyatt’s Unbound Collection grows

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News in brief:

British Airways expands its services at Inverness – which makes it easier to avoid APD!

British Airways has announced plans to increase its services from Inverness from the start of the Summer timetable in late March 2019.

The number of weekday services will increase to two per day, and the number of weekend services will increase to three per day.  This will drop down to 14 per week (losing one weekend service per day) during Winter 2019.

More importantly, the flights will also be retimed to improve onward connections.  An aircraft will now be parked at Inverness overnight to allow a late evening arrival and early morning departure.

The reason this is interesting is that there is no Air Passenger Duty on flights departing from Inverness.  This applies to all airports in the Highlands and Islands region where many flights operate with Government subsidy.  This means that you can save £150+ per person in ‘taxes and charges’ if you book a long-haul Club World or First flight which is ticketed Inverness – London – XXXXXX.

Is this worth it?  I wouldn’t do it.  That said, perhaps the me of 20 years ago would have done it.  Inverness has no hotels connected to the airport and is pricey in summer so I doubt you’d want to stay overnight – and it would wipe out your saving – but you could certainly fly up on a one-way Reward Flight Saver redemption (£17.50 + 4,500 Avios) and then come back.  If you live near Heathrow you could book your long haul flight for the following day as long as it departed within 24 hours of the Inverness service landing in London.

British Airways expands services to Inverness

ANA announces a new Vienna to Tokyo service, redeemable with Virgin miles

Japanese airline ANA has announced a new daily service from Vienna to Tokyo. 

This will launch on 17th February.  The timings are:

  • NH206 Vienna 11:50 Tokyo Haneda 06:55 (next day)
  • NH205 Tokyo Haneda 01:55 Vienna 06:00

Anika reviewed the ANA business class service from London to Tokyo and was impressed – see here.

You might not know that ANA is a Virgin Flying Club partner.  Full details are on the Virgin Atlantic website here.  I would imagine that there will be plenty of reward space on this new service, at least whilst it builds up demand, and it would not be a bad way of using your Virgin Flying Club miles.

A return Business Class flight from Europe to Japan on ANA is only 95,000 Virgin Flying Club miles – a steal compared to 180,000 peak day Avios!  You can only book return flights on ANA using Virgin Flying Club miles.

You can find out more on the ANA website here.

Hotel Sofia Barcelona, Hyatt Unbound Collection

‘The Unbound Collection’ by Hyatt starts to get real momentum

‘The Unbound Collection’ is Hyatt’s attempt to copy Marriott’s Autograph or Hilton’s Curio Collection.

It is a brand that luxury independent hotels can join which does not force them to ‘Hyatt-ise’ their property.  Hotels can continue to use whatever toiletries they want, whatever bedding they want etc whilst still benefiting from Hyatt’s marketing clout and the loyalty of World of Hyatt members.

This week, Hyatt announced that Hotel Sofia in Barcelona will join ‘The Unbound Collection’ in January.  This is a five star hotel with 465 rooms situated on Avenida Diagonal.  A photo is above.

Other recent additions to ‘The Unbound Collection’ include Nish Palas in Istanbul and Hôtel Martinez in Cannes.  Other European hotels coming soon include Great Scotland Yard Hotel in London, Párisi Udvar Hotel in Budapest and Hôtel du Louvre in Paris.

Hyatt already has some exceptional European properties – Park Hyatt Milan, Park Hyatt Hamburg, Park Hyatt Paris Vendome, Grand Hyatt Berlin etc – and if it carries on at this rate, Hyatt will become a real force in luxury hotels in Europe.

You can find out more about ‘The Unbound Collection’ here.

(Want to earn more Virgin Flying Club miles?  Click here to see our recent articles on Virgin Atlantic and Flying Club and click here for our home page with the latest news on earning and spending other airline and hotel points.)

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  1. Memesweeper says:

    Rob said:
    You can only book return flights on ANA using Virgin Flying Club miles.

    Rob meant:
    When using Virgin Flying Club miles you can only book return flights on ANA.

  2. OT: I was checking AerClub for a business class redemption and can find pretty much no availability at all for 2019. Surely there must be at least one seat(!) Any suggestions as to what I might be doing wrong?

    • Seems to be limited to one seat initially … I agree they are not super-generous though.

    • Forget them, the MOST useless FFP on the planet. Their own staff haven’t a clue, l ended up,explaining what avios were to one of them…

  3. I started looking a couple of weeks ago for VIE-HND without any luck. Nothing showing except economy, for all school holiday periods during 2019. ANA seem to make far more first and business seats available from the US for some reason……

  4. No other first class from Inverness to NYC at £900 pp each way. Then the good folk at BA delayed the last LHR – INV leg by 24 hours. Thus, I’m now going from Leeds (half an hour from home) rather than Inverness at no extra charge. Handy.

  5. rams1981 says:

    OT did anyone else still have issues with the 11k bonus spend on spg not being multiplied by 3 and sent over to Marriott? Had to raise another formal complaint on behalf of my wife. They lied and said it would be sorted last month which it wasn’t. Still haven’t manually added the points to the account which would guarantee it going and instead claim IT are working to fix it. Amex customer service been fairly woeful over this.

    • Exactly same here, nobody claims to know anything. Spg say ask amex, amex say ask spg. Going round in circles. They raised a complaint but no result yet.. keeping at it…

    • Same boat as well – waiting to see if resolved in next week or so and then will write a formal complaint to Amex and see what comes of that.

    • Eventually got the extra 20k added this week after about 5 calls over 3 weeks. They said it was a gesture of goodwill as I was only due 10k (which is rubbish of course). I think it helped that about 3 weeks ago an agent said the 20k would be on my account within a week. It seems like back office then rejected this. I was able to point them to this call that they were able to listen back to and all agreed it was very clear that they said I was due 20k more.

    • The streets says:

      Try emailing: research at – it worked for me and got my points tripled

  6. Another reminder that tax voidance often has a cost, sometimes more than the tax avoided.
    Inverness is well worth a visit, although probably not immediately before and after a long haul holiday.

    • Mr(s) Entitled says:

      You arent avioding tax. There is no tax to be avioded. That is by design not accident.

      You are right on Inverness being well worth a visit though. Pretty much all of Scotland is stunning. Some great places on our doorstep that don’t require years of points collecting to get to.

      • You are avoiding the tax that you would pay at every other airport in the country.

        • There is no departure tax at INV. You can’t avoid something which doesn’t exist.

          Mr(s) E – I totally concur, we manage a week in Scotland every other year and always leave feeling we’ve hardly scratched the surface. A road trip around the Highlands is on my retirement “to do” list, as is a visit to Orkney, the archaeology for me and the diving at Scapa Flow for Mr Anna.

        • Shoestring says:

          I had to go to Orkney for work reasons a couple of times and of course built in a couple of extra days and looking around the archaeology. Really interesting, esp the 800 year old graffiti in one of the big burial chambers/ chambered cairns the Vikings robbed out (Maeshowe). And Skara Brae of course.

          I spent many summers up on the far north-west coast in Sutherland (my parents had a cottage there when I was a kid then moved there when I was at university) and it’s a grand part of the world, well worth a decent touring holiday.

        • That’s like saying that an ISA does not avoid tax.

        • Shoestring says:

          Sorry Mark2 – it’s not avoiding tax.

          It’s avoiding Duty.

        • No it’s like saying not spending your entire paycheck is avoiding VAT.

      • This is why we decided to buy a caravan for our early retirement. We have seen more of Scotland these past two years than we have our whole lives and we are thoroughly enjoying it. Helps if you get good weather though which we did this year. Still lots to explore up the top end and north west. We also took out memberships for the National Trust for Scotland and Historic Scotland which also gives you access to places in the rest of the UK. Already saved more than double the membership fees from places we have visited – including free entry to Melbourne Gaol! No longer using UK hotels as we take our home from home with us! Still love our USA road trips though – 29 of 50 states visited so far and counting….

      • Not just Scotland, all of UK really. We decided last year to spend most of our free time exploring parts of home we had never been before and we are loving it. South and central Wales along with Northumberland last year. Yorkshire, Shropshire and North Wales this year. Devon, Cornwall and Sommerset next year. People everywhere have been really friendly and welcoming too.

        • Shoestring says:

          Europe is better.

          Better climate, culture, food, drink.

          Sticking to the UK just saves money, not a bad thing.

        • Europe’s awesome but for now I want get at least a flavour of every Shire in UK. Getting there, only your area, Hampshire, Nottinghamshire, parts of East Anglia, all of Northern Ireland and many islands still to do.

        • Shoestring says:

          BJ you don’t want to put it about so much. Think about what matters.

    • In this instance, it is absolutely not tax avoidance as the government has clearly designated that Inverness should not charge APD. Tax sparing yes. But avoidance, no. You’ve physically got to get to Inverness to benefit from the tax sparing. An ISA? Arguably a tax subsidy, but avoidance, no. You need to be putting away the full amount of the ISA to benefit – and if you’re not, others are gaining from the subsidy and you’re not. But is still not avoidance. However, it is possible to avoid something which does not exist. And a whole section of cross-national tax avoidance practices thrives on this very point.

      • Tax Avoidance means arranging your affairs within the law to minimise the amount of tax that you pay. This includes using state sponsored tax-free savings scheme like ISA and the lack of APD at Inverness or flying to another European airport to start a long haul flight. Also using a small trader who is not VAT registered, although this only works if most of the bill is labour.
        Tax Avoidance is perfectly legitimate although the left leaning media try to persuade us otherwise. They usually only mention large multi-national companies and ignore the avoidance by most citizens.
        Tax Evasion, however, is not and is illegal. This includes a tradesman whom you pay in cash not accounting for the tax, which is probably the biggest source of tax evasion.

        • Shoestring says:

          This is silly. No need to name it tax avoidance. You all simply accept that there’s no APD on international flights that start from INV.

  7. The first time I flew up to INV I imagined there would be no APD on the return leg but no, if you fly LHR-INV-LHR you pay 2 lots of APD, if you fly INV-LHR-INV you pay no APD at all. That’s how it is.

    • That can’t be right, APD is a departure tax.

      • Shoestring says:

        But you know that’s not correct, otherwise ex-EU LH via LHR would not exist as a saving.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          The connection had to be less than 24 hours otherwise APD is payable on departure.

    • I’ve checked the breakdown of my last ex-INV with BA

      I was charged APD on the LHR-INV leg (£26 as in Club Europe).

      No APD on return flights. Which is how it should be.

      • edit – to clarify these were the positioning flights to and from INV

        I also wasn’t charged AP|D on the ex-LHR leg that came off my ex JFK (again as it should be as it was <24 hours connection)

  8. dicksbits says:

    Even with the improved retiming of flights is INV still only viable if flying HBO? Is B2B possible?

    • Shoestring says:

      Would be viable if you built in a Scottish break & enjoyed it.

    • You can of course leave your bags in left luggage / use the airportr service at LHR and as long as your long haul flights is the same day BA will check them in for the longhaul leg (though it sometimes confuses the check-in staff and you may need to insist and ask for a supervisor so during OLCI select ‘not sure’ for the number of bags as that apparently makes it easier for them to do it)

      With the B2B there simply isn’t time to collect checked bags and then check-it in again due to the 45 minute cut off – some of the turnarounds are very rapid with not much time to do more than get off the plane walk back to security and get cleared before reboarding.

  9. OT – used one of our Wilko offers today and immediately got the confirmation email. There is still no sign of my 500 bonus avios (x 2) from 3 weeks ago, even though OH got his within 5 days. I know it’s technically within 90 days bla bla but I honestly think they are not going to appear unless I chase it up. I’m closing one of the BAPPs next week so will mention it as one of the reasons and see what the response is!

    • Shoestring says:

      They only appear in your Avios count. No other notification.

    • I phoned Amex yesterday and complained about not getting the points – she wouldn’t budge so we have to wait for 4.5 mths for them to appear. It’s 90 days after 30/11 – they probably won’t post then and will have to chase up again! Too many glitches in their system with these offers.

      • I also did 4 Healthspan orders last night – got 2 emails on Plat card and no emails on SPG cards. That’s another two I’ll have to wait for – 90 days from end of Jan I think! Crazy! Doesn’t bode well for Small Shop!

    • I phoned about another issue and they put the 500 there and then because I mentioned it.

  10. OT – Would a Gold supplement from a Platinum still get the Gold holder 2 free lounge passes?

    • Shoestring says:

      Does not compute.

      • Ok. Let me try again from the Amex Platinum Supplementary page:
        ”You can apply for up to 5 Supplementary Cards to give to your family or others close to you. One Card can be a Platinum Card and the other four can be Green or Gold coloured Cards, which are all complimentary. Any additional Supplementary Platinum Cards will incur an annual fee of £170 each.”
        I have referred OH for the free Platinum. I was thinking of referring my 25 yr old for a complimentary Gold.
        I presume she should get the 2 free lounge passes that comes with the Gold?

        • Shoestring says:

          Pretty certain that the answer is a clear no. Only the main Gold cardholder gets the 2 free Lounge passes.

          So just refer your 25YO for a Gold card in her own right? 18000 MR points for you, she gets her own bonus + 2 Lounge passes.

          They’re not that bothered about income. And can’t check income.

        • No you get no additional benefits .
          I applied for additional “gold card” and “green card” plat supps. I hardly get any offers on them aswell. The only plus side is using the cards for shop small.

        • Cheers.
          OT – Just received email offer today from Simply Rewards Nationwide VISA : ”£75 off next booking of £500 on Qatar”

    • Lady London says:

      That is apparently how you get a family of four into a lounge.

      • No. You get a family of four in because the Platinum supplementary gets a Priority Pass with a guest, so each adult guests in a child.

        The Gold supp cards on a Plat are NOT Preferred Rewards Gold and so don’t have those benefits.

  11. How do people go about booking partner redemptions with Virgin?

    I called through this evening to try and book onto the new Vienna to Tokyo service, but after an hour on the phone, they couldn’t find any availability at all for that route (only some routes with a stop off at Shanghai) for dates in late March or September 2019.

    Is there any way to search availability online, rather than having to speak to someone on the phone?

  12. Perhaps already posted but I see Lloyds Avios now posting to BAEC rather than

  13. For those talking about going to Inverness (and on to the Highlands), I definitely recommend it. Friend and I did a 5 day road trip around northern Scotland this year. It was amazing, with the views (in my opinion) often being way better than those of the much more exotic places I’ve travelled to! We did the North Coast 500, and the associated official tourist website is a really good starting point if you want to know more 🙂

  14. OT
    Something new Rob?

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