Bits: Amex @ Frieze Art Fair, Philippine Airlines launches B777-300ER, Accor relaunches Orient Express hotels

News in brief:

Exclusive Amex lounge at Frieze London

Although they never told their customers, at least the Platinum ones, American Express has a private lounge at the Frieze London art fair in Regents Park.

Any Platinum or Centurion cardholder can get in.  I am not sure of the guesting rules but at least one is allowed.

I was there yesterday for the preview event and the Ruinart champagne was free flowing.  Luckily I could get in by showing the statement page of the Amex app on my phone, as my card was back in the office. Do try to visit if you will be at the fair over the next few days.

Philippine Airlines launches B777-300ER

Last week Philippine Airlines invited us to a party to celebrate the launch of their new B777-300ER aircraft on the London – Manila route.  This becomes a daily service from 6th December onwards.

Philippine Airlines was the first airline to connect Europe with Asia and is determined to become a contender again on this route.  There are currently good deals on return flights when booked before 15th October including Kuala Lumpur from £459 and Manila for £505.

The Philippine Airlines website is here and a 360′ tour of their B777-300ER can be found here.

AccorHotels to relaunch the Orient Express hotel brand

Accor has announced a deal with French railway group SNCF to relaunch the Orient Express hotel brand.

There was, until a few years ago, a group of hotels owned by Sea Containers under the Orient Express brand.  These hotels were all rebranded as Belmond after a dispute with SNCF which was never fully explained, and the first UK city centre Belmond hotel – the ex-Cadogan Hotel – is due to open in Knightsbridge in a few months.

The difference this time is that AccorHotels now owns 50% of the Orient Express brand, whereas the Sea Containers deal was a pure licensing agreement.

The plan is to “develop a new collection of prestigious hotels under the Orient Express banner.  This collection, which aims to be the very epitome of the art of travel, will offer a unique experience steeped in history that combines the luxury, exoticism and sophistication of East and West in iconic locations.”

Accor will also take over the operation of the existing Orient Express art deco rail fleet, making it available for event hire.

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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  1. “the first UK Belmond hotel – the ex-Cadogan Hotel – is due to open in Knightsbridge in a few months”

    It’s perhaps the first in London but definitely not the first in the UK. The lovely Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons has been a Belmond hotel since Orient Express became Belomnd.

    • Very true, should have double checked that. Sometimes the site would be more accurate if I knew less, since I would be forced to check everything as opposed to assuming that I know 🙂 Although fact-checking HFP would literally be be a full time job.

      • There appear to be thousands of readers doing that for you, Rob, with varying degrees of politeness!

  2. William Avery says:

    Finally that rusty A340 is gone from our skies. That thing made so much noise overhead especially if it was on late departure. Not sure what it was fuelled on or what the load was but it made more noise than the 747s.

  3. According to Philippine Airlines web site:

    May 3, 1947 
    PAL starts a DC-4 service to Rome and Madrid, thus earning the distinction of being the first airline in Southeast Asia to fly to Europe. Each flight took two days with stops at Calcutta, Karachi and Cairo. By the end of the year, the service was extended to London.

    This is very different from ‘Philippine Airlines was the first airline to connect Europe with Asia’.
    Surely European airlines were flying to at least the Middle East before World War 2?

  4. filipino_chino says:

    Any news on the IFE for PAL ?

    I flew with PAL when they just re-launched from LHR and it was a killer in Y…

    I made a good friend on the flight, apart from that – I vowed never to fly with them again… I normally fly with QR, but the time saving makes me think again… From memory PAL was very average, nothing special and the food was rubbish, but things should have improved?

    I know their customer service was great when a bag went missing on route to HKG. (I used to fly MAN > HKG with QR as you got more points than going direct to MNL, then a LCC or PAL to MNL as it’s a cheap route).

  5. OT Bit: Spanner in the works for APD reduction from Scotland –

    • Damn! At least I managed to get around it on recent booking by going EDI-FRA then >24h before on to longhaul (SIN-AKL) – dropped the APD to £13 and all on one ticket so still protected.

      • I’m looking up INV-HEATH-LAX on BA for next year and finding its still £600+ in taxes is there another way of finding this cheaper?

        • That won’t be all taxes though, that’ll be taxes + fees + charges. Even if you remove the £130 APD you’ll still be paying hundreds in BA surcharges…

  6. OT: My first SPG card, so excuse the potentially silly/simple question.
    Received card 2/10, spent the £1k for the welcome bonus by the end of the day (a well timed utilities bill and a mattress purchase sorted that out very nicely!). Both charges have hit my account, with the total balance showing correctly. However, Starpoints showing as 0, and the welcome bonus tracker still showing “Spend £1,000 by 04 Jan 2018 to receive 10,000 Starpoints”. Is this normal?

    • Yes – takes a couple of days for it to move from transaction showing to points being awarded. Same for all the Amex cards.

      • Assuming that you were referred, the extra 1000 points will appear separately as a bonus.

        • thank you thank you!

        • Genghis says:

          Watch out for the points moving across from SPG Amex to SPG. There’s normally a 4-5 day window where you can cancel and the first statement (read fee) has not been generated…

        • Thanks Genghis – I think I’ll hold onto this one while I wait out my 6 month Gold/Plat and BA churn. I’m trying to focus on SPG points at the moment and paying £40 for the points for the next 6 months seems like the best use of time/effort. Any holes in my thought process?

        • Genghis says:

          For me, 29k SPGs through his n hers sign ups for £2k spend is much easier than spending £29k on them. The card is likely to disappear sometime next year.

        • Agree SPG sign-up decent to make the most of just now! I’ve just done a cheeky wee Nectar application after seeing it mentioned on Shopper Points today (30k).

        • New Card says:

          If you were hitting £29k of spend on an SPG Amex, there would also be the Free Weekend Night voucher to take into account (which I think is rewarded after £25k is spent on it).

        • …. but which is very difficult to use due to the category restrictions, unless you fancy a romantic weekend at the Sheraton Heathrow.

        • Still yet to fully convert my partner over to this game, so a guaranteed refer-and-cash-in isn’t yet an option for me!

  7. New BA route bookable: LHR-Almeria (a Monarch destination). Tue & Sat.

    HT to gingeola on FT.

  8. This Accor/SNCF deal has “disaster” written all over it. In pretty sure Belmond actually own the current “Orient Express” vehicles… So what are Accor promoting? Some warmed over SNCF Euro-Night carriages that have been rotting in a Parisian siding for a decade?

  9. TigerTanaka says:

    Still no mention of this weekend’s double avios e-store promo on HFP.

    • I’ve had 5 emails from them about it today so I assume others have too!

      • Yep, I’ve had the emails about it. Will pick up a free bits I’ve been holding off buying i think.

      • TigerTanaka says:

        Just think the e-store should get some coverage anyway. Only place normally where you can earn something back for booking via and buying directly from Apple.

  10. Anyone know of the routes still available for earning Avios on travel money ? If any even exist anymore.

    Even better if it can be done via credit card as a purchase but appreciate that might not be at all possible anymore 🙁


    • Travelex 1 Avios per £1, or use a Curve in an ATM linked to a points earning Visa or MC. The points are not free, either way.

  11. Well timed with the upcoming release of the “Murder on Orient Express” epic remake

  12. O/T – the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Amex/Visa additional signup bonuses have now been pulled (previously you could get an extra 13,500 miles on top of the 18,500 sign-up bonus on the Black Card if signing-up with a rep in the Clubhouse at LHR T3 – the White card also had an extra Clubhouse bonus but can’t remember how much extra it was).
    According to the Virgin rep in the Clubhouse, the deal has been pulled as Virgin are “renegotiating their deal with Amex” so another sign this card could be changing soon.
    HOWEVER, you can actually still get the extra bonus miles by applying by phone with MBNA and quoting Virgin Clubhouse promotion (0800 056 5576). Not sure how long this will last but suggest calling and signing-up asap.
    Note that 18,500 miles are credited by MBNA on 1st spend on the card and the additional 13,500 are added directly by Virgin within 3 months – card fee is £140.

    • It was a 9k bonus on the White.

      Shame this has been pulled, but here’s hoping they come up with a decent offer to replace the Amex one! Almost hit the £10k to get 2nd upgrade voucher with the Amex – wished it covered UC, but PE to East Coast US would be OK at econ pricing!

      • That’s what we did for our trip in Aug. Went out UC and came back PE from Washington DC using our upgrade voucher – flight was quite good and food was fine.

    • We got in just in time then – we both took out the white card in Aug – made one purchase and both got 12k pts a couple of weeks ago!

  13. Graham Walsh says:

    OT Re Virgin, got an email today about miles booster – 30% extra. Just wondering if it’s worth it. Done 3 return US trips with them in the last 6 months.

    If you make a purchase through our Buy Miles or Miles Booster programmes between 2-31 October 2017, you’ll recieve an extra 30% of miles on top as a brilliant little bonus.

    However, no option on boosting miles, just the 30% extra when buying

    • the real harry1 says:

      had to check but it’s them not you!

      ‘If you make a purchase through our Buy Miles or Miles Booster programmes between 2-31 October 2017, you’ll recieve an extra 30% of miles on top as a brilliant little bonus.’

      Sack the illiterate Marketing Mgr! 🙂