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Bits: new 50% ‘buy Avios’ bonus launches today, Virgin launching Tel Aviv, St Regis Venice coming

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News in brief:

50% bonus when you buy Avios

British Airways is launching another ‘buy Avios’ bonus promotion today.

Until 24th February you will receive 50% bonus Avios when you buy or gift points.

This is as high a bonus as we see these days and there is no minimum purchase.  The bonus kicks in with the smallest 1,000 Avios transaction.  You need to visit via this page in order to buy.

British Airways has increased the number of Avios you can buy under this deal – the cap is now 200,000 points per year!  This means that, with the bonus, you will receive 300,000 Avios for a whopping £3,215.

This is not necessarily a great idea as the best value is generally obtained by buying a small number of Avios to top off your account.  If you saw me on BBC1’s Rip Off Britain last year (you can watch the segment here, it is only 3 minutes long) you will know that one of the members of the public I tried to help had bought 100,000 Avios for £1,600 without fully understand the restrictions behind them.

What does it cost?

In general, you will pay around 1.1p per Avios under this offer.  Based on my spreadsheet of the last 7 million Avios I redeemed, I got 1.15p of value.  This is using very conservative valuations for the flights booked, eg I value a Business Class flight to Dubai at £1,500 because even if BA isn’t charging that there is usually a deal with a secondary airline.

I am clearly not a buyer at 1.1p.  However, as my core article on ‘What is an Avios worth?’ shows, it is easy to get a lot more than 1.1p.  My valuation is low because I do a lot of Gold Priority Rewards (using double Avios to force open a seat, mainly due to school holiday restrictions) and don’t always have a BA Amex 2-4-1 voucher to use.  I also tend to use Avios irrespective of the value, because I am sitting on a lot of them.  If you are strategic you should do better than me.

The link to buy is here.

PS.  The current Groupon offer via Iberia Plus is still running too – see here, in Spanish but Chrome can translate.  Compare the prices for the amount you want.

50% buy Avios bonus

Virgin Atlantic confirms Tel Aviv route

Virgin Atlantic has now confirmed the rumour we published a few weeks ago.

Flights to Tel Aviv will launch on 25th September.  It will use an A330-300, so Virgin’s fully flat Upper Class seat will be going head to head with the Boeing 777 version of the Club World seat.

For the first month, the flight will leave Heathrow at 13.30, landing at 20.35, with the return leaving Tel Aviv at 07.15, landing at 11.10.

This changes from 27th October, when the departure from Heathrow moves back to 16.00, landing at 23.05.  The return will depart at 06.05, arriving at Heathrow at 09.55.

St Regis Venice

St Regis Venice opening soon

Somehow this had slipped past me.  When I was in Venice last August I noticed that Marriot’s Westin Europa & Regina was closed for refurbishment.

It appears that the hotel is about to reopen under the luxury St Regis brand.  This will make another excellent Marriott option in Venice to add to the JW Marriott (on an island outside Venice, JW Marriott Venice review here), the Gritti Palace and the Danieli.

Booking is not yet available.  The website says March 2019 but that is not probably happening if you can’t book yet!

You may remember that St Regis used to have a hotel in the lagoon, next to the JW Marriott, but it closed after a year and was rebranded as a Kempinski.

The hotel website, not that there is much on it yet, is here.

(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.)

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  1. OT: We know and hate that BA add on their Carrier Surcharges to redemption bookings but I have just been seeing what the taxes on a redemption would cost in a ‘perfect world’ using the ITA Matrix and notice that even on a normal cash ticket, BA still add on a Carrier Surcharge of £400. Does anybody know why this is as surely their money comes from the Fare itself?
    (Apologies if this has been discussed before)

    This is a Club World LHR to JFK booking in December:

    Fare 1: Carrier BA INW1C1S6 LON to NYC (rules)
    Passenger type ADT, round trip fare, booking code I
    Covers LHR-JFK (Business)

    Fare 2: Carrier BA INW1C1S6 NYC to LON (rules)
    Passenger type ADT, round trip fare, booking code I
    Covers JFK-LHR (Business)

    United States Immigration User Fee (XY)

    United States Customs User Fee (YC)

    United States APHIS Passenger Fee Passengers (XA)

    United Kingdom Air Passenger Duty APD (GB)

    United Kingdom Passenger Service Charge Departures (UB)

    Carrier-imposed surcharge (YQ)

    US International Arrival Tax (US)

    US September 11th Security Fee (AY)

    US Passenger Facility Charge (XF)

    Subtotal per passenger

    Number of passengers

    Subtotal For 1 adult

    • I’m confused, they all do… BA, Virgin, American, Air France – what am I missing/not understanding?

    • AFAIK their carrier surcharges are the same on both award and cash tickets. BA is not alone in adding such surcharges and the reason they do so should be blatantly obvious.

      • BJ – actually not convinced that YQ is constant for a redemption Vs cash fare, if fact in previous examples I’ve seen I’m sure it’s higher for redemptions.

    • the_real_a says:

      Which is why AMEX MR are so valuable so you can trasnfer to Delta / United Etc that dont generally charge the exorbitant carrier fees.

      • You can’t move MR to United or American, so that is 2 of the 3 ways of avoiding fees gone!

        • the_real_a says:

          Yes quite right united. Ive booked on Guarda/Vietnam air/Korean air long haul for next to no fees in the last 12 months through partner redemption’s. All from Amex MR. I guess these must have been through Delta in that case.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          Does the IDC card allow transfer to either?

          What’s the rate?

        • No

      • Wish you could transfer them to United, sadly not an option for UK MR programme.

    • Lady London says:

      The other name for “Carrier imposed surcharge” is “Carrier Greed Charge”.

      So far as I understand it, British Airways used to call these amounts ” fuel charge” until someone sued them in the US courts saying cost of fuel had gone down not up and why was British Airways still charging a “fuel surcharge” type thing on every ticket.

      To their credit British Airways promptly complied and removed the annoying title fuel surcharge AFAIK. However mysteriously we now have a carrier charge, also coded YQ, which has apparently sneakily increased by serious amounts recently without any announcement, instead.

  2. OT: Hilton Honors points expiring end of this month.

    Can I book a room for April onwards (after points expiry) without risk or does the room have to be booked to stay in pre expiry date?

  3. OT Sorry Julian
    Hilton Malta posted an offer.

    20th February marks the 100 DAY COUNTDOWN to the 100 YEAR ANNIVERSARY of the Hilton Brand! To launch the celebrations we are offering 100 Deluxe Rooms at €100 per room per night including breakfast for 2 persons!
    That is NOT ALL! When taking up the room offer, you get a 10% DISCOUNT on any Food & Beverage consumed!

    Another 100 year anniversary?

    • Gosh that could be generous if I’ve read that right:

      100 rooms for €100 on the 100 day
      99 rooms for €99 on the 99th day
      98 rooms for €98 on the 98th day….etc etc…

      Possible over optimistic reading into that.

      • Shoestring says:

        wishful thinking! 🙂

        But if you can go for it in the dates allowed [T&CS APPLY, LIMITED TIME OFFER OVER SPECIFIC DATES], could be a cheap holiday

  4. OT – If you book an airport hotel and parking package on a third party site (such as Travel Supermarket or Holiday Extras) do you get status benefits and points from the stay? Is it brand dependent?

  5. Hilton Malta posted an offer.

    20th February marks the 100 DAY COUNTDOWN to the 100 YEAR ANNIVERSARY of the Hilton Brand! To launch the celebrations we are offering 100 Deluxe Rooms at €100 per room per night including breakfast for 2 persons!
    That is NOT ALL! When taking up the room offer, you get a 10% DISCOUNT on any Food & Beverage consumed!

    Another 100 year anniversary?

  6. Is the Intercontinental Venice simply not happening?

    Something to be keeping an eye on I think.

    • Lufthansa uses passenger for not taking booked flight

      • A freudian slip perhaps?
        They sued someone – will be interesting to see if they can make it stick.

        I am sure a good chunk of people book ex-EU with the last leg on a separate day?

        • The problem with Lufthansa is that German Court ruled that no-show policy is unfair and they should remove it from their T&C’s. Now Lufthansa is happy if you do not fly any of the segments, but they specifically state that they will reprice the fare. That’s what happens with this customer… he didn’t fly the last leg, and his ticket got repriced. Lufthansa lost the first case, but it has decided to appeal. Interesting times ahead.

        • I was happy to play the game and fly my last leg to OSL after getting BA F for £2k with GUV2! Even managed to get Qantas to check back BNE-SYD-SIN-LHR-OSL! 🙂

  8. OT, just arrived from AirEuropa, 20% off Tourist (economy???) fares using the code ‘LOVE20’ on the payment page. AirEuropa are interesting because they fly a wide bodied aircraft on some of their routes out of the UK.


    20% web discount code applied on fare on all our Tourist class.
    Not applicable on Business class.
    For sales from 11/02/19 to 14/02/19.
    Travel period: 11/02/19 – 14/06/19, except for 12/04/19 – 22/04/19.
    Check conditions at
    Not applicable on Spanish interisland routes.
    Only applicable to Air Europa operated flights.
    Fare subject to availability.

  9. Shoestring says:

    £100 off £400 @defined Melia – incl the White House
    Melia Vienna Donau-City-Straße 7 Vienna
    Melia Paris La Defense 3, Boulevard de Neuilly 92400 Courbevoie Paris
    Melia Berlin Friedrichstraße, 103 10117 Berlin
    Tryp Munich Paul-Heyse-Strasse 24 80336 München
    Innside Hamburg Högerdamm 30 20097 Hamburg
    Melia Jardines del Teide Urbanización Mirador del Duque Tenerife – Costa
    Adeje, Sta Cruz de Tenerife
    Gran Melia Palacio de
    Avenida Los Océanos, s/n, Alcalá Tenerife – Guia de
    Isora, Sta Cruz de Tenerife
    Hotel Calvia Beach the
    plaza managed by Melia
    Av. S’Olivera, 4 Calviá Beach 07181 Calvià, Majorca,
    Gran Meliá Victoria Avenida Joan Miró, 21 Majorca – Palma
    Sol Lanzarote Calle Grama, 2 Lanzarote – Puerto del Carmen,
    Gran Melia Fenix Calle de Hermosilla 2 Madrid
    ME Madrid Plaza de Santa Ana, 14 Madrid
    Meliá Sarria Avinguda de Sarrià, 50 Barcelona
    Meliá Barcelona Sky Pere IV, 272 – 286 Barcelona
    Melia Madrid Princesa Calle de la Princesa, 27 Madrid
    Melia Sierra Nevada Plaza de Pradollano Granada – Sierra Nevada
    United Kingdom
    ME London 336-337 The Strand WC2R 1HA London
    Melia White House Albany Street, Regent´s Park NW1 3UP London

  10. O/T Just been hit with a 12 euro Irish Independent bill..Those who signed up for the Avios remember to cancel!

  11. O/T got a “late payment forfeit” of 10 amex points on my amex statement. What’s that all about?
    Had paid off the amex charge card and no monetary penalty on statement.

  12. OT: I know Amex to Delta transfers are instant once accounts are linked. How fast are they if accounts are not linked and it’s a first transfer from MR to Delta?

  13. Try a different browser. The submit button didn’t work for me either in safari.

  14. O/T – when does the Amex Plat Dee get charged? At account approval or when the card is activated? Also same question, when does the 3 month window to spend the £2k start? Have my card but not activated yet. Wondering if I can delay for couple of weeks. Thanks

    • Charge from point account approved then annually on anniversary statement.

      • Sorry, that was so concise as to be unhelpful.

        Say you apply on 4 Feb 2019 and are auto-approved:
        – card issued maybe 5 or 6 Feb and window to hit target spend begins at that point. This can actually be before you physically have the card, they take about 5 days to arrive IME.
        – your first statement date is c.30-35 days after the date your card is approved so probably 6 March or so
        – Annual fee applied to account on first statement date, covering period starting from card approval
        – subsequent annual fees would be on anniversary statement dated 6 March 2020 etc etc..

        If you take a while to activate the card, it doesn’t change any of this, so you might as well get onto it.

    • The charge is on the first statement. The 3 month time period to put the spend through fur the bonus starts from day of approval, whether you activate or not.

      • thanks Stu N and Peter K, both helpful replies. i was just being lazy as the card is at the post office awaiting collection and was wondering if i should bother making the effort to rush back from work in the week or just collect on Saturday…i need to renew my yearly travel card which will cost most of the spend target anyway 🙂

  15. Try putting date in as “dd mmm yyyy” format eg 04 JAN 2019.

    Has just taken me 2 weeks to get an unsatisfactory response to only tracking 1 of 2 transactions.

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