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Bits: Lock in your holiday € exchange rate now, Etihad First Class lounge in Abu Dhabi open

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News in brief:

Lock in your exchange rate now if travelling to Europe this Summer

There is general agreement that the £ will drop if the UK votes to leave the European Union on 23rd June.  Many are predicting a fall to parity – 1:1 – which would mean a 20% drop in the value of the Pound against the Euro.

(The £ has fallen by 5c in the last five days after a couple of opinion polls showed the ‘leave’ camp ahead’ so this is not an unrealistic scenario.)

If you are planning a holiday in the Eurozone which is not fully prepaid, you are looking at a potential 25% increase in the cost of your holiday.  A similar is expected against the US$ and other major currencies so you are not immune from the risk if you travelling further abroad.

A reader pointed out to me that Moneycorp allows you to reserve foreign currency via its website for collection up to a month in advance.  You do NOT pay in advance and there is no penalty if you fail to collect.  You are buying a free one-way option on the exchange rate.

Moneycorp is not at Heathrow but there are Central London branches where you could also pick up your money.  Alternatively, you could buy your currency now from someone else who offers a free buy-back guarantee which is valid beyond 23rd June.

Etihad First Class lounge

Etihad First Class Lounge now – finally – open

Etihad has, after a series of delays which began to rival those of the Qatar Airways First Class lounge at the new Doha airport, opened the doors on its First Class lounge in Abu Dhabi.

There is a special page on the Etihad website describing it.

The access rules are a bit odd in that you cannot get access if you arrived in Abu Dhabi in Etihad First Class but are transferring onto a two class route which does not have First.  On the other hand, top tier Etihad members can always get in, unlike the Concorde Room at Heathrow which is blocked to a BA Gold.

Another oddity is that, like Qatar, it is charging for the majority of spa and shave treatments.

The facilities do sound impressive though.  A bar with 75 premium spirits, a kids room with a Norland-trained nanny on duty at all times so you can leave your little ‘uns in safety, a full gym (but no gym kit provided oddly), a cigar lounge, a clothes pressing service and a fine dining restaurant is just the start of it.

I have 80,000 Etihad miles to use, and I am tempted to use them towards a one-way First Class trip out of Abu Dhabi next time I am in the Middle East.  I have never covered Emirates A380 First for HFP so I may try to tie both together in the same trip.  I’ll need to earn a few more brownie points from my wife before I’m allowed to disappear for a few days and do that though ……!

American Airlines

Massive changes to the American Airlines programme

American Airlines finally confirmed the details of its move to a revenue based loyalty programme yesterday.  Showing an astonishing lack of originality, it has simply copied the structure being used by United which was a direct copy of the one pioneered by Delta.  Who made it up at random, as far as I can tell.

The highlights are:

A new tier below Executive Platinum called Platinum Pro, mainly introduced to devalue the benefits of the huge number of Lifetime Platinum members that AA has

Revenue based earning from travel after 1st August (only applies to AA flights and not partner airlines)

Minimum spend requirements for elite status.  These apply to members globally – flights on partner airlines such as BA, which may make up the bulk of flights credited by a UK member to an AA account, will be given a nominal $ value unrelated to the real ticket cost.

I don’t claim to be an expert on AA so if you want to know more I suggest you turn to the US frequent flyer sites.  This article is a good place to start.

Comments (125)

  • Isodrac says:

    1:1? Don’t be silly.

    • Mike says:

      I’m away for the referendum in the USA, I might ask to settle the hotel bill at check in pre vote.

  • blackberryaddict says:

    I’ve got quite a lot of EUR exposure with two kids studying in the Netherlands. Fees are of course lower than here, but a drop to parity would increase costs by 20%. And it’s not just the fees but also living expenses etc. A free fix on the current rate is quite appealing.

  • James King says:

    Sterling parity with the euro? I don’t think so! This is the kind of scaremongering emanating from the Remain camp and currency traders who make money from volatile markets. If you lock in at today’s rates you’ll feel pretty sore if the pound returns to its recent rate of £1 =€1.42.

    • Rob says:

      I won’t, because my City pay-off came in Euros and it is still sitting in Euros! Parity would be great.

      I think the fact that the pound weakens with every opinion poll showing ‘leave’ is a clear sign of what will happen.

  • RW says:

    Any thoughts on AAdvantage changes affecting BAEC earnings on AA or even being the future model for BAEC?

    • Rob says:

      There is a US trend but whether it spreads to Europe is a different question. The Aer Lingus Avios programme, when it launches, will be revenue based – this is widely seen as a trial run for moving BAEC the same way.

  • Betfairfan says:

    Interesting that Betfair is mentioned – until the exit results were announced at 10pm for the 2015 election results a conservative majority was priced at 10/1.

    Managed to get a bit of cash at 6/1 but it dropped like a stone down to evens within 5 minutes.

    Pound to continue to drop till the end of June lots of people making money out of that and the above.

    Euro result will be close run but a remain – similar to the Scottish referendum results.

  • harry says:

    http://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote if you have not already registered – deadline today so last chance

  • Jonathan says:

    Apart from Money Corp – where else are people buying their euros from?

    • Genghis says:

      Most other places involve a commitment to buy at a future date (i.e. a forward) while Money Corp give optionality.

  • Henrik1888 says:

    As someone who maintains BA status almost exclusively by crediting domestic AA flights to my BAEC account how will these new changes affect this? I read the US blog that was linked to but I’m confused as to how this would impact on tier point collection when crediting to another One World partner.

    • Rob says:

      Nothing changes.

      Some AA members, who can manage to fit in the 4 required BA segments, may now choose to get status via BA to avoid the $ requirement, although that won’t help them with upgrades domestically.

      • Henrik1888 says:

        Thanks for the feedback. It would indeed be a very good strategy for anyone who can make the 4 x BA Flight Requirement. There’s regularly 180 tier points to be had for as little as $150 flying domestically.