Bits: amazing deals at InterCon New York, BA cuts Philadelphia, inside Cathay’s Gatwick A350

News in brief:

Stupidly cheap deals at InterContinental New York Barclay

I reviewed the newly reopened InterContinental New York Barclay back in July.  Situated just around the corner from the Waldorf-Astoria and in front of Grand Central Station, the hotel had just emerged from a two-year top-to-toe refurbishment.

Unfortunately, things have not gone well.  Whilst the rooms are perfectly OK, the internet is awash with complaints about staffing and especially the treatment of elite status members.  This now seems to be having an impact on rates.

In February, you can book the Barclay for as little as $103 per night.  You can see this rate for Friday 10th February for example, or Friday 24th.  It is, of course, low season but on the same night the InterContinental Times Square is $221 per night.  The Holiday Inn Express on Fifth Avenue is $150 – almost 50% more than the Barclay!

To put this rate in perspective, Ambassador members will get 2 x $20 vouchers to spend in the Barclay bar, so that is 40% of your expenditure back already!

If you want a cheap weekend break next February, I recommend a brand new five star hotel in New York!  You can check out pricing via the Barclay home page here

InterContinental New York Barclay lobby

British Airways halves Philadelphia services

British Airways announced yesterday that it is dropping one of its two daily services to Philadelphia from 27th March.

The 17.15 departure (BA69 / BA68) will be cancelled.  The 12.45 departure will continue to operate, as will the daily American Airlines service.

If you have a booking to Philadelphia in the diary you should take a look to see if you have been affected.


Inside Gatwick’s Cathay Pacific A350

At the start of September, Cathay Pacific launched its new service from Gatwick to Hong Kong.

What makes this interesting is that the airline is using a brand new Airbus A350 on the route.  This article from is very detailed and is based on a tour of the aircraft.  Thanks to Andrew for the tip-off.

It looks impressive and, for regular Hong Kong travellers, a good excuse to avoid Heathrow – especially as the new Cathay Pacific lounge in Terminal 3 is still not open!  Remember that, as a oneworld partner, you earn Avios and British Airways tier points on Cathay Pacific flights.

Tesco replaces its Avios-earning gift card promo with .... the same thing (and a Tesco deal round-up)
Up to 100% bonus when you buy IHG Rewards Club points - four days only
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  1. Just taken my first Cathay flight of about 3.5 hours in their regional business class on a 3-class plane. Simply incomparable to Club Europe and a better experience too than Club World. I imagine it would be superb on an A350!

    • Did Bangkok – Hong Kong the other week.
      Simply amazing! Agree compared to Club Europe or even Club World; better seats, better lounge, better food, amazing service!

      Not sure how the European carriers can get away with the product they offer!

      • I thought the Cathay lounge in BKK was nothing special, apart from the fact that it was much quieter than BA’s, I wouldn’t compare it that favourably. Perhaps there is more than one lounge there?

        • Barium Meal says:

          If you like Chinese food, then it is much better as it is prepared for you there and then. If you are into interior design then it is better – and was designed by an well known Australian designer. (It was the Qantas lounge originally I think??). Try the JAL Sakura lounge nearby to compare – apart from some OK (and I mean just OK) sushi it is pretty basic.

        • When do visit as I think they refurbished it last year? I don’t think BA have a lounge in BKK anymore.

        • Agree, it’s comfortable and modern. Decent bar but the food is acceptable, nothing more.

          I think once you’ve passed through HKG and tried the wing or the pier all other lounges are up against it.

          Qantas F lounge in LAX offers great food, am very fond of it.

          Also the Cathay CDG lounge that raffles wrote about once is a real unexpected treat if your on a short haul.

          Not been to the posh Qatar lounge yet. Would like to try it.

      • For intraAsia flights TG trumps all other careers on most routes. If you know what you are doing you even get to fly F for reasonable J fares. But I’m a huge fan of Air Asia so mostly now just fly them on flights up to 4h and save the cash and miles. I trust Air Asia on time keeping more than all other Asian carriers put together.

  2. I think there are very few business class products worse than BA’s at the moment. Certainly within Oneworld the BA offering is very very poor, the worst of the lot.

    • Agreed. Their business model is definitely worn out and in need of repair. I don’t think I’ve actually paid for a BA flight, only Avios.

      • Well, having just taken two BA CE redemption flights Mrs Gummidge and I enjoyed the experience. The food etc on board was very good and the cabin crew brilliant-especially when dealing with a young guy “topping up” with on board refreshments!

        The downside was checking in at LHR T5 which took too long, and as for Fast Track Security…………..!

        Up to BRS in a couple of weeks and it’ll be done in less than half the time!

        • I’ve flown from BRS 4 times in the last 6 months..and have been through the new security arrangements on the last 2 occasions. .even though busy we were through in 10 mins.

          Shame there aren’t many avios earning opportunities from there!

        • Is that the role for (BA) crew, to distribute what’s left out of the refreshments among hungry kids as in the summer camp?

      • And Taxes?

    • I can only assume many people who fly in J only fly BA and have nothing to compare it with. I pay to fly J on AA when there is a sale, but I wouldn’t pay for J on BA. We got a free upgrade from WT+ on a recent flight home from Montreal on the 787. Even with low expectations I was underwhelmed. It was a nice comfortable seat and I got some sleep, but being used to AAs 77Ws and A330s, BACW felt more like a very good premium economy. The high density, lack of storage space, lack of privacy, are poor.

  3. I took the Cathay A350 back from HKG-LGW last week (not knowing it was a new route!) – cant afford J for my hols without avios so was in the back but I have to say the J seats looked amazingly spacious (and the layout reminded me of BA’s F ironically…)

    Economy was so so:
    – seats werent as comfortable as those we got on LHR-HKG
    – IFE screen was bigger+better
    – bigger windows made for easier “leaning sleeping”

    The plane really is a lot quieter than other longhauls though, and I slept the best 6hrs I have ever had in economy (had 3 seats with my gf :D)

    • Interesting. I’m booked on it in December and looking forward to it even though it’s only 1 sector of 4 I’m flying. This will be my 3rd multi sector with Cathay to Australia in 12 months and after the first trip Cathay was my go to choice. There standard Y was so much better than other’s I’d flown on, but I must admit, hearing that they are planning to make there 777s 10 abreast soon mean I would seek out the A350 as my choice.

  4. In relation to the IC Barcaly. You can throw money and expensive designs out of the window if your service is below par. It amazes me that in a customer facing industry how many hotels get service and loyalty membership so wrong.

    There is many a swanky hotel I will not be returning to because of service.

    • Stayed 2 nights at IC Barclay in August, I think it is possible the worst IC I ever stayed in terms of service…
      However, I must admit, if the price is so low, I may return….

    • It’s not uncommon for the unloved NYC hotels to be priced in low $100s.

  5. Mid June rates seem to be $400+ per night… :-(

  6. ICB: At Christmas is from USD196

    But remember the lack of sockets mentioned in Rob’s review

  7. That is a very cheap rate for an IC in NYC! Hopefully they can resolve the issues. A shame after having all that money spent.

  8. Thank you very much, that ties perfectly with when I’ll be in New York. I was resigned to spending a pile of points, but not at those prices! I actually went for a room in a slightly more expensive bracket (Superior King for $119). Don’t forget there will be quite a bit of tax to add to these prices.

  9. Do people actually go to NY for the weekend? Coupled with the T7 immigration experience it doesn’t look to me that you’d get much time there, even if you left the UK on Thursday evening on a red-eye.

    • Take the BA001 from LCY, and you skip the T7 immigration queues because you do it in Shannon!

    • People go to NYC for the weekend all the time. Me included.

      • I did Cape Town for a weekend once. As long as you take Thu or Mon off work then these work fine.

        When I was in NYC this year I only did 2 nights in the Barclay. Got to the hotel about 11pm, had all the next day and – due to overnight flight back and 4pm check out – basically all the next day as well. You can cover a lot of ground in that time and adding a 3rd night makes it positively leisurely.

        You need to have been before though and to have a hit list of things to do.

    • Last time I flew into JFK T8, the APC kiosks were working and it took about 20 minutes to clear immigration. A better experience than my last trip into LHR T5.

      • With Global Entry it took <2 min to clear immigration – if hand baggage only you're through customs shortly after too. Wish it was that quick when returning to the UK!!

  10. Re IC Times Square – we stayed there recently. Don’t bank on any elite benefits. I’m an IHG Spire, and we didn’t get a room upgrade or a requested late (15:00) checkout. The latter must have been available, as they offered it for $100. Customer service was along the lines of a brick wall.

    • Agreed. I did get an Ambassador upgrade and late check out though. Otherwise best I can say about place is that it was clean….

      • The guaranteed 4pm Ambassador checkout is very valuable in NYC though with an overnight flight back.

        That said, I will be back in June and eyeing 3 nights in the ‘all suite’ Conrad which I rate highly and which is only 70k Hilton on those dates.

        • Just back from a stay at the Conrad at the end of August and second that. Brilliant hotel, especially on the 5-for-4 points redemption.

        • I found the points and money redemption at Conrad could be also very good.

        • Late check out is always a result with an evening flight from anywhere. I’ve just flown from NYC on BA 116 and had a late check out at the Hilton Garden Inn Park Ave. And only there for the weekend I might say.

    • Unless you have purchased Ambassador you aren’t an elite at ICs.

      Of course, if they are forced to upgrade a non-elite then Spire beats Club, but otherwise you shouldn’t get anything and should expect to pay for late checkout.

      • It is inconsistent. Le Grand in Paris gives out letters to Spires and Plats giving them specific benefits including a 2pm check out.

  11. I might give it a go. I’m in New York in January. Do IHG status match?

  12. Dropping BA 69/68 is a bit of a surprise as Club is usually full of GSK staff on both those planes due to GSK’s world headquarters being in Brentford (a few miles to LHR) and the US headquarters being in PHL. Those two daily flghts have run for a very long time. Maybe the AA flight is new?

  13. Martin Tilley says:

    Thanks for the tip on ICB in NYC, booked for Feb 10th as part of a RTM-ORD-ORY TP run I booked a couple of days back, was surprised that fare wasn’t covered on here?

    Even with the exchange rate £100 for a 5 star hotel on Manhattan is a good deal, even in February.

    • I missed it when it came up and then got nervous that it would be pulled before the article went live (which is what usually happens when I write about these things).

  14. Can you use Avios to fly Cathay? Sorry as I appreciate this is a very basic question but I’m still trying to get to grips with the whole Avios scene

    • Yes, you can book Cathay flights on using your Avios

      • Yes and if go for first class then availability seems to improve closer to departure date. Taxes and fees from HKG are extremely low.

        • I paid £25 plus 60000 avios (pre devaluation) for a flight from HKG-AMS in Business on CX for my flight in January of this year. Their Business class product is miles ahead of BA too.

          • Agreed. Not to even mention the lounge!
            Before devaluation it was such a great value!! No wonder why BA decided to increased the partners award so much!!

  15. OFF-TOPIC for what it’s worth….

    re: “Triple points on all BA flights, all classes” article on 7th September

    I’m sure I’m not the first to report this, but I registered for the promo even though I bought my flight tickets in January, and had even already flown my outbound in August.

    Just received a chunk of “Special Promotion – Q3 Business Points” in my BAEC account which I can only think must relate to registering for the above, and which I assume are attributed to taking the return leg after the 6th September on an AA coded BA flight.

    Can’t relate the points to the actual flights (well, I kind of can, but it looks lower than it should be), but I’m not going to be complaining about it :)

    Goes to show that when Raffles mentions BA’s inconsistent IT and to give it a go, it’s worth it (unless someone comes and tells me they were for something else! haha)

    • Yes, for tickets not booked on BA codes or booked via other airlines BA does seem to be giving triple – probably because it cannot accurately know the booking date.

      • This one actually was all on a BA ticket (but booked on an AA code for those precious extra tier points) :)

  16. O/T bits – you Londoners all have the Uber app, right? Read on if you know somebody who likes the Fifa game series – HT HUKD – be quick only live until 2pm

    [You can grab a copy of FIFA 17 today for FREE, thanks to UBER apparently.
    FIFA 17 is released today in North America, but us Brits have to wait until this Thursday to own and play the incredible new FIFA release.

    Thankfully though there is a way to get your hands on the game TODAY and pay absolutely nothing!

    Between 11am and 2pm, Uber will be delivering FREE copies of FIFA 17 on the Xbox One to users living in London and Manchester.

    Uber has also said that a few fans might also recieve some of other EA SPORTS titles, such as Madden NFL 17 and NHL 17 for the Xbox One.

    If that wasn’t enough they teased that some fans might even score a a brand new Xbox One S console.

    Who will be delivering these extra special packages also seems to be a bit of a mystery, with Uber suggesting that “some players from your hometown team” may be “on hand for the ultimate assist on deliveries.”

    All you need to do to grab yourself a copy is this:

    Open the app between 11am – 2pm in London (Zones 1/2 ONLY) and Manchester tomorrow, September 27.

    Tap on the Profile icon on the left and select the Promotions menu.

    Enter the promo code GAMEONUK to unlock the special ‘GAME ON’ option.

    Receive your free copy of FIFA 17 on Xbox One.
    As expected Uber has warned that (understandably) demand will be HIGH and availability limited. In addition they’ve advised that this offer is provided for a limited time on a first-come, first serve basis. ]

  17. O/T if you’re doing TCB for the 25% cashback bonus on Avios – the gambling sites are offering 13/8 on Sam Allardyce not being England manager on the first day of the 2018 World Cup – about as close as you will ever get to a dead cert in my books

    • Damn. Good tip but I didn’t act quickly enough!

      Any tips on horses? Or shares? :-)

    • Yep. Matched betting. I think I hoovered up well over £1k back end of last year. I stopped when I’d used up most of the reputable bookies.

  18. O/T – new partnership between Shangri-La Golden Circle and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer. My Jade status in the former (courtesy Amex) has given me instance Silver with SQ. They would also give Gold if you manage 3 SQ flights in 4 months after status match (which I won’t but still pretty decent). Handy to have lower fees for SQ redemptions and higher waitlist priority.

    • Hi Alan. That’s good to know. I’ve recently requested upgrade to Jade via Amex Plat. How long did yours take to process? Also, how did you carry out the upgrade to SQ Silver – is it via the S-La website or SQ? I’ve got 4 SQ flights coming up in 3 weeks so hopefully will be in time!

      Many thanks

    • Hey Alan I just did the match for my hubby – I signed him up for Jade with Shangri-La via Platinum but didn’t really plan to use it but now it has come in handy. The Jade status is valid till 12/18 – will the KR silver status match till then too do you think – we are saving KF miles at the moment with a possible trip to Oz stopping in Singapore in 2018/19.

      • Liz – from the FAQs:

        Q: I have successfully registered for a membership status match benefit to KrisFlyer Elite Gold, and have been upgraded. Can my KrisFlyer Elite Silver or Gold status be renewed for the following year?

        A: No. You will only enjoy complimentary KrisFlyer Elite Silver or Gold status for one membership year. You will need to fulfil the published KrisFlyer programme requirements to qualify for subsequent renewal.

        If people here are Manchester based – could easily rack up the 4 flights with a few return trips to Munich before the end of October on the fifth freedom route before it finishes…

        • Ahh, thanks – hadn’t spotted that FAQ. MAN-MUC definitely an interesting option, looks like it’s available for about £160 return, personally I just don’t fly Star Alliance enough to outlay the cost but definitely worth considering for some!

        • THanks Scallder – that match was short lived!

      • Hi Liz – the status match seems to be for a year from date of application. Whether it will be renewed automatically after that is unclear. KF Silver itself doesn’t seem massively useful, mainly just priority waitlisting/slightly reduced fees/ability to extend miles expiry by 12 rather than 6 months. The upgrade to Gold after 3 eligible SQ or SilkAir flights is more interesting, especially if you were able to do so at a cheap price one of the short routes. I guess no immediate need to rush to match given the time limit for upgrading status – I’ve got no paid SQ flights planned anyway so thought I’d try it out as a bit of a guinea pig for HfP :)

        • I should have waited – wonder if it will let you match again next year – will diary it and try again this time next year

      • Interesting … is there any airline which will status match from SG silver ?

        • If you could get a Oneworld mid-tier match somewhere that’d be great, sadly the problem is within Star Alliance Silver is pretty rubbish, all the benefits really come from Gold, hence even if you can get a status match of Silver it might not be worth much elsewhere!

    • Just received the email from Shangri-La, the upgrade to star Gold after 3 eligible SQ is quite interesting, but looks like it needs to be done over 4 months after registering, so I guess it is important to get the timing right..I am also hoping it will still available next year…until my current star gold expired.

  19. OT: hubby and I have 2 nights from past accelerate promo which are due to expire at the end of the year. Any recommendations on a UK romantic weekend away that would make good redemption for the 2 free nights? Nice IHG property…. we live in Leeds but open to suggestions.

  20. Not surprised at BA dropping one of it’s Philly flights. In economy, AA offer 2-4-2 seating on the A330 and free seat reservation. And of course AA’s J class on the 330 (former US Airways) is an outstanding hard product.

  21. On the subject of lower taxes ex HKG back to LHR, does anyone know if you are better off booking a round trip with Virgin as two one ways instead of a return to avail of the lower taxes. I remember reading about this on HFP some time ago but cannot find the post sorry! I ask because I am just about to book 4 upper class returns LHR to HKG with VS for a family trip and so wondered if there was a play here to lower the overall taxes paid to Virgin the upper class agents for which tell me that the HKG taxes have infact gone up!

    Thanks in advance for any insight on this.


    • Pointsarb – doing a quick dummy booking for dates with availability, the charges are coming in at:

      One way to HKG = £336.15
      One way from HKG =£35 (HK$350 @ 10:1)
      Return = £515.45

      So in this instance it definitely is better to book as one ways. However not always the case as I found out earlier in the year for flights to Atlanta – was about £100 or so cheaper to book a return flight in UC as seemingly Virgin whack on quite high charges for one ways from the US (and this was back in April before the £ crashed). Always worth a quick check :)

    • My Gatwick to Vegas flights were slightly dearer as two one way award bookings.

  22. Qatar virgin says:

    So i need to travel to NYC next year, any tips for getting an IHG rewards account (eg sign up bonus).. Ive only done air-miles to date, eg should i get an IHG credit card for 10,000 points etc? cheers

    • The Premium card, at least in Year 1, is worth the £99 due to the higher bonus and the Platinum status that comes with it.

      Sign up for IHG Rewards Club and see if the Accelerate promo comes back for Jan-March. If so, you may find that you earn a lot of points from a couple of stays which would let you get a decent redemption in NY.

      Also think about the Hilton credit card which comes with a free weekend night and would work nicely at the Conrad New York, which is ‘all suite’.

    • Transfer Virgin Miles to IHG if you have them.

  23. Off topic, but I just looked at Shopper Points, and saw that Tesco’s 150 CC points on £50 of gift cards has been replaced with …

    75 CC points with £25 of gift cards! LOL. I must check SP more often. But thanks anyway Rob and Anika.

    • For 3 weeks

      Would still pull forward any proposed GC buys as who knows what it will be post that

  24. Regarding the elite benefits at the NYC Intercontinental properties, are you saying that you get 2 x $20 drink vouchers at the Barclay and if yes, what do you get at the other TS one? I’ve got a one night credit card stay as a spire ambassador next year so i might shift the booking if i get some better freebies!

  25. Any intercontinental deals on 11th Nov…?