Something To Declare: Cuba for less; vanishing airmiles

Bargain of the week: Cuba

Can you get to Gatwick for an 11.40am flight next Tuesday? If so, Thomas Cook (0871 895 0055; thomascook.com) will take you to Cayo Coco, on the north coast of the island, for a week in a four-star all-inclusive resort for just £497, based on two travelling together, including in-flight meals and resort transfers. Cayo Coco is a great place to relax, but some distance from the most intriguing parts of Cuba.

Air France has a headline fare of £355 return from London via Paris to Havana, although availability at this price is very limited. For a tailor-made trip, Journey Latin America has an “affordable luxury” 10-day trip costing £1,007 for a week, taking in Havana, the colonial town of Trinidad and an all-inclusive resort at Cayo Ensenachos on the north coast. Flights to Cuba are extra. See tiny.cc/OEU1n for details.

Warning of the week: airmiles

Last week we broke the story about “vanishing Airmiles”. The British Airways-owned loyalty scheme has imposed a time limit on the validity of accrued Airmiles, and is warning people who have not added any to their tally in the past two years to collect more or have their accounts closed down. Many travellers have concluded that they might as well use their holding, but have discovered another problem: the condition that members that have not had any miles credited to their Airmiles account in the past 12 months will be charged an administration fee of £30 when they come to “spend” their miles. The charge was introduced last October; one effect is that redeeming 600 Airmiles on an annual membership of English Heritage (normally £41.50) could cost you £30.

A spokeswoman for Airmiles says the £30 fee “has been calculated based on a number of factors including the expenditure in fulfilling bookings and customer servicing costs. It does not apply to members who regularly collect Airmiles.”

However, reader Myles Hansen says: “Redeeming small quantities of Airmiles is uneconomic. People who collected Airmiles fair and square are being penalised.”

The charge can be avoided by collecting at least one Airmile, for example by swapping Tesco Clubcard vouchers for Airmiles.

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