Bits: Lock in your holiday € exchange rate now, Etihad First Class lounge in Abu Dhabi open, massive AAdvantage changes

News in brief:

Lock in your exchange rate now if travelling to Europe this Summer

There is general agreement that the £ will drop if the UK votes to leave the European Union on 23rd June.  Many are predicting a fall to parity – 1:1 – which would mean a 20% drop in the value of the Pound against the Euro.

(The £ has fallen by 5c in the last five days after a couple of opinion polls showed the ‘leave’ camp ahead’ so this is not an unrealistic scenario.)

If you are planning a holiday in the Eurozone which is not fully prepaid, you are looking at a potential 25% increase in the cost of your holiday.  A similar is expected against the US$ and other major currencies so you are not immune from the risk if you travelling further abroad.

A reader pointed out to me that Moneycorp allows you to reserve foreign currency via its website for collection up to a month in advance.  You do NOT pay in advance and there is no penalty if you fail to collect.  You are buying a free one-way option on the exchange rate.

Moneycorp is not at Heathrow but there are Central London branches where you could also pick up your money.  Alternatively, you could buy your currency now from someone else who offers a free buy-back guarantee which is valid beyond 23rd June.

Etihad First Class lounge

Etihad First Class Lounge now – finally – open

Etihad has, after a series of delays which began to rival those of the Qatar Airways First Class lounge at the new Doha airport, opened the doors on its First Class lounge in Abu Dhabi.

There is a special page on the Etihad website describing it.

The access rules are a bit odd in that you cannot get access if you arrived in Abu Dhabi in Etihad First Class but are transferring onto a two class route which does not have First.  On the other hand, top tier Etihad members can always get in, unlike the Concorde Room at Heathrow which is blocked to a BA Gold.

Another oddity is that, like Qatar, it is charging for the majority of spa and shave treatments.

The facilities do sound impressive though.  A bar with 75 premium spirits, a kids room with a Norland-trained nanny on duty at all times so you can leave your little ‘uns in safety, a full gym (but no gym kit provided oddly), a cigar lounge, a clothes pressing service and a fine dining restaurant is just the start of it.

I have 80,000 Etihad miles to use, and I am tempted to use them towards a one-way First Class trip out of Abu Dhabi next time I am in the Middle East.  I have never covered Emirates A380 First for HFP so I may try to tie both together in the same trip.  I’ll need to earn a few more brownie points from my wife before I’m allowed to disappear for a few days and do that though ……!

American Airlines

Massive changes to the American Airlines programme

American Airlines finally confirmed the details of its move to a revenue based loyalty programme yesterday.  Showing an astonishing lack of originality, it has simply copied the structure being used by United which was a direct copy of the one pioneered by Delta.  Who made it up at random, as far as I can tell.

The highlights are:

A new tier below Executive Platinum called Platinum Pro, mainly introduced to devalue the benefits of the huge number of Lifetime Platinum members that AA has

Revenue based earning from travel after 1st August (only applies to AA flights and not partner airlines)

Minimum spend requirements for elite status.  These apply to members globally – flights on partner airlines such as BA, which may make up the bulk of flights credited by a UK member to an AA account, will be given a nominal $ value unrelated to the real ticket cost.

I don’t claim to be an expert on AA so if you want to know more I suggest you turn to the US frequent flyer sites.  This article is a good place to start.

American Express ending pro-rata fee refunds in the USA from September - UK to follow?
My review of the new InterContinental Estoril (Portugal) - Part 1
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Comments

  1. Betfairfan says:

    Interesting that Betfair is mentioned – until the exit results were announced at 10pm for the 2015 election results a conservative majority was priced at 10/1.

    Managed to get a bit of cash at 6/1 but it dropped like a stone down to evens within 5 minutes.

    Pound to continue to drop till the end of June lots of people making money out of that and the above.

    Euro result will be close run but a remain – similar to the Scottish referendum results.

  2. harry says:

    http://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote if you have not already registered – deadline today so last chance

  3. Jonathan says:

    Apart from Money Corp – where else are people buying their euros from?

    • Genghis says:

      Most other places involve a commitment to buy at a future date (i.e. a forward) while Money Corp give optionality.

  4. Henrik1888 says:

    As someone who maintains BA status almost exclusively by crediting domestic AA flights to my BAEC account how will these new changes affect this? I read the US blog that was linked to but I’m confused as to how this would impact on tier point collection when crediting to another One World partner.

    • Nothing changes.

      Some AA members, who can manage to fit in the 4 required BA segments, may now choose to get status via BA to avoid the $ requirement, although that won’t help them with upgrades domestically.

      • Henrik1888 says:

        Thanks for the feedback. It would indeed be a very good strategy for anyone who can make the 4 x BA Flight Requirement. There’s regularly 180 tier points to be had for as little as $150 flying domestically.

  5. Why not use Revolut to lock in your EUR/GBP exchange rate? Then you’ll get an interbank spot rate rather than some rip-off cash rate from a bureau de change.

  6. It is indeed quite possible that EUR/GBP could increase from its current level of around 0.7800 to parity if the UK votes for Brexit. Investors, hedge funds, traders, economists and non-UK politicians all realise that Brexit is bad for the UK, so there would be huge capital outflows from the UK and a sell-off of GBP. To see the current EUR/GBP live interbank market rate, go to http://www.truefx.com and watch it at 22:00 on 23rd June when exit polls are published. Note that it is traded as EUR/GBP (€1 = £x), not GBP/EUR (£1 = €x). The latter is used only for UK retail FX, not for wholesale.

    • That won’t happen this time. The City firms are paying for their own exit polls and will trade during the day on the back of them. Unlike a general election there is no rule stopping this AFAIK.

      A few £m spent on your own exit poll is a bargain if you can trade a few hundred £m on the back of it and potentially make 10%-20% profit in a day.

      • harry says:

        But they can go long or short and make money both ways. Ie the fact that GBP lost in the last couple of days vs USD in no way indicates the City is betting on Brexit.

    • As one of those ‘traders’ you speak of: no we don’t. Talk of huge outflows and sell-offs has no basis in reality, unlike what’s portrayed in the media we (the banks) are quite aware of the worst case scenarios, what’s actually likely to happen and what the situation will be during ‘negotiation’. We aren’t going to panic and throw everything overboard if there’s a Brexit (I’m more worried about the fate of the rest of the EU; the UK will be fine in or out).

      Always lock in your currency if you’re tightly budgeting for your holiday on today’s rates of course!

  7. AndyGWP says:

    So I’ve waded thru all the opinion, and can’t find any comments to which currency organisations offer a decent buyback.

    Anyone found anything? I’ve no plans to hit London between the referendum and my trip to France :/

  8. Already voted by post ) Obviously to stay in EU.
    Leaving would hit exchange rate and economy in the next 2 years to the similar level as happened in 2008. So expect 1.05 GBP EUR or so if stupidity will prevail

  9. WilliamPH says:

    O/T but extremely important. Colleague flying on Qatar today said there was no booze whatsoever in the lounge because we are in Ramadan. Does anyone know whether this applies to Emirates as well? May have to change a booking.

    • Etihad:

      Etihad will continue serving alcohol in its international lounges including in Sydney, London and Paris, but this “will not be displayed in the bar area in the usual manner during daylight fasting hours”, an Etihad spokesperson told Australian Business Traveller.

      However, the airline’s lounges at its Abu Dhabi hub will not serve alcohol during daylight fasting times “out of respect for local customs,” with the lounge’s bars open only from 7pm to 3am daily until Ramadan concludes.

      Emirates:

      A spokesperson for Qantas partner Emirates told Australian Business Traveller that “Emirates will continue to offer alcohol in all lounges and on flights during Ramadan.”

      Qatar is the strictest of the bunch and will not even serve it on request.

  10. harry says:

    Toldya :)
    The GBP/USD currently trades above 1.4500 (at the time this report was written) after a mysterious rally at 04:10 GMT saw the British Pound spike higher versus all other major currencies. The GBP/USD spiked by more than 180 pips

    • “fat finger” error on thin liquidity according to media – no mistery

      • harry says:

        Doubt it – fat fingers get corrected pretty sharpish
        OK won’t labour it but there’s plent more online (last from me on this subject!) but cf
        ‘Although near term choppy trading below intra-day resistance at 1.4662 is likely to continue, the strong rebound from 1.4352 suggests the fall from 1.4740 has ended and consolidation with upside bias remains, above 1.4605-10 would extend gain to 1.4650 but break of said resistance at 1.4662 is needed to extend gain to 1.4700, however, resistance at 1.4725 would hold from here.

        In view of this, we are holding on to our long position entered at 1.4530. Only below 1.4495-00 would abort and suggest an intra-day top is formed instead, risk weakness to the upper Kumo (now at 1.4467) and then test of the lower Kumo (now at 1.4438).’

        • James says:

          Any fish deals around Harry?
          I’ve used all the meat I bought

          • harry says:

            No fish for a while that I know of, Tesco gone all coy. But there are 25,500 easy Virgin miles for you & the Mrs if you check out the Virgin threads.

          • Harry, Are those 25,000 easy Virgin Miles via the ISA?

  11. James67 says:

    OT Bit: just got a hilton cc free night despite having one before so they are obviouly not enforcing new rule so far.

    • Good news – will cancel mind and try again in 6/12 to 1y!

      • James67 says:

        Alan, I seen your comment on Lloyds voucher yesterday. Can you please remind me if that voucher just needs to be used to book a flight within 12 months or if the travel also has to be completed within 12 month? Thanks.

        • T&Cs just say:
          6. The upgrade voucher will be valid for 12 months from the date of issue. Your booking must be made within the 12 month period, after which time the voucher will expire and will not be replaced or extended.

          So looks like you just need to make the booking although as ever with Lloyds they’re not exactly the king of clearly wording things!

          • James67 says:

            Thanks, that’s the way I would read it too but to be on safe side I may just postpone qualification until end of October. I think with the Hilton voucher the stay needs to be completed within 6 months. I was planning on using it for New Year in London but got carried away with spending and qualified early. No great loss though as it’s hard to drag ourselves away from Edinburgh at Hogmanay anyway.

  12. Louise says:

    On our trip to conrad ranhali we fly etihad first and then transfer to business to MLE so looks like we miss out on the first lounge.
    We have an 8 hour lay over, just had a quick look and the premier inn at the airport looks like the only option really to get a few hours rest (we land at 1am and fly to MLE at 9am) or does anyone have any other suggestions?

    • Scott says:

      Premier Inn is fine. Hilton Capital Grand is a good option. Only around 15 minutes away in taxi/uber and nice hotel. Usually pretty cheap and quiet. I always do this with long layovers as sleep better in a hilton bed than a Premier inn.

  13. Side point Rob – have you considered covering the Revolut card on HFP? Some ppl might find interest in it, and your verdict is always worth the while!

  14. Moneycorp seems to have dropped the USD rate a lot this morning.

    • harry says:

      They simply reflect the market.

      Moneycorp 1.4531 vs market 1.4554

      Pretty good

      • Intriguing. I’m getting around 1.378. Perhaps it’s down to yesterday’s cookies!

        • Yeah they widened the rate a lot since yesterday. They were 1.75% from market yesterday vs USD. Got 1.43ish off a 1.455 spot whereas today spot has hardly budged and the moneycorp rate is below 1.38

          • harry says:

            my test was only indicative rates to buy £2000 of USD, I didn’t take it deeper, apologies

  15. Gavin says:

    Travelex offer a 45 day buyback guarantee for £3.99, no fees on the buyback. I fail to see what is stopping you using this on a large currency order and then either returning the money if the GBP weakens, or selling it for a profit if the GBP strengthens?

    Seems too much of an obvious money making loophole!

    • Scallder says:

      Gavin – I called them this morning regarding this. In the T&Cs for the guarantee is this:

      8.Travelex reserves the right to change the terms of or withdraw Buy Back Guarantee at any time and with immediate effect, without liability to you. If we revise these terms, we will post the revised version on our website (www.travelex.co.uk). By placing any order for Buy Back Guarantee after we have changed these terms, you will be accepting the changes.

      The person I spoke to spoke to their manager, who had said that this had never been refused in his time there (which was a long time). So I’d like to think that assuming they have had this guarantee for at least 10 years, then they would have honoured the guarantee around the time of the financial crash in 2008 which obviously saw huge swings.

      Might take a punt on this myself as I need Euros and Dollars for holidays in the next 12 months anyway, so should perhaps work out either way…

      • Gavin says:

        Thanks, that’s good to know. Just noticed I got weaken/strengthen the wrong way round. I need some JPY next month and some USD later in the year so may go for this too.

      • Gavin says:

        Did they let you know if it’s OK to sell back the entire amount purchased?

        • Scallder says:

          Didn’t ask that – I went with the guise that “I’m away at the time of the referendum”. Terms say they’ll only swap back notes and you can only do 1 transaction for the swap back but sure you could some up with something saying you’d mean to buy X and wasn’t available…

  16. harry says:

    Moneycorp have indeed widened the spread and when I compare them to HIFX (bank transfer as opposed to pick up the cash), HIFX are clear winners, obviously HIFX are not offering a free option.

    Adds: given the way Leave is moaning about the extension of the voter registration deadline to tomorrow night, looks like they think Remain will be advantaged.

  17. Looks like Moneycorp has temporarily paused their Airport and London collection service…

    • The power of HFP …..

    • Yes – just noticed that myself when I popped onto the site to see what the rate was this morning .. Will be interesting to see how things pan out over the next two weeks and if they will honour the currency I have booked if the rate is vastly different .. I’ll let you know.

      • harry says:

        and they reduced the spread again, on my currency, at least – I bet the 2 things are not unrelated

        • I noticed delivery at home is limited to £2.5K – has this always been the case?

  18. Any alternatives to Moneycorp?