Nutmeg Avios

Bits: Virgin East Coast 50% off sale, HFP in the Daily Mail, a good Club Europe meal

News in brief:

Virgin East Coast four day sale

Virgin East Coast is running a short sale until Thursday night.  The discount is apparently a full 50% on all sale tickets, although the deals cannot be combined with any railcards you hold.

The sale is valid for travel between 5th September and 4th November but excluding half term week of 21st to 30th October.

My very positive review of the new food offering in First Class on East Coast is here.  A review of the refurbished First Class lounge at Kings Cross will follow later this week.

The East Coast sale site is here.

Virgin East Coast

HFP in the Daily Mail

The Daily Mail ran an online story yesterday about the recent cutbacks to the British Airways food and drink offering.  My recent articles on the topic were referenced as you can read here.

Similar stories have appeared elsewhere in recent days which cannot make pleasant reading for BA bosses.


An impressive meal in Club Europe

Ironically, at the same time as the Daily Mail was using my articles as the basis for a piece criticising BA cuts, I had one of my best Club Europe meals in a long time.

The picture above is a very decent cod and mash dish I got on the way down to Spain on Saturday.  I had no complaints at all.  There even a salad alternative for anyone who didn’t want a hot meal.  BA did well here.

My review of the new (and new style) Holiday Inn Brooklyn Downtown, New York
My review of Melia's new INNSIDE New York NoMad hotel
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  1. Just remember Virgin Trains East Coast has just announced a series of days of strike action so may be better avoided!

  2. OT, but does has anyone had issues with unauthorised spend on their curve card? I contacted curve and was told they are investigating it, but do I also need to contact my linked card issuer to claim on those charges?
    Currently nearly 2 weeks have passed, I have no new card and am not willing to activate this curve again as the details have been compromised.

    • Curve user says:

      @Marcus – I’ve had issues but have not need to contact my linked card’s provider. Despite the obvious inconvenience and unnerving real-time transactions flashing up on my phone as the card is being compromised, I’ve found Curve to very helpful. Worth checking closely the declaration you’re asked to email back, as in my case a number of disputed transactions were missed, as they appeared to be duplicates but were charged twice on my linked card. My fraudulent transactions took place in the third week in July; all charges have been refunded (by Curve) but like you I’m holding off reactivating …

  3. I’m tempted to try it for the menu.

    However 2 questions:

    – What are Virgin East Coast prices like generally? Are they as eyewatering as the West Coast?
    – Do they do First Class upgrades?

    Watch out for add-on charges. My most recent use of Virgin East Coast was booking an alternative route from Newark to Kings Cross when that bridge collapsed on the Midland Mainline near Leicester.

    On that occasion the ticket was £13.20 Advanced single booked at 7pm for a train at 10:30am the next day, but the charge to reserve a seat would be £27. We ddin’t reserve the seat as the train would be likely to get busy mainly from Grantham.

    • Genghis says:

      Advanced tickets are generally more expensive since Virgin got the franchise.

      Weekend upgrades are available

    • Boris

      I’m confused by what you are saying. All VTEC advanced bookings include a seat reservation.

      If you already had an MML Booking, then during disruption you’d be accommodated on a reasonably equivalent VTEC service without additional cost.

  4. Rob, food looks really good. What route and what time of day were you flying?

    • Genghis says:

      I know those trains go 125mph but ‘flying’ is a bit far fetched.

      I was disappointed last week on Virgin West Coast. Took a 16.40 from Euston to Manchester in First Class and only got a wrap despite saying on National Rail that hot food served from 16.00.

  5. I managed to book some tickets on VTEC after much searching at a reasonable hour. The 50% off is true if you want to travel on the 0550 train etc etc. Other than that it’s back to the usual rip off and I wouldn’t bother wasting any more time searching for the non existent sale fares

  6. Nick Haley says:

    Well I had (finally, after excitement caused by this site) the Cream Tea in CE on the flight to TXL on Friday (3:30pm). Cold Seranno ham salad on the return (Sunday, 7:15pm). A hot option would be nice.

    • That is a bit unlucky to only have a cold option if in CE at night, I definitely prefer the evening meal over the Cream Tea every time as it can be quite filling.

  7. MarkC62 says:

    Good to hear the CE meal was good – we’ve also had good CE food on trips to Spain this year. However, whilst I can’t say the food was terrible on our CE trips to other parts of Europe this year, I can’t work out what BA is doing with the £20m which they announced, earlier this year, they were going to invest in improving their catering. Perhaps they reversed the decision? Anybody know? I’m starting to think that I should take some Pret sarnies on board our CW flight to MCO in November to supplement the food offering if they cut back any more!

    • Lady London says:

      Plane Food in T5 at Heathrow does very nice on plane picnic menus for a reasonable amount.
      If I’m ever flying in to Europe from there at a flight covering lunch or dinner time even in CE, my plan is to either take a baguette and some of my other faves from Pret, or to get a picnic box from Plane Food. Actually they’d both cost in the same region of pricing.

      If BA wants to switch to charging for on-board food on shorthaul that would be fine for me. But I’d expect better quality than I think BA will offer, given the constant descent downwards in BA’s offering. And their timetable of cuts seems to be shortening – wasn’t this announcement only three weeks from the previous ‘we’re taking something away from you that we used to give free’ announcement?

      • 4:45 long flight back from Larnaca in Euro Traveller last night at 7:30pm. One bar run only, dismal cold sandwich, disinterested crew. I would have been very unhappy if I had paid for club which went to row 15 of the 767 as the crew didn’t bother pulling the curtain across so us plebs in Euro Traveller had ‘the right to roam’ into their part of the plane.

        • Genghis says:

          Even pulling the curtain over doesn’t stop the plebs going to the loo at the front

        • Rare that you get 2 bar runs in Europe these days? (Genuine question. Our regular flight is never as long as 2:30 so I couldn’t comment on 4 hr flights).

          But 1 bar run is reasonable AFAIAC.

          The crew never seem that bothered about me getting 2 refills – same for the kids – provided you are not an arse with the flight attendant buzzer.

          Just amble up the back, ask politely for your drink, exchange a few amusing words & head back to your seat. Service with a smile.

        • Larnaca based on my 18 flights there and back this year has always had 2 bar runs in ET. Crew were disengaged. Probably because they had to eat the vile sandwiches we had (they don’t seem to have hot food anymore either!)

          Had to drive back home so wasn’t bothered about getting on the sauce, but I did think drinks should have been proactively offered.

        • I see. I don’t think it would bother very many Europeans to only get 1 drink, even if the flight is 4 hrs.

          So if this is another cut, nae problemo from me, let’s get the fares down.

          Provided if you’re thirsty you can still amble down the back etc.

        • Brian W says:

          + 1 on the amble up to the galley and smile tactic.

          On our MCO trip last month I was invited to start helping myself from the wine drawer at the galley after a few ’rounds’ and once the masses had settled down to their after lunch movie and headphones time. A smile and a thanks goes a long way with a younger crew when coupled with “I thought I’d come to you rather than pester you constantly pressing the button” and often allows you to ‘fill your boots’. OH wasnt impressed once her film finished mind you…..just as well she was added as an additional driver on the car.

          Ive had similar experiences on flights to Malaga and Gibralter last year where BA crew were happy to serve when you go to them after the main service. If you are pleasant and helpful they will respond in a similar way.

  8. I got an upgrade on the Stockholm – London route last week and was prepared for a tiny salad after my previous upgrade 2-3 years ago (the wrap in Economy was more impressive back then). The hot prawn pasta dish was a very pleasant surprise.

  9. O/T (but slightly BA related)

    – BA Premier card, I’ve triggered my 241, if I downgrade to a free card, do I keep the voucher? And can I trigger another sign-up bonus in 6 months?

    – recent ex-UK flight. Flew back from NY yesterday in business. I had to get off at Heathrow rather than fly to Dublin for personal reasons which I explained to customer service. I wasn’t charged anything extra, and all I lost was the Avios for the LHR – Dublin section.

    • Yes, you keep the voucher.

      You need to cancel ALL BA cards and wait 6 months before you can get another bonus.

      • In theory, could you sign up for the premium card in January, spend £10000 and get the voucher, then cancel.

        Sign up after 6 months and do the same again. Could you have 3 vouchers in just over 18 months?

        • Genghis says:

          In theory, you could do it in less than 18 months. e.g.
          1) Sign up in Jan, spend £10k and cancel in Feb
          2) Sign up in Aug, spend £10k and cancel in Sep
          3) Sign up in March, spend £10k and cancel in April.

          Though I struggle to spend £10k so quickly. My wife and I do one a year. To simplify it:
          1) I sign up in Jan and we spend £10k on the card. I refer wife in June for 9k avios. I cancel card.
          2) Wife (with me as supp) spends £10k from July – Dec and then cancels card.
          Come Jan, I can apply for the card again. This way we benefit from the sign up and referral bonuses.

      • Thanks. When you say all cards, what do you mean as I only got one card.

  10. Very OT:

    Qatar are advertising sub-£1,000 return fares in Business between the UK (London, Edinburgh, Manchester, Birmingham) and Dubai (DXB).

    Book by 31 August 2016 for travel between 22 June 2016 to 31 May 2017.

    Includes some dates around Christmas, too, e.g.:

    EDI-DXB on 18-28 December for £975 return per person.

    A return trip should net 400 TPs, as the Doha – Dubai leg books into First.

    • Yes, covered that when it launched. It is a good price if you can get the dates to work, especially if you can get into the Al Safwa lounge in Doha on the outbound (you won’t be allowed in on the inbound).

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Having just visited both Al Mourjan and Al Safwa both are brilliant lounges

        And the onboard product is excellent on the 787 and even the older 777 to MAN wasn’t too bad

        Now need to find a good deal on Qatar to the far east and dates which work

      • Why aren’t you allowed on the inbound raffles?

        It wasn’t open when I flew doh – Auh in F so had to slum it in the al mourjan lounge

  11. BlueHorizonUK says:

    OT – When you upgrade from the Amex Gold to Platinum, do you need to enter your supplementary card holder details again or do they automatically get upgraded to platinum too?

    • Axel Heyst says:

      It’s automatic. In my recent case the supplementary plat. card arrived before main cardholder in the post.

      Not sure what benefits the supp. gets. There is an option to enter supp.card hotel/rental etc. membership details but I left them blank except hilton (which upgraded to gold by email after a few days)

      • Genghis says:

        Supp gets a Priority Pass and can get the hotel statuses (e.g. Hilton, Melia etc).

        • Jason K says:

          Is the 20k upgrade from Gold to Platinum still running? Also, has anyone seen the 3k or 5k bonus offer for adding a supplementary card to the gold or platinum respectively? I know some people got it via email, anyone have a link?

        • Genghis says:

          Liz reported a few months ago that it is live until Jan 17 but others have reported that they are not getting the points. YMMV it seems…

        • Andrew* says:

          Latest report: hit £1k spend for Plat upgrade last week and 20k MR points did not post immediately (as they usually do), AMEX confirmed bonus would be paid but would/could take up to 60 days… not into double-digit-days’ wait yet…

        • roberto says:

          I asked answer was told the 3000 MR for sups had finished off the 31st of July.. I pushed a bit further and was told to apply and they would add the 3000 points which they duly did.

          And as for the gold to plat I did read here in the comments that the will be running upto the end of December.. of course that might change.

          I plan to UG my OH to plat just before Xmas, spend the money & cancel as the points post Genghis Style.

          “Eh, sexy lady
          Op, op, op, op
          Oppa Genghis Style”

          You know it makes sense rodders…

        • I am waiting for the 5k pts to post on my hubby’s platinum card for adding me – I emailed Amex and have told me 60 days – on or around 8th oct – but I applied on 27/7 which is more than 60 days! Bummer as I want to cancel on 7/9!

        • roberto says:

          Liz, my points arrived before the card.. I emailed CS via the secure message service to “remind them” in advance.

        • Roberto – I think you are the exception as you phoned them when you applied. I am hoping they post before the date they said so we can cancel as soon as we come back from holiday!

        • I upgraded during the last week of June, not sure when I hit the £1000 mark but my 20,000 bonus landed 2 weeks ago. Note: my account page didn’t advertise the bonus as it has done in the past.

      • BlueHorizonUK says:

        Thank You

    • Andrew* says:

      If you enter the details again (not knowing what was stated above) your (lucky) supp will get two cards (and 2 Priority Passes) – and you’ll get charged an extra £195 (?) fee – which you can then get back 😉

  12. Charlie says:

    O/T can anyone confirm how soon you receive the companion voucher after hitting the £10k on the BAPP please? Amex agent seemed a little unsure.

  13. O/T bits I reckon you could usefully send a few people to Shopper Points today Raffles/ Anika

    Today Tesco is launching 2 eCoupons that will help you save money when shopping at Tesco Direct. EVERYTHING is included.
    All you need to do is enter the right code at check out.
    •to save £10 when spending £75 or more, use the code TDX-TNMP
    •to save £20 when spending £150 or more, use the code TDX-WYMJ

    As the eCoupons are valid site-wide, you can use the codes everywhere on Tesco Direct.


    Not too difficult to turn these discounts into Avios

    • Thanks for the plug 🙂

      They went on the HFP FB and Twitter feed but it is the sort of thing I am trying to keep out of HFP, at least full articles.

  14. Off topic but I’m trying to cancel a domestic American Airline Avios award. I was of the understanding that the cancellation fee would be the lower of taxes paid (£3.90) and £35. Has this changed? I cant seem to cancel online and BA are trying to charge me £35 each ticket on the phone.


    • I think it’s £35 pure & simple

      however, I did manage to get them to lower this last year by turning on the charm, I got away with £17 for some reason, possibly because that was the actual taxes, though they were just being nice

    • If you can cancel online that is the deal. Not sure how BA acts on the phone., on the phone, insists on charging you the £35.

      Are you logged in to the account of the person who made the booking when trying to cancel? That can be an issue.

  15. OT is anyone else having trouble getting access to the ordering food part in manage my booking. We are flying in 2 days and I thought I would have a look and see what was on offer but I keep getting a message saying there is an problem with their systems.

  16. Just took a Qatar flight from OSL to BKK in business. Set me back under £600 in the big sale. To say I was impressed is a statement which would be severely underestimated. Fantastic service and food. Great plane and entertainment and then the lounge experience in Doha.

    Wake up BA

  17. dicksbits says:

    The press reports were a PR disaster for BA. I can see the decision being reversed in some way.

  18. Larryflyer says:

    Something in the Daily Mail article sounds not quite right (there’s a first!). The anonymous passenger who paid £500 to fly LHR-JFK in WTP (presumably calculated as half of a round trip fare) says he got breakfast then just a chocolate bar on his 7 hour flight. BA are then quoted as saying the second meal is removed for flights under 7 hours in WTP (and under 8.5 hours in WT).

    Are there any LHR-JFK (westbound) flights that are scheduled for 7 hours or less? A couple of dummy bookings show (at this time of year, at least) that shortest scheduled time is 7 hours 30 minutes. Meals must surely be based on scheduled, not actual, flying time, so jet-stream anomalies are hardly relevant.