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Bits: Finnair restricts Avios reward bookings, a (pricey) Hilton / McLaren factory visit, see Morrissey with IHG

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News in brief:

Finnair restricts Avios business class availability

One Mile at a Time is reporting that Finnair has started to block its business class availability for partner airline award redemptions beyond 60 days in advance.

This means you will no longer be able to book Avios tickets on Finnair as soon as flights are released. Other oneworld and Finnair partners face the same restrictions.

Whilst this is annoying, Finnair is not the first airline to do so. Lufthansa, SWISS and Singapore all restrict First Class availability to their top frequent flyer members up until a few weeks before departure (or, in the case of SWISS, never offer it at all).

It looks like Finnair may be limiting availability for all but its top tier Platinum and Platinum Lumos members.  Unfortunately there is no formal announcement of these changes that clarify the exact restrictions that have been imposed.

Economy does not appear to be affected by this change – these appear available beyond 60 days in advance.

Here is an example – Helsinki to London is available for 22nd March in Business Class:

Finnair Avios availability

…… but not 23rd March, or any day thereafter:

Finnair Avios availability

Hilton launches another McLaren Technology Centre tour – but pricey

Hilton Honors has arranged another tour of the McLaren F1 factory at the Norman Foster-designed McLaren Technology Centre in Woking.

The date is Thursday 19th March.  The cost is 130,000 Hilton Honors points for two people and includes a buffet.  There were four packages left at 10pm last night.

No time is given, annoyingly.

The factory is not normally open to the public so this is a rare opportunity to take a look inside.

Note the price, which is now getting a little steep in my view.  These packages were originally 50,000 points, then 75,000 points and then 100,000.  Given my 0.33p valuation for a Hilton Honors point, you are effectively trading off £430 of free hotel stays by going.

You can redeem your points for a pair of tickets here.

Hilton Honors McLaren Factory Tour trip

See Morrissey with IHG Rewards Club

Finally, if Morrissey’s recent political proclamations have not put you off him, IHG Rewards Club is offering tickets to his SSE Arena (Wembley) concert on 14th March.

The cost is 20,000 IHG Rewards Club points for two general admission tickets.  Given my 0.4p valuation, you are effectively ‘paying’ £80 for the pair.

This is a ‘buy it now’ deal which you can get here.

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  1. Seems fine for Finnair to do this, and BA should also restrict all Oneworld partner airlines so availability is easier for BAEC members. Which in reality is how it should work, prioritize your own members first.

    • BA DOES do this to a certain extent, because some schemes (eg AA) only allow booking 330 days in advance. This means that you have a 25 day window as BA releases redemptions 355 days in advance.

      BA Gold also get extra Economy reward availability.

    • memesweeper says:

      maybe — but if none of the airlines prioritised their own members then the ‘network effect’ of their alliance is stronger. Conversely, if they only offer rewards to alliance members that are already proving hard to sell to their own members, the alliance is devalued.

  2. OT: virgin atlantic have sent me a message saying they will refund the cash advance fees from revolut. after telling me on the phone they wouldn’t refund. Good result.

    • Those who contacted barclaycard, what exactly did you say for successful outcome? trying my luck this morning

      • Update: barclaycard was painless! No fighting whatsoever.

        • Froggee says:

          Sounds positive! I’m confused at Creation. £1.45 interest on cash transactions but no cash advance fees on my statement. I’ve paid the full balance off to avoid incurring further interest. Assuming Revolut don’t change the coding, Creation would still be usable as long as they don’t mind being paid as and when I top up Revolut. I actually really like Revolut apart from the miles angle as it is so much easier to make payments than with HSBC so want to stick with them even if it is just debit card top ups from now on.

          • I make payments to our IHG cards every few days to stay under the radar, never had any issues with doing it. The system can take a couple of days to update but that seems to be par for the course with Creation.

    • How much were your fees please.

    • Those of you who have been hit with cash advances and have got them refunded: are they actually removing the “cash advance” status altogether, or just waiving/refunding the cash advance fee? Because if it’s the latter the cash advance amount will still be sent to your credit report. Might be worth getting clarification. Would be great if you could report back, too.

      Also – is it a one-off exception, or can you continue to top up rev and get it waived each time!??

      • I put my request in writing to Virgin via secure message and asked for them to do both – refund the charge and remove any cash advance marker(s). I’ll report back.

        I’m not sure I am brave enough to push my luck and ask about continuing to top-up Revolut with the card.

        • If you don’t mind me asking Grant, what grounds did you cite to get the refund?

          • Revolut made the change without prior notice. Other customers have reported VIrign refunding the charges as a gesture of goodwill.

            I’ve now had a response back from Virgin so kudos for getting back to me in less than 12 hours – it is normally a lot longer.

            Cash advance fees and any interest will be returned to my account – £130 plus a days interest in my case. They suggested I need to contact my Credit Agency about any markers on the file, which doesn’t really make sense.

            Interestingly, they also confirmed that recent changes between Mastercard and Revolut are the reason why the top-ups are being processed as cash advance transactions. Perhaps Mastercard were kicking off with Revolut?

            I also asked them to try and sort a pending transaction which is a duplicate for the top-up I made – it’s been stuck as pending since 17/01. They said they can’t do anything about it until it goes through properly and then they can invesitage it as a disputed transaction. I know a couple of others reported this yesterday so I would be interested for any updates on them.

          • Thanks Grant. I’ll get on that later.

      • I really wouldn’t worry about a few cash txns on your credit file.

        • the_real_a says:

          Agreed. Although it is a negative, i have been doing this for about 10 years on the Halifax Clarity card for ATM cash. Never been turned down for credit. More important is the % Vs your income profile.

  3. Matthew says:

    Talking about Japan. Any recommendations for hotels on points in Tokyo for 2 nights please? The Finnair restriction is a shame as was hoping to get something booked for Jan 2021 soon but will have to wait….

    • Hilton Shinjuku was pretty good, decent lounge if you have diamond status. The Japanese speciality breakfast which we were allowed once per stay was superb.

      • if anyone has got advice or suggested itineraries for Japan/Taiwan/Korea, please let me know! i am planning a trip at the end of March! thanks!

        • Genghis says:

          Most interesting parts of Japan (highly subjective):
          – Koyasan for overnight stay at temple
          – Jigokudani Monkey Park near Nagano
          – Kyushu for onsen: Kurosawa, Yufuin, Amagase, sand onsen at Ibusuki near Kagoshima

      • Matthew says:

        Great, will check it out thanks.

        • Have a look at memory lane, aka ‘p**s alley’, it’s walking distance from the Hilton with reasonably priced food.

      • Lady London says:

        Mind if I ask what was in the Japanese breakfast. @Craig?

        • ankomonkey says:

          (Short grain) Rice Krispies?

        • Sorry for the late reply LL, hope you see it. It was a speciality breakfast that we had to book, mostly pickles and fish. As with everything Japanese the presentation and theatre of the event was superb. I think it was possibly a diamond benefit, I think there were only about 8 of us and we had to book a time slot.

      • +1 for Hilton Shinjuku. Very convenient for the subway and the airport coach drops right outside the hotel lobby.

    • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

      Hilton Shinjuku and Prince Sakura (Bonvoy) are good and conveniently located for a short stay close to major stations. Conrad is great too.

    • Londoner says:

      Stayed at Hyatt Regency Tokyo (just next to the Hilton) which is only Cat 3, so 12.000 points for a standard room or 20.000 for a suite. We tried both and the Atrium Suite was a steal at 20.000. You can often purchase the points with a 40 % bonus making it a reasonable option (around 160 gbp for a standard room and 260 or so for the suites).

    • western brands like hilton and sheraton are expensive and a waste of time in a city like tokyo where most people will be out enjoying the city all day. I always stay at a japanese business hotel with a room not much larger than the bed for 60e/night – but i’m only sleeping in the room not spending time during the day in it.

      • Completely agree.

        I looked at the Tokyo Hilton for my stay in December because I have Hilton Gold status at present. Would have been £160 a night. I stayed at the nearby Knot for £80 a night for a 20 Sq M room.

  4. OT Lloyds Avios Voucher. I’ve got an email from a few months ago confirming the voucher. BA are refusing to acknowledge or process and suggest I phone lloyds to book my tickets! See below. Anyone got an idea how to use the Lloyd’s voucher these days?

    Dear Mr xxx

    Thank you for contacting us about your Executive Club account.

    This is with reference to your email to claim Upgrade Voucher issued by Lloyds Bank.

    Do apologize for a delayed response. As the upgrade voucher is offered by Lloyds Bank, you will have to contact on 0344 493 3349 mentioned in the email received by you and they will be able to process the Upgrade Voucher.

    Nxx Rxx
    Executive Club,
    British Airways,

    • koroleon says:

      Yes – you cannot see the voucher in your BA Avios account and you need to call a separate team to make a booking with it. No surprise there.

    • The number they have given you is the correct one to call.

    • Mikeact says:

      It’s not that difficult to pick up the phone and call. I booked another one yesterday, very helpful as usual…albeit I was on hold for about 15 minutes .

    • I had a lot of problems trying to get to the right department via BA . A BA agent then gave me this number which gets you straight to the Lloyds booking team.

      • the_real_a says:

        Thanks xcalc. Got straight through to a knowledgeable agent! Everyone should bookmark this number.

        I have a voucher expiring at the end of the month, so need to come up with some strategy to book something on my normal routes and then do a date change at a later date. The agent explained that we have 12 months from the date of booking to make any changes (date, destination in same zone) before the flight must be flown.

        • Mikeact says:

          And that is a great no brainer option to save losing the voucher….with a minimal amount to change. We always extend if as far out as possible before making a final decision, and being flexible helps with seat availability.

          • Thanks xcalcx

            Glad I posted the query. As I’ve now changed my strategy for using it now there is an extension possibility.

    • The confusion here is that the number is for, Lloyds would not be able to make the booking.
      However, I and other people have used our upgrade vouchers by calling BA, it seems to depend very much on who you get through to.

    • Matthew says:

      I used that 0344 number this morning to book flights using my last Lloyds upgrade voucher. Was on hold for an hour yesterday with no luck but this morning at 8.30am I got straight through. The lady I spoke to was very knowledgeable. BA will not normally deal with the Lloyds vouchers and will temporarily open up your old account to use the voucher, transfer Avios from BA, book then close again.

      • This just isn’t true, BA booked my last upgrade to VIE after my account was closed.

        • What Matthew said is absolutely true. Your single data point doesn’t change the fact that “BA will not normally deal with” these bookings. They occasionally will

        • If you called BA they put you through to Avois who inturn have a team that deals with Lloyds bookings, based in Warrington. Far easier to call them direct.

          • Mikeact says:

            Absolutely, and a very helpful team as well in my experience.

          • No they didn’t, the agent who answered the phone made the booking for me. Several people on HFP have reported being able to do the same thing.

      • I think it’s quite a tedious process for them. I’ve used my last one now, and the operator seemed very competent but still took a while. The confirmation emails quite slow too.

    • OT @Axel, what’s this about an Edinburgh meeting? I saw your comments a few days late sorry.

      • Harry T says:

        x2, I’m also interested in a meeting.

        • Hi BJ

          Wash bar on the Mound will give us a room for 30 with IT stuff, poofes and tables for a couple of hours.

          I can sponsor the pizzas and snacks.

          Someone else suggested we arrange the numbers through

          Anyone interested?

          • Shoestring says:

            I’m not saying nuffin! 🙂

          • Yay, that could work, the Wash Bar is a decent place with a good ambiance, not at all stuffy or pretentious. I’m up for it if the date suits. I wouldn’t worry to much about organising over and above the date and time as I’m sure most of us would just be happy with the the opportunity to get together. I wonder about the numbers though, if most of us come along +1 then that’s only 15 HFPers. Might be about right, who knows?

          • If you wait until the Clubrooms lounge opens and we review it, Rhys or I will come along.

          • @Rob, can you tell from IP addresses roughly how many regular readers you have in Edinburgh or even central Scotland?

          • Andrew M says:

            I’s definitely be interested. It might be worth getting an idea of the numbers before choosing a venue. A venue for 30 may not be enough once word gets out about the free pizza! I hope it’s not too soon as I’ve got a fair but of traveling coming up next month (thanks to HFP).

          • Yes. Interested.

          • Yeah I’ll come along if the date/time suits!

  5. How many IHG points are required to guarantee never having to see or hear Morrissey? 20 000 would seem like a very good deal on that.

  6. OT regarding Virgin Atlantic Rewards+ CC. Do you get the upgrade or 2-for-1 voucher immediately after you spend 10.000 or on the anniversary date (like IHG Creation)? If on anniversary date is there a way to bag it and close the account without the fee for the upcoming year?

    • It arrvies as soon as you meet the spend requirements.

    • I though I’d got my calculations wrong and put £500 extra spend through the card, it turns out I didn’t need to because the voucher appeared about a week after the points for the relevant statement.

  7. OT: if the Amex IT Gods align for you is it usually just for 1 card or for all cards? Hubby Just had bonus 26K on BAPP after cancelling one in July.Now wondering if its worth him trying SPG which he cancelled at same time

    • Shoestring says:

      SPG is still only £1000 spend requirement —> going up to £3K

      reason enough to go for it without delay

      • Neil Donoghue says:

        I got the SPG card yesterday after not having held the card for 2 years. My online account is showing the bonus if I spend £1,000 so it was worth the random application.

    • We’ve had an extra, erroneous sign up bonus on SPG, but didn’t get one on BA blue.

  8. Man alive, IHG would have to give me 50,000 points to see Morrissey.

  9. Frankie says:

    OT. Does anyone know what the start and end date was for the BA amex avios offer of spend £4 and get a bonus avios? I’ve only had a trickle of avios and want to work out how many I’m owed. But I don’t know when the offer started and ended. And it WAS an extra avios for each multiple of £4 wasn’t it? Not each transaction over £4? The T&Cs weren’t clear but I’m sure I read that Rob check with Amex and it was the former. Thanks in advance

    • Amex confirmed to me it was the former but if you call the agents seem to read back the original script which implies, due to bad drafting, it was the latter.

    • Here’s the best I can do. It started sometime after 5th December 2019, and ended on the 27th. Your Amex statement will show a breakdown of the extra Avios awarded as “AviosOffer” entries, but you will have to try and match those entries against the individual transactions to see if you have received your full entitlement. Depending on your statement date, the extra Avios could span two statements. Finally, it was 1 bonus Avios for every £4, so 1 for £4, 1 for £7.99, 2 for £8, etc. Hope this helps.

      • Definitely £1 for every full £4 spent. I had a couple of large transactions in the period, £800 gave a BonusAvios entry of 200 a few weeks later.

    • MarkZ got the dates correct 5 – 27 Dec as that was my experience too. It is definitely 1 bonus Avios for every £4 spent rounded down. My last bonus of 16 Avios posted on to my Avios tab on the Amex account on 15 Jan 2020 for a spend of £65 on 17 Dec 2019 although I did also get 3 Avios posting to my account on 1 Jan 2020 for spend on 27 Dec 2019 and 74 Avios posting on 10 Jan 2020 for spend of £297 on 23 Dec 2019. The larger the spend the more random the posting date. It shows up as Amex Offers. I have received all the bonus Avios I was expecting.

  10. Hi all,

    OT, but needed some advice re my card collection strategy going forwards.

    I currently have Amex SPG, HSBC prem rewards and Amex gold.

    The SPG was my primary card as hotel points are more useful for a young family and I have a decent balance built up (600k) but this is already ear marked for some redemptions next year.

    I started collecting Avios pre Christmas as the Christmas shopping racked up a huge number of points via the portal – as part of that I upgraded the HSBC card to take advantage of the higher earn rate and the welcome bonus. The avios is just a sideline and some extra points for not doing much, but I suspect I will apply for BAPP and 2-4-1 at some stage, to get good value.

    I am just about to get the annual bonus on the gold and need to decide what to do next. I will keep the HSBC card for the next 10 months to pick up the 12 month bonus (the kid’s school accepts MasterCard/visa credit cards 😊) but will probably downgrade at that point and maybe look at another Mastercard/Visa with a better earn rate.

    Just wanted some advice, should I keep the gold (2.5 Bonvoy per £ when the annual bonus is included, but annual fee of £140), keep the gold and the SPG (with its lower earn rate, but lower annual fee and gold status) or do something different?

    The IHG offering looks good, but I am concerned that creation don’t have the best reputation and would say £30k be better spent on SPG/Gold/IHG to get the most bang for my buck/points?

    We are about to renovate our house so there is a lot of spending on the horizon in the next 12-18 months and I would like to try to get this decision right!

    I don’t do manufactured spend and don’t want to pay HMRC via some convoluted fashion or incurring a fee that may be more than the cost of the points themselves, so not worried about that side of things.

    Sorry for the long, rambling, post!

    Thanks in advance


  11. OT re ANA redemptions through virgin. Are mixed cabin redemptions possible? J one way, F the other? Couldn’t see anything on the virgin site about it

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