Bits: Qatar’s impressive new economy seat, get triple points from Accor, Turkish adds flat beds to Manchester

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News in brief:

Qatar Airways unveils a new economy seat – which looks good

I was at the launch of the new Qatar Airways economy seat in Berlin yesterday.  Economy travel is not something we focus on much, but I thought it was worth a quick look.

Let’s be clear.  There isn’t much you can do with a standard economy airline seat to make it better.  This is why I am quite impressed with what Qatar Airways is doing, where lots of incremental changes add up:

Qatar Airways new economy seat

  • each seat gets a 13.3 inch 4K TV screen – it is almost as wide as the seat back.  My one worry here is that the screen glare from neighbouring seats will be annoying, especially if you are trying to sleep.
  • the seats are ultra-slim which seems to improve legroom – I tried one out and my 6’2′ frame was not wedged against the seat in front
  • there are two flip-down trays – one just below the TV which includes a cupholder and the usual 2nd tray just above knee level
  • the back of the seat in front curves inwards at the bottom, giving your knees more room
  • the seats are partially in shells – this means that if the person in front of you reclines, the back of their seat does not come forward into your face
  • all seats have USB charging sockets

Qatar Airways also announced an upgrade to their ORYX IFE system, taking it up to 4000 channels, and an increase in the size of food portions.  Desserts will be 50% larger whilst main courses will be 25% larger.   There will also be a move to using more recyclable and biodegradable items.

That’s the good news.  The bad news is that you won’t be seeing this seat in a hurry.  It is being introduced initially on the new A320LR aircraft which will not serve the UK.  It will only be rolled out to other aircraft as part of the natural replacement cycle, which means it may take eight years to complete.

The food upgrade IS happening more quickly, however.  It is due to launch imminently and be available on all routes by the end of the year.

New Qatar Airways economy seat

Get double or triple points on your next Accor stay!

Le Club AccorHotels, the loyalty scheme for Ibis, Novotel, Mercure, Sofitel, Pullman, Raffles, Swissotel, Fairmont etc, has launched a new promotion.  Full details are here.

You can earn bonus points on your next stay in the UK, Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands or Sweden.  No other countries count.

You will receive:

triple base points if you book via the Accor app

double base points if you book via the Accor website or direct with the hotel 

You need to book by 30th March for stays until 30th April.  You can only earn the bonus ONCE so if you have a cheap stay followed by an expensive one you may want to delay registration and booking.

You MUST register in advance of booking.  This can be done via the Accor website on this page.  You can also register via the ‘Promotions’ tab in the app.

Turkish Airlines A330 Manchester

Turkish Airlines adds A330 to Manchester

Turkish Airlines will be adding a long-haul A330 aircraft to its Manchester to Istanbul route this Summer.

The aircraft will operate three of the 14 weekly services between 28th May and 25th October.  It will be on the 13.20 departure from Istanbul on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, returning at 17.00 from Manchester.

You’ll get a fully flat seat in Business Class (2 x 2 x 2 configuration).  If you live in the Manchester area and have some Star Alliance miles to use, a long weekend in Istanbul – which would also let you see the new airport if it eventually opens – could be fun.

Here’s my review of the impressive St Regis Istanbul if you need a hotel idea.

British Airways announces First Class 'soft' improvements, live from 31st March
Excellent business class deal to Asia using Etihad miles on Czech Airlines
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  1. Nick M says:

    OT – We will be cancelling my wife’s Amex shortly and looking for a home for 70k points… We have 300k Avios, 120k Virgin, 3k Eurostar, 80k Hilton, 50k Marriott (+ a 7 day travel package), 44k Radisson.

    I know that it depends on how we’re planning to use them, but we have 2 children under 5 and don’t have any set ideas at the moment – should I just be boring and top up Avios (RFS tickets), Virgin (in anticipation of KLM etc / potential redemption / Miles plus money) and Hilton (generally 10k-30k rooms) or is there something else I should be looking at?

    I’m aware it isn’t a huge number of points for family travel, so probably doesn’t make sense to start a new collection… but I’m open to any suggestions!

    • Shoestring says:

      Transfer 1000MR points to all the schemes to renew dates/ expiry

      rest is up to you & your plans

      • Great idea, will remember this for surplus points

        • Shoestring says:

          I always transfer 1000 MR points to our Iberia a/cs once a year to stay 100% safe – I know this is more frequently than necessary but it keeps you safe & IB are ruthless about cancelling points over the expiry date plus have ‘nastier’ rules than BAEC about expiry

          you can always transfer them to BAEC the next day

    • Scallder says:

      Nick – with 2 kids under 5, I would personally look at putting them towards Marriott. The reason being that some of their longer stay properties (Residence Inn) in a number of countries sleep 4 and can quite often get a 1 bedroom apartment, so would have a lot of space. I don’t collect Hilton points so not well versed on Hilton to be honest, but some Residence Inn properties in decent locations can be had for 25k per night. So the 70k you have would be 105k Bonvoy points so would make 155k. With a 5th night free, that would get you a week somewhere at the 25k point level.

      • Nick M says:

        Thanks – are there any particular Residence Inns that you’d recommend?

        I also have a Cat 6 Travel Package, the most suitable European option that allows 4 in a room seems to be a Portuguese property which is a Cat 5… if we go for this, fingers crossed for a partial refund!

        • Scallder says:

          I’ve only stayed in one before I’m afraid, however I’ve got 10 nights coming up over Easter in Philadelphia (city centre location) and Washington DC (Dupont Circle) which I managed to get us 1 bedroom suites for, both on points. I’ve heard the free breakfast isn’t anything to write home about, however in your instance for a family of four, that benefit can save a bit as time goes on.

          We’ve got a 1 year old however even before she came along, my wife and I stayed in one before as well as a couple of Staybridge Suites and very much enjoyed having the additional space as well as the facilities to cook/do breakfast if we wanted to (Staybridge Suites didn’t do free breakfast when we were there).

          I haven’t checked for four, but have a look at the Westin Costa Navarino in Greece – we’re going there in September and they’re certainly allowing us to have our daughter in a crib in the room – don’t know how old your children are but that might be worth a look (category 5)

      • Louise says:

        Can second that, we stayed in residence inn San Diego Bayfront, with our 16 months old. Really enjoyed our week and the room was ideal.

    • Have a look at this article:

      Rob, is this something that you could do an article on in the future? Point redemption at high end hotels in Europe suitable for families? We stayed in Domes of Elounda last August using a Marriott travel package as a result of it being mentioned on here previously.

      • Freddy says:

        I’d be interested in this also

      • The Savage Squirrel says:

        +1 to an article (series?) on family travel, as Rob must have a lot of knowledge and expertise in this area!

        At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I have found Radisson family rooms are a good option for family travel on points and have the best conversion rate from Amex.

      • Nick M says:

        Definitely keen for this – and very willing to be sent to review properties of a slightly lower standard than Rob’s family might normally look at 🙂

        I was looking at topping up Radisson, and maybe a couple of nights at the property near Disneyland – but at 55k points for a family room (18k MR), I’m not sure if I’d rather a couple of RFS flights instead!

    • pauldb says:

      I’d probably be boring and put them to Avios. Particularly if you have any plans in the next 2-3yrs to go longhaul (which should involve 241s) – that will leave your pile rather small. In any case RFS are a great option presuming you are or will be restricted to school hols (if you’re using LON airports). Generally I think hotel points aren’t great, or at least are too restrictive, for families.

      • Marriott is better for families because so many hotels let you pay a cash supplement during the booking process for a bigger room or suite.

        Radisson Family Room redemptions are also good but they have a far smaller footprint.

        • You cannot beat a premier inn if everyone is going to be in the same room. Some admittedly are better than others – e.g. subtle night light at newer hotels

    • 1967stuart says:

      Whilst I have nothing to add Nick on what has already been mentioned, loved the question you asked as like a number of people we are exactly in the same boat…….balance to clear out of Amex rewards (so to wait then 6 months and reapply) and wondering where to put them across our small-ish but equally important stash of Avoid, Virgin, Hotel points.

  2. Jim Hodson says:

    When should I spring for BA PE upgrade to New York. Offered at £238 now. Does it come down nearer the time?

  3. Does anyone have any codes for Emirates? I have the offer on my Amex but wanted to see if I can get the price down a little further.

  4. Ammar says:

    OT – Need to cancel a RFS with BA that i booked, just wanting to find out, will i get the points back? Do i need to pay anything extra or do they just not refund the £35 cost of taxes that I originally paid?

  5. kovacsi76 says:

    O/T: I ordered an extra supp gold card for myself on my platinum charge card account to bag the bonus, but received a platinum one in the mail. Is this normal, or should I cancel it quickly before they charge me the £170 fee?

    • Shoestring says:

      they will charge the £170

      • Shoestring says:

        hang on – if it’s the first & only Plat supp, it’s free – you wouldn’t have got the bonus on the 3rd one so I’m assuming this is what you mean

        • I got 5000 when they sent me a plat supp without applying for it (previously cancelled from gold)
          Applied for a gold sup and got 3000
          Hope this helps

        • Shoestring says:

          JTZ – they automatically send you the same Plat supp you had on Gold when you upgrade to Plat

          Sounds like you then applied for a Gold Supp (on your Plat) and got a 3000 bonus, despite already having the Plat Supp?

        • @ Shoestring
          Yep, they sent me the supp and I called to say I was going to apply in a while, they added the 5000 manually, then I applied for a gold supp and got 3000,
          I think anyone with a plat can get 8000 through both, 1 plat supp and 1 gold supp

        • kovacsi76 says:

          Sorry, should have specified that my wife already has a plat supp from when I upgraded from gold charge. Didn’t get a bonus for that, as expected. So decided to apply for a gold supp for myself, and the bonus already hit my account. But the card I got is plat, so 3rd plat on my account. Guess I’d better call and cancel asap.

      • If it’s an additional card for the main cardholder it’ll be Plat and fee-free.

  6. I need to book a return flight to the middle east for 4 people on BA.

    I have 2 x 241 vouchers in hand.

    I can get the outbound flight on avios, but zero return avios flights available.

    Can i use ONE of the 241 voucher’s to pay for all 4 outbound flights?

    I will then separately book cash on another airline for the outbound.

  7. Craig says:

    OT: Marriott points transfer. Mrs S has 38k but the Marriott system would only let me transfer 30k, anyone experienced this before?

  8. Craig says:

    Having though about it it’s not a huge problem, 8k transferred to BA from her account with the 30% bonus will still leave me over 60k to take the 5k and 30% bonuses. Just a faff having to do 2.

  9. Does anyone know why my Hilton acct for a stay last weekend would show base points (and diamond bonus) as 0, but the points unlimited 2000 points is shown?

    Not sure if I should contact support or leave it for a bit.

  10. Shoestring says:

    O/T I was just reviewing my Orbis Investments ISA. If you remember, Virgin Money ISA said no repeats LY (to get Virgin Miles bonus, that is), so I looked around and Orbis were offering a matched £100 deal – you put in minimum £100, they match it with £100 – proviso being you keep it invested/ no withdrawals for 12 months. (I was not able to share the deal April 2018 as still recovering from tripping over cat incident & unable to post.)

    So here’s how the 2 funds Orbis offers have done over the last 12 months: Global Balanced Fund -4.2%, Global Equity Fund -8.9%. Not too bad vs comparatives – and will likely be better than that for the 12 months of this UK fiscal as April 5th 2018 was a low spot.

    Your matched £100 gives you some confidence that you’re not going to lose money no matter what happens in the markets, so it’s no surprise that I have done better than above. I’m up some 12% (ignoring the matched £100), or +112% if you include it (a bit of market timing in there helped).

    Of course it’s just a bit of fun compared to investing £20K in an ISA but I am actually very impressed by the Orbis fee structure (it’s very fair & innovative, you’d need to explore for yourself) and performance over longer time span than 12 months is excellent

    Point being: it’s the new tax year in under a month and if you are just messing around with points so not bothered about investing £20K in an ISA, the absence of a Virgin offer might lead you to think about Orbis if they repeat the matched £100 deal yet again. Points = money so this is like getting 11K free Avios/ Virgin miles for my £100 stake.

  11. Appears that Aspire Lounge at LGW South will be taking bookings from May 1st

  12. Clive says:

    Don’t know if this has been posted however applied for a Gold Card for my Wife and just added me as a supplementary card holder. Bonus has come though virtually immediately but now seems to have dropped to 3000 points.

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