Friday, 6 March 2015



ETIHAD is one of many airlines flying the new A380 wide bodied jet. Their launch route was Heathrow to Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi (AUH) being their home airport.

ETIHAD's design of their 1st class seats on the A380 has been widely applauded as being some of the most innovative and luxurious in the industry. They have gone with just 9 first class seats, BA in comparison has gone with 14 seats in first class. The relative increased space allocated to each seat allows Etihad to justifiably refer to these seats as "apartments"

Artist impression of 2x 1st class apartments on the Etihad A380

Actual photo of same

Note that each apartment has a seat, and a separate flat bed. Some have two windows, others three.Entertainment is provide on a massive 24" TV. Some of the apartments are laid out to suit a couple flying together (as shown above), such that they can sleep semi side-by-side. Food is prepared by an on-board chef. You get the general idea, but for further info, check-out Etihad's own website.

The lowest cost redemption opportunity to sample this apartment for yourself, is to Fly AUH-LHR, and use Etihad miles to fund the flight. Etihad refers to their cheapest rewards as "guest first", with the cost being 55K miles and £15. Yes, if you have the appropriate number of miles, the cash outlay is just £15.

American Express membership rewards allows you to transfer MR points to Etihad miles. The regular rate of transfer is 1-1. However until the 11th of March, Etihad will provide an additional 25% uplift for all miles transferred from MR points.

There are three other unrelated promotions that makes this apartment even more within reach.

1) Open a new Etihad account. Etihad is currently giving all new account holders 1000 miles, once they have any activity on their account. (must happen before the 31st of March). 1000 Points

2) Open a Heathrow rewards account. Heathrow rewards is giving new members 1100 points when they make their first £25 purchase before the 30th of April. To get this offer you must go via the Etihad link above.

3) Transfer the heathrow rewards to your Etihad account. Etihad is currently giving double points for all transfers from Heathrow rewards (transfer mush happen before the 30th of April). 2200 points

4) Do a transfer of 41600 MR points from your American express membership rewards to Etihad. Etihad will increases this to 52,000 points. This transfer must happen before the 11th of March. This counts as activity on your Etihad account, and thus trigger the 1000 points from bullet point one above.

In total you'll end up with just over 55K Etihad points, which is enough for a 1-way flight AUH-LHR in a 1st class apartment. You can check out redemption availability here.

Even if you don't have sufficient (or any) MR points, you should still take advantage of the Etihad and Heathrow rewards sign-up offers. If you are new to American Express, a really easy way to pick up 22K free MR points, is by signing up for the American express gold card, a link for which you can see at the top right of this page. These 22K points can be transferred to a number of programs, including Etihad.

Thursday, 11 December 2014



Until the 22nd December, Hilton is running a promotion whereby you may get a mystery bonus of up to 50% extra points, when purchasing or gifting HHonors points.

The normal purchase rate for HHonors points is $10 per 1000, with a maximum purchase of 40,000 in any one year. At the current exchange rate, that is around 0.66p per point. On my Hilton account, I got offered 40% bonus points, my partners Hilton account got no bonus at all.

If you get the 50% bonus, then each point will cost you 0.44p. Depending on any particular redemption you are looking at, this might work out as value for money.

The promo page can be found here, you'll need to log in to see your personal bonus. The T&C states the promo is only available to those that received an email.  I received no such email and have been offered 40%.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014


Starwood's loyalty points, or SPG points, are amongst some of the most valuable frequent traveller reward points around.  As well as being able to use them at some fantastic properties (I had a memorable stay in the St Regis, Miami last year), you can transfer them into just about all of the major airline miles.

In the UK, you can collect them primarily with the Amex SPG card. You can also transfer Amex membership rewards (MR) points to Starwoods points , but only at a poor 2-for-1 ratio.

Given that they are quite hard to come by, it's always good when you come across a way of getting better value for them.

The Starwoods Nights and Flights promotion allows you to redeem 70K SPG points for 5 nights stay in a cat 4 hotel, AND also get 50K airmiles transferred to the frequent flyer programme of your choice.

Let's examine the offer in detail.

5 Nights in a category 4 SPG hotel would require 40K SPG points
50K Avios or AA miles would require 40K SPG points.

So if done as two separate redemptions, you would require 80K points.

The promo, which must be done via the call centre (it can't be accessed online), gets you the above for 70K SPG points, a saving of 10K SPG points.

Now of course the promo only works for you if you were intending to stay at least 5 nights anyway (extra nights can be tacked on at the regular rate), but if you are staying at least 5 nights, and you were considering also doing a transfer into an airline program, use of this promo would be the best way to go.

The important T&C are that you can only transfer to an airline program that normally transfers at the 1:1 ratio, and also you must pick a category 4 hotel. There is a similar program for category 3 hotels, which requires 60K SPG points, and results in an 8K SPG points saving.

You'll find the details of the programme at the bottom of this link.

Sunday, 5 October 2014


Both Avios and BA have partnered with survey companies, who will reward survey participants with free avios. On an on-going basis, these do not provide a great return for the time that you invest in doing them, but the initial sign-up bonuses are well worth having.

Avios partners with "e-rewards" and "rewards for thoughts.". e-rewards gives you 750 avios for signing up and completing your first survey. Rewards for thoughts gives 600 avios. 

Sign-up for e-rewards here.

Sign-up for rewards for thoughts here. currently partners with just "e-rewards". Again, you will get 750 avios for your initial survey. As a pre-caution against e-rewards picking up that you have already registered, I suggest using a different email account.

Go to this page, at the bottom you'll see the link to sign-up.

When you are all done, you'll be in line to get 2100 avios from the 3 sign-ups. And don't forget, if you have a partner, they can also sign-up for another 2100 avios.

Friday, 1 August 2014


UPDATE...Irish Independant confirmed Aer Lingus has "concrete plans" for new USA services

Hear a rumour/speculation today, courtesy of, that Aer Lingus will be launching further flights to the USA in 2015.

If true, this is great news for expanding redemption options out of Ireland. Recall, that you can redeem BA avios on Aer Lingus flights. The big advantage (other than that it super handy for those living in Ireland), is that the taxes and fees for a return flight are around £80, as opposed for the equivalent flight out of the UK. Aer lingus currently flies Boston, Chicago, Orlando, New York and San Francisco.

The rumour suggests that one of the news destinations will be in Texas, so either Dallas, Houston, or less likely Austin. It is also suggested that another East coast destination will be added.

If these flights are coming, one would expect an announcement within the next few months.

UPDATE. Irish independent today ran an article quoting the Aer Lingus CEO

"I will not mention any destinations but we have very concrete plans," Mr Mueller, pictured right, said. He added that those plans would come to fruition before he leaves the airline next May."

So no longer in the rumour dept, it's now a case of wait for the announcement.


Flying long haul direct out of Belfast is limited to the single United Airlines destination, of Newwark, New York. It's unlikely that many people have United miles, as the opportunities to collect them within the UK are few and far between.