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 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.

How to earn Emirates Skywards miles via UK credit cards

As a reminder, Emirates no longer has its own UK credit card.  However, you can earn Emirates Skywards points by converting Membership Rewards points earned from selected UK American Express cards.  These are:

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold – 10,000 Membership Rewards points sign-up bonus

The Platinum Card from American Express – 30,000 Membership Rewards points sign-up bonus

American Express Rewards credit card – up to 5,000 Membership Rewards points sign-up bonus

Membership Rewards points convert at 1:1 into Emirates Skywards miles.  The cards above all earn 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent on your card, which converts to 1 Emirates Skywards miles.

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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  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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?


        • @ 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.

  4. 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!

    • 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!

  5. O/T. Had a flight booked as part of the Iberia promotion cancelled by the airline. Rang them and was given some alternatives but cancelled the flight for a refund.

    Anyone aware if they are likely to clawback the 9,000 avios I got for booking originally?


  6. OT: Regarding Amex Platinum travel insurance. Does anyone know exactly what it means to have “booked the trip with your card” regarding the requirement for all insurances apart from the core medical and car hire benefits? I have an upcoming trip that’s been partially paid for by a different Amex card (main flights and some hotels), partially paid for by my Halifax clarity (other flights and some hotels) and partially paid for by bank transfer via Transferwise!

    Typically on any trip I do there are lots of different payments required and I tend to use a variety of different payment methods, including Amex. I’m not sure if I have to pay for everything on an Amex to be eligible for the additional insurance benefits from Platinum.

    • I asked a similar question yesterday and the advice I received was that as long as the trip was paid for with an Amex card, it didn’t matter that it was not an Amex Platinum.

  7. BSI1978 says:

    Does Qatar offer a similar tool to BA where one can see how many tier points will be gained by a certain journey or trip? I can’t see to find it if they do.

    • Genghis says:

      If you mean taking a QR flight and then crediting to BA (for TPs), then use the BA calculator.
      If you mean taking a QR flight and then crediting to Privilege Club (for Qpoints),

      • BSI1978 says:

        Thanks Genghis – hadn’t used this for a while and forgot one could simply input another airline here…..!

    • Not sure but given recent chat about their programme on here I’d be crediting to BAEC rather than QR’s scheme!

      • Totally, why we jumped ship years ago from qr to baec…

      • BSI1978 says:

        There’s absolutely no danger of me not crediting to BAEC. Enquired about Qatar as their flight earns me more tier points for the same journey, albeit with short stop in Doha.

        • Ah cool – just wanted to make sure, some folk don’t realise you’ve the option of crediting them to any Oneworld programme. The amount earned is always dependent on the programme being credited though so the mention of QR website made me double-check 😛

  8. Pangolin says:

    OT The 10,000 miles bonus for my Miles and More Diners Club card came through today.

    As I didn’t receive the card until Dec 28 and managed just a single transaction on it before Dec 31 I felt relieved to sneak in just in time!

  9. The Lord says:

    OT: AmEx Platinum referrals – Currently hold the Plat, BA free and SPG. Am I correct in assuming I can self refer for the Nectar and bag the 18k? Thanks

    • Yep, just make sure to refer from your Amex Plat a/c!

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Would consider cancelling one first. report that 2 co-branded credit cards is the max and also a number of failed applications

      • I thought the feeling was that this limit was more a historical one? Have often had initial decline but then subsequent card. Agree though it lots of credit limit across existing cards may be worth closing some to free up available credit w/Amex.

    • How can you refer from Platinum to Nectar? When I refer from Platinum to my partner, they are only offered Platinum and Gold cards to apply for?

  10. OT – Card conundrum! OH referred me from his Platinum on Jan 1st for MR gold and Jan 3rd for BA blue. Neither application got an instant decision. He’s had one set of referral points and today my blue card arrived. Still no word on the gold card even though I applied for it 2 days earlier. I’m reluctant to start chasing it up at this stage in case the “g” word gets bandied about but am perplexed that the later application has seemingly been dealt with first. Any ideas?

    • They should arrive, but next time maybe leave a month between apps…

      • Ideally I would but OH needs to close Platinum before 1st anniversary! We only refer each other and stick to the Ts & Cs as we’d hate to spoil the hobby for everyone…

  11. OT: has anyone claimed back APD for a teen ticket, for tickets booked through Amex travel portal, need to book tickets using Amex £50 off for £200 spend but no option to book teen ticket! Am getting nowhere with Amex chat.
    Any advise would be appreciated.

    • What are the options for booking? I would have thought speaking to Amex travel would be the best option though.

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