I’m a member of Heathrow Rewards – this is a scheme that allows you to collect points while spending at London Heathrow airport. You can then transfer the points into various loyalty schemes. I’ve previously written about Heathrow Rewards here.

Heathrow Rewards often run competitions. A month or so before Christmas, I clicked to enter a competition to win return economy flights to Dubai on Royal Brunei Airlines plus four nights accommodation in a deluxe room in the Hilton Al Hamra Beach & Golf Resort. I did hesitate slightly before entering – see my article ‘Dubai – is visiting worth the risk?’.

And just before Christmas, I received an email from Heathrow Rewards to congratulate me on winning. They then sent my details to Royal Brunei Airlines and I started an email conversation with them between Christmas and New Year.

The first thing I did was look at the flight times:

17:05 Heathrow (LHR)
04:00 +1 day Dubai International (DXB)
Total duration 06h55m, Direct flight
Royal Brunei (BI98)

03:00 Dubai International (DXB)
06:45 Heathrow (LHR)
Total duration 07h45m, Direct flight
Royal Brunei (BI97)

Possibly the worst flight times ever! Imagine arriving at what feels like Midnight from an economy flight (so no fast track through Dubai Airport) and then take a 45-minute transfer to Ras Al Khaimah. You’d want accommodation, but that would mean using one of your four days to check in at around 6am in the morning.

Then imagine that it’s your last day and even with a late checkout you’d need to be out of the room by 4pm. Then wait until Midnight for a transfer back to Dubai Airport, fly at 3am in economy for almost 8 hours and arrive bleary-eyed at Heathrow early morning.

Royal Brunei Airlines is also a ‘dry’ airline – so no alcohol served on board.

I’d probably use one of my four nights so I could keep the room on the last day. So that really means just two nights in the hotel. I asked Royal Brunei Airlines about that and they confirmed I would need to use ‘nights’ to check in early morning and checkout at Midnight.

The hotel looked good and so I looked at other flights. There were plenty of options, flying at good times and with reasonable prices. I asked Royal Brunei Airlines if I could just have the accommodation element of the prize – they said no.

I asked if I could give the prize to some friends – not surprisingly that wasn’t possible.

I did consider running some social media campaign whereby someone with my name, or who was prepared to change their name to mine, could have the prize, but decided that would have been against the rules.

And so I decided to return the ‘prize’ so it could be re-drawn and hopefully go to someone who wouldn’t mind roughing it for a free holiday.

What would you have done in these circumstances?

If you won my returned prize please let me know how you enjoyed the holiday.