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Bits: Virgin Atlantic’s new A350 routes, Etihad Guest stops expiring miles, ski holiday discount with SNO

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News in brief:

Virgin announces four new A350 routes and an extra daily to Delhi

Virgin Atlantic has now confirmed its Summer 2020 schedule, which will begin on the 29th March.

Virgin has been slowly ramping up its UK-India routes, which suffered a loss when codeshare partner Jet Airways went into administration.

It clearly thinks there is extra flying to be had which hasn’t been mopped up by other airlines, and is introducing a second daily flight to Delhi.  This is in addition to the new Mumbai route which launched a couple of weeks ago.  The new Delhi flight goes on sale on 23rd November.

Next summer Virgin will also start putting its A350s on other routes. Up until now, all the A350s were going on the London-New York route but we will now see a bit of variety in the schedule.

This means that you will still find a variety of Virgin Atlantic aircraft flying to New York, since Virgin will not have enough A350 to run them on all seven daily flights as well as the new destinations.

This is where you will find the A350:

Johannesburg will see the A350 from March, on VS 449/450
Los Angeles gets a daily A350 in April, on VS 23/24
San Francisco gets a daily A350 in May, on VS19/20
Lagos will get a daily A350 in August, on VS 411/412

As a reminder, Virgin Atlantic’s A350 comes with a new Upper Class Suite reviewed here, as well as a redesigned social ‘Loft’ area for business class passengers.  It is a major improvement on the current Upper Class product.

As always, there may be last minute equipment changes or timetable alterations.  These new services will be using aircraft from the 2nd batch of A350 deliveries and the dates may slip.

Virgin Atlantic announces new A350 routes

Etihad Guest removes mileage expiry – which makes it more interesting!

Back in 2017, Gavin Halliday resigned as CEO of Avios Group to move to Abu Dhabi, to run all of Etihad’s loyalty businesses.

He has had a lot on his hands since then.  First there was the collapse of Air Berlin and its Etihad-owned topbonus loyalty programme, and more recently the collapse of India’s Jet Airways and its (still functioning, now renamed) loyalty scheme InterMiles.

Gavin and I had (still have) a good relationship and would meet up to bounce ideas around.  Once of his pet peeves was enforced mileage expiry, which he felt was unfair and which stopped people building up their miles to use in retirement.

Etihad Guest had one of the most extreme enforced mileage expiry policies.   Your miles expired three years after you had earned them, and there was nothing you could do to stop it.

Etihad Guest was relaunched last week, and mileage expiry is no more.  As long as there is activity on your Etihad Guest account every 18 months, your miles are secure.

Spending Etihad Guest miles:

You should take Etihad Guest more seriously nowEtihad’s First Class Apartment on its A380 fleet is an amazing experience as I reviewed here.  The Business Class Studio is also impressive.  Here is our last Business Class Studio review but I have flown it twice more since, most recently last month.  They have funky Aqua di Parma amenity kits now too!  Etihad also has daily flights from Manchester.

Whilst not in an airline alliance, Etihad Guest has its own partnerships.  I recommend Oman Air from London and Manchester – this article looked at how to book it with Etihad Guest miles.

There is also an amazingly cheap (51,000 miles return in Business Class) service between Prague and Seoul on Czech Airlines!

There are plenty of other partners too as you can see here.

Earning Etihad Guest miles:

Etihad has more partner earning airlines than you might think – take a look at their website here.  You’ve got Air New Zealand, Air Serbia, Air Europa, Air Seychelles, Alitalia, ANA, American Airlines, Asiana, Bangkok Airways, Brussels Airlines, Czech Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, Hainan Airlines, Korean Air, Malaysia Airlines, Oman Air, Philippine Airlines, Royal Air Maroc, SAS, Sri Lankan Airlines, Virgin Australia and GOL.

Etihad Guest offers regular bonuses, usually 20% or so, on transfers from hotel loyalty schemes.

Etihad no longer has its own UK credit card.  However, you can earn Etihad Guest miles 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 – 5,000 Membership Rewards points sign-up bonus

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

Etihad Guest is also a partner with the HSBC Premier Mastercard (0.5 miles per £1 spent, reviewed here) and HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard (1 mile per £1 spent, reviewed here).  You could also transfer Marriott Bonvoy points earned via the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express.

You should obviously look into the programme more carefully before deciding whether it is for you.  However, the ability to build up miles slowly via – say – the HSBC Premier Mastercard is now a realistic option given that you no longer need to watch the clock ticking down on their expiry.

Save 5% on ski holidays with SNO

Finally, I wanted to plug our ski holiday discount with SNO again today.

SNO has agreed to offer Head for Points readers an exclusive 5% off discount code again this winterTheir website has some good half board hotel packages at the moment, including the Hotel San Giovanni (pictured) in Livigno, Italy, which currently comes with a free lift pass.

You can claim a 5% discount from the brochure price of all SNO holidays using the code SNOHFP.  You can find all SNO hotel deals here – you need to book by telephone 020 7770 6888 to claim your 5% discount.

Amex launches a new co-brand cashback card with health and life insurer Vitality
What does Fans of M.O. (Mandarin Oriental’s loyalty programme) offer you when you stay?

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  1. Does anyone know if the current Marriott amex offer works cumulatively?

  2. Does Marriott deal work for 2020 prepared hotels

    • As long as you are charged now. Keep an eye on your statement and chase the hotel if needed. Some are not in a hurry.

  3. O/T IHG:

    Do we know for a fact that Accelerate and 4x stack?

  4. Definitas says:

    OT. Has any UK citizen renewed Global Entry (or begun the process)? Do you have to reapply via the FO or can you log on to your existing GE and reapply?

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