British Airways Reward Flights: A Beginner’s Guide

Today’s blog post in the LondonSpotter Miles and Points series has been requested a huge amount of times by my UK readers who still find lots of complicated posts online about cashing in miles for reward flights on British Airways but no simple guide which lays out the basics – look no further as here is your A-Z guide with everything you need to know.

Still not 100% sure what miles and points really are and how to generate them? No problem, I have you covered. Go to Miles and Points and click on the lessons for dummies then come back here for your exclusive lesson in British Airways award flights.

The British Airways executive club is a great place to cash in all those hard earned points you’ve generated through flying or on your British Airways credit cards in return for cheap travel.

To start your search for award bookings and flights, go to and log into your executive club account. Once you’re logged in, go to ‘Spending Avios’ and select ‘Reward Flights’ to pull up the search page.

The search page will give you two options. You can either book a revenue flight (a full fare ticket) and upgrade using your miles (this option is more expensive as you still have to shell out for the flight but makes sense if you still want to generate airmiles on the flight as you will earn miles based on the cabin you purchased) or you can simply search for award flights under ‘Book with Avios’. Let’s go ahead and look at booking a flight with avios.

How many Avios do I need?

The amount of Avios you will need to pay for a British Airways Reward ticket is based on two things: The region you’re flying to (based on miles) and the cabin you’re flying in. Here is the British Airways chart which should be your go-to table when booking award flights.

Examples: So if you’re flying from London to Amsterdam you are obviously still in zone 1 so you’ll pay 4,500 avios (4,000 in off-peak times) and 9,000 in business class (7,750 in off-peak times). Next week, I will be flying to Athens in Greece in business class which falls into zone 3. I, therefore, paid 20,000 miles as it is peak season. Simple.

Booking process:

While booking revenue tickets with airlines, I’m sure you will have noticed that buying a return ticket drastically brings prices down. This is not the case with reward flights. Reward flights are one way tickets and buying a return is simply double the price of a one-way. This is great as it gives you much more flexibility when booking trips.

As an example booking, I’m going to search for London – Moscow on a one-way ticket on March 8th in economy class.

Straight away you can see that it says ‘off-peak’ so we know that we will be paying the reduced number of avios on the above chart. Seeing as Moscow falls into zone 3, that number is 8,500 avios. In the below picture, you will see that their is also an amount to be paid in cash – these fees are taxes, airline charges and government charges which are thrown into every ticket and HAVE to be paid. While flying within Europe, these fees are not huge. As you can see, we only have to pay £17.50 for this flight to Moscow but as soon as we start to book other tickets to further destinations, prices begin to ROCKET.

For example, if you book a business class flight to New York, you’ll be set back £372 in fees. I’ll come on to how to avoid these charges later on in the article.

Once you have selected your flight, you will then be given the option to reduce the amount of Avios you use in favour of using more money. Once you select the ratio you want to use, continue like you would with any other ticket, confirm your details, pay the necessary charges (I suggest paying using the British Airways Premium Plus Card as it gives you 3x bonus for transactions on and submit.

So there is your brief overview on HOW to book British Airways flights on but what makes the system with executive club worthwhile is the fact that you can book flights with other airlines too and what is even better is that the charges on those flights are rarely as high.

Booking tickets on other airlines through BA:

If you’re a keen reader, you’ll know that I booked to fly on Cathay Pacific’s A350-1000 for £27 and 9,000 Avios. Unfortunately the aircraft was swapped to a Cathay Dragon A330-300 but nonetheless, I was very happy with the deal.

I have booked several tickets on American Airlines using, too. Zone 1 fares have no been scrapped within the USA but you can still get some amazing deals. My favourite redemption has to be West Coast to Hawaii for 12,500 Avios and a killing $5.60.

Zone 1 fares may not be available within American anymore, but they are within Japan with Japan Airlines.

Avios can be used to book flights on any of BA’s oneworld partners as well as their non-alliance partners such as Alaska and Aer Lingus.

Avoiding hefty fees on British Airways flights:

As I mentioned above, booking flights with British Airways may not seem worth it because of the hefty charges they lay on. There are a couple of ways to reduce these costs such as: avoid flying British Airways and use your executive club to book flights on other carriers or don’t fly out of London. By routing your flight out of Dublin you can reduce the fees of that £372 New York flight to £163. Now obviously you have to start your trip from Dublin but it is easy enough to position there on a Ryanair flight eh?

I will make a much more in depth article on avoiding hefty BA fees soon but for now, play around with avoiding London and see just how big of a discount you can get yourself!

Which credit card will you be getting?

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LondonSpotter 2018 Giveaway

Hello everyone from home!! I’m so happy to be back home after such a long time travelling and want to thank you all for three years of amazing support on here with a HUGE GIVEAWAY!

All of us here at LondonSpotter are so happy with all the amazing support we get and it makes me so happy to read all the messages I receive every day saying how much we have helped people.

The Giveaway:

To see all the details of the giveaway just watch the video below but if you’re confused about how to enter, you can read the section below the video.

How to Enter:

Entering this giveaway is super simple.

1. First off, you need to subscribe to me on YouTube. You can visit my YouTube page here  and simply click the red subscribe button.

2. Secondly, I need you to subscribe to my website. You can do that very simply by scrolling to the bottom of this page and entering your email address.

3. The third part is on Instagram. You will need to follow me and also find the giveaway post on my feed. Once you find the post, tag 5 friends, check you have done all the steps and then simply screenshot the post, put it on your story and do not forget to TAG ME to finalise your entry.

It is so simple to do and I can’t wait to find a winner for all these incredible prizes. Be sure to check you have done all the steps as when I choose the winner, I will be checking and if the winner has not completed all the steps, a new winner will be chosen.

Cathay Dragon A320 Business Class Review

Dragonair officially became known as Cathay Dragon in November 2016 and since the original takeover in 2007, the Dragonair brand has become more and more similar to that of Cathay Pacific. Cathay Dragon now operate many of the short haul routes on Cathay Pacific’s network and one of those routes is Changsha.

I have made a video of this flight which gives you the opportunity to see first hand what the experience was like – watch it below.

Having flown into Changsha just two days previously, I arrived back at the airport bright and early and very excited to see just how Cathay Dragon’s business class product compared to that of fellow OneWorld airline British Airways. You can see their regional business class reviews which I wrote for the Boeing 767 and Airbus A319.

The British Airways A319 Business Class. Will Cathay’s be any better?


I booked this flight using my British Airways Avios which I generated by using my American Express British Airways Premium Plus card. The one-way flight cost 9,000 Avios and around £20 in tax. This flight can be bought revenue but I advise to go via comparison sites such as SkyScanner to get the best prices. I found some very good prices on all of Cathay’s network on SkyScanner last night so be sure to have a browse.


I arrived at Changsha airport three hours before my flight departure as I didn’t know what to expect in terms of waiting times. The airport was pretty quiet at this time but check-in desks for Cathay were not open. I asked some people but it seemed nobody who knew spoke English. After about 20 minutes I googled it and found that Cathay’s desks only open 2 hours before the departure time. This meant I had to kill an hour in the departure hall before going through security.

Once check-in opened I took my place in the tiny queue

Business class passengers are really taken care of here at Changsha – you get a red carpet all to yourself!

Today I was travelling with my AeroLite case. I have to say its an incredible suitcase to use as a carry on bag.

At check-in we encountered some issues with my bags. To cut a long story short, I was flying the route Changsha – Hong Kong – Taipei – Hong Kong but the girls at check-in wouldn’t allow me to check my bags all the way through as they were scared it wouldn’t make the connecting flight in Taipei in time. Anyway, after 40 minutes of standing around, they decided to tell me the best option was to abandon my bag in Hong Kong and hope that I found it later that night… You can watch the video below which highlights exactly what happened and shows you if I found my bag or not!

As I was heading through passport control, another setback occurred. The Chinese border guard spoke very little English. He made me stand aside for several minutes and then repeatedly asked me the same question in Mandarin which I made very clear I didn’t understand. After he finally called an English speaker, I could finally get to security. Security had no fast-track line and a huge queue so when I asked the lady for a business class line she simply walked me to the front, opened the entrance and pushed me into the queue that was more like a jostling mass of fanboys trying to get the front of the crowd at a concert.

I finally made it airside with around 20 minutes until boarding began and hit one more setback. The lounge at Changsha was under construction so there was a makeshift lounge in use. This lounge was called ‘No.16: First and Business VIP Lounge’. As I walked in, I realised there was nothing less VIP than this lounge and after a quick coke and a glass of champagne which turned out to be simple white wine, I was out and moved down to gate 44 for boarding.

The Flight

Priority boarding was strictly enforced and as a business class passenger I was one of the first people to board.

Cathay strictly enforce priority boarding

As I entered the cabin I was instantly impressed. Without even needing to see any food or amenities, the 2-2 configuration was enough to reassure me that this was going to be an excellent flight. There are only two rows of business class seats which makes the cabin ultra private.

Loved the 2-2 configuration a lot

Because of this 4 abreast setup, the space next to the seats is great. There is room enough to store anything you brought onboard as well as the blanket and pillow that greeted you as you got onboard.

The seat has a small area at the front for your drinks, a storage area underneath the armrest, a table which folds inside the armrest and seat controls to adjust the recline and foot rest. I thought it was amazing that the A320 seats were fitted with a recliner. The seat recline didn’t take you to a lie flat position but a 3/4 position which was very comfortable.

Mega comfort

Cathay’s own brand headphones are also waiting for you as you board the plane. These headphones were really good and were to be used when watching films on the iPad that was handed out to business class passengers before takeoff.

Cathay’s headphones and comfy pillow

The iPad was equipped with Cathay’s own IFE programme and had an OK selection of media. I found this to be of very little use on a 1 hour 20 minute flight but did like the magazines that were loaded onto the iPad. I ended up reading Business Traveller during the cruise.

Such a cool novelty being given an iPad

Alongside the iPad I was also given a menu. I was very impressed with this and Cathay Dragan once again showed British Airways up in this department. Food orders were taken on the ground and I chose the Sauteed Pork with Osmanthus lychee sauce, steamed jasmine rice and sugar peas. To drink I went for the Taittinger Brut Reserve Champagne which I was very happy to see on the menu. You can see the full menu in the slideshow below.

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As soon as I was comfortably seated, the offer of a welcome drink came around. On the tray was water, orange juice and a gin & orange juice cocktail. I chose the cocktail and was impressed. It had a strong gin kick which was excellently complemented by the orange juice.

My gin welcome drink

Once boarding was complete we taxied out and departed Changsha, waving goodbye to the first stop on my China trip.

Ciao Changsha

As soon as we hit our cruising altitude the crew made no mistake in getting our food out promptly. My Pork dish came around and was really nicely presented. The tray had my meal, a fruit salad, butter for bread that I assumed would come later, salt and pepper shakers, cutlery and two glasses.

Nice layout

After the meal was delivered, the crew came back to fill my glasses with the Taittinger I had decided on.

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Next came the bread. Alongside the normal rolls, there was an option of hot garlic bread which I jumped straight on. I couldn’t help laughing as I remembered the joke my mum always makes when I eat garlic bread. It generally involves her saying I better not kiss anyone after eating it. I don’t think there was any danger of that on this flight, anyway.

Garlic bread?!! YESSS

After I had cleaned up my really excellent meal, I was offered tea or coffee and opted for a coffee.

That’s what you’re meant to drink in the morning, not champagne

Overall, I was left mega impressed by the food offering. My pork dish was amazingly presented and tasted fantastic too. The fruit salad was accompanied it well and the hot garlic bread was a nice treat.

The whole dish

Before I knew it, we were already making our descent into Hong Kong and out of the window were some of the best views I have ever seen from an aircraft. We approached Hong Kong and then banked over it as we began our approach into Hong Kong International.

These views were UNREAL

As we came onto our final approach, headphones, ipads and drinks were all collected and we landed about 30 minutes late. I was first to exit the aircraft and was warmly sent on my way by the crew.

Hello Hong Kong!!

To conclude, I had an amazing flight in Cathay Dragan’s business class on this 1 hour 20 minute hop. The crew were fantastic, the food service excellent, the champagne great and the amenities even better. To be given an iPad and a menu really helps give business class passengers that elite feeling which so many other carriers fail to do.

Flying a 2-2 configuration is a real positive as it gives heaps of storage space and a very spacious cabin. If you have the opportunity to fly Cathay Dragon’s business class then do, it’s a really amazing product and one I can’t wait to do again in the future.

Like this review? See my latest 787 business class review here

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A True 5* Experience | Hainan Airlines 787 Business Class Review

Hainan Airlines are one of 11 5* rated airlines and seeing as I had already flown on two 5* rated carriers (Qatar and JAL), it was time to tick off a third. Hainan Airlines recently started flying between London Heathrow and Changsha in Hunan province so I decided this was the perfect opportunity to test out the private Chinese carrier. I have made a full video review which you can see under this but it misses out some things. To get the full experience I suggest you watch the video and read the article.

Hainan are expanding at a rapid rate and have recently implemented new reforms in their onboard product which I was excited to test out. The first of these changes is in the design of the bed. Hainan have adapted to offer a more comfortable and aesthetically pleasing bed design which I found to be fantastic on this flight. The second change was in the food and the third change is in the uniform.

Business class passengers of Hainan Airlines have the possibility of using their limousine service but so far this is only available at selected airports and London Heathrow is not one. My brother therefore saw me off at Heathrow’s Terminal 3 and I arrived with around 4 hours until departure to see the finishing touches being added to Hainan’s check-in area. After a short wait, I checked in my bag, received my boarding pass and ventured to fast track security upstairs.

Hainan welcoming my new Aerolite suitcase! I was really excited to try my new Aerolite suitcase today and was very impressed. It is extra light and the perfect size for a carry on bag!

The fast track line at Heathrow’s T3 was really impressive this time around and I was through within minutes of entering.


The best prices i found to fly Hainan’s business class and even their economy class came from SkyScanner. These prices were extremely competitive so I advise you to have a look for yourself.


Hainan has no lounge at London Heathrow but instead offers passengers access to the No.1 Lounge. This lounge also accepts Priority Pass entries and pay to enter passengers which meant that it was a little busy and after queueing for around five minutes, I walked in to find a seat by the window.

The lounge is very spacious with lots of seating areas, a free bar and many private rooms including a library and a cinema. On this visit, lots of the private areas had ‘reserved’ signs on them which was a shame as it meant I had to sit in the main area which was very loud. In terms of food, I originally asked for a beef burger but they told me they were out so I instead went for the ‘Asian broth’ which was very bland and a poor choice.

After spending an hour working on my laptop I then ordered a salmon salad which I saw the person next to me eat and it restored my faith in the lounge a little. The salmon salad was excellent and a really good choice if you’re in this lounge.

The drink options were good but restricted. I originally asked for champagne and the barman told me I had to pay but when I looked disappointed he pointed at the sparkling wine and said this was the free alternative. I opted for the sparkling wine and to be honest it was actually really nice.

While it is a shame that Hainan don’t have a lounge of their own at London Heathrow, I think the No.1 Lounge is a really nice area to relax, eat and drink so all in all, I really wasn’t too disappointed. Remember you can see the full tour of the lounge in the above video.


As I left the lounge, gate 29 was called for flight HU422 to Changsha so I headed out on the 15 minute walk to the gate and was met by a completely empty business class queue. I walked straight up to the desk where my boarding pass was scanned and headed into the waiting area. I was really happy I arrived early as I ended up chatting to two cargo pilots who were positioning to Changsha to fly a 747-400 to Chicago via about five other places. It was really cool to chat to them and after around 20 minutes, we were called to board the plane.

Seeing as the plane was only a 787-8, only one jetbridge was used and after a short walk I was greeted by Orson who was the day’s cabin manager. The crew had been in London to attend the annual SkyTrax ceremony in which they were confirmed as a five star airline. The success was evident in their buoyant moods!

I headed into the first business class cabin of two as the only passenger and was greeted by two smiling faces. One of the girls to greet me was Dorlia who served me throughout the flight. It was extra special to have Dorlia serving me as she knew who I was and followed me on social media (major ego-boost moment).


The Aircraft

Hainan has 27 787s in their fleet and today we were flying to Changsha on B-2722, the oldest of the lot. Being a 787-8 and not a -9 model, the aircraft was fitted with the old business class model instead of the new one. What this meant was that the seats were laid out in a 2-2-2 configuration instead of a more private 1-2-1 setup.

With this in mind, I was praying for a free seat next to me and believe it or not, my wish came true. When the doors shut, the seat next to me was empty and I can’t tell you just how happy I was.

The front business class cabin has only three rows and is therefore, very private. What makes the cabin feel even more spacious is the lack of overhead bins in the middle row. This is a tactic many other airlines use on the 787 such as Qatar Airways and something I really like to see.

Behind the first cabin are two toilets for business class passengers and a galley. Behind this is the second of the business class cabins which has three more rows in the same 2-2-2 configuration. Behind this cabin is the economy section of the aircraft.


As soon as I sat down, Dorlia was around with a choice of hot or cold towel. I haven’t seen the option on many airlines and so it was nice to be able to choose. I obviously went for the hot towel and before I could finish using it, the welcome drinks came around.

Now instead of asking which drink you would like, Hainan brings round a selection to see which looks best for you. On the tray was orange juice, grapefruit juice, champagne and a seasonal drink called blue coastline. Dorlia explained to me that they have a drink for each season and this one was effectively a non-alcoholic cocktail. I went for the seasonal option as I knew I’d be on the champagne very quickly afterwards. Alongside the drink, Dorlia gave me a small bowl of nuts.

Less than a minute later, another tray came round. This time I was presented with noise cancelling Bose headphones (yes Bose!!) which I have to say pretty much cancelled any noise very effectively.

Also on the tray was a selection of red, light grey and dark grey ‘phone handbags’. That’s right, Hainan knows that losing your phone on the plane is all too easy so they hand out cute little felted wallets to keep your phone safe. I chose red but Dorlia gave me one in each colour.

After this, more kept coming. I was given a choice of medium, large or extra large pyjamas, shown to my slippers which are stored in the footwell and shown my Samsonite amenity kit.

Before taking off I was paid one final visit by a very special member of the team: the Chef. That’s right, Hainan Airlines has one member of staff who is the chef and she came around twice before takeoff. The first time was to surprise me with a special drink of coconut juice and baileys which looked like milk and tasted incredible. The second time she came round was to take my order. She wanted to know what I wanted for starter, main and dessert but also took orders for drinks and asked exactly when I wanted them. It is clear that Hainan tailor this service to be exactly as you want it. The food options were so varied and you can see the full menu below.

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Finally, the amenity kit by Samsonite was shown to me and oh boy was it packed. The bag has everything you’d expect from a business class amenity kit such as toothpaste, a toothbrush, lip balm, eye mask, ear plugs and socks but also throws in a couple of unusual items which I haven’t yet come across in an amenity kit. The bag came with a comb and a heavy bottle of what looked like perfume. You can see all the items below.

The Seat

The old business class seat is by no means a bad one. The seat is 22.5 inches wide and provides you with 74 inches of legroom. I am 6”2’ and I could comfortably stretch my legs out which was a massive perk.

The footwell in front of the seat is very deep and when in a lie flat position, can be used as a storage area.

Beside the TV you have a storage area and a hanger for a jacket or shirt although I asked the crew to hang my shirt up when I was in my pyjamas.

In the middle of the two seats is a shared armrest with a small table at the front for a drink.

The armrest is pretty large but too small to be comfortably shared by two people. This middle section is where your seat controls are placed. The seat controls cover everything you could want. You can turn your seat fully lie-flat or fully upright and anything in between. You can also raise the leg-rest and adjust the headrest. One awesome feature is a little blue button you can press which gives you a lower back massage!!. After pressing the button the area on my lower back moved around a lot and gave a very pleasant massage!

Underneath the armrest is a USB charger, a power plug and a headphone jack. This area also stores your remote control.

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We took off from runway 27L around 20 minutes late which was impressive. Just four hours before, the Heathrow control tour was evacuated due to a fire alarm and departing and arriving aircraft were all put on hold. Some aircraft had to wait upwards of an hour.

As soon as we were airborne I was given reading material such as The Economist and National Geographic.

This complemented the newspaper I had been given on the ground.

Pretty soon after takeoff and having taken our orders on the ground, food service began and my favourite part of the meal was brought around: the Chinese shrimp dumpling. Now I love a good Chinese dumpling but something about this one was just amazing and I could have eaten 100 more.

Secondly, I was brought a bowl of Chinese soup. I had been given the option of Western or Chinese and I of course went for Chinese. The soup was nice and hot and pretty flavourful.

Thirdly, I was brought a small salad with a sweet dressing on the top. If I’m honest, this was the low point of the meal. The salad was freezing cold and crunchy and I really didn’t enjoy it.

Onwards to the main course which I have to say was presented amazingly and didn’t disappoint in taste either. The dish I chose was ‘Szechuan pork with ginger and chili’ but it came with lots of Chinese style side dishes which were incredible. The crew also come around with choices of sauce. Dorlia suggested that I don’t eat the really spicy one (as she could see I was a bit of a weak soul, obviously) and so instead I went for the sweeter one.

The dish was so filling that I actually skipped the offer of ice cream and even when the Chef came around with what looked like sugar tart, I listened to my stomach and said no.

By this point I was starting to feel pretty tired and so I asked Dorlia to show me the new bed design so I could test it out. The new design is aesthetically very pleasing with its gold lining.

The feel of it once I got in was also pretty impressive. The two layers of cover mean you are lying on a very soft surface and you are kept warm by the thick duvet above you too. Once I got changed into my pyjamas, Dorlia was even so good as to tuck me in. What a lovely crew member eh?

With my bed comfortably set and wearing my fresh pyjamas I decided to lie down and see what was offered on the in-flight entertainment (IFE) system.

Seeing as the screen is far away from you there is no point it being touchscreen and it is controlled by the remote control which is found next to your seat. The control is easy to use and also controls features such as the light above your head and calling cabin crew. The system is very responsive and has a little feature which I found incredible useful. While watching a film, you can press the little airplane button and the flight map will appear in the top right corner of the screen. This is a really nifty way of seeing where you are without leaving your film. I watched one film but then stuck the map on for pretty much the entire flight.

The selection of TV and films is good but nothing to brag about. Noteworthy films include all three Lord of the Rings films which you could probably just about get through in 12 hours right? Other films include the Dark Knight Rises and some old classics too. The system also has a selection of Asian films and TV series.

With the Dark Knight Rises playing on my screen, my tiredness got the better of me so I paused the film and nodded off pretty much instantly.

After around three or four hours of sleep I woke up and was almost immediately asked if I wanted a cup of tea or coffee and some fruit. Within a minute or two I was given a cup of coffee and two hot towels. This service was so quick that Hainan must check very often if you’re awake to be ready to serve you.

Soon after waking up I set to work on my laptop and something extremely strange happened which you will have seen in great detail if you watched the video! All of a sudden, my nose started bleeding very badly. My table was up so I had to chuck all my laptop stuff onto the seat next to me and run to the toilet by which point I was already bleeding pretty badly and had ruined my new pyjamas!

It was a very weird situation and has never happened to me before. The way the crew dealt with it was fantastic. As I was holding my nose they wiped down my hands which by this point were covered in blood and got me a set of new pyjamas to put on. What was also very sweet was that after I returned to my seat, the chef came up with a bowl of cherries saying that they would help my blood. This was another example of how Hainan crew took initiative throughout the flight.

Before landing, the crew came round with one last meal option. For this service I went for the noodles and was not disappointed.

The noodles came with a side soup, a hard boiled egg, some sauces and a sweet bread which the crew said was very popular in China. I’d never had it before but it tasted fantastic and I almost asked for more.

Once I had finished my first breakfast dish, they brought a second one on me. This time I was given a plate of fresh fruit which tasted really amazing and was the perfect way to wrap up the food service.

After this final dish I got changed into my clothes and headed back to my seat to watch the stunning approach into Changsha play out. Just before we came into land I was then surprised by Dorlia as she brought me a little Hainan squidgy toy plane which doubled up as a turtle! Madness!!

This gesture may have only been little but it summed up to me just why Hainan are a five star airline. When I flew London-Changsha the crew were simply unbeatable. They spoke fantastic English, they were caring, genuine and thoughtful and it didn’t seem like they were doing things because they had to which you see with so many airlines today.

The food was amazing and when I said it trumps any other airline food I’ve had, I may have been a little brash but it is definitely up there.

After landing, I was met by my limousine driver who took me to my hotel in Changsha. This was a very nice welcome to a foreign city and I’m glad Hainan offer this limousine service.

Hainan Airlines has a charm about them which you don’t see a lot of nowadays. They are classy, visibly Chinese in attire but at the same time very western in their service. The crew don’t seem like they do it because its their job but because they enjoy it and that is what I love to see in an airline.

Finally, do Hainan deserve to be a 5* airline? My answer is yes, they do. My experience was not 5* worthy because of one thing: the seat and cabin. While the seat was good, it was no way near a 5* product. I am eager to try Hainan’s new business class product as I am sure that the new seat mixed with the amazing crew, fantastic amenities and incredible food will be about as 5* as you can get. Based on soft product alone, my flight was 5* by all means.

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disclaimer: this flight was provided by Hainan Airlines. I was under no pressure to state any particular opinions and all views are my own and based on this flight.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse LHR Review

The Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at London Heathrow is famous for showcasing the style of Virgin Atlantic and when I knew I was going to be visiting this lounge I decided to film a short video to show you inside as well as showing you the main features in this article! Enjoy!

Virgin Atlantic’s Clubhouse is positioned with the other airline lounges in Terminal 3. It is lounge H if you are following the signs and above the American Airlines lounge. I’m a big fan of T3 as security tends to be very quick and the lounges are all in one place which helps if you’re hopping between them with your priority pass through AMEX.

As soon as you enter the lounge you know it is special. The entrance area is staffed with friendly Virgin Atlantic faces who check your ticket, walk you in and even show you around if this is your first visit.

The view on entering the beautiful lounge

My first impression of the lounge was amazing. I was shocked by just how big it was. The high ceilings and large windows looking out to the airport improve the lighting and make it a really welcoming environment.

As soon as you take a seat in the lounge, one of the staff will attend you and ask what drink you would like. The length of the drinks menu was so long that I asked what they recommended and two minutes later, a glass of the ‘Virgin Redhead Cocktail’ turned up.

The flagship ‘Virgin Redhead’ cocktail

The drink was lovely and I opted for one more before heading to the Champagne. Virgin offers three champagnes: Lanson, Follador and Jenkyn. I opted for the Lanson and wasn’t disappointed.

My Lanson champagne

The bar area is nice and big which allows people to work but also sit and chat with friends over a drink. It was very well staffed and everyone was happy to help as much as they could.

The bar area!

Once your drink is finished, the staff come and ask if you would like something to eat from the ‘bar snacks’ area of the menu. All the options looked great but I opted for the baked chicken wings with hot sauce. The wings were very nice and left me with very dirty fingers. They gave me a knife and fork but who in their right mind eats chicken wings with cutlery?!

These chicken wings tasted unbelievable!

After I had eaten my bar snacks I went for a quick visit to the other food area. Just to the left of the entrance is an area where you can get salads, breads, meats, cheeses and fruits. There was a fantastic selection but I decided to save my appetite for the flight which turned out to fail as you’ll see later on!

A lovely food selection!

Another fantastic area in the lounge is the mezzanine which has a pool table, lots of TV screens showing the news and sports matches and a long sofa on which two people lay fast asleep (we can only hope they made their flight!).

Floor two. Pool anyone?

The upstairs area then leads up some stairs to the third level which is the outside terrace. The terrace is amazing if you’re into aviation as you can sit outside on the sofas with a drink and watch the planes taxi infront of the famous LHR tower. Do note that it can get pretty noisy out there!

Time for some planespotting!

The area below mezzanine has more tables of which a few had a ‘reserved’ tag on them. I’m not 100% how you go about booking a table and if it costs much but this was cool to see and gave this area of the lounge a restaurant feel.

Can you spot me?;)

After I’d been outside I came in to do something I was very excited about – get a haircut. I’d seen many people do this and so was very excited to actually get a trim in an airline lounge! I headed up to the spa desk and inquired.  She said that there was a relatively long wait for the haircuts but that I was welcome to have one of their complimentary treatments instead. This was a shame but I was totally happy she mentioned the complimentary treatments as mine turned out to be absolute heaven.

I didn’t get a chance to take any pictures but here is a shot from my GoPro

The complimentary treatment I opted for was the ‘head and scalp massage’. The complimentary treatments may only last 15 minutes but once you’re in there you can relax into it amazingly and 15 minutes is plenty to relax before your flight. The woman at the desk asked me to listen to the loud speaker in the lounge as she would announce when it was my time to return to the spa and low and behold as I was sitting down with another glass of champagne I heard ‘Could Mr Stevenson please make his way to the Clubhouse spa for his treatment!’ so off I went!

The spa is located where I am standing, in the far right corner of the lounge

The spa area is kept cool by a fan and kept dark to help you relax during your treatments. You are asked to fill in a small form stating if you have any illnesses or diseases and once you’re done, you’re led into the spa and fully taken care of. After the treatment, you are offered a glass of water and led back into the lounge feeling fully refreshed. I have to say this was my absolute favourite part of the lounge experience.

After my spa treatment I still had about 30 minutes until boarding began so I treated myself to one of the meals on the menu. After deciding that I couldn’t be bothered to save my appetite for the plane, I opted for the ‘southern fried chicken burger’ – lots of chicken today, I know – and couldn’t have been happier that I did so.

What a burger…

The burger was packed full and served with chips (or fries as it said on the menu), BBQ sauce and pickle slaw, spicy mayonnaise and lettuce inside.

After (partially) destroying the burger and chips, I sat down to sweat off the huge meal I had just almost finished and before long my flight was called and I headed on the 20 minute walk to gate 21 where my Boeing 787 to JFK was boarding Upper Class passengers.


I still can’t decide whether this lounge is more of a hotel, bar, spa, viewing terrace or restaurant but one thing is clear, it has elements of them all.

Just look at those chairs!

The Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse has to be one of the best lounges I have ever visited and almost certainly the best LHR lounge (I still haven’t visited the Concorde room but when I do it will be very interesting to compare).

I was very impressed with the level of service, the space, the whacky hanging chairs, the dine-on-demand service, the drinks and above all the ability to relax into a massage chair for 15 minutes while getting a relaxing head massage.

If this doesn’t do it for you, I’m not sure what will!

If flying Virgin Atlantic Upper Class isn’t on your bucket list then you’re doing something wrong – flying Upper Class is an incredible experience in itself and being able to come to the Clubhouse beforehand makes it even more special.

Tip: Booking Upper Class

If you want to fly Virgin Atlantic Upper Class then what are your options? Revenue fares can be quite high, especially at peak times of the year, so I advise to use miles and points. If travelling at peak times, Virgin will charge you £371 and 57,500 miles to book this flight. At off peak times, you can get it for as low as 47,500 miles and £371. However, those fuel surcharges are still very high.

The flight is also bookable through Delta SkyMiles who are an American Express partner with a 1:1 transfer ratio which can help to reduce the surcharge.

If however, you don’t have points to spend then revenue is what to go for. I would advise booking through SkyScanner as they have great prices.

The Latest New York Airport: Stewart Rebrands

Stewart Airport, a mixed civil and military airport in Orange County has taken a major step in its rebranding programme to become New York Stewart International Airport. The move comes just over one year after Norwegian started their direct flights from Europe on the 737MAX aircraft.

I visited Stewart in August 2017, just two months after Norwegian started operating and whilst talking to the staff there, I got a huge sense of excitement for what the future could hold for Stewart. One year on, I arrived at Stewart keen to see just how well they were doing.

I had the opportunity to talk to Ed Harrison once again who is General Manager at Stewart. On this wonderful occasion, Ed stressed how important this was for the airport but also for the surrounding location. As I mentioned in last year’s article, the surrounding area in Orange County has much to offer including a new Legoland which will be completed in 2020. I was told that the management team there expect 30% of all customers to come from Europe which could be a total game changer for Stewart. Coinciding with this opening, a new arrivals hall will be opening in 2020 which is part of their major development plan. The arrivals hall will be costing Stewart $30 million to build but with passenger numbers increasing in the 100s of thousands every year and predictions showing Stewart exceeding 1 million passengers by 2020, it isn’t surprising that they have begun to expand.

I told Ed that I had a special place in my heart for Stewart airport but he simply assumed I say that to every airport I talk to – the truth is, I really do. When I visited Stewart for the first time, it was one of my first ever press trips and I had the incredible opportunity of flying over the airport and into Manhattan with the Stewart based company Independent Helicopters. Who could forget an experience like that? Independent are just one of the many companies based out of Stewart and since my last visit, two new companies have invested in Stewart to be the location for their new hangars.

It is important to stress that the fact that load factors are increasing rapidly isn’t just down to Norwegian. Domestic load factors are also up and Ed Harrison believes this is due to people using Stewart to get to Europe from all across America. With airlines such as Allegiant and American offering routes out of Stewart, people can easily use it as a connection point onto Norwegian’s network. In terms of airline expansion however, Norwegian’s rough financial situation could threaten the airport’s future. With the Edinburgh network already being reduced in size, could the prospect of Norwegian being bought out impact small-aircraft routes such as these? Ed stressed that there is high level of interest from other airlines but I will remain slightly worried until these new routes are announced. On the other hand, Norwegian now operate 28 flights a week compared to 21 last year. Dublin has become a real success and now offers a 2x daily service.

The huge Woodbury Commons – photo by Coach USA

What I loved about Stewart last time and found had been bettered this time is the Stewart Airport Express bus service. The journey can take as little as one hour but often takes longer and only costs $20. It has been improved since last year and a stop has been added – the shopping outlet of Woodbury Commons. Travelers can now land, be picked up by the bus, ferried to Woodbury Commons, shop and then be picked up and finish their journey into New York – cool right?

Stewart is definitely growing and the name change will do much to help it as it starts to be recognised as a New York Airport, the area’s local economy is ‘humming’ and Stewart have proved they can handle larger aircraft. During the winter snow that shut down JFK airport, Stewart successfully handled a Singapore Airlines A380 jet and took all the passengers into New York without trouble. While financial issues may be holding the expansion of Norwegian back, new airlines and routes need to be welcomed into Stewart so that the new developments can be utilised.

The New York airport of the future? I certainly think it’s possible.

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Virgin Atlantic B787 Upper Class Review

When I knew that I was going to be flying onboard Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class product, I knew that writing a review wasn’t going to convey just how cool this experience was going to be. So, in order to really show you just how awesome this experience is, below you can see my very first video flight review! I hope you like it and I hope it complements the written review well.

Background: Virgin Atlantic

Living in London, I always had the urge to fly Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class product. In London, it is hard to go a day without seeing an advertising board showing the incredible service or luxury lounge. Last year, as James went to San Francisco, he had the privilege of flying Virgin Atlantic’s economy product and the review is still one of our most read reviews ever! With that in mind, I thought that you guys must LOVE Virgin Atlantic so on my trip to JFK, I tried the famous Upper Class product and fell in love.

G-VOOH awaiting me at gate 21 in London

Virgin Atlantic flies six times daily between London Heathrow and New York JFK while partner airline Delta flies two times daily. This means that flights depart at pretty much all times of day which gives flyers fantastic flexibility when booking. The first five flights of the day are on Virgin Atlantic’s A330-300 aircraft but seeing as I wanted to fly onboard the Boeing 787, I was happy to takeoff in the afternoon so booked a ticket on VS9.

Booking This Flight

If you want to fly Virgin Atlantic Upper Class then what are your options? Revenue fares can be quite high, especially at peak times of the year, so I advise to use miles and points. If travelling at peak times, Virgin will charge you £371 and 57,500 miles to book this flight. At off peak times, you can get it for as low as 47,500 miles and £371. However, those fuel surcharges are still very high.

For a seat at peak times

The flight is also bookable through Delta SkyMiles who are an American Express partner with a 1:1 transfer ratio which can help to reduce the surcharge.


Living in the south of England makes getting to Heathrow pretty convenient by train but seeing as my family were flying from LHR about an hour before me, we opted to get a taxi together. The taxi arrived at 11.00am and the traffic was absolutely miserable meaning that we didn’t arrive at Heathrow until around 13.00pm. I headed straight to the check-in desks to drop my bag.

Checking-in for VS9

Virgin Atlantic’s check-in desks occupy the left side of Heathrow’s Terminal 3 and the entrance hall is buzzing with red-dressed staff eager to help. I walked straight into the Upper Class section which had no queue, checked-in, chose my seat, dropped my back and went on my way to security. Upper Class customers have a separate security lane just next to the check in desks but as my family were waiting for me at the normal security, I headed upstairs and was through within minutes.

Once through security, Upper Class passengers should follow signs to ‘airline lounges’ and head through the departure lounge to the lounge area. Here, you will see the lounges of British Airways, Qantas and many more airlines.

The Lounge

The Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse is world famous for its style. As soon as you get near the lounge, you can tell you’re in for a treat. The stairs are beautifully decorated with marble which is just a teaser of what is to come.

Virgin’s STUNNING Clubhouse lounge

Once you get to the top, you are greeted by friendly Virgin staff who take you inside and explain the different features of the lounge to you in detail. This was a really lovely touch and made me feel very welcome.

Because this lounge was just SO incredible, I will actually be writing a separate article on it to go into more detail. Below are some pictures of the lounge for you to get an idea of what it is like.

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Gate 21 was to be the setting for today’s flight to JFK so I made my way out of the lounge and started my walk.

15:45 to New York… That’s me!

The screens said it could take 20 minutes to reach the gates but I arrived after about 10 minutes. As I arrived, boarding had already started so I dropped into the speedy Upper Class line and entered the gate area. Soon after, Upper Class passengers and Virgin Atlantic gold members were called forward and within a few minutes of arriving, I was finally onboard.

Boarding takes place behind the Upper Class cabin and into the bar. This allows passengers who aren’t flying Upper Class to see the bar and instantly regret not buying a ticket!!

I was greeted by the Flight Service Manager (FSM) who directed me straight to my seat, 5K.

The Aircraft

Virgin Atlantic have 47 aircraft in their fleet including 17 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft. These state of the art jets were first delivered to Virgin towards the end of 2014 and have steadily continued to be delivered since then with the most recent delivery (G-VNYL) arriving in April 2018. My aircraft (G-VOOH) was actually one of the first to be delivered and arrived in February 2015.

G-VOOH was born in early 2015

The 787s are configured in a three-class configuration with 31 Upper Class seats leading onto 35 Premium Economy seats and 198 Economy seats at the rear. Today’s flight had only one free seat in Upper Class and a handful in Premium Economy.

The Seat

The Upper Class seat is different to any business class product I have flown before. It is set up in a 1-1-1 configuration with the seats angled to face into the cabin.

Here you can see the layout with the seats angled inwards

This means that if you want to look out of the window, you have to uncomfortably turn your body to face backwards. My first impression of the seat was that it was actually rather narrow but as I sat down I found that it was very comfortable and easy to relax into.

The seat once I had boarded

There is a foot stall to put your feet on which is a fantastic edition to the seat. It has a mini belt to strap your feet in and a nice storage area underneath.

The features of this seat are really nice. To your right, you have a personal monitor and remote control.

Screens are on the small side but very responsive

Both the remote and the screen are fantastically responsive which I loved.

Remote was very responsive which I liked

It almost felt like I was swiping on an iPad. While the screen wasn’t the largest, it was perfect for watching something while eating or lying in bed. The screen tilts to make it easy to watch in all positions and moves out of its right-hand side position very easily.

Next to the seat you have a storage compartment which has noise cancelling, single-pinned headphones, a safety card, a help sheet explaining how to connect to the WiFi and two inflight magazines. The headphones are absolutely fantastic as they are noise cancelling. I also loved how they were only single-pinned!!

Above the storage space is one of my favourite little areas. The small tray table can be released with a simple push and is the perfect size to store your drink or phone. It can also stay down when converting the seat into a bed.

A nifty little table

Above this is one of two lights. They emerge with a simple push and are very bright. I would have liked to see an option to dim the light a little bit.

The little light

Behind the seat is a small storage area. It is where the crew store your pillow before the flight but I also used it to store my camera, amenity kit and chargers throughout the flight.

To the left of the seat are the seat controls. The seat controls are on the basic side but certainly get the job done.

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You have the option to move the seat while in the seated position to suit your desire and also to eject the tray table. On the right side, near the aisle, are the controls used by the crew to put the seat into a lie-flat position.

One of the main selling points in this cabin is that each seat has direct aisle access. What makes it even better is that you can leave your seat even while you’re eating. The tray table is designed so that you can push it back far enough to sneak out next to it but you can also pull it close enough to you to eat in an upright position while watching something. The table is very large and sturdy which I really liked.

Very large tray table – like it

The Flight

After taking my seat, I was immediately offered a welcome drink but having drunk more than enough I went non-alcoholic and chose water. This stint of not drinking alcohol lasted for approximately 15 minutes as we taxied out of terminal 3 and took off from runway 27R for JFK.

Taking off out of LHR

After we hit the skies and the seatbelt sign turned off, the crew came around with the offer of champagne and crisps! This is trademark Virgin Atlantic and they compliment each other really nicely.

Alongside the welcome drink we were also given today’s menu. The menu lists all the drinks onboard and the options for the meal service. You can see the full menu in the slideshow below.

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Not long after the crew had taken our orders, it was already time to eat. The meal service began just as I started watching a film but I was already getting hungry by this point so put the monitor away. What was great was that I could continue watching my film as the food was brought to me.

Meal Service

Firstly, my table was set by one of the crew. The layout is lovely and it was lovely to see the famous salt and pepper shakers.

The cute little salt and pepper shakers

Very soon after my table had been set, the starter arrived. I opted for the Tomato and Mozarella carpaccio starter and it didn’t disappoint. The dish was excellent with my favourite part being the rich dressing.

As soon as I was finished, the starter was cleared away and cutlery arrived for my main course. There were lots of options for the main course and I went for the lemon and thyme roasted chicken. The layout was fantastic and the taste didn’t disappoint either. The chicken had been cooked to a perfect texture and was fantastically complimented by the sides it came with.

After my main course I was stuffed but it would be wrong to not eat dessert, right? There were two options for pudding and I opted for the burnt sugar custard tart. The flavour was overwhelming and very sweet! I ate half of it but couldn’t finish it off.

Overall, the meal service had been a phenomenal success. The starter and main went together incredibly, the layout was fantastic and the myth of airplane food being inedible was completely debunked!

After I had eaten and my meal had been cleared away, I decided to go and do some work in the Upper Class bar.

The bar was probably my favourite feature of this aircraft as it so nicely laid out. There are for fixed stools set up around the table area which mean you can sit around with friends and share your meal or do some work. In my case, I did both!

After lunch and before I had a sleep I spent a good hour working up at the bar and was fantastically looked after by the crew. They offered me drink refills, snacks and when I was ready to go to sleep they brought me pyjamas and offered to change my seat into a bed as I was getting changed. I was eager to see how the seat could be transformed so watched them. In an interesting process, the seat actually tips forward and essentially lies flat so that you lie on the back of the seat.

After my bed had been made I went and got changed into my pyjamas which were nice and soft.

I was sceptical about how comfortable this would be but after getting changed into my pyjamas, putting on my warm socks and lying down I was very surprised. The bed is made with a soft, padded layer which really adds to the comfort. The only problem is, you’re limited once your bed is made as you can’t then adjust the recline or lift yourself up a little higher which was slightly annoying as if I didn’t push myself all the way up to the top of the bed, my feet stuck off the end by an inch or so. I guess most of you aren’t 6’2 though!

Off to bed

Probably due to the large amounts of alcohol I had been consuming that day, I fell straight asleep while watching ‘The Death of Stalin’ and woke up a couple of hours later to watch a documentary on my favourite cricket player, Sachin Tendulkar, which was very interesting. As soon as the crew saw that I was awake, I was offered a cup of tea and shortbread which was a really nice touch. The tea comes in the most fantastic mugs which makes you feel like you’re in bed at home!

Good morning!

With around two hours to go until landing I went back to the bar area to get my clothes which the crew had hung up for me. It was then that I met three guys who were interested in why I was taking so many photos and videos during the flight. I explained to them what I was doing and we ended up chatting for the next hour about using credit cards, miles and points and all else flying! It was really awesome to see how enthusiastic they all were and we shared details so as to stay in touch!

As we were chatting, the crew proved themselves once again! They had begun serving scones to Upper Class passengers and instead of simply seeing we weren’t at our seats and ignoring us, they came to the bar, asked us if we would like some and then brought them to us there.


Once we were done, they even sprung some Victoria sponge cake on us! What a treat.

I got changed, headed back to my seat and started packing up as we began our descent into New York. We landed on runway 04R and taxied to our stand before disembarking and heading into JFK.


While judging this flight it is important to state that Virgin Atlantic’s seat is out of date and in no way comparable to business class seats like the Q-Suite. The privacy is ok, the IFE very responsive but limited in choice and the seat is only convertible into a bed by a crew member and limited in options once you’re down. This immediately limits how good this product this.

However, this flight was probably one of my favourite business class flights ever. Let me explain why.

Firstly, Virgin Atlantic’s crew are some of the most genuine and attentive I have ever had. Cabin crew are supposed to be attentive, especially in business class. On many airlines, however, that attentiveness is forced and the connection with the passengers seems a little fake. With Virgin, that is totally different. The crew were able to see which passengers to be formal with and which to show off Virgin’s sassy and cheeky side to. Virgin Atlantic is always presented as a slightly different airline and I could really see that. The flights are more fun and less formal which I absolutely loved. It takes well trained and energetic crew members to carry this out and that’s exactly what I had on my flight.

Secondly, the food was fantastic. Presentation was immense and the flavour was incredibly strong. The layout of the table boomed with ‘Virgin style’ from the tiny airplane salt and pepper shakers to the classily branded cutlery and champagne glass.

Overall, I have to say I was really impressed with Virgin Atlantic and had fantastic fun onboard. If I were to choose between BA and Virgin for flying between London and New York, I would have to choose Virgin. The lounge product is undoubtedly better than the galleries lounges at Terminal 5 and while the seat probably isn’t  more superior in terms of privacy, I would rate the soft product and service a lot higher. With an onboard bar, also, Virgin has my money.


disclaimer: an economy class ticket was booked and then upgraded on a space-available basis by Virgin Atlantic. I was under NO pressure to give any opinions and all opinions are strictly my own. The crew were not told I was going to be onboard so as to make this review fair.





Miles and Points Lesson One: Generating

This blog is part of my miles and points series where I will be teaching you how to generate miles, use miles and ultimately travel for free around the world sitting in the world’s best business class cabins.

Lesson One: Generating Miles and Points

Welcome to lesson one of this airmiles series. Firstly, I’d love to start off by introducing this series to you all and laying out what it’s going to look like. I’m going to be writing about the basics of points and miles, namely: how to generate miles and how to spend them. I will then be writing weekly reports on deals and tips for redeeming on different airlines as well as updates on the world of miles for all my readers. My goal: teach all of you to travel the world for ridiculous prices.

Generating Miles: Method #1 – Flying

Arguably the easiest way to generate airmiles is by flying. Unless you’re flying a low cost carrier who isn’t part of an airline alliance or have a miles program of their own then you will receive miles for every flight you take which you can then use on flight with that airline and their partners.

Example: If I were to fly from London to New York with British Airways in business class then I would use the British Airways Avios Calculator site to work out how many miles I would earn. It looks like this:


This is how it will look for a British Airways Blue Executive Club Member when flying one-way on the LHR-JFK route. In business class I will earn 5187 avios points which will be credited to my account after I take the flight.

Throwing in a Curve Ball: Crediting to Different Airlines

Now, you are not only allowed to credit miles to the airline you are flying but also partner airlines. Airlines usually have lots of partners in this respect and the best way to find out who you can credit to is by going to my favourite website –

Not only does the website tell you who the airlines’ partners are but they also tell you how many miles you will earn for this flight. So if I were to credit this flight to Alaska Airlines instead of British Airways I would essentially earn 2.5x the miles which would be 2.5 x 5187 = 12,967 – a big difference.

Now, this is only a brief explanation of a very complicated and multi-faceted concept. Other the next few weeks, months, years and who knows, maybe even decades, I will be sharing with you, through my weekly blog posts, different ways of mastering the art.

Generating Points: Method #2 – Credit Cards

Flying in business and first class can be expensive and is definitely not the option for a lot of people. What may seem more attractive, is the concept of earning miles while spending the amount you would have usually spent anyway on a debit card.

There are many different credit cards floating around the market. Some are from companies such as American Express and others are directly from airlines such as Virgin Atlantic.

In this article I will explain how credit cards work and what you can do with the points. In other articles I will go deeper into each card and look at the benefits of signing up.

Photo: AMEX

Credit cards are fantastic and although they may seem complicated to many people, they honestly are very simple. The basic deal is, you spend money as normal and for every £1 you spend you get a certain benefit such as an airmile or point. Now, these points can be converted into lots of things depending on the company. In the example of American Express, you earn Membership Rewards Points – these are basically AMEX’s currency and you can spend them on hotel stays, airfares, upgrades and products. AMEX has a huge range of partners so are definitely a good company to get in with.

My favourite (and most probably the best) credit card on the UK market has to be the American Express Gold Rewards Card which has the crazy sign up incentive of being free in the first year of membership. To read more about how to get involved with that card click here. 

At the end of this post, you should know about the two main ways of earning airmiles – by using credit cards and by flying and crediting. You can return to our miles and points page here to keep reading blogs.

If you’re looking for more specific help on an upcoming trip, best cards or airlines for a certain scenario or anything else that I haven’t mentioned then drop me a message in the contact box. I’ll be happy to help.

Miles and Points Lesson Two: Spending

This blog is part of my miles and points series where I will be teaching you how to generate miles, use miles and ultimately travel for free around the world sitting in the world’s best business class cabins.

Lesson Two: Spending Miles and Points

Welcome to lesson two of this series. In my first lesson, I wrote about the two main ways in which you can generate miles and points- flying and credit carding. Today, I’m going to talk about what you can do once you have those points in your account.

Spending Miles: Method #1 – Award Tickets

Award seats are the cheap way to fly. Effectively, you pay for the flight with miles + taxes and fuel surcharges laid on by the airline and government of that country. Award seats are easy to find on many websites but on most, you will need to be a member of their frequent flyer programme. All of these are free to sign up to and are a great way of starting your miles journey. I remember signing up to about 25 different airline sites on the day I turned 18, it was awesome!

If you read my first lesson on miles then you will remember that if you fly with one airline you can credit the miles you earn on that flight to a partner airline. The example I used was flying British Airways and crediting to Alaska Airlines. It is a great way of increasing the number of miles you earn. Anyway, it is a similar story with spending miles. You can generally book flights on one airline through many other airlines so for instance you can book award flights on Cathay Pacific on British Airways but also on Alaska Airlines (for incredible rates but that is a story for another time).

The booking of award seats is an incredible way of flying business class or first class for next to nothing and there are some incredible ways of doing it through different airlines which I will be exploring in the future.

Spending Miles: Method #2 – Upgrades

Spending your miles on an upgrade is a great way of flying in business class for cheap but also earn the airmiles for the cabin you have upgraded from. For example, if I were to book a flight on British Airways in Premium Economy and then upgrade to business class with airmiles, I would still receive the airmiles for flying premium economy with the added comfort of actually flying in business class!

Spending Miles: Method #3 – Hotels

If you have generated your points with American Express then you can also transfer your stash to hotel partners such as Hilton and redeem them for free nights. As this series is mainly about airlines, however, I won’t go into too much detail on this.

Spending Miles: Method #4 – Products

Again, on American Express you can redeem your points for any product in their catalog such as gadgets.

At the end of this post, you should know about the ways in which you can use your miles and points – award seats, upgrades, hotels and products. You can return to our miles and points page here to keep reading blogs.

If you’re looking for more specific help on an upcoming trip, best cards or airlines for a certain scenario or anything else that I haven’t mentioned then drop me a message in the contact box. I’ll be happy to help.

AMEX Preferred Gold Credit Card | Full Review

Over the last few months I have found that once you start using American Express credit cards it becomes pretty hard to stop. Last month I explained how you could book Cathay Pacific’s A350 Business Class for £30.10 with an American Express card that cost £195 – today I am going to explain how you can do it with a card which is free.

While explaining the benefits of my new American Express Preferred Gold Credit Card to a friend a few days ago it actually dawned on me that there is quite simply no good reason to say no to this card.

I bet you’ve never pulled a gold credit card out before!

I’m going to make this article very brief and start explaining why you cannot say no to having this card in your wallet.

1.  As I mentioned above – THIS CARD IS FREE – now although this is only true for the first year of membership, American Express allows you to cancel your card at any time which means if you are clever, you won’t pay a single penny. Every year after this will cost you £140.

2. The second reason you have to get this card is flexibility, the miles you earn on this card are available to transfer to a whopping 17 airline partners and three hotel partners. This means that you can keep your points in your AMEX account and when you have decided who you want to fly with, you can transfer your miles to the necessary partner airline.

3. The third reason is the solid sign-up bonus. You will receive 20,000 miles FOR FREE if you spend £2,000 in the first 3 months of having the card.

4. Having this card will allow you FREE LOUNGE ACCESS at any Lounge Club partner lounges around the world 2 times a year and after you have used these two passes you’ll be able to enter these lounges for only £15.

5. If you’re staying in one of AMEX’s 500 hotel partner chains then you will receive $75 room credit to spend on food, drink and more as well as FREE UPGRADES where available at check in.

6. Finally having this card will enable you to earn 1 American Express Membership point for every £1 you spend as well as 2 points for every £1 spent with airlines or in foreign currencies. Furthermore, you can earn yourself 3 points for every £1 spent on AMEX’s official travel agency site.

7. If you’re a big spender who will spend £15,000 in a year then it is worth holding on to your card as you’ll receive an extra 10,000 points as a bonus.

On top of all of these benefits you are also subject to lots of travel protection, be eligible for American Express Invites events and more.

Photo: AMEX

So, after I’ve listed all of those perks of having the American Express Gold Card – what reason could you possibly have to say no? Feel free to drop me a message and explain your reasoning to me as I am yet to hear a good answer! 

If you’re still hesitant then let me give you one more perk: If you sign up using the link below then you will receive a bonus 2,000 membership points on sign up meaning your bonus is 22,000 instead of the ordinary 20,000!

To sign up for the American Express Gold Preferred Credit Card then click here!

Happy Spending and Happy Flying!

featured image found on Luxury Travel Diary – source unknown.