BA Sale

Bits: more Arsenal seats for Emirates / Amex points, Mandarin Oriental benefits, Virgin Atlantic joins Vitality

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News in brief:

More Arsenal football tickets released for Emirates Skywards miles

Emirates has released a further batch of Arsenal football tickets for Emirates Skywards members who have miles to redeem.

These cover all of the Premier League games until the end of the season.  I expect this to be the last major release apart from Europa League and FA Cup fixtures.

Emirates has made a major change this year.  Tickets can no longer be transferred.  The person who is named on the Emirates Skywards account must attend.  It is difficult to get around this because you need to collect your tickets on the day from the Arsenal offices and ID is required.

You can see the current games available on this page of the Emirates website (log in required).   This is what is available as of last night, pricing is PER PERSON:

  • Arsenal vs Manchester United – Emirates Box – 1st January – 35,000 miles
  • Arsenal vs Manchester United – General Admission – 1st January – 25,000 miles
  • Arsenal vs Sheffield United – Emirates Box – 18th January – 22,000 miles
  • Arsenal vs Sheffield United – General Admission – 18th January – 11,000 miles
  • Arsenal vs Newcastle United – Emirates Box – 8th February – 22,000 miles
  • Arsenal vs Newcastle United – General Admission – 8th February – 11,000 miles
  • Arsenal vs Everton – Emirates Box – 22nd February – 22,000 miles
  • Arsenal vs Everton – General Admission – 22nd February – 11,000 miles
  • Arsenal vs West Ham United – Emirates Box – 7th March – 25,000 miles
  • Arsenal vs West Ham United – General Admission – 7th March – 15,000 miles
  • Arsenal vs Norwich City – Emirates Box – 4th April – 22,000 miles
  • Arsenal vs Norwich City – General Admission – 4th April – 11,000 miles
  • Arsenal vs Leicester City – Emirates Box – 18th April – 25,000 miles
  • Arsenal vs Leicester City – General Admission – 18th April – 15,000 miles
  • Arsenal vs Liverpool – General Admission – 2nd May – 30,000 miles
  • Arsenal vs Watford – Emirates Box – 17th May – 20,000 miles
  • Arsenal vs Watford – General Admission – 17th May – 10,000 mile

Remember that the TV schedules are only fixed around 12 weeks in advance.  If you book any later than the end of January, you need to remember that the game may get switched to Friday, Sunday or Monday.  You cannot get a refund if the time or date of the game is changed and you can no longer attend.

The Emirates Box is VERY good.  It is the best located box in the stadium and you get good quality drinks and hot food before, during and after the game.  Here is a review of a past trip although I have been 7-8 times since.  I will be there on Saturday with my son to watch Southampton.

Transfers from American Express Membership Rewards to Emirates Skywards are instantaneous if the accounts are already linked and should be pretty quick even if they are not.   Note that you are restricted to two tickets per game per Skywards account.

More Arsenal tickets now available for Emirates Skywards miles

Bon Vivant benefits at Mandarin Oriental hotels

We did a piece earlier this week on the ‘Fans of Mandarin Oriental’ loyalty programme.  This allows anyone booking a fully flexible rate via the Mandarin Oriental website to pick two additional benefits from:

  • early check-in at noon
  • late check-out at 4pm
  • a dining and spa credit
  • daily breakfast
  • a room upgrade
  • streaming WiFi
  • a ‘celebratory treat’
  • pressing services (eg ironing!)

I said in that article that I didn’t know how this compared to the benefits available via luxury / ‘preferred partner’ travel agents.  Emyr Thomas, who we partner with, dropped me a note to say that any Mandarin Oriental hotel booked through him comes with ALL of the following:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Breakfast for two daily for duration of the stay
  • $100 USD equivalent Food & Beverage credit (a small number of hotels offer a different amenity instead of this)
  • Early check-in / late check-out, subject to availability 
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi

You get ALL of these benefits if you book via Emyr, instead of having to pick two benefits from the ‘Fans of Mandarin Oriental’ list above, so the preferred partner route remains better.  You can contact Emyr and learn more about his services (which are very highly rated by HFP readers who use him – and he books most of my luxury hotels too) in this article.

Vitality Health adds Virgin Atlantic flight discounts

Vitality adds Virgin Atlantic flight discounts from 2020

On Tuesday we told you about the new American Express credit card being launched in conjunction with life and health insurer Vitality.

It is a fascinating product.  The cashback element paid by Amex is identical to what is offered on its existing cashback cards BUT it is topped up by additional cashback from Vitality.  The more exercise you do, the higher the cashback percentage you receive!  Our full article on the Vitality American Express credit card is here.

Vitality is also adding Virgin Atlantic flight discounts from 2020.  This replaces the existing British Airways Vitality partnership which ends next month – see here.

We don’t have full details yet of how it will work.  To quote:

“A new airline partnership with Virgin Atlantic will offer Vitality members 15% off all Virgin Atlantic flights, in any flight class. Members can enjoy up to four discounted bookings in a plan year, with the discount available linked to on their Vitality status. The benefit is due to start in early 2020 and will be available to all Vitality plan holders with rewards.”

There is also a new partnership with Expedia, offering 10% to 20% off four hotels per year.  The discount is based on your plan, Vitality status and engagement with the Vitality programme.   I would be more sceptical about this until we see the exact discounts, because if it is anything like (same parent company) it will not be valid on any chain hotels.

Odd things are happening when you add a return to a one-way British Airways 2-4-1 ticket
Book now – Hilton has launched its Winter Sale for weekend stays to mid-2020

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  1. Are Emyr’s rates the same as booking directly?

    • Jonathan says:

      Not in my experience, I’ve found the few hotels he quoted me more expensive. Granted the extras he throws in made it hard to do a like for like comparison but if you take the core Elements you require for your stay and compare them like for like you have to made a judgement call about the extras

      • Are they not the same as BFR?

        • Varies by chain but Emyr will never be more than Best Flex. This is a key difference with Amex FHR where the rates are often higher than Best Flex. Emyr just did a Four Seasons for me and it was at the lowest possible price showing online (far lower than Best Flex) with all the benefits included.

    • Emyr Thomas says:

      Hi John,

      Rates will always be the same as best available rates if booking directly with the hotel unless there are advance purchase rates available as these don’t Always come with the benefits. There are often 3rd and 4th night free offers only available to Fan Club agents as well so it can be cheaper through us.


  2. OT but someone here will know for sure! Planning a short trip to Cape Town this winter, flying via JNB as I like the A380. Thinking 3 nights in CT itself – does anyone recommend a particular hotel/area? Likely one of the Proteas but open to ideas. Then 2 nights in either Stellenbosch or Franzshoek, but struggling to decide which is better. Thoughts? I’ve been advised to pre-plan wine tours – any recommendations? I won’t be driving so accessibility is good, but some element of relaxation and not having to worry is on the cards. Thanks in advance 🙂

    • 15 on Orange.
      Franschhoek is much smaller and more pleasant. There are different “wine tram” routes (an actual tram on one leg but mainly buses) which leave from Franschhoek centre and go to the different vineyards. In advance perhaps see which ones you’d like to visit and then book the best trip. No need to book seriously in advance but I would for ease. Book your picnic / restaurant in advance, however.

    • Franshhoek is my favourite. If you don’t have a car then it is possible to walk to some of the closer vineyards but the wine train which departs from town also makes it more convenient than Stellenbosch. Of the ones I went to last time Grand Provence was great and did walk there. I’m going again in February and have a reward stay booked at the Protea but haven’t stayed there before – got a night booked in at 15k points when the cash price that night was about £290 and now full so we’ll see. Also have reward stay at Protea Mowbray in CT – again not stayed there before but the Friday night was 5k points off peak and the reviews are good so for what we want to visit this time for 2 days (Kirstenbosch gardens, cape peninsula) the location looks good. Camps Bay is also a nice place to stay for a first time CT visit (but no big brand hotels)

      • Oh just remembered you said no car so maybe somewhere more central in CT around the waterfront would be better but never stayed in that area myself!

    • Yorkieflyer says:

      Agree with others re Franschoek charming small town, very touristy but nice for a couple of nights. The Wine team tour, mainly bus, works very well with a little planning and pace yourself with the tasting! Needs pre booking. We stayed at the .protea on points a bargain given cash price, not fancy but good three star though we got an upgrade to pool view room with Marriott status.
      Cape Town, V&A waterfront is a tourist trap shopping mall. We stayed at an Airbnb in Camps Bay

    • @Nick – Cape Town, depends on budget. Not many great big chain/points redemption opportunities if that’s what you want. Genghis’s 15 on Orange looks interesting (Marriott). Strongly recommend you avoid the central Hilton, read the reviews. Stayed there one night for convenience and can confirm, it’s a bit rubbish.

      V&A Waterfront is a great area. If points collecting not an issue, Cape Grace is superb. We did v well there through Amex FHR. There’s also a One and Only in the same area, looked nice. More centrally (near 15 and Orange) Belmond Mount Nelson is fantastic, also on FHR if you have an Amex.

      If you fancy the idea of staying on the coast (less convenient frankly, but spectacular), check out Camps Bay and Bantry Bay. Ellerman House Hotel is nice 🙂

      Franschoek, not especially cheap but Akademie Street guest house was great:

    • In Franschhoek we stayed at the 21 Roux Street – a superb little luxury B&B.
      Re the Wine Tram, I’d recommend the line which includes the Babylonstoren wine farm, it’s a must-visit!

    • The Mount ‘Nelly’ hotel for an amazing afternoon tea before heading home to the airport…..must book.

    • I stayed a week at 15 on orange using my Marriott travel package voucher. Very modern; quiet area; The rooms are great & have a fantastic view of table mountain/lion head. It’s a 15minute walk to CBD & bo kaap areas. Although uber is super economical there so getting anywhere is not an issue. Look up vine hopper if you want to do 5/6 stop winery tour in Stbosch.

      • Massive thanks to everyone who gave tips, really appreciate it very much. I knew you’d be a good team to ask!

  3. Hi Rob. The mobile website on Android (Chrome) on my phone is doing the ‘displaying the desktop version of the site rather than mobile’ trick again.

    • Mobile version displayed fine on mine right now Peter. However, I’ve noticed that on larest version of android the desktop toggle does not always work as it should. I put that down to something about specific sites such as hotmail, as opposed to android itself.

      • Thanks, will check. We had an issue yesterday because the mobile software got updated without our authorisation due to a security hole being found. This meant we couldn’t do the necessary customisations first.

    • same here for me, didnt the first time, but it did so second time i went to the homepage

  4. Thanks Rob, tickets in the box for Sheff Utd sorted for Jan. Hope they don’t mind northerners supporting the opposition in there!

    • Sussex Bantam says:

      I’ve been in a box at Arsenal with away fans. Its fine – just don’t go cavorting around when Lundstrom scores…

      No colours allowed obviously..

    • I’ve been twice for the Wolves game and twice the number of away supporters has outnumbered the Arsenal fans in the box. Suited me… 😉

      It wasn’t as good this year unfortunately – no Emirates staff as such to be seen until way later in the game and the basic catering/hospitality staff assigned to the box didn’t really understand what they were doing. They couldn’t compute that none of us were in charge of the box and that we were all independent guests, so were asking questions about food timings etc.

      Finally they stopped serving alcohol about 30 minutes after the game, pretty openly because they wanted to finish up. One ‘waiter’ was particularly vocal about it. As far as I recall, you can stay n the box for up to a couple of hours afterwards.

      Would I do it again. Probably. Although the number of points went up this season too.

  5. OT Staying at the Hilton Brussels Grand Place tomorrow, does the triple points always trigger if you have the Barclaycard Hilton credit card on the account?

    I booked it by emailing the hotel, as I used Hilton’s price match, so I need to pay when I check out.

    I currently have the Barclaycard, Curve, Clarity and Amex PRG but haven’t figured out the best one to pay with.

    • RakishDriver says:

      Maybe curve linked to Barclaycard – will save on FX fees. Or maybe you’ve saved an amex Hilton offer, so could stomach the FX hit ?

    • An amex card if it has the £50/£250 offer loaded on it. I put my two bookings on amex for this reason, hoping like you that the Hilton card on account is sufficient in itself to trigger triple points. There were comments confirming that it was in the early days of the promotion but I’ve seen nothing recently.

    • If any visa is on file it usually triggers though safest is to have the barclaycard.

      You need to be proactive in telling them to let you pay with another card, while not changing the card on file, in case they decide to be helpful and just charge that card. (If you do get the extra points, the fx fee is mostly covered by the triple points though.)

      Best is Amex if offer saved and you won’t use the offer for GBP hotels, otherwise curve if you don’t need the fx allowance elsewhere, then clarity

      • Thanks John, what I’m doing and if it comes together my next 2 stays should not me around 17000 Homors points, 900 avios and 40% towards completing my amex offer. On the other hand I it doesn’t come together I’ll have to settle for about 4000 points and 102 avios.

    • automatic 3x points irrespective of the card used for payment

    • fivebobbill says:

      Cal, I’m back from a stay at DoubleTree Sunrise Florida 2 weeks ago, pre paid online with Hilton Barclaycard Visa. However despite having been bombarded with emails from Hilton every week telling me I’d get triple points in the Power Up promotion… I was only awarded double!
      I contacted them via their online form yesterday to chase up the missing points.
      No word back yet of course…

  6. RakishDriver says:

    OT tried paying Brighton with curved linked to va yesterday, payment declined – anyone else experiencing these declines? Ihg is still ok, subject to the usual staggered approach.

  7. Do you still pick up the arsenal box tickets in the usual place meaning the named person can pick them up and hand them over to anyone they like?

    • Yes, that would work, but not hugely practical for most people!

      • thanks. just had to register myself and a guest for the man city game. seems a lot more security than last season

    • I had no issue last month booking the tickets in my partners name and picking them up myself.

      I emailed them in advance and they’d acknowledged it, but on the day it hadn’t got through…

      No matter, I took her passport with me as ID and they were very happy to hand them over. Went as far as to say ‘finally someone who is organised’.

  8. O/T IHG credit card,
    I paid interest on my card this month which surprised me. Although I always carry a large balance on it, no transaction is ever old than 50 days, does my payments to IHG pay off your earliest balance before oldest balance or something I’m missing ?

    • My Nov 19 statement just generated needs to be paid by 11 Dec. So assuming the latest transaction of 20 Nov, posting by today, that only gives 20 days of credit for free (need 1 day to settle I believe).

      • @Genghis – you have not included the days from when you made that purchase – that could be a month ago if the transaction posted just after the old statement.
        @Craig – you need to pay off your billed statement in full. If you did that and are still paying interest, there is most likely something else which has triggered the interest, such as cash from an ATM (directly) for which there is no interest fee period, unless there is an error!

        • @EvanG. Point being that OP’s “no transaction is ever old (sic) than 50 days” is irrelevant as on some transactions you only get 20 days’ credit (hence my comment). As you note, you need to pay off billed statement amount in full.

    • the_real_a says:

      FYI – Cash like transactions may not attract the fixed fee but do trigger interest payments from day of payment.

  9. ankomonkey says:

    OT: Opinion Check-in (IHG Rewards survey site) will close 31/12/19 – just had an e-mail. Was useful to intentionally disqualify oneself for 5 points at a time.

    • I use this to keep my hubby’s IHG account alive but I didn’t receive any email today.

  10. Neil Donoghue says:

    Some folks here must have huge Avios balances! I don’t have the margin to book 2 one way F tickets to Sydney outright so sadly I still have to call it get it added.

  11. Spaghetti Town says:

    OT: Sorry if already mentioned. LATAM having a leaving date now and will be pulling out of Oneworld by October 2020.

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