News & offers: BA Future Labs to close, Florida flights from £1319, Avios bonus on hotels & Qatar Langkawi details

BA Future Labs to close

New British Airways Boeing 787-8 Arriving from the Boeing Factory in Seattle to London Heathrow.

Unbeknown to many, BA have been running a closed group of specially selected frequent flyers to discuss future initiatives. The group was called Future Labs and was a closely guarded community which you had to sign a non-disclosure agreement to join. The website had forums, live chats and video interviews to gather opinions on suggested changes and improvements. Sadly BA are now closing this outlet for customers to have a say in the future with almost immediate effect. Recently there had been several breaches of the confidentiality clause with information leaked to another blog. Whether that had an effect on the decision is unknown.

BA say they will still be doing future research projects but as yet it is unknown what this will be. Let’s hope they continue to get their passengers ideas for what happens to the airline in the future.


UK to Orlando business class from £1319

Virgin B747 Upper Class (Image by Phillip Capper under Creative Commons license 2.0)

Today’s fare came as something of a surprise to me as I had no idea that Virgin flew direct from Belfast to Orlando over the summer! The flights are direct, so it means that even though you need to position to Belfast it is then a straightforward trip. You could even stop and spend some time in Belfast as there is plenty to do which you can see in Mrs B’s Belfast Guide here.

  • Book by: 27 April
  • Travel: Until 1 September (flights only go on Sundays)
  • Minimum stay: 7 nights
  • Maximum stay: 12 months
  • Transfers: Unlimited
  • Stopovers:
  • Refundable: No
  • Changeable: No

You can book direct with Virgin Atlantic here or find the cheapest online travel agent price with Skyscanner.

Since Hilton stopped allowing you to earn Avios and points on stays, earning Avios on hotel stays has not been as lucrative. But there are still a number of ways to earn Avios on hotels, some of which have current bonuses.

Here are some suggested options and bonuses:

  • Rocketmiles allow you to earn Avios (or other airline miles) on every hotel booking. You can collect up to 10,000 Avios per night. Generally, prices can be slightly higher than booking through other websites particularly if you take cashback into account. However, when there is a bonus on it is often worthwhile paying slightly more to get the Avios at the higher rate if you are need of them. The current offer is for a one time bonus of 25% more Avios when you make your booking by 30 June 2019. The offer page is here.
  • Did you know you can collect Avios with You can collect up to 6 Avios for every £1 you spend.  The good news is that you can still earn Avios and Reward nights. British Airways Executive Members can choose to either earn Reward nights (1 reward night for every 10 nights booked) and 3 Avios per £1 spend or forgo the Reward night and earn double Avios instead. You can find more details on here.
  • Accor promotion. This is applicable for stays at all Accor brands including luxury hotels such as Sofitel, Pullman, MGallkery, Fairmont and Raffles.

You can earn either Avios with either BAEC or Iberia Plus. Iberia Plus offers a better conversion at Accor  1:1 vs  2 Accor points to 1 Avios into British Airways Avios. Even if you don’t have an Iberia Plus account it is easy to open one and you should then be able to transfer miles across into BA after 90 days if you are a new member. If you can’t get it to work (it’s Iberia, it’s temperamental) the way round it is to sign up for Aer Lingus Aerclub and do it via

The promotion is valid for new stays 15/04/19 to 15/07/19 and booked between 15/04/19 and 15/06/19. There are a couple of things to be aware of. You need to change your earning preference from points to Iberia Avios. If you already have more than 3000 points it will auto convert them to Avios so this is not for you if you want to keep your 3000+ points balance intact. You don’t need to register but you need to have made the booking on/after 15 April. Obviously, if you have booked a flexible rate you could look at rebooking if the price is still the same.

The Accor offer page is here. 

Qatar reveals Langkawi flight details

The Datai, Langkawi Leaders club

The Datai, Langkawi

Langkawi is a beautiful beach destination that is an island off Malaysia. Getting there has always been a bit of a trek as you had to swap onto another airline in Kuala Lumpur. Qatar have finally revealed the details of their flights from Doha but unfortunately, they won’t actually be direct. Instead, they will route via Penang. The service will start on 15 October 2019 and operate 4 times a week with an A330-200. From 27 October 19, it will be operated by Boeing 787-8, while increasing the frequency to 5 weekly. If you haven’t booked yet, I would aim to do so for after the 27 October since the seats are much better. The A330 seats are pretty narrow without much storage in a 2-2-2 configuration. You can read our reviews of business class on both types here. 

QR866 DOH 01.55 – 14.20 PEN 1540 – 16.20 LGK
QR867 LGK 18.25 – 19.05 PEN 2025 – 23.30 DOH

If you are looking for inspiration about where to stay, we recommend The Datai as Roving Reporters favourite hotel in the world. You can read the review of the hotel post refurbishment here. RR also stayed at the Ritz Carlton hotel, read his review here.

4 Comments on "News & offers: BA Future Labs to close, Florida flights from £1319, Avios bonus on hotels & Qatar Langkawi details"

  1. That photo of the virgin Upper Class makes no sense. The two bar stools are directly in front of two flat beds!!!????

  2. Just to note that Malaysian used to fly directly from London to Langkawi, (although always had to route back via KL). i went on the very first flight with my then young son in October 2003! Langkawi is a lovely island, and it’s well worth getting out of the hotel and exploring, including the film set of Anna and the King (yes i know it’s Malaysia not Thailand) and the cable car to the highest point on the island.

  3. Jamesay, unfortunately they pretty much are although in reality not quite as bad as the photo might suggest.

  4. zsalya_fly | 2 May 2019 at 9:55 pm | Reply

    I think you mean that they will not be non-stop?
    One flight number all the way, and presumably the same ‘plane.
    The big question for convenience which is not clarified by “direct” is whether one has to get off the ‘plane in Penang.
    In Europe we are a bit spoilt in that there are very few direct flights which are not non-stop.
    And I think the only one operated by London Airways nowadays is the flight to Sydney?

Have your say

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.