News in brief:
Etihad drops free chauffeur transfers
Times are getting tougher for the Middle Eastern airlines, as the easy pickings in terms of destinations run dry and organic growth starts to slow.
We have already seen both Emirates and Etihad allowing ‘paid for’ access to their Business and First Class lounge networks. Just a couple of days ago Emirates dropped free wi-fi for heavy users. Charges for seat selection have also been creeping in.
In the latest move, Etihad is dropping its free chauffeur service at all airports except for Abu Dhabi. The car that took me to Heathrow for my Etihad First Class flight recently (review here) was, frankly, a bit of a dump and it was clear costs had been cut. The service is now being scrapped altogether except for passengers in the A380 Residence (which means one car per flight maximum needed!).
Etihad had removed car transfers from its cheapest Business Class cash tickets a while ago, and it was a pleasant anomaly that they had been retained for Etihad Guest mileage redemptions. That said, this was a bit of a sop to offset the impact of the chunky fuel surcharges which Etihad started to add on at the time of the Etihad Guest devaluation two years ago. The fuel surcharges were added per leg, which meant the figure for anyone travelling from the UK beyond Abu Dhabi was getting silly.
All Business Class and First Class tickets – excluding Business Saver – booked by 3rd July will still receive free rides at outstations. Etihad has made it clear that any changes to a ticket from 3rd July will result in it being stripped of its free rides irrespective of the original booking date.
IG Index removes credit card fees
A few readers have contacted me with interesting changes to operations at spread betting firm IG Index.
From 20th June, IG Index has removed all charges for using credit cards or PayPal to pay money into your account.
It isn’t clear if these transfers will be treated as cash withdrawals or points-earning purchases by your card company – I’m sure someone will try it out. Even if a direct card payment is treated as a cash withdrawal, I’m not sure if that would also apply to payments processed through PayPal. We will see.
American Express is not accepted, unfortunately.
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