News in brief:
New British Airways strike dates announced
It seems that more of us will be getting the chance to fly on a Qatar Airways short haul plane this summer.
British Airways Mixed Fleet cabin crew have announced another two week strike, starting on 19th July.
This leaves just two days of normal service after the current strike ends on 16th July.
Flights from Gatwick and London City are not impacted, and the number of Heathrow cancellations at the moment appears to be modest. BA has been cancelling flights to Doha, moving passengers to Qatar Airways and freeing up cabin crew, as well as leasing nine fully crewed aircraft from Qatar Airways. None of this comes cheap, of course.
Virgin Trains West Coast cuts Flying Club earning
There are two ways to earn rewards when bookings Virgin Trains West Coast tickets directly on the Virgin West Coast website.
You can either take 2 Nectar points per £1 or 2 Virgin Flying Club miles per £1 spent.
As long as you collect Flying Club miles, I have always recommended taking those as they are worth twice as much as the Nectar points in my view. The only reason to take Nectar points is if Virgin Trains is running one of its regular bonus point promotions via the Nectar app – these are often worth 500 or 1,000 Nectar points on top of your base points.
From 1st August, Virgin West Coast is halving the earning rate to 1 Virgin Flying Club mile per £1.
Even existing bookings are included in this.
Going forward, my recommendation will be neutral between taking the Nectar points or the Flying Club miles as I think the value of the two rewards is now roughly equal.
There is no word yet as to whether Virgin East Coast will follow. The two companies have different ownership – East Coast is 90% Stagecoach / 10% Virgin Group whilst West Coast is 49% Stagecoach / 51% Virgin Group. Very oddly, it is the franchise which is 51% owned by Virgin Group which is reducing the money paid over to Virgin Atlantic (49% owned by Virgin Group) in favour of paying Nectar instead.
….. and hits the Traveller programme too
Virgin Trains West Coast has an invitation-only loyalty programme called Traveller. To be eligible, you need to be booking substantial volumes of First Class travel on West Coast.
Details can be found on the West Coast website here.
The primary benefit of Traveller was free First Class travel on off-peak trains from Friday until noon on Monday.
For any long distance commuter on the West Coast network, this was an excellent deal. If you lived in London during the week you were basically getting free travel to and from your other home.
For bookings made after 3rd September, this benefit will only be available for travel on a Saturday and Sunday. It will be a big blow for those commuters will now need to pay for their travel home or resign themselves to just spending a Saturday night out of London.