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Bits: BA launches more Cape Town flights (and St Lucia, Cancun), new Amex spend bonus, £70 off Virgin Premium

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News in brief:

British Airways launches extra flights to Cape Town, St Lucia and Cancun

By an amazing coincidence, one day after Virgin Atlantic announced its new route to Cape Town, British Airways has announced an extra Cape Town service.

There will be an additional two flights per week from London Gatwick to Cape Town, starting on 10th January.

This takes the number of weekly British Airways flights from London to Cape Town to 19, on top of the 14 BA flights to Johannesburg and the three weekly services to Durban.

This is not necessarily overkill, because Cape Town was a route also served by Thomas Cook before its demise.  It is possible that both BA and Virgin can make a success of their flights, although the lack of full fare Business Class traffic – as opposed to leisure travellers in flat beds on £1,750 sale deals – may prove to be an issue.

British Airways also announced two other frequency increases yesterday:

St Lucia gains an additional flight on Wednesday and Saturday.  No dates were given, but the implication is that the service will simply continue to operate nine times per week when the Summer timetable ends in October, rather than dropping down to seven as it does usually.

Cancun gains an additional weekly service, on Sundays, from 6th December.  This will take the number of weekly flights up to six.

Both of these routes operate from London Gatwick.

It isn’t clear where the aircraft are coming from to operate these new services.  BA has some flexibility due to the arrival of additional A350 and Boeing 777 aircraft and the ability to flex the retirement of the Boeing 747 and older Boeing 777 fleet.

British Airways launches additional Cape Town flight from Gatwick

American Express launches a new spend bonus

American Express has launched another of its occasional spend bonuses.  This is not tied to any particular retailer but is based on your total spend during the promotional period.

The new offer runs from 1st March to 31st March.  It is NOT valid immediately!

It only appears to be available on personal Gold and Platinum cards.  To see if you are targeted, look under the ‘Offers’ tab on your online statement page.  You MUST ‘save’ the offer in order to activate it.

To be honest, the targets we received in our house were laughable.  My wife, who wouldn’t have hit her £15,000 Amex Gold annual spend bonus if I hadn’t used her card to pay our office rent for a few months, needs to spend £5,900 in March to receive a whopping 1,500 bonus Membership Rewards points.  It won’t be happening.

My personal Platinum card, which sees even less action than my wife’s Gold, has a target of £4,400 during March.  Rhys was offered £4,900 on his card which seems a little toppy for someone who graduated less than a year ago!  Again, we were both offered an underwhelming 1,500 Membership Rewards points.

I can’t help but think that Amex missed a trick by not starting the offer immediately.  With half term starting tomorrow, many families will be going away and running up more spending than usual next week.

Save up to £70 on Virgin Atlantic Premium flights

Virgin Atlantic is running a short additional bonus when you book a Premium (Virgin’s name for Premium Economy) flight.

Until 16th February, flight prices have been automatically discounted by up to £70.  No promo code is required.

You can find out more about the cabin on the ‘Premium’ page of the Virgin Atlantic website here.

This HFP article looks at the differences between British Airways World Traveller Plus and Virgin Atlantic Premium (hint: Virgin comes out better in general) although you should double-check what you will get on your specific aircraft type.

To maximise your miles when paying, your best bet is one of the two Virgin Atlantic Reward credit cards.  These earn double miles (3 per £1 on the paid card or 1.5 per £1 on the free card) when you book at or via Virgin Holidays.  Another option is American Express Preferred Rewards Gold which offers double points – 2 per £1 – when you book flight tickets directly with an airline.

Remember that you get a higher bonus of 25,000 miles on the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ credit card until 28th FebruaryYou can apply here.

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  1. The Original David says:

    Not just PRG and Plat, the spend offer is on my fee-free ARCC too (and not on my PRG). £2.4k spend for 1.5k MRs. Probably won’t happen…

  2. 400 points from £1100 spend on my Platinum. I’ll switch to using that card to hit the target post the SPG earning reduction.

  3. Suspect BA are about to drop a Seattle flight as AA have said they’re starting daily service.

    • Before launching these offers, it might be worthwhile for organisations to stop for a moment and think how long it takes to scroll through 266 items. Yes, there are filters, but 120ish items in “food cupboard” across 6 pages…

      • I just ignore them and do my usual shop, any benefit is a bonus. My Nectar return for 2019 was just under £380 (assuming that I’ll get 1p on LNER for remaining 14k points) compared to about £35 from clubcard including two Virgin autoconvert bonuses. However, there were substantially greater returns on MOC from Tesco versus Sainbury.but I didn’t keep track of how much.

    • Wonder how many people actually shop without a nectar card then…

      • I collect points but I’ve often found myself at checkouts minus my Boots or Morrisons cards so it could be a lot higher than we might think.

        • I try to centralise everything on my phone. Upside and down to this obviously.

          • I should probably do that where possible. A lot of failures with the original Tesco payment app was a deterrant though.

  4. Ha! I got “Spend £11,400 and get 4000 MR points” on my Gold… ummm..

  5. I have no offers and am actually planning some chunky spends in the next couple of months 😡. Will have to be content with triggering 2 4 1 plus gold bonus.

  6. Nothing on our platinum cards. My sister on her bluish transparent card (can’t remember what it is called) has spend £2200 get 1500 MR- her credit limit is only £1K!
    I have a bigger credit limit but got spend £800 get 400 MR.

  7. Agree the Amex targets are pretty ludicrous. Although just to highlight again its the English/Welsh half term starting, some Scottish schools were this week and many Scottish/NI ones only get a Mon/Tues off. This can be quite useful when looking for flights as North of England vs Edinburgh/Glasgow often have quite different prices when the other area is on holiday.

    • In Stirling, Mon/Tues (17th/18th) are in-service training days and Wed, Thurs, Fri are days in lieu of “local holidays”.

  8. Clive Roylance says:

    On the extra flights to St Lucia anyone know if there will be the new Club Suites?

  9. OT – Marriott Bonus

    The additional 50% bonus points have finally landed in both mine and my wife’s accounts following our transfers during the pre-Christmas offer. It took a few calls to Marriott to get it sorted but there never seemed to be any question over whether we were eligible for the bonus.

    Neither of us received the email about the offer at the time.

    • Is there no point in contacting Amex? Do I just need to go straight to Marriott? What date did you complete the Amex transfers?

      • Transfers were done on / around 10th November. Amex will tell you that Marriott are responsible for providing the 50% bonus on the transfer so they can’t do anything. If you call Marriott CS ask them to raise a ticket so the back office staff can look at it. They are slow but eventually your points should be deposited.

    • @Grant
      Excellent news, thank you. I will ask Marriott.

  10. OT – Anyone know why there is currently a block redeeming miles for Virgin Atlantic LHR-HAV flights? Here’s what they sent me:
    “We are currently unable to use miles to purhase upgrade flights to and from Havana. This is a system restriction on our side”

    No joy checking Vflyer and Flyertalk to see if this is temporary, or when it might start to work. Seatspy doesnt have it as a route option either so I can’t set an alert (aware the route doesnt shift from Gatwick until early summer though).

    • Someone’s noticed that a US Citizen can earn Virgin points?

      Points hosted on US servers?

    • I think there has been a lot of restrictions to do with tickets to Havana since they started using the same system as delta a few years back

      • memesweeper says:

        Correct. I have no idea what the back-end hack is that makes it possible to keep flying to Havana, as the front-end IT basically can’t deal with it at all…

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