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Bits: Marriott drops Travel Packages, BA / Avianca partnership coming?, 6250 Avios via pet insurance

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News in brief:

Marriott to scrap ‘Travel Package’ redemptions next week

It appears that Marriott Bonvoy is scrapping its ‘Travel Package’ redemptions next week. An update to the programme terms and conditions online, now removed, said that packages will not be offered after 19th January.

A ‘Travel Package’ allows you to redeem a large chunk of Marriott Bonvoy points for a seven night hotel stay plus either 50,000 or 100,000 airline miles.

Here is the price list, taken from the Marriott website here:

Importantly, there was no obligation to use the airline miles in conjunction with the hotel booking. The miles were dropped into your frequent flyer account and you could do whatever you wanted with them, whenever you wanted.

Back in the old days, before Marriott bought Starwood and the programme was called Marriott Rewards, ‘Travel Packages’ were – slam dunk – the sweet spot. The savings you could make over booking a seven night hotel stay and swapping points for 50,000 or 100,000 miles were significant. The only snag was that, pre the Starwood acquisition, Marriott didn’t really have many hotels where you would want to spend seven nights.

When Marriott Bonvoy launched, ‘Travel Packages’ were repriced and most of the value was removed. When peak and off-peak pricing launched, ‘Travel Packages’ staged a minor revival. Because the price was fixed irrespective of when you used it, there was some value if you redeemed it for seven ‘peak’ hotel nights.

Redeem off-peak, of course, and you were clearly out of the money. For example:

  • 7 nights in a Category 8 hotel off-peak (one night free) = 70,000 x 6 = 420,000 Bonvoy points
  • 100,000 Avios = 240,000 Bonvoy points
  • Total when purchased separately = 660,000 Bonvoy points

Alternatively:

  • Cost of a Category 8 travel package + 100,000 Avios = 750,000 Bonvoy points

This isn’t why Marriott Bonvoy is scrapping the packages, however. It is scrapping them because from March, Marriott Bonvoy will move to revenue-based redemptions, with no category charts. With no category charts, you can’t price travel packages.

It isn’t clear what will happen to anyone with an unused ‘Travel Package’. Marriott will, apparently, be making a formal announcement next week – it looks like it never intended to give advance notice of this change.

British Airways Avianca partnership

Is BA about to announce a partnership with Avianca?

It seems that British Airways may be gearing up to announce a codeshare deal with Latin American airline Avianca.

As pointed out by an eagle eyed reader, Avianca (under the now-merged TACA brand) appears in the dropdown box on ba.com when you input a frequent flyer number. Is this a new thing? We don’t remember seeing it there before:

That said, Air Italy still appears in that box and that airline went bankrupt some time ago ….

A codeshare deal with Avianca would not be a surprise, of course. Iberia has had such a deal for many years, and there are gaps in the oneworld network to Latin America since LATAM quit the oneworld alliance in 2020.

Avios Nectar

Get 6,250 Avios with Sainsbury’s Bank pet insurance

Whilst I don’t have this personally, it appears that some users of the Nectar app are getting a targetted offer of 10,000 Nectar points for taking out pet insurance by 28th February.

10,000 Nectar points converts, of course, into 6,250 Avios.

Policies are relatively cheap if you only have something small like a rabbit – under £10 per month. The points are promised after 60 days, although with previous pet insurance offers they have posted more quickly. You can cancel your policy at any time without penalty

As an extra benefit, you will earn double Nectar base points on all of your Sainsbury’s shopping for as long as you keep your policy.

The Sainsbury’s Bank pet insurance home page is here although you can only get the 10,000 Nectar points offer if it is showing in your Nectar app.

Comments (55)

  • Maciek says:

    I’m in two minds about the hotel+air packages. They may be a very good or a very bad deal when Marriott announces the changes next week… :/

    • BJ says:

      I had been considering them for first time since they changed as I wanted AA miles and I had good lower category but expensive hotels in mind. Looks like it has all become academic given this news and that I have insufficient MR or Bonvoy points at the moment. (Thanks to HfP for this useful and pertinent tip)

  • Marriott60valuation says:

    Are all the Marriott brands moving to dynamic pricing ?
    Protea in South Africa ?

  • Nick M says:

    I must have missed the revenue-based element that’s coming for Marriott… do we have any more details yet? – will it be wise to lock in a couple of potential redemptions? – I’d most likely be looking at Cat 2/3 in Spain/Eastern Europe

  • TimM says:

    I got a quote of £8.23 pcm for my non-pedigree rabbit insurance.

    • To dare is to do says:

      Best bet is a spayed female under year old house cat.That will be cheapest rate. Wether you have one or not is up to you.

  • M says:

    It’s increasingly hard to get any value from hotel points with programs moving to revenue based awards.

    • Peter K says:

      Indeed. The hotel loyalty programs feel like they can only be bothered with *very* frequent stayers. Basically, if you’re not top tier then get lost.

      • Brighton Belle says:

        Revenue based redemptions are a total trip killer. So I get a discount using points. Where’s the loyalty motivation in that? I might as well use any number of travel companies who’ll give me a cash discount. Destroy the aspirational redemption and the loyalty disappears.

    • Rob says:

      Wait until Monday ….

    • SamG says:

      Agree. I’ve got pots of points in Marriott and Hilton and I just can’t find a use for them that makes sense recently. Even “sweet spots” like airport hotels that used to sometimes work out OK just never seem to these days.

      To me hotel points are only really worthwhile if a) you are accumulating them anyway via work and have the status to get your breakfast etc as well or b) very narrow (and ever narrowing!) circumstances like Dubai over Xmas etc when you’d genuinely otherwise be paying top $$$. Even somewhere like the Maldives the chains are overpriced on the transfers, upgrades, F&B etc. You can get better overall value booking via someone like Luxury Escapes

  • FatherOfFour says:

    Holders of the sainsburys bank credit card get double Nectar on sainsburys shopping. Does this stack with the sainsburys bank pet insurance double base points to give treble/quad Nectar points?

    • Britbronco says:

      Yes, and with Sainsburys energy. It doesn’t give you a bonus on the bonus, but you get multiple bonus points on the base points.
      So having the credit card, electricity and gas I get 4x base points each month.

  • Charles Martel says:

    Are there any examples of hotel programmes moving away from revenue based redemptions? They feel dull and the lack of distinction between the major programmes now means I don’t feel loyal to any of them.

    • MKB says:

      Indeed. The upside is that I’ve been casting my net more widely as a result, and have discovered some excellent independent hotels.

      • Russ says:

        I’ve been booking independents via the Emirates Skywards program. It’s been an upward struggle to get all the miles credited but it’s working out to the tune of two return
        LGW-LHR ticket’s for two people in J.

        • Hotinnewcastle says:

          Surely you mean London-dxb? But that’s an interesting option to earn miles

          • Russ says:

            Yes indeed, you are correct. I live close to LGW so that’s my default airport. I just don’t check the mile’s needed from other airports unless I’m flying from there. Thanks for the reminder.

      • Charles Martel says:

        If all you get is a cash rebate, a strategy of booking lower end hotels via hotels.com and higher end stuff from Bon Vivant (for status like benefits) looks more logical to me.

  • FlightDoctor says:

    Talk about bad timing. My renewal for our 1 year old dog was £51 a month with John Lewis (vs. £33 this last year). I shopped around and Sainsburys had a very similar policy for £16!! Took it out earlier this week and seems I missed this 10K Avios offer by literally 4 days 😡

    • Lady London says:

      Not sure if the 2 weeks to cancel anything bought online would apply to this “Distance Selling Regulations”?

      • Entitled says:

        It should apply to insurance products

        • Entitled says:

          Not the distance selling, but the fact that you have entered into a credit agreement which will include a right to withdraw.

          *I wish there was an edit function!

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