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Bits: redeem on Cathay’s new Madrid route, good SWISS business sale to Zurich & Geneva

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News in brief:

Cathay Pacific to launch new service to Madrid

Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific has announced that it will be launching services to Madrid next June.  This adds to a growing Cathay network in Europe – Manchester and Dusseldorf were also added recently.

Cathay will fly four times per week from 2nd June using a Boeing 777-300ER.  The attractive business class seating is shown below.

The good news is that you can redeem Avios points on Cathay as they are a oneworld alliance member, although this service is not yet loaded up.  Cathay is also VERY generous in opening up seats – you can see eight business class seats from Dusseldorf on some days as I wrote here.

The bad news is that this will not be an attractive use of Avios.  Madrid to Hong Kong is 6,540 miles.  This means that it is likely to be a Band 8 Avios redemption (6,501+ miles) which is a whopping 210,000 Avios return in Business.  Dusseldorf, Amsterdam, London, Manchester etc are all under 6,500 miles which makes them Band 7 redemptions at 180,000 Avios return in Business.

Cathay business class

SWISS offering sub-£200 REFUNDABLE business class flights

SWISS is running another short-haul Business Class sale from London to Switzerland.  This is nowhere near as generous as the £123 return flights on offer earlier in the year although we are now in peak ski and Christmas Market season.  You may be able to tie this in with the cheap British Airways deals from Switzerland I discuss in my main article today.

The Swiss home page talks of fares to Geneva at £190 as you can see here.  If you click the link on the home page it takes you to a booking page which specifically highlights dates with the sale fares.  I could not find a similar link for Zurich but, if you play with main booking engine, you can also find fares at £190.

You do NOT need to to stay over a Saturday night.

The deadline to book is 30th September.  You need to travel by 30th May.  The ability to refund these tickets is HUGELY impressive.

You would get access to the Lufthansa lounge at Heathow Terminal 2 – or the great United lounge if you are willing to walk to the satellite 2B terminal.  City Airport has no lounges so you may want to avoid those departures – you will also get better seating out of Heathrow versus City with a guaranteed empty middle seat.

SWISS is a member of Star Alliance so you can credit your flight to Miles & More – 1,500 miles return – or a similar programme.

Plaza Premium Heathrow 2

SAS to use Plaza Premium lounge in Terminal 2 if you have status

In a slightly odd move, Scandinavian airline SAS has announced that its Gold and Diamond Eurobonus members can now use the Plaza Premium lounge in Heathrow Terminal 2.

I reviewed the lounge here and recommend it (photo above).

This is a bit of an odd move.  What is SAS trying to say?  That it doesn’t believe that the Lufthansa lounge in T2 is exclusive enough for its premium customers?!  For the rest of us who don’t have top tier status with SAS, the Plaza Premium lounge can be accessed with a Priority Pass or an Amex Gold Lounge Club card. 

Getting airport lounge access for free from a credit card

How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (June 2024)

Here are the four options to get FREE airport lounge access via a UK credit card.

The Platinum Card from American Express comes with two free Priority Pass cards, one for you and one for a supplementary cardholder. Each card admits two so a family of four gets in free. You get access to all 1,300 lounges in the Priority Pass network – search it here.

You also get access to Eurostar, Lufthansa and Delta Air Lines lounges.  Our American Express Platinum review is here. You can apply here.

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

If you have a small business, consider American Express Business Platinum instead.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for the first year. It comes with a Priority Pass card loaded with four free visits to any Priority Pass lounge – see the list here.

Additional lounge visits are charged at £24.  You get four more free visits for every year you keep the card.  

There is no annual fee for Amex Gold in Year 1 and you get a 20,000 points sign-up bonus.  Full details are in our American Express Preferred Rewards Gold review here.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points (TO 16TH JULY), FREE for a year & four airport ….. Read our full review

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard gets you get a free Priority Pass card, allowing you access to the Priority Pass network.  Guests are charged at £24 although it may be cheaper to pay £60 for a supplementary credit card for your partner.

The card has a fee of £195 and there are strict financial requirements to become a HSBC Premier customer.  Full details are in my HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard review.

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard

A huge bonus, but only available to HSBC Premier clients Read our full review

PS. You can find all of HfP’s UK airport lounge reviews – and we’ve been to most of them – indexed here.

Comments (23)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Adam W says:

    I had to laugh at the irony of the title (i.e. redeem on Cathay’s new Madrid route) given the article explains that 1) you can’t actually redeem for this flight yet and 2) you probably wouldn’t want to redeem for this flight!

    • Danny says:

      Actually you can redeem. Some people have already redeemed J tickets on the new service via Cathay’s FFP programme. Since CX is pretty good about making seats available to OW partners I’d bet they’re either already available via Avios or will be very soon.

    • Rob says:

      If I didn’t do the article, people may see the flight advertised and decide it was a good deal!

  • James67 says:

    Credit miles to Alaska and redeem for 42,500 each way in J.

    • Scott says:

      I thought you could only use Alaska miles for flights originating to/from the US?

      • James says:

        Pretty sure that remains the case. Also note you can’t buy Alaska miles (which are an incredibly good deal) from outside the US.

        AA miles will be good value on this route by the way.

        • Jonathan says:

          I was going to ask this – there’s no MR transfer options etc for UK residents?

          • James says:

            Only AMEX -> SPG -> AA.

            It was worth it with the recent transfer bonus, more marginal without (but still good value on certain routes – for example Europe – Middle East on EY/QR = 80,000 AA miles return which = 65,000 SPG (because of the 5000 bonus for every 20,000 transferred) which = 130,000 amex.

          • James says:

            In first class, I forgot to mention.

      • Jy says:

        I managed to buy Alaskan miles to top up my account and use these miles for redemption for flights on cx to hkg from lhr. You have to ring their call centre to redeem. There was previously a restriction on purchases by UK residents but this seems to have lifted.

      • Rob says:

        That is the rule for Emirates redemptions

      • John says:

        No, check the award tables. Europe to Asia/Pacific is possible.

  • Worzel says:

    Adam W 5:29 am :

    1) Interesting to learn in advance of a new route from a well respected airline growing in Europe.

    2) Good to be given cautionary advise regarding redemption.

    3) Helpful to know that Cathay are very generous in opening seats.

  • AndyS says:

    Regarding the Plaza Premium lounge – (I can’t seem to comment under that review probably due to it’s age). The bar policy must have changed, Ive been there twice since July and both times no drinks vouchers, just walk up to the bar and order drinks. I think I did see someonebuying chanpagne as well one time. Using a priority pass, i had no idea it was worth 38 quid! wow!

    • Leo says:

      Yes no drinks vouchers required last Tuesday either. It’s a good lounge but could do with a thorough clean. High end fittings but not as impressive as earlier in the year. Food selection was good though.

    • Rob says:

      Glad they have changed that, it must have been costing them business. I doubt SAS elites would have been happy to be shepherded in there just to find they couldn’t get all the booze they want!

  • AndyS says:

    .. also the united in 2b is no longer priority pass according to the mobile app…

  • barnaby100 says:

    I booked theoffer earlier this year- actually only £106 each. We went to the united lounge- the plane went from that terminal. It was fab- wonderful cocktails and they hovered to get you are new drink as soon as your was finished. Lovely bar men.

  • Lady London says:

    I really liked the United Lounge for breakfast. Really quite decent coffee, orange juice, and well grilled bacon. I did visit the SQ lounge next door another time. Normally SQ lounges are my favourites but not this time. I’d go for the United lounge in T2 over the SQ one.

    The LH lounge has lovely staff but is unremarkable. If you have the time the United lounge is definitely worth the walk.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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