Bits: Virgin Trains cuts Traveller, Amex airport cashback, 20% off ALL Flybe routes, Iberia Avios via HEx

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I continue my attempt to empty my inbox by running various short pieces on items which don’t justify a full article!

Virgin Trains puts the breaks on Traveller

Hot on the heels of news that the generous East Coast Rewards loyalty scheme will be wound up at the end of February, Virgin Trains emailed members yesterday with restrictions on its Traveller programmeNon-members can learn more here.

If you were a heavy West Coast user, Traveller was amazingly good value.  Once you spent enough money to qualify, you got free First Class train travel, every Friday / Saturday / Sunday / Monday, across West Coast.  Only peak time Monday and Friday morning trains were blocked.  You could even bring a guest with you for free.

If you worked in London during the week, you could go home for free every weekend.

Virgin Trains is being vague about the exact impact of the changes.  We do know that peak time travel between 3pm and 7pm on Friday is being severely restricted which is, of course, a time when many Traveller members want a free ticket.  Major restrictions on weekend availability are being put in place in February and over Easter as engineering work reduces capacity.

Virgin Trains

Remember:  Amex airport offers end 31st January

You may well have forgotten that the various American Express cashback deals running at Heathrow, Stansted, Luton, Gatwick and elsewhere are still running.

The deals run until the end of the month.  Full details are in this article.  Deals include:

Café Nero – £5 cashback when you spend £10 at Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton and Stansted

Ted Baker – £10 cashback when you spend £65 at Heathrow and Gatwick

Sunglass Hut – £10 cashback when you spend £30 at Heathrow and Gatwick

Dixons – £10 cashback when you spend £30 at  Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester, Stansted and Edinburgh

Harrods – £10 cashback when you spend £65 at Heathrow and Gatwick

Fortnum & Mason – £10 cashback when you spend £65 at Heathrow T5

WH Smith – £5 cashback when you spend £10 at Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester, Stansted and Edinburgh

I managed to get £5 back on a £10 Café Nero spend in Terminal 2 last year and I will try to spend £10 in WH Smith at Heathrow on Monday.  Register via

Flybe London City

Flybe discount code for 20% off all routes!

A MasterCard promotion (although you don’t need to book with a MasterCard) offers 20% off all Flybe flights if you book before 31st January.

You must travel before March 28th.

It is valid on Just Fly and Get More ticket types.  Franchises and codeshares are excluded.  It is valid on return or one-way flights.

Go to and enter Flybe promotional code MC20 on the booking page.


Activate your Iberia Plus account with a Heathrow Express booking

If you have opened an Iberia Plus account to take advantage of lower taxes on Iberia redemptions, you will know that you need to ‘activate’ it before you can transfer Avios points across from BA.  This involves earning 1 Avios point in some way.

Reader Graham reminded me that, as well as earning Avios points from Heathrow Express in British Airways Executive Club, they are also an Iberia partner.  You will earn 100-400 Avios in Iberia per ticket depending on what ticket type you book.

The Heathrow Express / Iberia page is hereFull details can be found on here.

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  1. RIccati says:

    AMEX WHSmith offer did not load via Foursquare. Exceeded 10,000 registrations?

  2. Brendan says:

    Doh! Just booked a load of Flybe tickets a couple of days ago for a stag do…could have saved £15 per person

  3. Cheshire Pete says:

    Sad news indeed regarding traveller as I just checked having not received an email yet!

    No travel till after 0930 on a Monday giving just a 2.5 hour window till Noon. Then blocked 4 till 7 on a Friday.

    Traveller simply used the pool allocated to ‘Advanced tickets’ so running the scheme economically was justifiable. You can still get £90 advanced tickets out of London till 7pm. On a Friday. Why? Because the loading of those trains is often less than 50% due to Virgins Peak restrictions their peak trains are loaded rather lightly in my observations.

    Ironically Traveller opens up again at 7pm which are then the most heavily loaded trains as that is when off peak starts! Justifiable? Not really as your just loading up those first peak trains more and many trains between 4 and 7 will depart even more lightly loaded than they currently do.

    I did make some comments to Virgin when they re won their new franchise which was that creating an artificial Peak from 4 to 7 is a bit old hat, and they simply pile up loading issues unnecessarily between 7 and 8 and allow half empty trains to leave Euston 4 to 7.

    So unnecessary.

  4. andystock says:

    Raffles, I am surprises you had time to visit Cafe Nero at LHR T2 since there is the Premium Plaza which is a very nice lounge with a very good interior design!

    • That is why I was there! It was the day of the PP opening party. Went to T2 to check where it was, went to Nero, went over to T5 to do some work in Regus then went back in the evening.

  5. Jonathan says:

    Do you have more details of the Virgin Traveller email please. I’m 5 trips towards the 8 needed to qualify and would like to know what I’m getting in for.


    • Cheshire Pete says:

      Yes how come raffles got it and I didn’t!

      From what I can tell,in my account it’s just a restriction Monday till 9.30 and Friday 4 till 7.

      I have to say it was never possible anyway to use traveller on Monday Peak trains, they only eased that when they won back their franchise and everyone that was currently traveller got a complimentary extension until November 2014, which for me was almost 2 years on top of my membership. From then on they opened up Monday Peak trains. So all they have done there is close them down again after 2 years.

      The Friday evening, though, was never restricted as I recall so a disappointing downgrade there, and like I said seats will simply go out empty before 7, as they do now,

      I happened to have a conversation with them back in Novermber as all their members expiration was aligned to that month and they had massive IT problems due to this processing renewals. I happen to know that actually only a small percentage of the older members did actually requalify. So even though new members are now open again they must surely have a lot less members now than before November 2014.

      Due to the problems they only told me last week my membership was now till February 2016, but perhaps this is also guilt as next months engineering works more or less makes booking traveller at weekends in February next to impossible as Raffles also mentioned!

      • Annoyed about traveller (though expired in November last year). I used to use the 8:45am regularly on a Monday, and the 16:43 on Friday, so that’s knackered my choices… Will force others on the ones in between though, making anything apart from long term booking to places like Glasgow pretty much unavailable.

        It was great when it lasted though.

    • Will forward it when on desktop, remind me if I forget

  6. Mr Bridge says:

    re whsmith offer,

    I bought £10 boots gift cards in wh at Gatwick (N)..on all 8 of my amexs. they are opposite the tills ( behind you when you queue)

    • Wasn’t the offer only valid at Heathrow?? Hope for your sake it wasn’t!!

      • Mr Bridge says:

        got the credits

        • Mr Bridge says:

          Connected Foursquare American Express Cardmembers are eligible to receive a £5 statement credit when they spend £10 or more at WH Smith Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester, Stansted and Edinburgh airport stores on their registered American Express Card by 31 January 2015

  7. lucinda says:

    Can the amex offers be used in the outlets located on the landside at those airports too (ie pre security) ?
    If so apart from wh smith are any of the others landside?

  8. What is four square, how do I sign up and what are the benefits?

  9. Frequent Traveller says:

    I never experienced any morning peak time restrictions using Traveller before the latest round of changes.

    However, the current Traveller changes have made it extremely unattractive to all those who don’t have their first class travel funded by work. With the massive disparity in price between first class and standard for a bit of food & drink and crappy free wifi I can see no justification for contemplating 8 first class returns at a minimum price differential of £800 but probably well over £1000 in exchange for a few first class weekend trips to London or maybe Edinburgh which you can get for peanuts with a small modicum of forward planning.

    I also agree with the previous poster that the services in the restricted times were often far from busy so can’t see how this is justified. Maybe its to fund the upgrade of the aforementioned crappy wifi!

    If virgin want to mitigate costs then Virgin should have introduced a nominal fee for travelling in ‘Peak’ hours during the Traveller window

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