IHG Accelerate is back for Summer 2017.

Screen Shot 2017-04-30 at 17.32.52Over the last week, IHG have launched their latest ‘Acclerate’ promotion, covering stays from May 15th to August 31st. Regular readers of the site may be a little bored of me writing about the regular Accelerate promotions, but as one of the best promotions in the industry it’s worth giving air time too each time a new promotion is launched.

As a recap for those not familiar with how it works, IHG sets you a series of ‘targets’ which, if achieved, pay out bonus points when you stay with them. As an example, for staying 5 nights over a 3-month period, you may get 10,000 bonus points.

My offer – what is it and how am I going to approach it?

I have a total of 60,800 points up for grabs, in return for the following:

  • Stay Once for 2,500;
  • Stay 5 Nights for 10,000;
  • Book 3 Stays with the IHG app for 2,900;
  • Stay 2 Weekends get 5,600;
  • Stay twice outside country of residence for 11,200;
  • Book 2 Bonus Point Packages get 3,600;
  • Renew Ambassador get 5,000;
  • Complete 6 out of 7 and get 15,000;
  • Stay before June 30th and get 5,000;

Overall, I’m pretty pleased with these targets. Staying a single night before June 30th will net 7,500, and 5,000 for renewing Ambassador is great because I was going to do this anyway. I will probably tackle this by:

  • One (or more) nights in Vienna before June 30th;
  • One weekend in Brisbane before August 31st;
  • One weekend in A N Other Australian destination before August 31st;

If I book all three via the IHG app and renew ambassador, that should get me the full 60,800.

My wife’s offer – what is it and how might she (read: I) approach it?

She has a total of 42,500 points, in return for the following:

  • Stay Once for 1,000;
  • Stay 5 Nights for 5,000;
  • Book 3 Stays with the IHG app for 2,900;
  • Stay Anywhere Outside of the UK for 8,000;
  • Get the IHG Credit Card for 2,000;
  • Complete 4 out of 5 and get 21,100;
  • Stay before June 30th and get 2,500;

This one is markedly less exciting, and we are unlikely to go for the full amount. The best thing to do here is probably to stay a single night somewhere outside of the UK before June 30th, as that would net 11,500 points which isn’t a bad return.

You can check out your own offer by going to the IHG website here.

More on the British Airways Customer Experience Push

Screen-Shot-2017-04-07-at-6.56.40-AM-730x523Unfortunately I’m going to have to keep this brief as I’m currently writing from the back of a Toyota RAV4, travelling between Kings Canyon and Uluru, in the Northern Territories of Australia. I’ve already given a fair bit of coverage to the slow, painful demise of the experience of flying British Airways. They continue to be a healthy and profitable company, but over the last 18-24 months have been on somewhat of a mission to make product and service cuts across most areas of their operation.
In an attempt to counter this, BA have done a couple of things. The first is promised to spend £400m on an overall of the Club World experience, and the second is to put on a press flight from Gatwick to Heathrow via Orkney to show off all the different things they’re doing to improve things. On this flight, Chairman and CEO Alex Cruz spoke and took questions regarding the enhancements being delivered and a group of c. 40 journalists were able to try out some of the new enhancements.
I’ve outlined the major takeaways  below, and overlaid my own (slightly cynical) view on top:
On The Ground
 
  • A new ‘First Wing’ has been opened in Heathrow, linking the check-in areas directly with the lounge. Cynic? Can’t really knock this one.
  • New lounges have been launched at Gatwick and Boston. Cynic? They only did Gatwick because they moved from the North to the South terminal, and Boston had to happen given the extra capacity introduced by the A380.
  • New lounges are planned for a number of destinations, including Aberdeen, Rome, Geneva, San Francisco, Johannesburg, Manchester and Chicago. Cynic? A number of these are likely to be standard capital replacement.
  • Automated bag drop, boarding and lounge entry will be introduced to Heathrow in 2017. Cynic? More likely to be a cost reduction drive (reduced headcount) than explicitly a customer experience benefit.
In The Air
  • A new seat will be launched in Cub World, likely to debut on the A350 with possibility for retrofitting to the existing fleet. Cynic? Seat replacement is long overdue, and there are still no confirmed timings for when this will happen.
  • Wi-fi will be rolled out to the entire fleet in 2017. Cynic? Pricing looks reasonable so not much to complain about here.
  • Improved sleep experience in Club World, with improved pillows, duvets and mattress toppers. Cynic? Look like genuine enhancements
  • New food service, including cutlery and glassware. Cynic? I think these look good, including the tumbler-style champagne glasses, but they look a little style over substance.

Overall, the enhancements look broadly positive, but I’m still not convinced they’ll be sufficient to bridge the gap between BA and it’s North American, Middle East and Asian counterparts.

Great deals from Australia to Asia with Philippine Airlines

Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 14.30.48Philippine Airlines have launched a great sale from a number of Australian cities to a wide range of Asian destinations in Business Class. Rather than cover this with a short paragraph in the weekly e-mail, I thought it would be worth providing a bit more detail in this post.

How good are the deals?

Between A$1,200 and A$1,300 return in Business Class to a wide range of destinations in Asia. That’s around 50% to 70% less than you would expect to pay with Qantas, Malaysian, Cathay etc..

Are Philippine Airlines any good?

They are not on the same level as Qantas, Cathay etc., and don’t have a great track record on punctuality and the quality of lounges in Manila, but they are making significant investments in their product and service and if you were to just filter on reviews from the last 6-12 months you’d get a significantly improved picture. All flights between Sydney and Melbourne are due to be fully flat in Business Class from the middle of the year. I would certainly be happy to fly them and their Business Class seat a long way ahead of any airlines in Economy or Premium Economy.

When do I have to book by and when can I travel?

You need to book by 31st March to take advantage of the current fares, and you can travel anytime between 1st June and 30th November. The minimum stay is 3 days, and the max stay is a month.

Where can I go?

The following origins and destinations are included in the sale:

  • From Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane
  • To Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, Tokyo, Ho Chi Minh, Taipei, Osaka, Fukuoka, Shanghai and Guam.

All have layovers in Manila, some of which are very short (1-3 hours) and others are overnight.

Is Philippine Airlines part of an alliance?

No, PAL isn’t part of either Oneworld, SkyTeam or Star Alliance. It does have earning and burning agreements with ANA and Etihad, so you can credit the miles to other schemes. ANA have a better redemption chart, so I would go with them over Etihad, though it’s probably easier to top up an Etihad account given the range of credit card partners.

Happy booking!

 

Celebrating one year of The Reward Concierge

Screen Shot 2017-03-19 at 18.54.19It’s been just over a year since Laura and I started The Reward Concierge, and today’s weekly e-mail will be number 50 since the first edition on the 20th March 2016. When we decided to set the site up, we were sat in a small cafe in Clovelly, Sydney, and simply thought it would be a good way of channeling some of my frequent flyer nerd energy and helping people out. We didn’t have any particular interest in making money, and didn’t really know whether we were talking about a hobby or a business.

Since that day, and over the last year:

  • More than 6,000 unique visitors have browsed to therewardconcierge.com;
  • We’ve helped more than 100 people get a better deal on their travel arrangements;
  • We’ve booked more than $100k worth of travel;
  • People save an average of $100 – $200 when they get in touch, though the range is very broad (from $0 to several thousand);

Clearly, if The Reward Concierge was our livelihood, we’d be homeless and living on tinned ravioli! But as a hobby being squeezed in at the margins of the day, we’re pretty pleased with how our first year has gone. Some of our observations from the last 365 days:

  1. We don’t have enough time to do it ‘properly’. Running a site like this is a significant time investment, and between busy jobs and other commitments, we’re a long way away from doing all the things we’d want to do with the site. I’ve not even managed to do something as basic as set up a proper e-mail signature!
  2. People value the service we provide, but we’d benefit from being able to issue tickets directly. Because neither of us are registered travel agents, we can’t actually issue tickets. On the rare occasions where we do make bookings on peoples behalf, it means complex payment arrangements and a bit more hassle all round.
  3. We’re not good at converting people onto the mailing list. We have plenty of e-mail exchanges with people who get in touch, and many of them are repeat customers, but we’re not great at converting them into having an ongoing relationship with The Reward Concierge via the mailing list.
  4. Word-of-mouth drives 95% of our business. Given we don’t do any marketing, and the extent of our social media usage is roughly one post every quarter, this isn’t a surprise! However we’ve been delighted by the number of people who are clearing talking about The Reward Concierge to their friends & family, and we see the vast majority of people who get in touch starting their e-mails with “X mentioned you to us”…

So what about the next 12 months? These are some things we’re actively contemplating, and will hopefully put in to place over the next year:

  • Taking time off work to purely focus on developing the The Reward Concierge. This won’t be in the order of months, but I’ll be looking to take a day every month or so to dedicate to improving the site.
  • Introducing more feedback loops to better understand peoples experiences. We’ll be trialling a ‘satisfaction survey’ in the next few months, so we can start to get more quantitative feedback on how people have found their experience.
  • Looking at company incorporation and trademarks. At the moment, The Reward Concierge isn’t registered as a business (I’m effectively acting as a sole trader) so we’ll be looking at whether we register either in the UK or Australia (our complex immigration status doesn’t make this easy).
  • Looking at becoming a registered travel agent. This isn’t a cheap and easy thing to do, but it would give us the ability to issue airline and hotel bookings ourselves and make things easier for our customers. We’ll be exploring this further over the next year.

Thanks for reading, and if there’s anything you’d like us to add to the list of ‘things to do’, as ever just get in touch.

Adam & Laura

Cheap Qantas Points with Qantas Assurance

Screen Shot 2017-03-12 at 21.32.40As a general rule, I’m not a huge advocate of insurance products, but if they’re a source of very cheap airline miles then I’m willing to give them a go. In this case, Qantas are currently offering very generous sign up bonuses for people taking out their insurance products. The points on offer are:

  • Up to 100,000 points for taking out private health insurance;
  • Up to 30,000 points for taking out life insurance;
  • Up to 1,000 points for taking out travel insurance;

Whilst the bonus for health insurance is the biggest, it also has  a price floor which doesn’t make it worth taking out just for the sake of the points. The sweet point is the life insurance, which offers up to 30,000 points when you take out a combination of two policies, and because of the potential for low premiums the outlay can be as low as $50 for what is $300+ worth of points.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Head over to the Qantas Assure website: https://www.qantasassure.com/life-insurance and select ‘get quote’.
  2. Enter your existing Qantas Frequent Flier information on the left hand side and select ‘continue’.
  3. Enter your personal information and progress through to the product selection screen by selecting ‘Calculate a Basic Quote’, which looks like this:Screen Shot 2017-03-12 at 21.51.48
  4. You’ll see from this screen that the options presented are initially very expensive (surprise surprise). To reduce the price, you’ll need to modify the details under the different insurance times. The cheapest combination I’ve found is the minimum Life Insurance options and the minimum Total Permanent Disability Insurance.
  5. The screenshot below shows how low I managed to get the monthly price by reduced the covered amount to the minimum of $100k and stripping out any extras in the cover:Screen Shot 2017-03-12 at 21.58.36

The points will be credited after 60 days, meaning at most you need to hold the policy for 3 periods before you call and cancel. In this case, that would result in a total outlay of $33 for a return of 30,000 points.

Let me know how you get on!

What have I used my points on in the last year?

Screen Shot 2017-03-05 at 21.49.44Like any self-respecting points nerd, I maintain a tracker of all the times I’ve used loyalty points for cars, flights and hotels. It helps to see how much value you’re getting for points in different schemes, not least because it means:

  • When you need to spend money to accrue the points, you can hold that against their value to work out if worthwhile or not.
  • When you’re considering a redemption, you can work out if it’s good value based on your usual spending patterns.

The last year has been fairly ‘typical’, that is, not particularly different from any of the last 3-5 years in terms of earning and spending points.

Headline Statistics

Over the last 12 months, I’ve redeemed 1,463,300 points across 10 different loyalty schemes. Those are: BA, Qantas, United and Virgin (UK & Australia) for airlines; IHG, Hilton, Marriott and SPG for hotels; and Hertz for cars.

Taking inspiration from the recent oscars, here’s an awards style run down of highlights from the last year:

  • Most points for a redemption (total): 200,000 IHG points for 4 nights at the spectacular InterContinental Da Nang Sun Peninsula in Vietnam.
  • Most points for a redemption (individual): 66,500 British Airways Avios for a one-way flight in Business from Vancouver to London with BA.
  • Most active scheme: IHG, with a total of 440,000 points paying for 14 free nights in 7 different InterContinental and Crowne Plaza hotels.
  • Best value scheme (per point): Not all points are created equal, so this one is a tough category to judge! Hertz averaged c$10 per point which is at least twice any other scheme. This is primarily driven by the low number of points needed for a redemption (550/day for a car). Ignoring Hertz, Virgin Atlantic wins with an average of c$4.72 per point.
  • Best value redemption (per point): This one goes to British Airways, where I was able to use 9,000 Avios to save a whopping AU$1,726 on some very last minute flights from Da Nang to Hong Kong with Dragonair. Those points delivered an awesome c$19.18 per point.
  • Most valuable scheme (overall): In the last 12 months I’ve used 403,500 British Airways Avios, delivering a total of AU$13,545 worth of savings.
  • Most valuable redemption (overall): I used 100,000 Virgin Atlantic points for two one-way tickets from London to San Francisco in Virgin Upper Class, which I valued at AU$4,764.

Overall, my tracker is telling me that I’ve used points to save a total of AU$31,245 in the last 12 months.

It would be great to hear about your own redemption success stories, and hopefully at least this inspires you to start your own tracker…

A rundown of the new Qantas ‘Classic Hotel Rewards’

Screen Shot 2017-02-19 at 18.49.43I recently came across Qantas ‘Classic Hotel Rewards‘, a new initiative promising “exclusive discounts when you book a Classic Hotel Reward using Qantas Points”. I got pretty excited by this, thinking this could mean fixed-price redemptions at hotels using Qantas points.

Fixed-price redemptions across hotels and flights are the cornerstone of getting value from the miles you’ve collected. Why so important? Take the humble Holiday Inn in Cardiff, Wales. Year-round it needs 40,000 IHG points for a free room, irrespective of the cash price. Do this in a cold day in October, and those 40,000 points may save you £100. Get yourself a free night in February when Wales are playing England at the Millennium Stadium, and you’ve probably saved more like £300 for the same number of points.

It’s well known in the industry that as a general rule you shouldn’t use your airline miles for hotels, as the number of points needed tends to be anchored to the cash price and at a lacklustre rate. British Airways, for example, gives a miserly 0.4 – 0.6 pence per point. And so the prospect of fixed-priced hotel rewards using airline miles would genuinely be new and exciting (at least to me!).

However, and I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, that’s not what we have here! I checked out the pricing of a couple of properties across a number of dates using these Classic Hotel Rewards, with the results below. In summary:

  • The number of points needed is variable, correlated to the cash price for the hotel – there is no fixed pricing and no arbitrage opportunity.
  • When using your Qantas points for a standard hotel booking, you’ll be getting around 0.6-0.7 $c per point worth of value.
  • When using your Qantas points for a Classic Hotel Reward, you’ll be getting around 0.8-1.0 $c per point worth of value.

Conclusion

Classic Hotel Rewards offer and improved valuation for your points when compared with the ‘standard’ use of Qantas points for hotels, but still fall well short of my valuation for a Qantas point and I would still not recommend it unless you have a significant number of Qantas points to burn.

More Information

You can find some of the calculations below. To try and give a few sensible data points, I’ve picked two hotels and a range of dates to test. The first hotel is the Adina Apartment Hotel Sydney Darling Harbour and the Travelodge Perth. The dates I’ve used across both are Thursday 23rd February (something in the next week), Saturday 15th April (Easter weekend) and Saturday 20th May (something vaguely off-peak a fair way in the future).

Adina Apartment Hotel Sydney Darling Harbour

  • Thursday 23rd February
    • Points required: 34,000
    • Internet cash price: $299
    • $c/point: 0.88
  • Saturday 15th April
    • Points required: Not Available
    • Internet cash price: $314
    • $c/point: N/A
  • Saturday 20th May
    • Points required: 30,000
    • Internet cash price: $314
    • $c/point: 1.05

Travelodge Perth

  • Thursday 23rd February
    • Points required: 19,000
    • Internet cash price: $169
    • $c/point: 0.89
  • Saturday 15th April
    • Points required: 19,000
    • Internet cash price: $152
    • $c/point: 0.8
  • Saturday 20th May
    • Points required: 25,000
    • Internet cash price: $186
    • $c/point: 0.74

Review: United Airlines (UA) 787-9 Economy SYD-SFO Feb 17.

united-s4Last Friday I flew from Sydney to San Francisco with United Airlines, as part of a brief trip back to the UK. This was somewhat a departure from the norm for me, having never flown United before and very rarely flying Star Alliance. Being used to Oneworld, and the benefits that come with a BA Gold card, it was also the first time in a few years where I’d travelled ‘normally’ which provided additional interest!

Before I get into the detail of how it all went, a few vital statistics on the flight itself:

  • Airline: United Airlines
  • Flight Number: UA870
  • Aircraft: 787-9
  • Seats: 37K, 37L
  • Flight Time: 13h 35min (dep. 12:30, arr. 07:05)
  • Route: SYD-SFO
  • Travel Date: February 2017
Booking
I’ll confess I didn’t book these flights out of curiosity to try United Airlines, but because they were significantly cheaper than the other direct options on the route. Because I’d booked reasonably late, Qantas were priced at approximately AU$1,600 return, and United were almost exactly AU$1,000. Given there were two of us travelling, there was no way I could stomach a AU$1,200 price premium to fly Qantas.
I clicked through from Google and booked directly using the United Airlines website. This was relatively uneventful, with nothing particular of note except that there was no additional charge for using a debit or credit card.
Check In & Bag Drop
Online check-in was available at T-24 hours, but given I’d selected a seat in advance (no charge for standard Economy seats), I didn’t do this and opted to sort it all at the airport. When I got to Sydney, they were enforcing use of the self check-in machines, and only accepting you at the service desks once you’d printed your own baggage labels and your bags were ready to be dropped. I understand airlines are looking to cut costs, but I do find this mildly annoying on the basis that it is normally much quicker for a practiced check-in agent to fill in the necessary details, than a passenger who is unfamiliar with the systems. This (very minor) point aside, check-in was quick and friendly and took no more than 10 minutes.
The checked baggage allowance was two bags up to 23kg each, which to me feels very generous for a standard Economy flight. I came in at 21kg, so no first hand experience of whether they would grumble at a single bag that was just over 23kg.
Lounge
As a status-less Economy passenger, I wasn’t able to access the lounge. If you’re at the right tier with Star Alliance, or travelling in Business, United Airlines passengers at Sydney use the Air New Zealand lounge, and you can find a quick review here.
Boarding
In my view, this was a shambles. On the boarding pass, it stated that the gate closed 15 minutes before departure, and my plan was to get to the gate around 30 minutes before. At T-45 minutes, a series of ‘final call’ announcements were made over the tannoy including our names and the threat of having our bags offloaded. We picked up the pace and on the way to the gate were met by a United representative, who reiterated that we “had to run” otherwise we’d be offloaded. Having been harried to the gate and treated like a naughty school child (no amount of pointing to the T-15 minute time stamped on my boarding pass helped), we of course then sat and waited in a fully loaded plane for around 40 minutes until the scheduled departure time came round!
Onboard
Seat
I was very impressed with the seat, and would go as far as to say it’s the best I’ve ever flown in Economy. Although marginally narrower than the industry standard, the pitch of 32″ beats most competitor airlines by 1-2″. On a long flight in Economy this makes a difference.
Entertainment
All seats in Economy have video on demand in the headrests, and the entertainment selection was excellent. There’s a focus on new releases and not much by way of a ‘back catalogue’, but I found no shortage of things to watch during the 13 hours in the air.
Internet
Wi-fi was offered on the flight, at what I thought were quite reasonable prices. I paid US$21.99 for the whole flight, but you could buy blocks of an hour or two hours for around 1/4 of that price. Speeds fluctuated substantially, with a couple of hours where it was virtually unusable, but overall I was impressed with the availability, speed and price and it made a significant dent in making the flight feel much shorter than it actually was.
Food
The food offering was so-so to poor, but there was at least no shortage of it. Lunch was a choice of curry or pasta, with a turkey and cheese sandwich served in the middle of the flight before a choice of an omelette or fresh fruit for breakfast. I made the mistake of going for the omelette, which was pretty much inedible.
Overall
Putting aside my frustration with check-in and the boarding process, I was pretty impressed with United. With a generous checked luggage allowance, better than average legroom, and the ability to use wi-fi inflight for a reasonable price, the flight was comfortable and passed quickly. In future I’ll probably bring a couple of things on board to eat, but I’m not going to hold the food quality against them too much given I can’t think of any airline where the food in Economy is great.
Would I fly them again? Definitely.

New British Airways flights from Manchester & London Stansted.

British_Airways_Manchester_Boeing_737-200_KvWBritish Airways strategy for much of the last 5-10 years has been to focus on London Heathrow as its hub airport. For the most part this is due to the cost benefits of operating from one place. This wasn’t always the case, with BA having had a significant regional presence in the past. In more recent times there have been very few exceptions to the “all flights must start or end at Heathrow” rule, mainly focused on fights from London City and a solitary Edinburgh to Ibiza flight! This looks set to change as BA announces the launch of a series of flights from Manchester and London Stansted, and as a result I thought it would be helpful to give a quick run down of the new routes.

Manchester

Most of the flights are seasonal, and in general there is only one in each direction each week, so will mostly benefit leisure travellers who are going away somewhere for a week. They are:

  • Alicante
    • Dates: 20th May – 30th September
    • Day(s): Saturdays
    • Times
      • dep. MAN 05.50, arr. ALC 09.40;
  • Ibiza
    • Dates: 18th May – 1st October
    • Day(s): Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays
    • Times:
      • dep. MAN 21.25, arr. IBZ 01.15 (Thurs)
      • dep. MAN 19.30, arr. IBZ 23.30 (Sat)
      • dep. MAN 12.50, arr. IBZ 16.40 (Sun)
  • London City
    • Dates: 21st May – 1st October
    • Day(s): Sundays
    • Times:
      • dep. MAN 19.55, arr. LCY 20.55
  • Malaga
    • Dates: 19th May – 29th September
    • Day(s): Fridays
    • Times:
      • dep. MAN 05.35, arr. AGP 09.35
  • Mykonos
    • Dates: 19th May – 29th September
    • Day(s): Fridays
    • Times:
      • dep. MAN 13.10, arr. JMK 19.10
  • Nice
    • Dates: 20th May – 30th September
    • Day(s): Saturdays
    • Times:
      • dep. MAN 13.05, arr. AGP 16.25
  • Palma
    • Dates: 21st May – 1st October
    • Day(s): Sundays
    • Times:
      • dep. MAN 05.50, arr. PMI 09.35

In terms of new flights from Stansted, unfortunately the schedules haven’t yet been published, but you will be able to fly to Florence, Geneva and Nice. I’ll drop the details of these into the weekly e-mail once they’re available.

How much is airline status worth?

Screen Shot 2017-01-29 at 20.34.49For the last few years, the amount of flying that I’ve been doing for either work or pleasure has seen me renew my British Airways Gold card without too much thought. This year, with my collection year running February – February, I’ve due to come up a little short. To renew Gold with British Airways, you need 1,500 Tier Points, and I’m currently on 1,465 with no further travel planned in the next 2-3 months.

Given i’m not far off the mark, I’ve been considering a ‘tier point run’ to earn the extra 35 points I need. A tier point run is where you take flights purely for the purpose of earning air miles and elite status. How much would earning 35 tier points cost? If I were based in Europe, I would be able to book a cheap return in Club Europe with BA for around £150 / AU$250. Unfortunately things are a little more expensive in Sydney, with the cheapest option being to fly to Perth and back in Economy for around £330 / AU$550. Is it worth spending $550 to maintain BA Gold, or should I just drop down to Silver?

To work this out, I’ve outlined the key benefits and how I value them below. I’ve split them into ‘Reservations & Service’, ‘On the Ground’ and ‘In the Air’.

  • Reservations & Service
    • Dedicated Phone Line; I end up calling BA quite a lot, and having a dedicated number for Golds often shortcuts this process, especially in times of disruption. This can often be the difference between spending several stressed hours at the airport or getting issues sorted out quickly, so I do value it. £20 – £30.
    • Improved Economy Avios Availability; Golds get access to an extra fare bucket against which they can use their Avios points, and this significantly increases availability. This can often mean ability to redeem points instead of using cash, and can save substantial amounts of money as a result. £125 – £150.
  • On the Ground
    • First Class Check In; this can sometimes save a little time versus using the Business class check in desks that BA Silver gives you access to, but it’s a pretty small margin. £5.
    • First Class Lounges; these can make a big difference to a journey, and whilst any lounge is a privilege the F lounges typically mean (i) restaurant-style sit down dining instead of a buffet, (ii) vintage champagnes instead of sparkling wine or prosecco and (iii) generally more luxurious  environment (especially shower facilities). I would probably pay a £10 premium over a Business lounge each time I go through one, which is anything between 10 and 15 times per year. £100 – £150.
  • In the Air
    • Onboard Service & Upgrades; I’m not convinced that being Gold has any impact on my changes of an upgrade, but I do think the service tends to be better, especially when travelling Economy. It’s fairly intangible but I do think there’s something there. £20 – £25.
    • Increased Avios Earning; when you fly BA (and only BA), you earn a 100% bonus over the base earning rate vs. a 50% bonus for Silvers. This has much more limited benefit for me these days as a decreasing proportion of my flights are on BA, but at a guess this earns me an extra 5,000 – 10,000 Avios per year. £50 – £100.

I think that’s about it! Most of the other benefits of Gold, you also get as Silver, and therefore not worth considering when trying to value the premium that  a Gold card is worth. If you add all of the above up, you get a valuation of between £320 / AU$530 and £460 / AU$765.

That makes it just about worthwhile to spend the money on flying around aimlessly to renew for another year, and is why  in the next couple of weeks I’ll be spending a day flying to Perth and back!