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Regular readers may have noticed that the printing presses had been a bit quiet recently here at InsideFlyer Towers. The good news is that they have now been ‘upgraded’ and will be firing out more quality content than ever before! Despite COVID-19, there’s plenty to catch up on in the world of travel, points & miles, so here’s a quick summary of some of the stories you may have missed:
1. Tougher travel restrictions
Ok, so you’re unlikely to have missed this one from a UK perspective given the continuing lockdown here, but it’s worth noting that travel restrictions across Europe and other parts of the world have been enhanced too. Even fellow members of the Schengen Area have been effectively shutting borders to each other.
The UK has (finally) announced mandatory hotel quarantine for travellers from ‘high risk’ countries too.
It is worth taking a moment to consider the longer term implications of this, even assuming the continued success of the vaccine roll out here. As long as there are large numbers of COVID-19 infections globally, new variants will emerge. Governments across the world will be constantly watching out for new strains that make the virus more infectious, more deadly, or more likely to get around the protection offered by existing vaccines.
I suspect that most countries will, sensibly, operate a ‘safety first’ approach, which means that quarantine and other travel restrictions are likely to be a part of travel (at least to some countries) for quite some time.
There are good reasons to be optimistic about the UK’s vaccination programme, but please do not think that travel will return to ‘normal’ when most people in the UK have been vaccinated. Some travel will, but the situation is more complicated.
2. Avios: Goodbye Tesco, hello Sainsbury’s (and Nectar)
The new partnership between British Airways Avios and Nectar is massive news for points/miles enthusiasts.
3. Don’t forget the new Virgin Rewards Club…
It’s not just Avios that has undergone a major change – Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Miles are now called Virgin Points – part of a much bigger organisational shift, as part of the new brand-wide Virgin Rewards Club.
It will be very, very, interesting to see how this develops and the opportunities that are created.
4. British Airways introduced new ‘order in advance’ short haul catering
We haven’t had a chance to try them yet, but the Tom Kerridge pies look like a definite enhancement!
5. Aer Lingus plans to fly long haul routes from Manchester
I like Aer Lingus, and more opportunities to earn/use Avios direct from the North of England is always a good thing.
6. Airline and hotel elite status extensions continue
Qatar Airways was the latest airline to announce an udate just a few days ago, but I’m sure there will be more.
7. Incredible offers and promotions will emerge – if you can make them work for you
Late last year, Hyatt announced a number of excellent promotions that meant you could earn top-tier elite status (and lots of bonus points) for staying just 15 nights – of course, for most people, it’s quite tricky to travel at all right now. We’ve seen similar things from Hilton and others too, but this is just the beginning.
Once travel begins to open up again (and it will, albeit with restrictions), we will likely see some of the best ever promotions from airlines and hotel groups. They will be particularly keen to attract – and keep – loyal customers, so expect an emphasis on elite status perks and bonus points.