Bits: £1295 Qatar to Singapore ex-Sweden (560 tier points), Emirates scrapping chauffeurs on rewards, Aloft Dublin

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News in brief:

£1295 Qatar Airways business class fare to Singapore

Qatar Airways is currently offering a £1295 business class fare from Stockholm to Singapore.  It is widely available for much of 2019 at SEK 14,700.  On some dates I saw it as low as SEK 14,308.

Whilst positioning via Sweden isn’t ideal – although a quick break in Stockholm is always worth doing – this fare has a lot going for it.  You will earn 560 British Airways Executive Club tier points from the trip (140 points per leg, with the plane change in Doha meaning each direction counts as two legs), a lot of Avios and you’ll get to fly arguably the best business class product out there – potentially the impressive Qsuite (see the special website here) if you take A350 service.

There is also a Stockholm to Bangkok fare for around £1,375 but Bangkok tends to be relatively cheap from most places these days.  This one is, of course, good for the tier points.  Gothenburg to Johannesburg at around £1,450 is also interesting, although the London to Johannesburg BA Club World fare at £1,250 return is still available as long as two travel.

You can have a play with dates on the Qatar Airways website here.

Aloft Dublin City

Emirates removing free chauffeur cars on Emirates Skywards bookings

It seems that Emirates Skywards has decided to follow the lead of Etihad Guest and remove free chauffeur cars on Business and First Class reward flights.

This is disappointing, as it helped offset the ludicrously high (even by British Airways standards) ‘taxes and charges’ added to Emirates award tickets.  We have used Emirates chauffeur cars on reward tickets a few times, and coming back from Heathrow it was a £60-£70 saving over booking an equivalent Mercedes for cash.  The car pictured below is the one I got before my last Emirates A380 First Class redemption reviewed here.

The change is showing on the chauffeur drive terms and conditions page here.

Thanks to Ajay at Indian blog Live From A Lounge for this.

Emirates chauffeur cars removed from reward tickets

Aloft Dublin City finally opening?

After numerous delays, it seems that Marriott’s new Aloft Dublin City hotel is finally about to open.

It is a new eight-storey hotel with 202 “loft-like” rooms.  It is located in the Blackpitts area of Dublin’s Liberties, near St Patrick’s Cathedral.  To quote:

“Designed to meet the needs of the next generation of traveller, Aloft is where technology meets design. Located in one of the most historic parts of Dublin, the Liberties is undergoing rapid redevelopment making it one of the fastest growing areas of the City. The modern and colourful façade of the Hotel stands out in the historic area, making the new building a signature feature of the area. Our top floor houses the Re:Fuel restaurant and WXYZ bar, as well as our Re:Mix lounge. Signature views of the city can be enjoyed here, with the mountains on one side, and sweeping views of the city on the other. Guinness Storehouse and St Patrick’s Cathedral are among the many attractions that can be spotted from the seventh floor. The rooms are designed with the next generation of travel in mind. The loft style, urban inspired bedrooms are where style meets comfort.”

Marriott is well positioned in Dublin’s luxury segment with The Shelbourne and the Westin – the latter is a lovely hotel with an amazing location in the heart of the city centre and is my default choice when visiting.

Marriott never had anything at the budget end of the market, however.  I am positive about Aloft hotels (here is my review of the Aloft London Excel, here is Anika’s review of Aloft Liverpool) which are generally modern and stylish despite the low cost.  This one will be Category 4 which makes it 25,000 points per night.  This compares to 60,000 points for the Westin and The Shelbourne.

Whilst reservations are not yet being accepted for January, the hotel is saying ‘January 2019’ opening (it was due in November 2018).  Reservations are being taken for 1st March onwards.

The Aloft Dublin City website is here.

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Comments

  1. Jim Bunce says:

    Thanks Rob…. ARN – SIN October/November 2019 with Qsuites Thank you Thank you Thank you

  2. Neil Donoghue says:

    Stockholm – Canberra for £1889 in the bag. Cheers Rob

  3. Re Emirates free chauffeur cars, terms say from 1st March they are not available on reward bookings, does that mean you can book now for say July and they will be honoured?

  4. The first piece of decent QR sale action for some time. Hopefully a sign of more ex-EU discounts to come from the airline.

    • And if combined with the Amex travel offer (targeted, £200 off £600 spend), that’s £1095 to SIN

  5. OT: Did not have high expectations for a domestic terminal lounge (T1) at Hanoi. The newly opened one that’s accessible on P.P. is excellent. Empty, good food incl. pho bo to order, beer wine and vodka.

  6. OT – £20 off for £100 spending on Eurowing with both my platinum and cash back card

  7. Is anyone else seeing an advert for Martin Lewis supporting something called “bitcoin trader” at the top of the page. A quick google search shows it’s a fake ad

    • Any adverts for Bitcoins are going to be fake.

      I use a phone that came at a discount thanks to an Add-X scheme. It displays an advert when the phone is woken up. Martin Lewis, Deborah Meaden or Peter Jones promoting Bitcoins regularly appear as adverts. The advertising industry has no shame.

      • Yes I’ve had Martin Lewis ads on this site for months promoting books and investments

        • Google has to block them. I can block specific URLs but these ads use a different URL each day so it is pointless. I can also block bitcoin ads but these ads register under a different category (not sure Google thought that through too well!).

  8. OT: apologies I did ask yesterday but did not get any replies. Trying again today, hoping someone has been.
    Thinking of spending a couple of nights on Langkawi island using Marriott points. Trying to decide between the Ritz Carlton and the St Regis. Anyone been to and has any advice?
    Thanks

    • My admittedly limited experience of the RC and St Regis brands, I’d choose Regis as it suits my tastes better. I did look into the Regis in langkawi a couple years and thought wow what an incredible looking hotel. The only reason we didn’t go was because the weather didn’t seem great any time of the year in langkawi – happy to be informed otherwise though?

    • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

      Worth considering the Andaman as well, which is part of SPG luxury collection.

      • Andaman gorgeous, monkeys popping onto your window sill too, to say hello! Very nice resort.

    • St Regis looks very nice – had it booked but they moved us to Four Seasons which is excellent and would go back there.
      Nice place to visit.

      • Benilyn says:

        I read the St. Regis reviews on TripAdvisor, if you need a good swimmable beach, this may not be that one. I was close to booking it, but passed on it.

        I have been to Andaman in Langkawi (in 2012), and beach was amazing, but rooms inside did not seem super luxury or anything.

        Side note: select 5 days on the website, and the Deals & Packages cash pay options seem quite decent value if you wanted to save your points.

        • I have stayed at the St Regis, the Westin, and the Andaman. The St Regis is next door to the Westin (walkable) but as noted above at low tide the ‘beach’ is a mud flat. The hard product around the resort is very nice and the restaurant overlooking the bay beautiful but I would not return, not a patch on the St Regis Bali/Mauritius/BB etc. Andaman however in my view is truly one of the best beach properties in the Marriott/SPG portfolio, gorgeous crescent shaped beach which is shared with just one other hotel (The Datai, also very good), evening jungle walks, friendly staff, solid F&B. The rooms are not spectacular or as lux as the St Regis but the location and setting are top rate. If you have SNAs, these can upgrade to rooms with private pools (although the resort in general is popular year-round). Only downside to me is you will require a car to get to anything local as it is remote, but I would not hesitate to return.

        • Benilyn says:

          @h2d – thanks! To add, you can have a massage overlooking the sea & beach at the Andaman, it was amazing! Nothing around though.

  9. pommy ray says:

    wow so nearly gold status from one trip!
    any idea how many avios you get on these sort of trios roughly? thanks

  10. Note that the Indian blog mentioned in the Emirates article probably got it from FlyerTalk…

    The original story came from this blog :-

    http://premium-miles.com/emirates-eliminates-chauffeur-on-award/

    • Hmm, this is the second link to something in the BoardingArea stable recently.
      If HfP were quoted, I’d be buying on expectation of an imminent bid!

  11. This reminds me, I have 2.5k of Emirates miles due to expire at the end of this month… What can I do with them?

    • I sent mine to Heathrow rewards when I flew emirates once for work

    • Transfer to Heathrow Rewards is a decent option (can’t rem the minimum)

    • Ah it is 6k min for heathrow rewards. cant do anything with 2.5k. Looks like they are going to charity.

      • Maybe your options are:
        1) Presumably doing a min transfer (500?) from Amex MR to Emirates will refresh your total miles expiry?
        Or
        2) Send 3.5k across and then transfer onto Heathrow rewards.
        No idea if there is value is option 2).

        • Genghis says:

          2) It’s 6k Emirates -> 2k HR. I.e. sending across 3.5k MR (value say £35) to then convert to Heathrow Rewards would only yield £20 in total.

  12. Bits:-

    “As a British Airways American Express Card member you have been selected to receive an exclusive 20% discount on your next hotel and car hire booking worldwide.”

    Pay in full using Avios or one of the Avios part cash options. No cash only options. Booking from 8 to 31 January. Travel up to 31st December.

  13. Question to Rob or experienced travelers: I will need to book flights for my whole family soon for August (likely 6 economy tickets INTO London). When should I expect some relevant promo from BA (e.g. 4 economy segments = extra Avios like last year in February I think) or another one of those X off Y Amex Travel offers? Any rhyme or extrapolation possible based on previous years?

    • There is an Amex Travel offer at the moment – £600/£200 off and variations thereon. If you don’t have it you’ve probably missed the boat to be honest. They come around fairly infrequent in my experience – couple of times a year, maximum.

      You can’t rely on BA Bonus Avios offers either and they aren’t that lucrative anyway – you normally get double base Avios, which for short haul economy in the lowest fare bucket might be an extra 125 Avios. Might be different for long haul but it’s not vast amounts of Avios at stake for a single booking.

      So, if it were me and I was happy with the pricing for the flights at the moment, I’d just book them.

      • Thank you! I’ve already taken advantage of the Amex Travel offer you mentioned recently.

    • Rarely any plan to these things except there is usually a promo in September for the back to work rush post Summer. Not that this helps you!

  14. Seeing as its Bits, OT but to report back on experience of Wyndham to Caesars Total Rewards status match. Mentioned in the past that status matched through to Total Rewards Diamond (= high roller!), via Wyndham for an upcoming Las Vegas trip. The benefits of this status are; no resort fee, $100 celebration dinner credit, room upgrade, 2 free show tickets per month. Recently back from Las Vegas and confirm I was able get every benefit, combined with partners status match we actually got $200 dinner credit and 2 sets of show tickets. For our 6 night stay my low estimate of the value of this is $750, would be more dependent on what show you go see, and I haven’t valued the room upgrade. In our case $200 dinner credit was used up in full at Hell’s Kitchen (which was surprisingly good), 2 tix to Penn and Teller, 2 tix to a random show and a double room upgrade (aided by $20 ‘tip’ at check in) to a larger room with strip view.

    • Wow sounds great! Any experience what I’ll get during my upcoming Venetian stay being Spire Elite? I’ve let my Ambassador status lapse as not expecting any other IC stays in 2019. However I may change my mind if Spire Ambassador treatment is very good (but I expect not?)

      • Caesars Total Rewards relates only to Caesars Hotels, of which there are quite a few. I am IHG Spire Ambassador and decided to stay in a Caesars hotel instead so i could avoid paying resort fees. The other Total Rewards benefits would still apply regardless of hotel. The improved status with Total Rewards only lasts for a few months, so should be timed to coincide with your stay – match IHG to Wyndham then to Total Rewards (takes a couple of weeks).

        • The Original Nick says:

          @CV3V, I’m currently in the middle of booking my Mum’s Vegas trip for her and her friend. I’ve matched her Hilton Gold to Wyndham Diamond just last week. They are planning on booking the Caesars Palace for 5 nights which is beginning of March. Should I book the hotel now and try and then get a status match to Caesars Total Rewards from Wyndham Diamond just before they go?

          Thanks.

        • @ Nick – double check, but hotel bookings for Caesars hotels are refundable. So I would go ahead and book to lock in the rate just in case, you can always then cancel and book again. When booked as a Diamond the resort fee shows as being zeroed, but I imagine if you book before being diamond the hotel will still zero at check in/out. You need to check the current status match offer, but if their stay is in March I would go ahead and sort the status out now.

          When booking, for whatever reason, I found that the hotel rates were cheaper in the morning, they would then increase in the afternoon, and then a few mornings later be dropped again. This is why I know the rates are refundable as I cancelled a few times, even though they do take a deposit, it is refunded.

          As a Diamond you get to see the ‘comp’ rates (i.e. free nights) which are available at some hotels, and hotels such as Ballys can come in as low as $30 per night, The Linq at $15 per night (The Linq is badly located next to the Uber pick up and bus drop off, avoid).

          **Important**- with the status match to Total Rewards they do not load the $100 credit until you show up at the Total Rewards desk (in each Caesars hotel), then they validate that you exist (!) and the credit is loaded to your account on a Thursday. This was ok for me, but I would suggest emailing or phoning Total Rewards in advance to avoid this potential issue. IF it does become an issue you need to ask the rewards manager to issue you with a replacement dinner voucher.

          Also, I recommend Groupon Las Vegas for some cheap Cirque Du Soleil tickets, there are no bad seats, so a cheap ticket is ok.

    • I’m intrigued on the mechanics of how you tip at check-in to get a better room.

      Do you put a $20 note in the passport as you hand it over? (this became so prevalent at Minsk passport control that they have official signs warning that it will be prosecuted as bribery)

      • Genghis says:

        $20 note in between passport and credit card seems the done thing.

        • Yup, at check in when handing over passport having a $20 bill sticking out and ask if any upgrades are available. If there are they will keep the bill, if not they (should) return it. A colleague has also used the same trick.

        • Yeah this worked for me but with $50 note at cosmopolitan on a Marriott reward stay last year. Upgrade from standard reward night to 1bed suite with strip view and soaking tub for 5 nights

        • Does this work if you are a certain status? Staying at the Hilton in Cape Town for a week in a couple of weeks…standard room. I am a HH member but no points etc and the most basic member…

        • Never have to give passport in Hiltons anywhere in the USA – so would not work with me

      • after all these years and trying the 20 dollar trick myself I still don’t understand why the advice is to conceal the tip. Every time I’ve handed it over in this way it’s either fallen out awkwardly or the front desk person has laid it out openly on the desk for the cctv cameras

    • How long does your Total Rewards status last? Just trying to time my request

      • I think you get until the 1st of Jan, so if you do it now, you should get a year. I am debating wether to stick with my Cosmo booking via Marriott or move to caesars. Swaying to wards cosmo atm but it is 200k in points with cash upgrade.

  15. OT bits. Saw this and couldn’t help a chuckle wondering how much of this was due to Amex 10% off offer – I certainly spent thousands on GCs! https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-46792086

    • I thought exactly that too! We don’t shop in Morrisons at all but we ended up spending over £500 on some vouchers, wine, whisky and fish!

      • soloflyer1977 says:

        same here. Had a fun exercise at Morrissons just before Christmas buying £300 JL vouchers in 6 separate transactions (£50 x 6) They must have thought I was mad going to a different cashier each time 🙂

    • I bought £200 of John Lewis gift cards to use in Waitrose. Combined with the regular “spend £40, get £8 off” vouchers, that’s a 28% discount. Aldi can manage without my custom for a few weeks.

      Wish I’d bought more.

      • Was great for manufactured spend too. I managed to earn around 40,000 MR points for virtually no outlay at all.
        And got £200 in Morrisons more vouchers too.

      • RussellH says:

        Visited a Waitrose just after Christmas while away from home, as we had been given a gift card.

        TBH the prices seemed extortionate cf Tesco or Morrisons, or even Sainsbury’s at home; never mind Aldi or Lidl.

        • You need to take the difference in quality into account.

        • Take off 20% (or 28% with a discounted gift card) and their prices become very reasonable. Goods on offer become ridiculously cheap.

        • That’s because they are – there’s a reason why Waitrose has a reputation for being for posh snobs!

        • Waitrose sells confit duck in a can. It is a beautiful thing. It’s worth going to Waitrose for that alone.

          Callum – you seem to be implying that people who shop at Waitrose are posh snobs, on a forum filled with people who love to fly in first class.

      • Scallder says:

        My spend £40 save £8 vouchers have dried up since mid-December 🙁 Alongside that and saving 7% on gift card purchases through Zeek shop and felt was doing extremely well. Moving back to Sainsbury’s now the vouchers have stopped…

        • mine dried up too. Im not sure if it’s since I opted in to ‘digital’ vouchers in the app instead of paper ones.

          Last year, after the last GC promotion, the last lot of vouchers went from £8 off £40, to £10 off £200!

    • Rob Walker says:

      Yep,I went fairly mad too. JL had Macbooks reduced from £1250 to £799 just before Christmas as the colour was no longer a current model (the spec was still identical.) So a nice additional £80 saving. I was going to kepp it but ended up selling it on ebay for £900 instead.

      Lots of vouchers to pay my Wife’s Next account bill, Currys to buy myself a Google Home Max, etc etc etc!

      • Hope you had one of those max £1 selling fees offers from eBay too – I saved £60 in selling old DSLR kit with that.

        • We had decided to splash out and buy a new Sony 55” Tv with OLED and thought about buying all the John Lewis vouchers but decided in the end to buy it from a local company that does free delivery and installation and put it on my IHG card. Hubby not happy he couldn’t have it before Xmas because I had already hit Spire Elite with my IHG card – I wanted the spend for qualifying pts in 2019 – by waiting they reduced the price by £200 so a win win. Now all installed and both enjoying it!

        • Haha great result – hoped he coped with some extra drinks from Morrison’s to make up with the TV over Xmas 🙂

    • We did too, plenty of paper vouchers too for future use, can be used for anything, petrol, GCs etc etc..

    • I didn’t even think of buying Gift Cards. We just bought stuff for Christmas. Rookie mistake.

      • Ahh yeah – I did a wee test purchase then when it went OK I kinda went for it 😛 If I hadn’t found the self-scan/no-scales option I probably wouldn’t have managed quite as much though! Didn’t get any paper vouchers though, sounds like they would have been a good option.

        Morrison’s related – beware the new app-based system doesn’t activate your fivers immediately, can take a few hours (even overnight). On the upside they seem to work like cash and are fine for paying for GCs.

    • Scallder says:

      The 10% perhaps, however I can’t see how Morrisons (or Tesco/Superdrug et al) would be able to recognise the revenues for gift cards sold at the full value. So if Morrisons sold a gift card for JL for £50, I would expect that they could only recognise the cut they take on selling the 3rd party gift card. So say it’s 2% then they should only be able to recognise £1 of revenue, and not the full £50. All based on IFRS 15.

      • Yeah fair point, GCs won’t have driven revenue quite as much but I know I bought more in store at the same time. Would be interesting to know how much went through on that offer across the UK though!

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