Bits: Emirates makes Manchester ‘all A380’, Priority Pass deal, HFP in the Express

News in brief:

Emirates to make Manchester ‘all A380’ whilst Birmingham gets a switch

Emirates announced last week that all three of its daily Manchester services will be operated by A380 aircraft from 1st January 2017.

At the same time, the A380 service to Birmingham will be switched to the overnight flight which leaves Birmingham at 20.45.  The plan is apparently to maximise connection opportunities in the morning ‘bank’ of international departures from Dubai and offer ‘a seamless A380 to A380 experience’.

Birmingham will continue to have one of the ‘two class’ A380 aircraft which contains a whopping 615 seats.

More details on both changes can be found on the Emirates site here.

Emirates A380 Manchester

Priority Pass – 15 months for the price of 12 AND 20% off

Ages ago I wrote about a special Priority Pass airport lounge access deal for Marriott Rewards members.  Via this special deal, you receive 20% off the usual membership fee AND three additional months membership for free.

I had forgotten that the deal ever existed but a reader dropped me a note this week to say that it is still working.  It takes ’10 free visits’ membership level down to £127 and you’d have 15 months to use your 10 visits.  The basic card is reduced to £55 for 15 months plus £15 per visit.

The link to buy is here.

The recent Groupon ‘50% off a Priority Pass’ offer I promoted is also still running – you should take a look here and compare the two offers.

Priority Pass

HFP in the Express …..

I’m not sure what you normally do by your hotel pool, but I spent yesterday morning putting together a few quotes for the Daily Express which ended up here.

BA is not having the greatest PR week at the moment, but in some way they were lucky to get away with the current in-flight service cuts for a month – by the time it started to cause a stink, everyone had gone away ….

My review of the (temporary) AA Admirals Club lounge, New York JFK Terminal 8
My review of the new (and new style) Holiday Inn Brooklyn Downtown, New York
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  1. While I’d expect nothing less from such a vile rag, the standard of English in that article (the Express, not here!) is shockingly poor… I hope you got a good fee/good publicity!

    • Totally agree – they’ve also clearly bought into the ‘clickbait’ style of journalism judging by the majority of their headlines!

    • Yes indeed. I did like the “Soon-to-be-implicated plans” though!

      I assume that they are trying to outdo the Daily Mail…

  2. Sideysid says:

    Is it me or has it got worse over the years? With UFO and conspiracy articles and its tendency to change opinion from one day to the next, I don’t think anyone relys on it as a news source anymore.

  3. I’ve noticed a few people on both the express and DM articles talk about the ‘snacks laid out during the flight’, however the last time I flew to NY those had gone too (the little boxes of chocolate bars in gallery). I was told they were only on the west coast routes now. Was that an official change or just a quiet one?!

  4. Mr(s) Entitled says:

    That is 1,800 seats a day from MAN. Anyone have any experience of how full these flights are? I wish them all the success in the world and only hope that Qatar up their game and so I have a good use of Avios from MAN.

    • Last year I flew regularly between DXB and MAN, and always on a 380. Can’t vouch for first, but certainly economy and business were usually at or near to full capacity.
      I had one flight last year where it was about half full in business, even the crew found it strange. It was the only flight where the service was well below the usual standard. Pleased hear it’s now all 380, it will make the overnight/early morning flight just that little bit better. 777 at the moment.

  5. Jason Hindle says:

    I was surprised to read elsewhere that one of the MAN services will have three cabins. There isn’t really much in the way of ground services, at MAN, to support First.

    • A first check in, priority security and shared business/first Emirates lounge. No different from the vast majority of outstations?

      • Jason Hindle says:

        The lack of any kind of premium arrivals facility stands out. Though Emirates comes with the benefit that a first class passenger can scrub up on the plane.

  6. These cuts happen every month and yet we all still fly with them and they know it. They have a monopoly at heathrow and as we all know, they have the best loyalty system.

    I think the new CEO will keep cutting prices and lowering the cost base because people will always fly with them and if they can lower prices, even more will fly. Ryanair shows us this!

    I think economy will slowly become more like easyjet while club europe will be what we all remember old economy to be like.

    world traveller will go the way of norwegian and world traveller plus will be how we remember economy to be

    club world will be competitively priced and first class will be their premium product they can charge what they like for

    I think they are betting on a totally different flying experience in the future where the lowest cost base wins and those who want luxury will fly with the gulf airlines via dubai, doha etc

    The thing with cuts is that they can cut 100 things until people are outraged and then bring 1 or 2 back publicly as a publicity stunt and the majority of people are happy and they get the free publicity.

    • People keep talking about lower cost, but has the price of BA flights actually dropped?

      • Depends on where you fly from…

        I travelled with a mate to West Coast USA this May by BA. My journey started at LHR. His journey started at EDI.

        His ticket was £419, a staggering £190 less than mine.

        • Transgender says:

          Shhh! Don’t say that, otherwise all the people in the regions who complain about BA giving preferential treatment to Londoners won’t know what to think…

  7. The likes of EK must be laughing at all of BA’s penny pinching! If you compare the food in economy and business between EK and BA, EK wins all the time. IFE is the same.

    There is a reason why EK are all A380 from LHR and now Manchester, an A380 from Birmingham and they are even thinking about an A380 from Glasgow!

    People would much rather use EK and connect via Dubai than connect via LHR on Penny Pinching BA. It’s the little things that matter to passengers that add preceded value to passengers.

    • Hardly.

      Firstly, many more fly BA than fly Emirates from the UK (though that’s largely for obvious reasons).

      Secondly, I’m willing to wager that when comparing like-with-like (I.e. MAN-LHR-XXX and MAN-DXB-XXX) people are mostly choosing Emirates on price or convenience. Most people in the “real world” don’t have the slightest idea what the catering difference between BA and EK is!

      • I must agree with Callum. Looking at pricing EK from Newcastle always proves the best value compared to connecting to other hubs via other airlines. The majority of people couldn’t give a toss about whether they have an amuse bouche or not and can survive the flight length without starving to death on one meal. I appreciate the priorities on this site are somewhat different. Travel economy stay luxury is a mantra quite a few follow.

      • +1

      • Tend to agree too, I doubt food plays any significant part in choice, likewise other factors like perception of service. However, I do think the seat and pitch do play a part, as does the desire to fly an a380. Therefore, once EK gets people onboard an a380 and they experience better seats, IFE and a more pleasant cabin ambiance then they know they very likely have a repeat customer because passengers remember those things whilst they remember 777s for the same things but negative reasons. There is also the Heathrow dimension, many regional passengers avoid it like the plague although I personally prefer a longhaul direct overnight flight departing LHR than a middle of the night transit in the ME. What is interesting is that the totally horrid 10 accross 777s EK has operated for years has obviously not been a deterent for cutomers so at the end of the day price and opportunity to fly a380 are likely key drivers for EK exLHR, with the same plus avoidance of LHR exRegions. Where it gets interesting is if we ignore BA and compare factors influencing choice between ME3. EK clearly continues to be the dominant player here despite having what would appear (to me at least) the highest fares of the three so it is clearly not just about price. I think it is most likely a combination of competitive pricing, a380 brand association and the regions-DXB-regions opportunities that underpin their success whith your average 1-3 timesca year economy traveller. I get the impression to that TAs push EK big time so perhaps they make more money from EK than from other airlines

  8. For what’s it’s worth and just for the reply I will get I did send a quick one line complaint to BA about the tiny packet of crisps on my recent flight to Krakow.

    I then got one of the email surveys and rated anything to do with catering as the lowest rating possible and then copied and pasted my one line complaint into the comments boxes!

    • And the response: “we’re sorry about your delayed flight from Kraków… We really value you as a [insert status level] BAEC member…” :)

    • Lord Snooty says:

      I just got back from Nice in economy. What sort of image does BA try to present with pinstriped waist coat attired flight attendants handing out crisps? To Fly to Serve : CRISPS! Easyjet will offer me something for a few quid. Free but poor quality just doesn’t say “customer service ” it says “mug”. BA need my bum to fill up their planes so they can demand price upwards faster but it’s just too mean and restricted now.

  9. Sussex Bantam says:

    OT – Tesco sent me an email offering me 50CC points for changing my contact preferences to online rather than post. No link – just had to change them via the web-site – so I guess not targetted in any way.

    • I rec’d the same email as well, for 50 CC / 120 Avios points I changed to online clubcard statements as well.

  10. OT – when did / or do the credit interchange fee caps come into play? I ask, as just bought a car and going to pick it up but the garage wants 1.2% and says that their account department confirms that they are paying 1.2% (the car will get me my Lloyds upgrade voucher in one tasty transaction). Cheers.

    • December

    • The_Real_A says:

      The interchange cap is not the processing fee the business pays. On top of this they must also pay fee for the equipment + service, which is usually bundled into the % per £ amount the business pays to its payment processor.

      • Is that December 2015 or 16 i.e. past or future?
        Any idea what % the equipment and service is?

        • Past. However, small businesses have to rent terminals etc and that jacks up the total cost. The interchange fee is often not broken out to the shop.

          In reality, only Tesco etc can demand 0.3%.

          Look at the recent list I published of HMRC charges. They want 0.386% on most personal cards which is interchange and handling combined.

      • Merchant Acquirers also take a view on the risk of the business collapsing, particularly given that they will be liable under section 75 for customer’s losses.

        When I wanted to change merchant acquirer several years ago, I quickly discovered that most of the new ones then starting up had an absolute ban on dealing with any firms in the travel business.They had no interest in looking at the books or how the business was run. I am out of the business now, but would not be surprised to learn that some merchant acquirers may be trying to drop travel businesses follwing the Lowcostholidays debacle.

        I believe that this is a purely UK thing. If US merchant acquirers are not liable in this way, this would also contribute to why they are able to offers more points and better sign-up offers than they do here.

        On the subject of motor dealers, my local dealer introduced a 3% charge for Visa/M’Card at the beginning of the year. The service manager who I know pretty well keeps telling me that until then, card firms did not make any charge to the motor trade at all, which I find very hard to believe.

        • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

          I don’t believe acquiring banks have any S75 liability. They may have other liabilities though.

        • When I bought my car last year, they told me there would be a 3% fee for paying by CC. I was splitting it across 2 cards, so had to take account of this due to different credit limits. In the end, they never charged me the card fee, which saved me over £120.

    • Amazed you managed to get a garage willing to take a credit card for more than just a deposit! Given the other costs the small business will incur that sounds like a fairly reasonable level of charge to me.

      • Mr(s) Entitled says:

        Whenever I buy a car I always, once the price agreed, confirm that I can use my card for no fee before saying done. It’s an unsual dealer who will let a sale walk out the door for the sake of 1% after all the hard work in getting so close.

        • Interesting. Always managed to get deposit on card before (which covers you for the whole sale under Section 75) but not the full thing – you make a good point though 😛

      • If the garage is passing on the full card fee to the customer then I don’t see why they wouldn’t take it.

        • Yes, although I’ve seen one garage that just flat-out refused for anything above 500 – didn’t go as far as Mr(s) Entitled though in pushing the point!

      • My partner managed to put a huge chunk of a car purchase through on an amex! This was done at the stage of working out the best finance option (silently we were calculating what was best in terms of points!), eventually the salesman got tired and put it through without the fee.

        • Well when I purchased mine last month, the posh Surrey garage asked me 2% for the benefit of using a credit card. Sadly I don’t get 2p from my avios so I just paid with debit.

          • Wally1976 says:

            Garage I just bought a car from had a 1% fee for credit card transactions over £1k. I got them to take £999 deposit on Lloyds Amex (currently 2.5 avios/£) then when it came to paying the balance I put a further £999 on the Amex and the remainder on Tesco debit :-)

  11. OT – Need to top up my Accor account with ~2k points. I have a load of Amex MR points, Virgin Atlantic FC points and Avios. Any way to do this? Thanks!

    • Amex to Finnair, Finnair to Accor – but you will lose value. Check minimum transfer level first.

      • Thanks.

        1 MR = 1 Finnair Plus point
        3,500 FP = 500 Accor

        At 2,000 Accor = 40 EUR, that’s 0.25p per MR point.

        I think I’ll pass!

        • For ref;

          Minimum MR to FP transfer is 1000 MR points
          Minimum FP to Accor transfer is 3,500 FP points

  12. Hi guys,

    I just got my priority pass prestige. Yesterday around 2pm I got declined entry at Gatwick South Lounge No.1 (ouch. My first attempt to get inside a lounge!)
    They didn’t grant me access because “I hadn’t pre-booked (£5)”.
    First, I was quite shocked because the priority pass website doesn’t mention pre-booking.
    Secondly, why do I have to pay £5 more when the prestige membership is already quite high and gives me unlimited visits…. I am not sure the lounge was full as they only mentioned the pre booking reason.

    Is it common practice to get declined entry? What is your ratio success/fail? I feel disappointed… Maybe I am just being pessimistic! Let me know!


    • No 1 lounges get very busy as a) a lot of airlines use them as official lounges and b) No 1 sell a lot of spots direct. PP just fills in the gaps.

      You can go online, pay £5 and guarantee a spot. They are the only lounge group to do this.

      • we just paid £7.50 for a glass of champagne instead, rather pay £7.50 than £5 and actually get something. If you purchase any of the extras you get the £5 waived.

    • Gatwick is a major problem just now – never had an issue at Edinburgh (although we’re pretty well covered with BA, No 1 and an Aspire lounge!)

    • Thanks guys for your inputs

    • Which day of the week? I will be there next Wed 6pm and I wonder if I could save £10…

  13. I bought an unlimited visits priority pass with the previous 15 months + 20% off offer. From memory it was about £220 for the 15 months. I’ve used it at least 12 times in the past 4 months alone so it will easily be ‘worth it’. As someone with OW Sapphire and *A Gold, yes its very nice to fly with an alliance carrier with lounge access (LHR T2 is lovely) but when you’re comparing this flight at £100 compared with a £30 LCC flight its very hard to justify the extra expense just for the status benefits, and that’s where my PP membership comes in.
    I’d value each visit at about £10 and with the exception of the LHR T4 Plaza Premium lounge, there have been none I’ve wanted to spend more than about 30 minutes in (some of them are horrid). It is however nice to grab a drink, something to eat (the food varies more than anything else in these lounges), recharge devices and use a clean, quiet bathroom. The food and drink savings alone compared with buying on board easily covers the cost of the visit.
    If you take a LOT of LCC flights I’d recommend considering it but you’d want to use it at least once a month for it to be ‘worth it’.

    • The_Real_A says:

      Totally agree. have been doing this for that 10 years (private lounges rarely served food in those days!)

  14. Good publicity for the site, but Jesus, that article was awful.

    Are they sure they know what “implicated” means?

    • O/T, I want to cancel my BAPP card when I trigger the 2-4-1 voucher. I will refer my wife before cancelling my card. Does anyone know whether she will be successful in being approved the card if she is a housewife and has no personal income, only joint income through me?

  15. O/T Sorry if this has already been covered, but can anyone shed any light on the reason why the BA Avios Explorer Map is not working. Every time I log on it says ” temporarily unavailable” .

  16. O/T Flash sale on WizzAir today only 20% off all flights.

    Thought you might want to send Anika somewhere, Raffles :)

  17. OT: Cancelled my amex platinum yesterday. For first time ever when cancelling an amex card there was no effort whatsoever to incentivize my custom. Was really curious if this was a sign of the changing times or just a disinterested agent.

    • Johnnycl says:

      Perhaps just an intention to carry out the customers instructions as efficiently as possible rather than a lack of interest?

    • I had the same thing when I cancelled my Starwood Amex last month. I thought I’d get some kind of push/inventive, maybe a double points offer for a short while (which is what I was offered when I cancelled by BAPP Amex last year). I wasn’t even asked why I wanted to cancel!

  18. Thank you ….Would be helpful if BA actually said it was scrapped rather than say “temporarily unavailable”

  19. OT
    Has anyone used their Moneycorp Explorer card abroad yet in a merchant or ATM?

    • Presume most folk are waiting for the extra cash to credit before using it?

      • Yes. In Florida now, no problems accepted everywhere and as per the US you only need to sign for everything, so not a problem that I have forgotten the PIN!

  20. Unrelated, but hey, bits: I upgraded this week from Amex Gold to Platinum, using a link with the 20k MR bonus for a 1k spend. Card got approved (non-instant) – but I don’t see the spending target on the website. Does that normally appear there (instantly), do I need to wait to get the card, or is that a ‘hidden’ feature?

  21. Graham Walsh says:

    Just looking at the PP offer, tempted to go with it 15 for 12 offer. However, I have the Lounge Pass from Amex Gold, can’t work out the difference with the standard PP. Anyone compared them?

    • Graham,

      If you mean compared Lounge Pass to PP, then no. I’ve just compared the Marriott August 20% off deal to the Groupon offer, and the maths is fairly simple:

      Standard PP Groupon saves £14.50
      Standard Plus PP Groupon saves £1.75

      This is irrespective of the number of visits in either case.
      I’m undecided whether to go for standard or plus. I don’t think I could be bothered faffing with Groupon for £1.75, but if I go for standard, £14.50 is effectively one visit…


      • Does anyone know what the price of the ‘special’ Standard Membership with first visit included is – it doesn’t appear to be on the website, all I can tell is that Groupon is £6 for 50% discount. Hard to make a decision without numbers!

  22. Sonwabile says:

    For excellency