Posts in the “Loyalty Programmes” category...

British Airways Reveals First Class Wing at London Heathrow Terminal 5

by Continental Club on March 22, 2017  |  Leave a comment • Tagged as: , , , , , , ,

British Airways has released the first official details of  ‘The First Wing‘ at its London Heathrow home. The First Wing will encompass and enlarge the existing First Class check in area at the South end of Terminal 5, linking through to new security channels which, for the first time, will allow eligible passengers direct access to the carrier’s Galleries First Lounge.

The First Wing will be open to members of the British Airways Executive Club at the Gold tier and above, as well as to Emerald cardholders of oneworld alliance frequent flyer programmes and, of course, to all those travelling in British Airways’ First Class. The latter will also enjoy direct access to The Concorde Room.

The check-in area is 250% larger than the original First Class zone, and The First Wing is defined by a three metre high and 29 metre long curved wall,  which serves to guide passengers through to the lounge complex.

The First Wing is slated to open in early April 2017. For more information, visit ba.com.

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The Canyon Suites at The Phoenician Relaunched – August 2016

by Continental Club on August 27, 2016  |  Leave a comment • Tagged as: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Luxury Collection NewScottsdale, AZ: It’s not often that we review individual hotels these days; the ever-increasing number of social media platforms and both hoteliers’ and guests’ use of them mean that there’s not much that’s not been written and shown about practically every lodging on the planet.

Today though, we found ourselves back at one of our favourite properties, which we wrote about last in 2008. And today just happened to be the day that Scottsdale’s The Canyon Suites at The Phoenician, the ultra-luxe enclave within The Phoenician AAA Five Diamond resort, reopened to guests following a multi-million dollar makeover.

Part of Starwood’s Luxury Collection, The Canyon Suites is already a Forbes Five Star retreat held in high regard by loyal returning guests, and (often) slack-jawed awe by first-time check-ins. Professional, gracious, engaging Ambassadors are permanently on-hand to assist, advise and make sure that guests make the most of their stay.

At the exclusive poolside, reserved for Canyon guests alone, service is so slickly impressive, you may wonder why all resorts can’t clone the Suites’ superstar server.

And at the front door, bell staff enthusiasm is way more than the Valley of the Sun’s soaring summertime temperatures should permit.

So, when news of a 2016 closure and relaunch was relayed to long-time guests, the common call was for as little change as possible.

Now then, is the moment of truth….

The signs of lavish expenditure are all around, as soon as the shade of the porte cochère is given up for the cool of the marbled lobby. The fountain anchors the front of house, but behind the lobby opens out in a way that’s plusher, lighter and yet more cosily intimate than before, and certainly more-so than any triple-height space could be expected to be.

To the guest corridors, and the carpeting, the wall coverings, the ceiling treatments and the light fittings are all showroom-fresh.

And, once ensconced in a Canyon Suite itself, only the coving, the skirting and the signature louvre-panel internal doors will prove familiar. From sound bar TV systems with online access to Netflix et al, to Nespresso coffee machines, to the furniture, beds, drapery, carpeting, wall decoration and artwork – every bit is new.

Here are definite mid-century cues throughout; solid, comfortable, design-led pieces that arguably echo a time when modernity was enthused over, but traditional standards of craftsmanship prevailed. A time before blue-box retail, Allen Keys and the expectation of imminent collapse defined contemporary design.

Yet, despite the transformation, nothing here will frighten The Canyon Suites‘ most loyal evangelists. It’s a credit to the teams behind the renovation that they’ve so-successfully retained The Canyon‘s unique air, while zephyring the fresh breeze of change throughout the entire building.

Outside, it’s familiar and new, too. Guests will now find an al fresco dining area between the lobby and the waterfalls, ready to welcome them for the launch of The Canyon Suites‘ complimentary breakfast service.

Poolside, there’s barely a shade of change, with eagle-eyed Canyonistas perhaps the only ones who’ll spot a new hue.

Sports fans, in particular, availing of the pool’s private cabanas will doubtless appreciate new 32″ LCDs on which to catch the game, whilst continuing to chill out of the sun.

IMG_0866

But, for many guests the biggest change, and the one that reportedly a significant number have long campaigned-for (we even mentioned it in 2008), is the final arrival of The Canyon Suites‘ own bar, to compliment the lobby’s new lounge.

It’s a haven of craft whiskies, of wines cellared with the latest technology; it’s an open wall where intimate evenings will be accented with small bites, and where sun-flooded mornings will see The Canyon‘s market-fresh breakfasts greeting early-risers.

With The Phoenician’s main hotel building also receiving the first hints of a 2017 full-scale reworking, aimed at establishing the whole estate as the finest resort in whole South West, it’s heartening to see the care and attention that’s gone in to The Canyon Suites, and into reflecting the thoughts, feedback and requests of countless guests.

Indeed, it’s not just the relaunching of The Canyon Suites; it’s definitively the reloving of The Canyon Suites.

For more information, visit canyonsuites.com, or luxurycollection.com.

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Hilton Flash Sale Rooms From £22

by Continental Club on March 6, 2016  |  Leave a comment • Tagged as: , , , , ,

Hilton HHonorsHilton Hotels has launched a weekend leisure flash sale, with rates starting from an advertised £59 per room per night for HHonors loyalty programme members at properties across the United Kingdom, Europe, the Middle East & Africa.

Flash Sale - Hilton Explore 2016-03-06 18-34-27

Flash Sale rates are available for bookings made between Sunday 6th March and Sunday 13th March 2016, for stays at participating hotels completed on weekends throughout 2016.

As usual with Hilton, “weekend” is defined as Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights in Europe and Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights in Middle East & Africa.

And, as usual, the headline advertised rate for the sale is not in fact the lowest available at the promotion’s launch. As shown in the image above, the absolutely lowest rates actually start from £22 in Russia, and from £41 in the UK.

Bookings must be made a minimum 1 day before arrival; rates are non-refundable and full prepayment required at time of booking. The rate codes are:

PR02FB (Room Only)

PR02FR (Bed & Breakfast)

Rates qualify for earning and stay credits as well as status amenities in the Hilton HHonors programme. Non-members can avail themselves of the rates by joining the programme during the booking process.

To check rates and to book, visit hilton.co.uk. For full terms of conditions, click here.

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Flash: BA Club World New York £699 Rtn With Avios Part Pay

by Continental Club on November 26, 2015  |  Leave a comment • Tagged as: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

British AirwaysAlthough airline sales are not unusual, it’s less common for the promotional stars align to allow passengers to benefit from two offers on the same airline at the same time. However, British Airways Executive Club members who are already used to being able to use Avios points to ‘part pay’ for their tickets can double-dip this weekend, with the airline’s current fare offers combining with another Black Friday deal to make greater savings than are usually available with Avios contributions.

BA Exec AviosAvios part payment provides for a maximum £200 saving for 30,000 Avios under normal terms and conditions, however under the current promotion the saving is increased to £700 on a Club World return ticket – for the same 30,000 Avios contribution. In combination with this weekend’s sale, the effect can be to reduce the lowest fare to just £699 return:

British Airways - Price quote 2015-11-26 08-16-29

The double dip works in World Traveller economy and World Traveller Plus premium economy too and, using the New York example, fares are from:

World Traveller £162 plus 15,000 Avios

World Traveller Plus £524 plus 15,000Avios

Destinations offered at the increased part payment saving rate are Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Washington (Baltimore), Denver, Dallas, Newark, Washington (Dulles), Houston, New York, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Miami, Chicago, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, Seattle, San Francsico, San Jose, Nassau, Grand Cayman, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro & Sao Paolo, and bookings must be made by 23:59GMT on Monday 30th November 2015 – the same deadline as for the current sale fares.

Flights booked using Avios part payment earn Avios and Executive Club Tier Points at the same rates as without part payment, although they do not qualify for earnings in the British Airways OnBusiness SME loyalty programme.

Full details of the current fare sales which end at 23:59GMT on Monday 30th November 2015 can be found in our other articles:

http://blog.continentalclub.co.uk/offers/british-airways-economy-premium-economy-sale-fares-loaded-25th-november-2015/

http://blog.continentalclub.co.uk/offers/british-airways-business-first-class-sale-fares-loaded-25th-november-2015/

To check all British Airways fares and availability, and in particular to locate the lowest available fare, use the British Airways Low Fare Finder at ba.com. For additional details regarding the Black Friday Avios Part Payment offer, visit this page at ba.com.

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Hotel Indigo, Crowne Plaza & Holiday Inn Flash Sale From £39 Per Night

by Continental Club on November 5, 2015  |  Leave a comment • Tagged as: , , , , , , , ,

IHG RewardsInterContinental Hotel Group has loaded flash sale rates for winter stays,  ‘banded’ at £39, £49, £69 and £89 and bookable only at IHG.com. The promotion is open only to IHG Rewards members, but non-members can join during the booking process and membership is free of charge.

IHGRWC_DESKTOPLP_HERO_972x340-phase2

Stay dates are from 1st December 2015 until 29th February 2016, excluding New Year’s Eve, 29th December 2015.

The sale officially commenced at 09:00 GMT on Thursday 5th November and lasts for 72 hours only.

It’s likely that there will be some slight variations between the ‘banded’ rates advertised and the actual ones showing availability, although this will probably be a function of minor fluctuations in foreign exchange rates. Particularly at the higher ‘bands’, it’s always worth checking the best available non-sale rate at relevant hotels as well.

For more details, to check the terms & conditions, availability and to book, visit ihg.com.

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British Airways Avios Longhaul Part Payment Promotion

by Continental Club on April 7, 2015  |  Leave a comment • Tagged as: , , , , , , , , ,

British Airways has offered its Executive Club members the opportunity to redeem Avios points in part payment for many shorthaul tickets since October 2013. Prior to that time, the use of Avios required ‘redemption’ availability on the required flights; availability which many will know is often difficult to come-by.

BA Exec Avios

The part payment system therefore allows more flexible use of Avios against a wide range of paid-for tickets, albeit at generally lower-value rates than outright redemptions or upgrades.

Until the 29th April 2015, BA is allowing Executive Club members to use Avios in part payment for longhaul flights as well, the second time it has run a longhaul part payment promotion. Unlike its last offer, however, the maximum part payment is now increased to 60,000 Avios for a £400 fare reduction on a Club World or First Class ticket.

The full list of longhaul part payment options is as follows:

Avios part payment amount Saving per person
World Traveller & World Traveller Plus 1,500 Avios £10pp
4,500 Avios £30pp
7,500 Avios £50pp
15,000 Avios £100pp
Club World & First 4,500 Avios £30pp
7,500 Avios £50pp
15,000 Avios £100pp
30,000 Avios £200pp
45,000 Avios £300pp
60,000 Avios £400pp

 

The offer is available to members’ who are logged in to their Executive Club account, on flights departing from London Heathrow to anywhere on the longhaul network and from London City Airport to New York JFK, on British Airways flight-only bookings. The booking period is 1st April 2015 to the– 29th April 2015 for travel between 1st April 2015 – 1st April 2016. The maximum advertised discount may not be offered when making a booking, if the member’s Avios balance is insufficient.

The underlying ticket(s) purchased will continue to earn Avios and Tier Points at the same rate as they would had they been paid for entirely with cash.

For full details and to book, visit ba.com.

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British Airways On Business Changes Announced

by Continental Club on February 20, 2015  |  Leave a comment • Tagged as: , , , , , , , ,

British AirwaysBritish Airways has announced a complete overhaul of its On Business small & medium sized enterprise (SME) loyalty programme. In a move that has been widely anticipated, especially by members of the carrier’s also-soon-to-change Executive Club frequent flyer scheme, BA has revealed first details of what is to become a revenue-based programme launching on 27th May 2015.

We’re making some changes to On Business

Although the Executive Club changes have only recently been announced, and include changes broadly limited to revised earning and redemption rates still based on zones and distance, the On Business review sees the effective closure of the existing programme on 24th May 2017, and its relaunch on a completely new platform three days later. As On Business has hitherto run on a modified Executive Club IT system, it will be interesting to see whether, in the longer term, EC rejoins OB from a technical point of view, and becomes revenue-based as well.

For now, the key features of the new programme are:

  • Earnings based on fare paid, rather than zones travelled to.
  • Membership tiers, with earning rate multiples based on annual-spend.
  • Redemptions based on regional bands, with premium cabin redemption rates largely increasing, and economy redemptions decreasing in terms of the number of points required.
  • Earning and redemption to be possible on American Airlines and Iberia as well as British Airways.
  • Existing points balances converted at a rate of 1:2 (existing:new) on 27th May 2015.
  • Cash discounts of at least 5% available on selected flights worldwide.
  • Unredeemed points will expire at the end of the second calendar year after earning – rather than at the end of the third year as at present.

The latter point is worth paying particular attention to, as it effectively means that points earned in the early part of 2015 will now be valid for 12 months less than they would have been. Existing points, per the (grammatically truly, crushingly appalling) BA FAQs, will retain their original expiry dates:

On Business Changes – FAQs

The new On Business Tiers are based on annual spend, and earning rates and multiples will be as follows:

Tier Spend Threshold Earn Rate
Tier 1 £0 – £29,999 1 Point per £1
Tier 2 £30,000 – £299,999 1.25 Points per £1
Tier 3 £300,000+ 1.5 Points per £1

 

Return ticket redemptions will now be priced at these points levels:

Band* First Business Premium Economy Economy
1 10,400 2,200
2 13,400 3,200
3 14,200 3,800
4 15,200 4,000
5 40,000 26,000 15,000 5,000
6 60,000 42,000 20,000 8,000
7 68,000 48,000 22,000 9,000
8 78,000 58,000 24,000 10,000
9 82,000 62,000 26,000 11,000
10 90,000 70,000 32,000 16,000

 

*Details of bands.

One-cabin upgrades from eligible booking classes follow a similar pattern:

Band  Business to First  Premium Economy to Business  Economy to Premium Economy  Economy to Business 
1 4,000
2 5,000
3 5,200
4 5,600
5 7,000 10,500 5,000
6 9,000 11,000 6,000
7 10,000 13,000 6,500
8 10,000 17,000 7,000
9 10,000 18,000 7,500
10 10,000 19,000 8,000

 

And, interestingly, ‘eligible’ booking classes in the new programme seem to include ‘R/I’ class (lowest business) and ‘T’ class (lowest premium economy) which were not available to upgrade from in recent years under the current scheme.

There are obviously a number of ways to review the changes, from a simple assessment of how much current balances will be worth in the new scheme, to a far more complex calculation based on which tier member companies will fall into post-changes, and their associated earning rates compared to those they’ve historically seen. Earnings will also be affected by the member company’s booking ‘profile’ and whether their regular routes were at the ‘generous’ or ‘less generous’ end of the spectrum in terms of cost vs distance.

Given that only a simple assessment is possible at this stage, two worked examples for round trip redemptions from London to New York (Band 7) and London to Sydney (Band 10), based on the effective value of existing points, see the following results:

Economy Premium Economy Business First
Current OB Points Requirement 6,600 13,200 18,900 24,300
Current OB Points Requirement Converted At 1:2 13,200 26,400 37,800 48,600
New OB Points Requirement 9,000 22,000 48,000 68,000
New OB Scheme Points Variation For NYC (B7) Return -4,200 -4,400 10,200 19,400

 

Economy Premium Economy Business First
Current OB Points Requirement 12,480 24,960 36,960 47,520
Current OB Points Requirement Converted At 1:2 24,960 49,920 73,920 95,040
New OB Points Requirement 16,000 32,000 70,000 90,000
New OB Scheme Points Variation For SYD (B10) Return -8,960 -17,920 -3,920 -5,040

 

Those saving for a First return to New York will be disappointed; those aiming for a Premium Economy ticket to Sydney will be much happier.

The real-world implications of the changes will take much longer to become clear and, as mentioned, will depend quite specifically on each member company’s booking and spend profile. They’ll also depend on some as-yet unannounced confirmations, such as details pertaining to redemptions on American and Iberia.

For more details of all the changes that have so far been announced though (and to view that truly hideous grammar in the FAQs posted thereon) visit ba.com.

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British Airways Executive Club 2015 Changes Announced

by Continental Club on January 28, 2015  |  Leave a comment • Tagged as: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

BA Exec AviosBA has this morning announced changes to its Executive Club loyalty programme, which will affect bookings made from 28th April 2015. Full details of all the variations to the earning of Avios and Tier Points, as well as the redemption of Avios for flight awards, are published at ba.com here:

We’re making some changes to the Executive Club

Discount Economy Avios & Tier Points

In earning terms, probably the biggest changes are to the number of Avios earned on the cheapest Economy tickets (down from 100% of flown miles to 25% of flown miles) and also to the number of Tier Points earned on those tickets (down from 50% of full TPs to 25% TPs).

Silver Members’ Avios Tier Bonus

For those who have already achieved the Silver tier in the programme, the other major earning change is to the Avios Tier Bonus, which reduces from 100% of flown miles to 50% of flown miles. Taken within the broader picture of Tier Bonuses, this change arguably resolves an unusually generous bonus and sees a more logical ladder of bonuses from 25% for Bronze members, 50% for Silver and 100% for Gold members. Until these changes, Silver earnings were the same as Gold.

Club World London City Tier Points

Other changes are likely to affect fewer members in terms of gross numbers, such as the realignment of Tier Point earning on the airline’s Club World London City Service to New York JFK. For some time, revenue flights on this service have earned Tier Points at the First Class-equivalent rate; this will now be brought back to the mainline Club World rate.

Avios Redemption Changes

The number of Avios required to redeem for a flight will be changing, and for the first time the concept of peak and off-peak awards will be introduced. The new redemption table is as follows:

Zone Economy  Premium economy Business First
Off-peak Peak Off-peak Peak Off-peak Peak Off-peak Peak
 1  4,000 4,500  5,750 6,750  7,750 9,000  15,500 18,000
 2  6,500 7,500  9,500 11,250  12,750 15,000  25,500 30,000
 3  8,500 10,000  12,750 15,000  17,000 20,000  34,000 40,000
 4  10,000 12,500  20,000 25,000  31,250 37,500  42,500 50,000
 5  13,000 20,000  26,000 40,000  50,000 60,000  68,000 80,000
 6  16,250 25,000  32,500 50,000  62,500 75,000  85,000 100,000
 7  19,500 30,000  39,000 60,000  75,000 90,000  102,000 120,000
 8  22,750 35,000  45,500 70,000  87,500 105,000  119,000 140,000
 9  32,500 50,000  65,000 100,000  125,000 150,000  170,000 200,000

 

This system will also apply to redemptions on Iberia.

Free UK Domestic Connections

The ‘free’ UK domestic add-on for shorthaul (European) redemptions will be removed, and connecting flights will now be subject to an additional Avios collect. The situation for longhaul redemptions will remain the same, however, and UK domestic connections from British Airways longhaul itineraries will remain free of additional Avios requirement.

Upgrades Using Avios

The range of Economy fare classes which are eligible for upgrade with Avios is being increased, so that instead of only the most flexible fare classes being eligible, all but the most inflexible will now be eligible.

Minimum Number of Avios Seats Per Flight

A new undertaking is being made to release ‘a minimum of two Club World/Club Europe and four World Traveller/Euro Traveller reward seats on all British Airways operated flights that are offered for sale on ba.com (excluding subsidiaries and franchises).’

These minimum guaranteed reward seats will be made available 355 days before the flight and will remain available, if not booked, until 45 days before departure.

This latter caveat is particularly interesting, since it may effectively mean that short-notice Economy and Business Class redemptions may no longer be available.

Effective Date

The changes apply only to new bookings made from 28th April 2015. Bookings made before that date, even for travel after that date, will be subject to the current and not the new rules.

For more information relating to the changes, visit ba.com.

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