What’s in store for 2019 for TLFL and the airlines?

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Firstly a Happy New Year to all our TLFL readers and hopefully you are enjoying the new look of the blog today together with the new font we put in recently. Let us know what you think. Apologies for the lateness of the article today but the New Year celebrations started early and finished late…. 

Well, if I thought my travels in 2018 were hectic then 2019 is on a whole new level. I have challenged myself to make British Airway’s Gold Guest list level in my next tier point year and on top of that to try to fly every Oneworld airline from now to the end of my TP year in March 2019! S7 could be a challenge as well as Qantas since I have no Australia trips planned yet! Paul our resident TP expert will be helping me with maximising my flights to get extra TPs. I already have around 3000 TP booked so I am well on the way to the 5000 needed.

The trip I am most looking forward is the next one in a couple of weeks to Cape Town. Aside from the fact that I love this area (and particularly Franschoek where I will be staying) I managed to get the great deal on Emirates Airlines to fly in First with them. I will be doing one leg on the old first and one leg on the new first (subject to any last minute equipment changes!). I will also fly Emirates business class later in the month so look out for the reviews! Don’t forget you can earn Avios and Tier Points if you book Emirates on a Qantas codeshare!

Emirates new First class suites with virtual windows

I will be visiting South America for the first time as I use my 90,000 Iberia bonus to visit Buenos Aires with Roving Reporter and join Claudio as he redeems his to Costa Rica.

Halong Bay Vietnam

Roving Reporter and I will be visiting Vietnam as well to explore Halong Bay and Hanoi as well as revisiting a few of my favourite places. Thanks to Claudio I managed to snag the great fare from Edinburgh to Penang with Qatar which was only available for a few hours so we will be heading off together to enjoy the Qatar QSuites and some time in Penang. I will flying around Asia visiting Singapore, Jakarta, Bangkok and Hong Kong racking up the tier points as well as trying Philippine Airlines A350 from Heathrow in business class. Finally, I will be returning to two of my favourite US spots – Scottsdale near Phoenix and Las Vegas as I use up my Lloyds upgrade voucher. 


2019 brings even more than before! I will be flying pretty much all the Oneworld First cabins mainly on redemptions and BA Gold upgrade vouchers. I will be visiting Japan for the first time as well as South Africa, Australia, Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong to name but a few places. Currently, I have planned:  Japan Airlines First Class, Cathay Pacific First Class, Qantas First Class, Qatar First Class, BA First Class…..did I mention first class??! There will be more flight reviews than ever and you can be assured you will get the truth from me as ever on TLFL!

Roving Reporter

Cape town cheap business class flights

Cape Town waterfront and Table mountain

I am off to South Africa in January for the weekend as an excuse to be a gastronome in Franschoek and to try out the Emirates ‘old’ and ‘new’ first class experiences. Also fitting in 24 hours in Abu Dhabi (so I can visit the Louvre and the Mosque) and trying out the Rosewood hotel. March will see a visit to Phoenix, Scottsdale and Sedona (this time on Virgin Upper and Delta First).

April sees Buenos Aires (Iberia Business taking advantage of the ludicrous Iberia Avios promotion from last summer). May means a BA First trip to Hong Kong, then a week in Vietnam and Bangkok. I will be working hard in the summer so will only squeeze in a couple of short haul trips to Europe. September is BA Club to Seoul for a visit. November is my return trip to The Datai (for a much longer stay this time!). So that’s it for confirmed bookings.

I also have to fit in a trip to India with a close friend and am hoping to have an ANA First trip to Tokyo at some point using my Virgin miles for a fantastic value redemption on this route. Of course, should there be a Qatar Flash Sale I will probably take advantage; after all Tier Points don’t earn themselves!


I finished 2018 with 45 countries visited and I hope to reach 50 in 2019. After all, I need to catch up because Michele’s list is growing! 

For this year I already have trips planned to Costa Rica, Malaysia and Vietnam. In addition throughout the year I will include some European countries for short trips. 

Costa Rica

BA sale winter 2017

Toucan in Costa Rica

Michele and I took advantage of the Iberia promotion in 2018 where when buying 10 flights but without the need to fly them you get 90,000 Avios. It is with these Avios that I will be going in business class to know Costa Rica with Iberia!


As Michele mentioned there was a very cheap Qatar fare via a British Airways codeshare so Michele and I bought tickets to meet Penang in Malaysia. We will be flying business class with Qatar Airways.
It will be a very nice trip, because it will be my first time in Qsuites and we will fly on the A380 and B787-800 which are the Qatar aircraft I haven’t flown yet. And best of all, the A380 has a bar on board! 


Without doubt, this will be my best trip of the year! It’s been years since I’ve wanted to visit Vietnam, and the opportunity has finally come. I will travel from north to south, seeing the main sights of the country.
Hopefully, I will be able to upgrade to first class with a BA Executive Club voucher. As British Airways does not fly to Vietnam I will go via  Kuala Lumpur and from there a regional flight with Malaysian Airlines.

European Destinations

There are some countries in Europe that I haven’t visited and I am considering Croatia, Bulgaria, Latvia and Lithuania. Look out for future articles to see which I manage to visit.


Mrs B

OZEN by Atmosphere review

Wind villa pool at Ozen

Mr B retires in spring so plenty more travelling is in order! I reviewed OZEN by Atmosphere in the Maldives in 2017 where we spent our 25th wedding anniversary. At the time I said it was a once in a lifetime experience for unlimited luxury – well, I’ve managed to persuade Mr B that this would be a wonderful place for him to begin his retirement so we are visiting again in March! Trips are also booked to Phoenix (to visit Jnr Benson), Cuba and Jamaica with planning underway for an Irish Coastal Road Trip. I’ll be continuing to use Michele’s hints and tips to get wonderful trips for the best cost.

So that’s the TLFL team – what do the airlines have planned?

British Airways

BA has an exciting year planned with both his centenary and the launch of its new seat on their A350s which are due to start being delivered in the summer. Rumours abound about the seats but the current consensus is that it is likely to be a customised version of the Iberia A350 seats. I would expect there to be quite a few differences as it will need to be future proof as it will take a whopping four years to roll out across the fleet. Whether they will retrofit the B747s we don’t know but given that they are due to retire in 2023 it is probably unlikely meaning that we will have a mix of seats for a good few years to come, unfortunately. 


Iberia A350 business class short haul full review bed

Iberia A350 business class

BA was due to have a new uniform this year designed by Oswald Botang in time for the centenary but unfortunately, it looks like this may not happen until 2020 according to cabin crew site Paddle your own Kanoo

BA First will also be getting a refresh with a new soft product in May 2019. This will mean new meals, crockery, glasses and amenities such as pyjamas. TLFL exclusively revealed that a ‘new’ seat will be introduced for First based on the current B787 First seat which I really rate. As yet timescales are unknown but I would imagine that it will be tied to retrofitting the new Club seats to minimise down time for aircraft. 


Virgin Atlantic

Upper Class on the ex Air Berlin A330

Virgin are also due to take delivery of their A350 aircraft this year but again we don’t know what the seats will look like but they won’t be the existing Upper Class ones. My money is on the same seats or similar to the ones they have just refurbished on their ex Air Berlin A330s.

Rumour has it that Virgin will be starting a new route to Tel Aviv from September although they are yet to confirm this. It seems an odd choice of destination given the rest of the route network but one I would be happy with as I fancy visiting Tel Aviv and have plenty of miles to burn. 


Qatar and Air Italy

Qatar is due to announce a new regional business class seat in February this year which could be useful on some of the Eastern European routes that currently have the regional seats to Doha. That is if we ever get another decent Qatar fare! They also announced lots of new routes last year some of which like Langkawi they are yet to actually launch. They are increasing frequency on many routes which may mean less new routes to come this year. The other big question is whether they will leave Oneworld as the deadline for them to confirm this has now passed…

I predict that new routes will come from Air Italy as they have B787s on order and Qatar is trying to expand the airline rapidly into something of an Italian Qatar airlines. They are one to watch for Avios redemptions and cheap fares once they get some decent aircraft given that you can earn Avios on them currently if not tier points. 

What are you looking forward to with your travels in 2019? Are you aiming to get a new status level? Let us know in the comments below.



28 Comments on "What’s in store for 2019 for TLFL and the airlines?"

  1. I earn my first gold in January after taking advantage of the 2-4-1 BA first to Cape Town deal. First time to SA so should be fun, had lots of tips from South Africans I work with, might see some of you about!

  2. Philip Harrison | 1 January 2019 at 1:26 pm | Reply

    Thank you all for your reports and advice. Happy New Year.

  3. We’re going to CPT also in Jan, (10 days time) flying via JNB though, going first with BA. We chose to go via JNB as it’s the A380, direct to CPT is the 747, and buyer beware, that first product is not very good, don’t book the middle seats they’re not good at all. Oh and on the menu flying out in first as a starter they have nettle soup, who eats nettle soup! We’re off to Franschoek as well, my fav restaurant is Le Petite Colomb. Then we want to try and go somewhere so I can try out the Q suites. Happy travels. Looking forward to the reviews.

  4. Thanks for all the reports, they are all a great read. What would be useful to know as well is the cost of the flights. I won’t manage to get Gold next year, a few hundred points away. Hope to make Silver in my next year (Feb 8th onwards)

    • Hi Graham. We are looking at giving more details on what we paid and how we booked the flights and hotels in future reviews.

  5. Happy New Year to all of you ! Keep up the great work on the site as your advice and reviews are much appreciated. Enjoy Vietnam … don’t forget the egg coffee up in the north! … I’m looking to maintain AA EP status for 2020 so will do about three trips. New Zealand, Australia, Sweden and stops in between are in my cards for 2019 😉 I generally fly out of MIA, are there any TLFL followers doing tier/ mileage runs from there in April or November 2019?

  6. Really enjoy the blog, and especially the articles about tier point runs! Planning to retain gold forso have trips booked to Cuba and Russia (with cheeky trip in F on outbound leg), and also looking to use 241 voucher for trip to Chile. Am also wondering about whether to set myself a challenge of doing monster TP run for 19/20 to secure gold for yet another year, so will be scouring your articles for how best to do this! Happy New Year to you and your team!

  7. Off to Cape Town and then the garden route this week.First time in BA First Class, taking advantage of our BA Amex 2-for-1 voucher. Will be stopping in Franschhoek for 2 nights, and eating (drinking wine!) at Le Coin Francais and the Orangerie at Le Lude. Any other suggestions, let me know!
    Happy new year!

  8. Great article. You’ve all got really terrible jobs having to do all that tiring travel! I’ve plenty of time on my hands if for any reason you’re too exhausted to make any of your trips.

    Our big one this year is 3 weeks in China. Starting in Shanghai (flying BA first) then travelling throughout by high speed train exiting via Hong Kong and then Singapore (Cathay business) to see friends and back by BA Club.

    Planning 2020 big trip to New Zealand and hoping for some good sale prices soon!

  9. Ps Forgot to say I like the new font. Cleaner and easier to read.

  10. Happy New Year all,

    This has been my first year with TLFL, love the blogs, info and hints. Especially the tierpoint runs. My plans for 2019 start with a potential tier point run in February to Jakarta via AUH – thanks to Paul for the insight. Hope to book this early January after checking my finances and work schedule.

    That will be quickly followed by a jaunt in April to Sydney with the family via HKG, with a side trip to either Phuket or Boracay (if I can find a decent connection) enroute, flying BA and Cathay. I am a little worried about the Cathay leg from LHR to HKG (#161) as it appears to be a 777 2 cabin regional configuration without flat beds! (Seat Guru). Is that real? Anyone got further intel on this?

    I am also keen to visit the Datai in Langkawi this year with my wife (thanks for the inspiration) if we see a good fare from Qatar, make a tierpoint run to Phoenix (Scotsdale), and use my Amex 2-4-1 ticket to somewhere exciting. So, if budget, time, decent fares, and all your help permit I may also aspire to BA Gold guest list this year!

    I look forward to an exciting year and hope to meet up with some of you on tierpoint runs! Always more fun travelling with like minded people.

    Thanks again all.

    • Personally I would not rely on Seat Guru as it is often wrong. The best thing to do would be use your PNR to go into manage my booking and go to reserve a seat which should bring up the seat map. Otherwise https://www.routehappy.com/ is normally pretty accurate on type of seats.

  11. A very happy new year to all. My BA year starts on 8th Sept and with travel thusfar booked and taken, I need 80 points to retain Gold for Sept 19 to 20! However i still have Anguilla to book in J with BA via ANU and also BNA in later June in J…….unless it is now a 787-900 in which case it will be F, so we are as good as confirmed Gold for the next year! The BAPP card year starts in Feb so by April we will have 2 active 241’s to try and spend – LAS in Oct and prob BAH / ABU in Nov.
    Getting rid of avios is way more difficult than earning them!!
    Being lazy, could you produce a calculator for D-355 whereby you input your departure date and it calculates the date that seats become available??

  12. Happy new year to all the team, currently on a Caribbean cruise!! If you book an Emirates ticket how do you know if it’s a code share flight? Looks like the good old days of Qatar flash deals are long gone so will have to look at alternative Mid East carriers!

    • You have to actually book the flights on the Qantas website or on a Qantas ticket so it would have a Qantas flight number but be operated by Emirates. It normally says if the flight is operated by Emirates. It doesn’t apply to all flights – they are mainly Far East.

  13. Happy new year. I have been travelling on holidays with my husband quite a lot over the last two years before my retirement. During this time we were platinum Srilankan ( emerald oneworld) but found the offers and ability to maximise tier points have dwindled. We did however get many benefits including a free unexpected upgrade on a full flight at departure gate once, something I never expected from Srilankan! We also gained entry to first dining in the lounge in Mumbai when we were flying eco on BA, massages and dining on lobster all included. So we don’t complain.

    Since then because of the limitations of offers etc, I decided to change to BA executive. By reading all the travel blogs and tips, we are presently silver ba having done a mixed trip to Bali on Qatar,( bucket list tick for a380 bar) and then a ba ex Amsterdam to Johannesburg flight. I did unfortunately have 880 TPs dumped in November at end of membership year but hubby will earn gold on our next trip and I will requalify silver this month. I am soo excited- have booked ex Rome ba ticket to Krabi, itinerary includes flying Qatar from Lhr (lounge!) on 777 qsuite to Doha, 787 Doha to Krabi. On return Doha to Lhr is qsuite 350 1000, this ticks another couple of my bucket lists. The cost less than half price from London itself.

    2019 and retirement means we have to work harder for the luxuries in life and I want to gain gold ba status too. So will be studying all the options and offers every morning!

    By the way bucket list includes a first class and experience especially one with a shower!!

    Enjoy your blog, keep up the good work.

  14. Frisbee…..you will LOVE the Datai Langkowi, but DO book a beach villa. They are the best rooms (pleural) in the world!! The free bottle of Moet every day in your minibars is just the start!!
    Been to hundreds of places over the world over the last 50 years and this place is the biz……..believe me!

  15. Christine Paulson-Lines | 2 January 2019 at 12:55 pm | Reply

    Greetings from Cape Town! Glad to hear you are visiting Franschoek – its very warm and sunny today! So many wonderful restaurants here in the Cape – Sir Richard Branson now owns the hotel Mont Rochelle in Franschoek. I live in the winelands nearer Stellenbosch and there are some world class restaurants in this region also – happy to offer recommendations to any visitors to this area! Jordan Wine Farm, Hidden Valley and many others offer spectacular scenery and great restaurants.
    I love reading your posts – well I love travel also! I am Emirates Skywards Gold and have flown their First and also Business on the CPT/LON route. Love the A380 with the fantastic shower bathroom! I think Emirates are also considering installing Premium Economy on some routes which will be popular I am sure.
    I am planning to sail to England on the Queen Victoria ex CPT (for some slow travel ) and then fly back to CPT with Emirates.
    Keep up the great work and happy 2019!

  16. Thanks Nigel

  17. BA:
    New CW seat wont be the IB seat
    747’s wont get the new seat
    4 years to refurbish 100 aircraft is not slow by any means
    777’s will not see a ‘new’ F seat until 2020, 2019 refurbished 777’s will have current seat.

    New Upper seat will not be similar to the A332 seat.

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