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News: Iberia Summer 2024 flights missing, new Melia / Amex cashback offer, The Sunday Times

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News in brief:

The Iberia Summer 2024 schedule has not been loaded

If you’ve tried to book an Iberia Avios redemption for the Summer 2024 flying season (from 31st March 2024 onwards), you will have noticed that nothing is available.

This is not just an Avios issue. Cash flights are also not bookable beyond 30th March 2024. This seems to apply to both long haul and short haul, except for Iberia Express services which do show.

Unlike British Airways, Iberia is known for loading its first batch of new season flights a little late, but this is far longer than usual. All you can do is keep checking …..

£75 melia cashback american express

Melia Hotels launches a good American Express cashback deal

Melia Hotels has launched a new cashback deal for selected American Express cardholders.

If targetted, you will find it under the ‘Offers’ tab on the online statement page or in the app for one or more of the Amex cards you hold.

You will get £75 cashback when you spend £300 at participating hotels. The offer runs to 30th June.

The snag is that only selected Melia properties are taking part. The only UK hotel is ME London, pictured above, which is also by far the most expensive.

One surprising inclusion is the INNSiDE New York which we reviewed here and is usually good value.

Other participating hotels can be found in Amsterdam, Berlin, Dusseldorf, Milan, Paris, Rome and – as you’d expect from Melia – many parts of Spain.

If you have American Express Platinum, you will receive Gold status in MeliaRewards. If you have this, you may find some 20% discount vouchers or upgrade vouchers in your Melia account which would stack with this offer.

Sunday Times on UK hotel service charges

The Sunday Times highlights our article on UK hotel service charges

Finally, I’m pleased to say that The Sunday Times chose to highlight the issue of creeping UK hotel service charges last weekend.

We raised the topic in this article and The Sunday Times referenced our piece as the reason it had decided to investigate.

This is a key line, I think:

“The question is, where does this money go? …. The Four Seasons [Hampshire] didn’t want to comment.”

I haven’t linked back as The Sunday Times sits behind a paywall – although a free digital subscription to The Times and The Sunday Times is a benefit of American Express Business Platinum.

Comments (43)

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  • lumma says:

    I think that’s the biggest problem with these hotel service charges. If they were upfront and stated that it’s shared equally amongst the staff or similar then it’s less of a problem than if they’re just pocketing the extra cash

    • TimM says:

      I would guess that hotel service charge will be treated as in the cruise industry – they pay the service staff wages. Cruise lines are very magnanimous in making up the contracted wages if there is any shortfall! The transparency of such compulsory charges may need to be tested in court.

      • Rob says:

        There’s a legal difference here – cruise ship workers are not covered by minimum wage law whilst hotel staff are.

  • Dave says:

    Plus presumably the average American guests will continue to tip anything that moves so it’s a win win for the hotel

    • Mikeact says:

      Americans are used to these type of charges.

      • G says:

        Doesn’t mean we have to start putting up with it.

        To paraphrase “Just because you’ve got something, why do you have to go breathing it all over everyone?”

        • lumma says:

          Indeed, Americans rarely tip above the service charge in the UK these days in my experience

          • Mikeact says:

            The other week, on the Outer Banks, SC, a restaurant added a ‘5% Environmental Charge’. When I queried it, the server had no idea and took it off, which just left the 15% service charge.

          • Nick says:

            Maybe because they’re confused by it? All of my American friends, used to tipping, don’t understand when I tell them that they don’t need to tip in a British pub, when buying a pint at the bar. They often still do, and that’s because they’ve always done that. The staff don’t necessarily understand, but you can bet that they’ll be looked after henceforth!

      • Nick says:

        Not in my experience, and I’ve worked & travelled over there for several decades now. Many, if not most hotel & restaurant staff are paid minimum wage, or even nothing at all, and live on tips, and are more than happy to do that because they appreciate that providing a good service pays them, and often well. I have no issue, whatsoever, with tipping 20% (in cash) to staff who do such. That’s why I dislike any form of service charge, in any country, because you just don’t know how it’s distributed, if at all. I’ll usually ask the staff if they know, and tip in cash accordingly. They may choose to put this in the tronc, or keep it for themselves, I don’t care, but I know that next visit I’ll get a good service for myself and guests.

  • Erico1875 says:

    You get 2000 points for signing up for Melia rewards. This also happens to be the sweet spot for points and cash bookings.
    E.G Melia Dusseldorf. “The Level” room b&b 2 to 4 June – cash £298 versus points and cash £278.
    Of course Gold ,with 20% off rates are even lower. £239 and £221 that weekend.
    Dusseldorf is a great city for a weekend.

  • Sussex bantam says:

    There also seems to be something odd with some BA flights after March 2024. Specifically looking at Faro where there are no flights from LGW and a very sparse LHR service. Might be the plan of course but seems unlikely ?

    • Gareth says:

      Same here. Been looking every day for TFS-LGW on BA but still nothing as of this morning.

    • David S says:

      Last year (for this summer) BA loaded LGW flights (Euroflyer) ever so late and we ended up booking flights from LHR instead

  • Rob says:

    If you ensure they charge your card before the deadline, yes.

  • JDB says:

    I fear there’s a new sort of non-discretionary charge coming our way. I’m currently in Australia and most restaurants have 10-15% surcharges for weekends and public holidays, plus of course tip on top of that.

    • SteveCroydon says:

      I lived in Australia 2000-2006 and have just returned from six weeks there. These weekend/public holiday surcharges existed 20+ years ago. It’s all tied to employment law and higher hourly rates on such days.

      • JDB says:

        Maybe they stopped at some point then or it was less common, because the friends I was staying with said it is relatively new, becoming much more widespread and also currently the subject of much debate in the local press. Obviously restaurants in the UK also need to pay staff more at these times, but haven’t yet moved to differently priced menus. Australia also allows surcharges for paying with credit and debit cards!

        • JK says:

          It’s been a thing for a very long time, but has become more widespread recently due to cost of living pressures. Previously you’d see it mostly in restaurants but now you’ll see it in cafes too. It’s because staff must be paid 1.5x or 2x wages on those days, which is fair – they’re working while we have a day off. You don’t need to tip though, everyone in hospitality in Australia is paid a decent wage.

          The credit card surcharge however is a debacle, it was badly implemented by the gov to cover the merchant fees, which of course cover the interbank fees, which is what gives us points.

        • lumma says:

          Other than getting the bank holidays added to your annual leave entitlement (so a full time employee will get 29 days holiday), pretty much no restaurant in the UK pays extra money for weekend/holiday work with the exception of working Christmas Day

          • JDB says:

            I’m surprised you say that as young relatives and friends who have children who do waiting jobs get paid 2x – 3x for weekend and bank holiday shifts and a hotelier friend says that in their London restaurants they pay double for weekend evenings and all day on bank holidays.

          • lumma says:

            @JDB The only London hotels/restaurants that I could see paying extra on weekends would be those in very empty parts of the city and they’d usually be closed on weekends but may occasionally open up for events.

            But even then I don’t see them paying extra

  • The real Swiss Tony says:

    A note on that hotel. Overrated rooms in my opinion, although has nice public areas.

  • Sammy says:

    As a hotelier, I can say that service charge will become more and more regular despite the furore. The issue is with the labour market. Majority of London hotels relied on Europeans which are now non-existent post BREXIT. The salaries are not enough to attract talent to work in hotels as British people rarely apply. The only way to attract is by increasing the wage, however, this is impossible to do if the hotels want to make any kind of profit. The luxury hotels are the ones that can typically pay higher (as there are rates are higher) and they often poach staff from “lesser” 4* hotels who then have no way of competing in the job market. I’m oversimplifying it, but this is what i’ve seen in my role. Pre-Brexit you would have never seen this happen IMO (bar ultra luxury hotels)

    • Mike says:

      I’m unsure why you posted this obvious nonsense. Room rates are massively higher than pre-COVID, certainly enough to pay a significantly higher wage. Additionally, the UK gov. is doing it’s bit by taking 50k rooms out of circulation to house migrants never mind the large number used by councils. So, nope, these charges should be made illegal or just wrapped into the headline night rate. Maybe British people would apply if you paid a living wage….

      • GeoffreyB says:

        Yes. Given the greedflation going on in the hotel sector there’s no excuse for not paying higher wages to attract staff

      • Sammy says:

        You miss the room rate increases are just about covering price increases for
        suppliers and energy. Salaries in hotels for entry level positions have gone up about 20% and yes room rates have gone up, but definately not 20%. Important to note most London hotel business rely on corporate rates for their bread and butter, not the average BAR rate me and you see online. These rates are negotiated yearly and I can assure you no hotel is passing on such huge increases, to their top accounts, hence the service charge route as many hotels see it as no other option. Yes they could just increase another 5% on the rate, but this doesn’t work with corporate rates

        • GeoffreyB says:

          Room rates for even “quiet” dates are up by more than double vs 2019 whenever I’ve booked anything over the last 18 months or so

    • David says:

      Absolutely. Brexit, the gift that keeps on giving.

      • Brian P says:

        “brexit the gift that keeps on giving”

        wait a minute, we were continually told by the remain campaign that mass eu immigration did not lower wages- is that not true ?

        one of my top reasons for voting leave was to boost the pay of low paid workers.

    • johnny_c-l says:

      It is one thing to say that a higher price is needed to staff & run a hotel, but quite another to imagine that these underhand and obfuscated surcharges are the only way to achieve it.

      • Sammy says:

        I think you missed my point. The charges are not underhand, they are advertised and still remain discretionary. The ability to attract staff by giving them a normal salary, and then incentivizing via service charge, is the main aim here, not for the hotels to actually make money. Pre-Brexit the competition for jobs in hotels was sky high, nowadays we receive a tenth of the number of application with the quality of candidates being poor. Important to note also most hotels are paying more than the London living wage but this is still not enough to get staff.

    • Nick says:

      Personally I’ll avoid, but won’t necessarily not, stay at any hotel that applies a corporate service charge. If it’s optional, I’ll refuse, and I’ll tip the staff well, often very well, in cash, if they provide a good service. BTW, that includes housekeeping & front of office too!

    • BA Flyer IHG Stayer says:

      “The salaries are not enough to attract talent to work in hotels as British people rarely apply.”

      Ah yes all those Europeans taking away jobs from ‘hard working’ Brits who it turns out don’t want those jobs!

      • Mike says:

        It’s one thing to be a young European putting up with crappy living conditions to see another country and save up some cash to take home to a lower cost of living country. It’s completely different to raise a family and live permanently in a country. I would have thought that was obvious.

        • Sammy says:

          London hotels pay more than retail however the truth of the matter is, people don’t apply. The salary nowadays is enough to raise a family. But are British people applying…No. Hotels are not seen as a “career” in the UK, which it is in European countries, hence we were overloaded with choice pre-Brexit. How do we now fill the position? Advertise on job boards with service charge to attract people to the industry. Whilst it may seem the hotels are looking to be greedy and make money, the purpose is actually something else entirely.

    • Stu_N says:

      Thanks for your insightful post Sammy.

    • Will says:

      The thing is, hotel prices are up in almost every country that I have checked over the past 3 years. So the idea that Brexit is the prime driver in the U.K. might be true, but it would mean we’ve experienced similar price increases to others for a totally different reason which I personally think needs some scrutiny.

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