News & offers: BA A320 neo routes, Children fly free on BA, Marriott/SPG merger, AA & BA business class to NY

BA cabin crew strike 19 July 2017

BA A320 Neo routes confirmed

BA have confirmed the routes that they plan to operate their newly delivered A320 neo which feature the new slim line pre-reclined seats and no middle tray in Club Europe. British Airways A320 neo operation in summer 2018 season is as follows mainly from Heathrow T3:

  • Budapest
  • Lisbon
  • Madrid(T5)
  • Warsaw

BA only have the one neo aircraft at the moment so obviously it will not be on every flight to those destinations. Once I have further information on specific flights I will post again.

Children fly free on British Airways

BA are offering a similar deal to last year if you book certain domestic routes before 13 May 2018. There are free return flights for children under 12 to Belfast, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Leeds and Newcastle.

This offer includes both legs of the journey when children travel with at least one full-paying adult. Book for travel between 1 June and 5 November 2018 from London Heathrow or any of the destinations. There are no blackout dates so it also includes flights taken during the school holidays.

BA also have some other child friendly offers such as free kids’ travel on the Heathrow Express between Heathrow and Paddington, Kids Eat Free at participating restaurants at Heathrow Terminal 5, and Kids Eat Free at selected Marriott Hotels® during a family stay.

You can find more details on this page.

Marriott/SPG merger – winners and losers

Marriott's Ko'Olina Hotel on Oahu, Hawaii

Marriott’s Ko’Olina Hotel on Oahu, Hawaii

Yesterday Marriott finally revealed how the two SPG and Marriott loyalty programs (plus Ritz Carlton) will be merged and answered most, if not all, the questions that members had for the future. Beginning in August 2018 you will be able to combine your separate Marriott Rewards, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards and SPG accounts into a single account which as yet, they don’t have a name for. The Marriott Rewards, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) names will continue with a new set of unified benefits until a new program name is introduced in 2019.

Status

Up to this point the merger had worked well if you had SPG Gold through the SPG or Platinum Amex cards. I had always found SPG Gold next to worthless for me but with the benefit of getting Marriott status by joining my 2 accounts, it meant I got free breakfast and Executive lounge access which are valuable to me. Unfortunately this is coming to an end. Your status in the combined scheme will be based on your SPG status from August which only gives the equivalent status as follows:

  • Preferred Guest = Silver
  • Gold = Gold
  • Platinum = Platinum
  • Platinum with 75 or more nights = Platinum Premier

This applies to existing members with SPG earned status too.

If you have earned Marriott status, you status will now be

  • Silver (10-24 nights) = Silver
  • Silver (25-49 nights) = Gold
  • Gold = Platinum
  • Platinum = Platinum Premier
  • Platinum with 100+ nights and $20k spend = Platinum Premier with Ambassador

Booking reward stays

From August 2018 you will have access to book stays and earn or redeem points among 29 brands with 6,500 hotels in 127 countries without having to transfer points between the programs on any of the apps or websites.

Phoencian hotel starwood

Luxury Collection by Starwood, The Phoenician Hotel Arizona.

Moments experiences

The Moments experiences platform is also expanding, with more than 110,000 experiences in 1,000 destinations from attraction tickets and tours that you can purchase with cash, to once-in-a-lifetime events only available to members using points.

BST side stage

Jamie Lawson from side stage during my SPG Moment to see Take That in Hyde Park

Earning points and status

From August onwards there will be 5 tiers with the following qualification requirements:

  • Silver – will require 10 nights
  • Gold – will require 25 nights
  • Platinum – will require 50 nights
  • Platinum Premier – will require 75 nights
  • Platinum Premier (elite) – will require 100 nights and $20,000 spend

Members who have achieved Lifetime status will continue to have their status recognized. For those that will still have Platinum status the breakfast benefit will be better as it will be available across 23 participating brands, including resorts, Courtyard, AC Hotels by Marriott, Protea and Moxy. It still will not be included at EDITION or Ritza Carlton unfortunately.

So what will your new status get you?

  • Silver – bonus points and member rates
  • Gold – priority (but subject to availability) 2pm check-out, welcome gift (points), enhanced room subject to availability
  • Platinum – 4pm check-out, Executive lounge access, welcome gift, suite upgrade certificates after 50 nights
  • Platinum Premier – additional suite upgrades after 75 nights

There will be a single points currency based on Marriott points so if you are an SPG member you will see your points balance triple in August. a single points currency will be introduced. You will earn 1 point per $10 spent as a base level and then a bonus with the elite tiers. You will also earn points for all your spend including food and drink rather than just the hotel night across most of the brands.

There will be no blackout dates for redeeming across all the brands. In 2019 they will launch peak and off-peak rates but for now there will just be one standard value.

More Mobile Features

Members will have improved features on the mobile apps. When you book directly on Marriott.com, SPG.com or any of Marriott’s mobile apps, you will be able to check-in or check out, receive Room Ready Alerts chat directly with hotels using Mobile Requests and where available use your smartphone as your room key using any of the mobile apps.

SPG and Marriott Credit cards + Amex Platinum SPG Gold status

The SPG Amex card will continue for now and the Marriott UK credit card will re-open for applications. For now the Amex Platinum SPG Gold benefit continues as well. However, once the schemes are completely merged it will be interesting to see if both continue which seems unlikely and also whether the Amex Platinum card benefit stays the same. There are obviously some changes currently planned from this wording in the press release “ we will be announcing changes to cobrand cards in Canada, Japan, The United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates at a later date.”

There is more detail of all the changes on a special page here.

What do you think of the changes? Let me know in the comments below or on social media

AA and BA business class to New York from £1332

BA cheap tier point runs

AA B777-300ER business class

If you fancy trying out American Airlines business class, the latest offer to New York is worth a look. BA have been doing a similar offer when you book 6 months in advance but this is also now available on American Airlines. The flights are available for mid week departures up to February 2019 (some black out dates apply) and there is a minimum stay of a Saturday night. You can mix and match between BA and AA if you wanted to do a combination.

American Airlines now have good seats on the New York route which you can read reviews of here. The B777-300ER would be my choice with the same reverse herringbone seats as Qatar. The B777-200 seats are not as good as they tend to shake when the person next to you moves! AA have come a long way recently and I like their business class product. The food is pretty good with the ice cream sundae trolley to look forward to and I love their bedding too. I find the crew efficient but a bit brusque and the Champagne and wines are not usually as good as BA but they do a great Bloody Mary and warm nuts! However, for me the seat is the most important thing and they definitely excel on the B777-300ER in terms of comfort.

Miami, Los Angeles are also available from £1520 and £1680 respectively on the same offer.

AA B777-200 business class review

AA B777-200 business class

Flights can be booked via British Airways or American Airlines.

3 Comments on "News & offers: BA A320 neo routes, Children fly free on BA, Marriott/SPG merger, AA & BA business class to NY"

  1. At the moment, the SPG Marriott merger is not working in my favour unless AmEx Centurion cardholders can get Platinum status in the new scheme. Anything less is pretty much worthless as one would have to spend a fortune to get 1 night at a decent place (like the Phonecian in Scottsdale!) and there are often stay 4 pay 3 offers etc on anyway.

  2. HFP has Marriott’s European VP of loyalty confirming .”….any Amex Platinum member who has matched their SPG Gold to Marriott Gold will become Marriott Platinum until the end of 2018….”

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