Bits: no families in T5 First Wing?, new Virgin route to Oz, 30% off Millennium Hotels

News in brief:

Are families and groups banned from the new First Wing?

I ran some new pictures yesterday of the dedicated ‘First Wing’ about to open in Terminal 5.  This will feed Gold and First Passengers directly into Galleries First.

One of the comments to the article posed a question so obvious that I hadn’t thought about it.  Because the First Wing takes you directly into the Galleries First lounge, Galleries First entry rules must apply.  One guest only.

This means that, as a Gold, I cannot use the First Wing when travelling on a non-First Class ticket with my family as my wife is only Silver.  I’m sure they’d let us use the First Wing check-in desks but we would be forced to use the main security lines (and double back on ourselves to get to them) as we would not be allowed into Galleries First, even if we promised to walk straight out again and head into Galleries Club.  Unless I’ve missed something?

First Wing British Airways Terminal 5 4

Virgin Australia to launch Hong Kong to Australia

Virgin Australia is planning to launch new services from Hong Kong to an unnamed Australian city later in 2017.   The slots at Hong Kong are reportedly already agreed although the destination city is not fixed.

It isn’t all good new for Virgin Australia though.  A planned Abu Dhabi to Perth flight, due to start in June, was cancelled this week before it even launched.  The Abu Dhabi to Sydney service was closed last month.

With Virgin Atlantic still flying from London to Hong Kong, this opens up an option to get to Australia with a plane change in Hong Kong.  It would require two separate redemptions, and Virgin Australia redemptions need to be return flights, but it opens up a glimmer of hope for anyone annoyed when Virgin Atlantic scrapped its own Australia flights.

Millennium Copthorne

30% off at Millennium Hotels

Millennium Hotels, which runs a range of 5-star properties with a strong London focus, including The Chelsea Harbour Hotel, emailed me about their new early booking offer.

Until 30th March, you will receive a 30% discount on flexible rates when booking direct at least 14 days in advance.  You need to be a My Millennium member to get this, but signing up is free.

Full details are on their website here.  The offer is good for stays until 31st December.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

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Exclusive: New images of the British Airways 'First Wing' in T5
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Comments

  1. TravellerFrequently says:

    Re F Wing – Separate conversations in the CCR in recent days with manager and supervisor have confirmed that security access etc will be in line with Gold card entitlements.

  2. Vistaro says:

    I thought Gold members irrespective of class flown could take a guest in the First lounge as long as the guest was also flying BA? I think GGL’s can take more guests.

    • gumshoe says:

      Yes, but Rob’s point was he won’t be allowed to use the F wing when travelling with his whole family as he’ll only be allowed one guest.

      They’ll have to use normal Fast Track and take the existing route down & up to the lounge via the shops.

      Meanwhile for those entitled to CCR access the new wing does appear to be a downgrade in the experience. True, you’ll get a dedicated security channel but you’ll have to walk past/through shops and the F lounge to get there, compared to the shop-free direct access you have now.

      Is this another cost saving by BA, if they no longer have to pay HAL for the ‘million pound door’ and the privilege of CCR users not having to walk through duty free?

      • Gavin says:

        You wouldn’t have to walk through the shops, just out of the Galleries First lounge and straight into the Concorde Room?

        • David says:

          My understanding is that there will now be some shops post security to walk past to get into the Gallery First.

          • gumshoe says:

            Indeed. Which I suspect will come as a nasty shock to some of the CCR regulars.

      • Alex W says:

        Where does it say that millionaires door will no longer be used?

  3. simon says:

    GGL will be able to take 2 through , plus with the gifted Gold Card and assuming its given to partner then possibly a family or group of 5 could go through and enter the lounge , only lounge where this does not work is the Concorde Lounge where only one guest is allowed.

    I assume Gold Card Holder with one Silver and one non status guest would have have to use the standard Fast Track .

  4. Jame67 says:

    OT Bit for a lazy Sunday: I would appreciate some feedback from readers concerning their thoughts on the best non-flight use of avios? Thanks.

    • You can sometimes get avios “sales” on hotel rooms through BA.com which are reasonable value. It’s not worth paying the full avios price for hotels IMO, but I got 2 nights in a very nice new Caribbean hotel recently for 54,000 avios instead of 90,000 which I was pleased with.

      • Genghis says:

        What was the cash rate?

        • Peter K says:

          Remember to compare against the cash rate on hotels.com etc as sometimes there is a corresponding cash special offer as well, but not on BA.com

    • the real harry1 says:

      hard to beat Eurotunnel 3x

    • Brian says:

      Given that you are generally getting about 0.6p per Avios for hotel bookings (at least I think that’s what Rob said when he did an article on the subject), I think they are best used for flights. Going by your previous comments, you don’t want to use them for long-haul, so why not use them for RFS trips within Europe? You can certainly get good value out of Avios that way.

      • Jame67 says:

        Thanks Brian and others. Yes, I recalled the article but was just wondering if there was any new ideas or options. My problem is that it is difficult to squeeze value out my zone 7 CW redemptions now (even with a Lloyds or amex voucher exINV to avoid APD on outward leg) whilst miles-earning revenue fares exEDI remain typically £1200-1500pp. In the past I considered this worthwhile for the flexibility but with award availability virtually drying up at T-355 on popular routes these days the flexibility has become more apparent than real. My fallback position was to use them on CX or MH for regional flights in Asia but I’m not sold on that either as revenue fares can be great value there too, and I’m quite in love with Air Asia in any case. It’s looking like my options are to spend on RFS and do another European tour next year, hotels, or just run thr risk of another devaluation and save them for a rainy day.

        • Lady London says:

          Avios can be used to save a lot of money hopping round within South America that’s one thing I’d love to do. Perhaps pairing with an Iberia sale J fare from Madrid sandwiched by a couple of RFS’s. I’ve also used them well on shortish hops within USA, Canada or between USA and Canada at times when cash fares were ridiculous.

          If you’re hopping within Australia, NZ, or doing Oz to NZ, you can get stunning value using Avios especially in the right aircraft in J, where cash fares are huge eg Transtasman. I think you can even get to a Pacific Island or two from Oz or NZ with clever routing not too bad taxes and Avios. Possibly you could get a less than 24 hr stop within the area included.

          One of thess great uses would be LAN between Oz and NZ in J. Ditto the odd short hop within the Middle East in F or J as covered by Rob. Within Japan a lot of distance can be covered on domestic flights on JAL in J using Avios with negligible taxes. Lovely service and experience I’d go back in a heartbeat.

          I suggest you either do short haul RFS or focus on J or F on short sectors on the nicer airlines to fly. Oh, and someone is now doing SFO to Asia about 16hrs great aircraft in J all one hop. Can’t remember which airline, but it might be CX to Hong Kong or JL to Tokyo, it’s bookable on Avios. You’d defo stump up the Avios for J on that wouldn’t you rather than Y.

          So there’s lots of value out there. Sadly less of it on BA though and there’s constant worry about what is BA going to cut next.

          • Lady London says:

            Haha realised you said non-flight :-)

          • Jame67 says:

            It’s fine, it will be a very useful comment for some readers and it reminded me I have not been in South America for about 15 years so that’s worth a thought, thanks.

          • Ronster says:

            Good evening Lady London.

            What great tips.

            I am considering using my Avis Iberia promotion stash, on an 16 hour CX F direct ticket from JFK to HKG.

            However a 14 hour JAL F direct ticket from JFK to NRT is also on the cards.

            Decisions, decisions, decisions…

            Ronster

    • Hotels gets you a bit more than the 0.5p flat rate you get everywhere else – but loss of benefits etc may offset that.

      • Jame67 says:

        On hotels I think best aporoach might be to focus on trying some independent boutique properties so that loss of benefits would be less troublesome.

        • I used some to reduce the cost of our 28 day car hire which was very expensive – was Avios rich and cash poor – saved £300 on a £1200 car hire – got 0.57p value which I was ok with.

          • Jame67 says:

            That was my first thought Liz, until I found that our useful locations were unavailable. Btw, did you ever find a way to exploit your caravan purchase?

          • We pick it up on 14/3 ! I took out a Tesco current account before the rush and the applications were suspended. Can only maximise 1812 cc pts using the debit card for the balance £14500 – will be paying that next week I did pay a very large deposit last year on my IHG card for free to put me over the 75k qualifying limit for Spire for this year so that helped. Just hate the idea of such a big spend for not much reward – will need to get over it or else pay the £290 cc fee :(

          • Jame67 says:

            Considering you got the initial IHG payment through, the cc points were a bonus. We had the same issue on a new car last November, they wanted 5% fee and wouldn’t budge despite my lecture on new fee cap. Happy touring.

          • Keep off the roads around Perth, Dundee, Carnoustie and Pitlochry that week – it’s our first time ever towing and we haven’t got a scooby – but we have been planning it for 2.5 years! Hopefully when we get the swing of it we hope to travel all over the UK and Europe – that is the grand master plan anyway! But will still keep collecting miles for the USA and Oz.

          • Tracy says:

            Hoping for some advice here, my inlaws are buying a new motor home in June, cost £40k, they have cash to pay for it but have asked me if they should put it on credit cards to get hotel points/air miles then pay off with cash. The only card they have at present is one BAPP card and they have earned the bonus miles and companion voucher already. Thoughts?

          • Hi Tracey, we have found going to the caravan and motor home shows and to local showrooms around our area in Scotland that they don’t take Amex – they would need to ask at whatever dealership they are buying from what cards they take and what fees they charge. We couldn’t get ours to budge from the 2% fee on a Visa credit card. We took out the Tesco current account to pay using a debit card – gives you 1 Clubcard pt for every £8 spend. That’s all I could come up with.

        • Tracy says:

          Thanks Liz, I’ll get them to ask if they take Amex. If not, was thinking the Hilton cards at least, one each. Two free nights and some extra Hilton points, they might get a long weekend….

          • Think you will find there will be hefty fees – I was allowed to pay a large deposit free of cc fees but thereafter it would be 2% – need to see what deal you can get.

  5. Keep the families in the regular line, will be quicker via the new wing.

    Hopefully they will be strict on this policy.

  6. GaryC says:

    The headline “Are families and groups banned from the new First Wing?” is somewhat sensationalist. I’m not sure why anyone would expect a single gold card holder to be able to essentially guest 3 other lower/non status holders through.

    • Von Schmallhausen says:

      Does a baby count as a guest? Or do they need to be over 2?

    • Trvlr says:

      +1

    • Because that’s how it works now. 1 Gold can check in unlimited people in the F check in area.

      • which is what you can still do. But it is a bit like a Gold, a Bronze and two kids – even though you can check in at the first class check in, you will still have to go through normal security, as for fast track you can only take one guest as well.

    • Prince Polo says:

      Should also run an article “BREAKING NEWS: FAMILIES BANNED FROM BA LOUNGES” as the same rules (one guest only) apply to lounge access…

  7. A family of 4 could access the new F lounge providing both parents are Gold.

    Maybe an armed escort will accompany families with a single Gold member to the J lounge ! 😉

  8. O/T I’m BA gold, soon travelling LHR-Tokyo with my parents (they don’t have BA status) in Club. What are my chances of getting all three of us into the First lounge at LHR? Anyone managed to take in two guests?

    • Pretty unlikely. It’s only possible to have two guests as a GGL member.

      • Barry cutters says:

        Pretty easy . Have your mum take your boarding card . To get access with her ‘guest’ then 10 mins you appear with the boarding card on your app. – confidently saying , oh iv been in already as you pass through

    • Andrew says:

      FWIW my advice is to be honest. As a BAEC silver member, I took my family (my wife, 3-year old and baby – all with no status – although the baby doesn’t count) into the Club lounge.

      We all just walked up and I said “I do t suppose I could be really cheeky and bring in one extra small person, could I?” – the response was a smile and “Yeah, we’ll sort you out” and in I went. I guess if the lounge was heaving they’d be stricter but it worked for me. They might also be stricter with the Galleries First too, of course!

      • Thanks

        • We had 3 of us booked into Club World and my 21 year old daughter (who decided much later to come) booked in Economy. At Newark we had various ideas of how to smuggle her into the BA lounge but I didn’t have the bottle. I left the lounge to pop and see her and told the agent I was just popping to see my daughter and would be back shortly. She asked why she wasn’t in the lounge and when I explained she told me to fetch her, as we came back in she gave her the dinner voucher. We were very happy.

          • That’s fantastic customer service (and a nice reward for you being honest with them too :D)

    • GaryC says:

      It’s worth asking the lounge agent politely, you may be lucky, but be prepared to have them say no. I’ve had varying success – got an extra person into the CCR as a guest when I was subject to delay, had an extra guest in the first lounge at O’Hare once. But likewise have been turned down as well.

  9. OT – I’ve just completed a trip that will bump me to bronze. Flying out again on Wednesday and want to take advantage of early check in. Any point calling BA or just wait for the status upgrade online?

    • Genghis says:

      Early check in?

    • Gavin says:

      You mean choosing seats 7 days in advance? You just need to be patient!

    • Peter K says:

      As bronze you get early exit from the plane as well… Just bring a parachute. It helps cut down on claims from late arrivals.

  10. It has been reported to Hong Kong Airlines flight from Hong Kong to Gold Coast and Cains have a very low load factor, I wonder how will Virgin doing on this route.

    • the real harry1 says:

      Are you sure it’s Cairns / Brisbane? Those are rather small vs Perth or Sydney

      • Yes, CNS, no, not BNE but OOL.

        HK airlines is like air transat or maybe norwegian.

    • flyforfun says:

      Isn’t Brisbane Virgins Australia/ home hub? Might make for good timing and connections to other flights.

      Any idea what aircraft they will be flying? Not the dreaded Nightmareliner or an over packed 777.

  11. Waribai says:

    Quick question about those fast track barriers such as at Gatwick. How do you take a guest through as presumably their boarding pass won’t scan to open the barrier ?

    • Wave down a person

    • Stu N says:

      Just go to a manned lane or have your +1 scan and wait for the person when while they are rejected. Both work.

      • Waribai says:

        Thanks, Yes. I’ve noticed at Gatwick North though you often have to wait a bit for someone to come over by which the time the people behind you are less than pleased!

  12. OT: Impressed with BA lounge at Gatwick – nicer than T5 if you ask me. Flying J on Cathay. Lounge Dragon (actually very sweet) said “Is that Oneworld?” I said yes and she waved me through.

  13. Roger says:

    OT – MBNA AA card.
    The current bonus is 5k AA miles. Any ideas when do you get bonus posted to your AA account?
    I assume it will be when the first statement points gets transferred to AA account.
    IIRC, their T&Cs suggest 6 weeks or so, but as I am longing for AA points very badly for a redemption, I am hoping for this to be posted soon.

    Any feedback welcome!

    • David says:

      In my experience, they will only come with a statement related transfer, they won’t come as a credit on their own between staetments.

  14. Peter K says:

    Can you use Virgin Atlantic miles on Virgin Australia? I know they each have their own FF programmes and one is owned by Delta, the other by Emirates. It would be handy if I could however.

  15. Dave H says:

    O/T again, a little perk with LeClub properties I didn’t know about, complimentary press reader access, just downloaded a few magazines to keep me occupied on my trip.

    • Yep, Qantas offer this too – even on domestic trips – pretty decent selection of magazines!

  16. Lewis Watson says:

    Banned is a bit of an exaggeration. Presumably families and groups booked in first can still use it.

  17. Hi, was wondering if people had experience on being moved to a different airline because of a fault/ delay. Could you still claim for airmiles on the original airline that delayed even if you didnt take that segment?

    • Yes. Once had it on a Cathay flight where I was moved to Thai Airways due to a delay with the Cathay plane. I claimed the miles and point to BA Exec. Needed to send in original e-ticket, boarding passes, etc. Also took 2 phone calls, but eventually got them.

  18. I don’t really see the issue here – it’s an expedited entry to Galleries First for those with Gold. For First if the existing direct access door remains you may be as quick going through that. For Silver or Club World you’d need to get to Galleries Club North or South so an entrance to Galleries First isn’t going to help. BA could of course instead planned a route into the central area between GF and the CCR to allow access for all, but that would mean disrupting the Elemis Spa (that I presume they get some revenue from) and also wouldn’t provide a differentiator for Gold & First vs Silver & Club. If arriving by HEX you’re going to have to walk the full length of the concourse anyway so it’s not that big an issue to go through North security and walk along airside – the new Fast Track route seems to be working quite well at that end.

    • gumshoe says:

      “If the direct access door remains” … that’s a very big if.

      True, they’ve not confirmed it’s closing but somehow I can’t see Alex Cruz’s BA spending lots of money on a shiny new F wing that’s not going to be used by F passengers.

      • Even if it doesn’t remain it isn’t going to take long to walk straight out the Flounge and across to the CCR – this small extra walk should be made up for by the queue for security in the new lane hopefully also being quicker if only First or Gold (and above) are allowed to use it…