Random thoughts: T5 Fast Track, Zipcar by the mile, why I’m moving to Paris for 5 days!

Here are a few random observations from the last couple of weeks which you might find useful!

Try the new Fast Track security channel at Heathrow Terminal 5

At some point in the last year, a new – totally separate – Fast Track security channel opened at the north end of Terminal 5.  See the photo below.  This is for British Airways and oneworld status card holders and Club and First passengers.

Since we normally travel with checked bags, we usually get dropped at the south end of Terminal 5 near the business class bag drop desks and use South security.  However, I’ve done two hand baggage flights over the last week and used the tube to Heathrow both times.  This makes the new Fast Track lane exceptionally convenient as it is directly opposite the T5 tube entrance.

Even better, you come out directly by the entrance to the Galleries North lounge.  It is perfectly feasible to get from the tube lift to the lounge in under 5 minutes at a quiet time.


The new Zipcar ‘pay by the mile’ cars come recommended

I’ve written about Zipcar a few times on Head for Points.  We use it in London instead of running our own car and it works very well.  There are about 15 cars within 10 minutes walk of our house and the nearest is literally 30 seconds away.  Zipcar is currently offering a £30 driving credit for new members who join before 30th September – see here.

One downside of Zipcar is that the ‘pay by the hour, everything included’ model gets expensive if you are visiting somewhere for the day.  They have now introduced cars with a ‘pay by the mile’ hybrid model.

On Sunday we went to Hobbledown.  (If you have kids under 10 and live in south or west London or Surrey then you really should go to Hobbledown, it is the classiest place of its type that we know.)

The last time we went on a weekend we had a Zipcar for 9 hours at £9.50, total cost £85.50.  Yesterday we booked one of the new ‘£4 per hour plus 29p per mile’ cars.  I haven’t had the bill yet but the total cost should be around £47 which is a substantial improvement.  The downside is that the ‘pay by the mile’ cars carry very in-your-face green Zipcar branding ….

Zipcar £30 sign-up bonus

Why am I off to Paris for five days?

My wife is about to head off to Germany with my son for five days – my daughter is already there.  I usually use this annual event to do a long-haul trip.

I started off looking at Tokyo and seeing if I could make the flight times stack up.  Other ideas came and went.  However, when I did my Eurostar review trip to Paris in May, I realised something – I am getting fed up doing short trips.

Every trip I do on my own these days involves only one or two nights in a hotel because I don’t like to leave the family for longer than necessary.  However, spending just two nights in New York or the Middle East – as I have done four times in the last two years – or one night in a European city, which I have done countless times recently, isn’t satisfying me any longer.

When I was in New York, I had my usual list of places that I like to revisit.  Once I’d done those, my time was up.  When I was in Paris in May, I did a couple of museums and that, literally, was all I had time to do.  It is impossible to get away from ‘greatest hits’ sightseeing on short trips.

I dumped the idea of Tokyo and settled on Paris.  By spending five days there, I will be able to get back to sort of travelling I did when I was young, seeking out the second and third tier experiences I rarely see these days.  Without the family around I can work at night and have the days to myself.  The urge to jump on another long haul flight was strong but hopefully this will be more fulfilling.

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  1. You should try Georgette.

    Marie-odile and her team closes in august, But if you are there in july, that’s fine.
    Open from monday to friday, for lunch and diner, Not expensive at all for the good food provided.


    And it is not far from Lafayette street when you walk from gare du nord to opéra… or from the intercontinental.

    • Sounds good, thanks. Just spent the morning rebooking as (for unfortunate reasons) rates are falling daily in France at the moment.

      • Attacks definitively frighten people.
        I never seen a so easy traffic last december during the shopping christmas period after the november attacks..
        So it is good for you or any of the people willing to spend their time in Paris : that must explain the falling rates. That’s good you take profit of it. And places to visit must be less crowded than usual.

        The weather is so warm this week also (34° celsisus in the afternoon). It may be a second reason for low occupancy.

  2. It is also paris quartier d’été festival time now.

    Few tourits or foreigners do it, but it is always a specific experience.

    The paper programm/schedule is easier to read to know what’s happening in day d but here is the internet link:

    Any town hall should have the paper programm but the hotel should get it for you.

    Some events are free, other paying but not expensively. And sometimes in locations where even the parisians do not have usually acces to or do nit often go. All depend on the day.

    If you need some fresh air in the evening, you can watch for free some movies seated on the grass after 10pm at la villette:
    It is cinéma en plein air with “dress code” thema this year. Some movies are in english.

    There is also “Cinéma au clair de lune” end of july and in august with movies about new-york, so in english, free too but you may have already seen those movies.

    Well all of that is for your culture in paris grabbing activities…

  3. If you are a member of zipcar in, say, London, can you use it in another city where it operates, such as new york, or do you have to be a member in each place you want to use it?

  4. And another (potentially stupid) question – does the amex plat cover the extra insurance on zipcar as it does on a normal car rental from hertz? High excess charges on them in the US ($1000) and £500 in the uk.

    • Almost certainly not, although never tested it.

      Zipcar will sell you a waiver to take down the excess. In reality, they can’t tell who causes any small bits of damage because the car just goes back into the system for the next person who doesn’t notice anything and drives off. You’ll never get dinged for scuffed wheel trims or tyres or scratches. It would need to be a serious bit of damage before you’d pay anything.

      • Page 8 here – 6.9 : http://www.americanexpress.com/uk/platinumcard/Platinum_SOB.pdf
        Going to call them to see what they say.
        I see no reason why it wouldn’t be applicable, as zipcar is still classed as a rental car, so I should be able to decline the extra insurance just as I do with other companies.

        I had never considered zipcar before, but with a trip to CA next month and with august in CA being a period of hertz blackout dates (therefore a much higher and poorer value redemption), and with silly rates in some places, may be just what I need.