Nutmeg Avios

Bits: BA closing Toronto lounge, new SPG Moments concerts, new Amex offer at Thistle, Amba, Guoman

News in brief:

British Airways closing Toronto lounge

It was rumoured on Flyertalk earlier this week that the British Airways lounge in Toronto was closing.

The closing date has now been confirmed by the Twitter team as 31st October.  BA will be using the Plaza Premium lounge instead, where an area will be roped off for BA passengers with a separate sub-area for First Class passengers.  It isn’t clear how pre-flight dining will be catered.

Looking at the Flyertalk comments this is another move in the wrong direction, especially as this does not appear to be one of the better Plaza Premium facilities.

Medium term, Plaza Premium is going to take over the existing British Airways space and develop a new lounge.  This will be available exclusively to BA passengers for part of the day and used as a third party lounge at other times.  It will not be staffed by BA employees, unlike the current lounge.

New SPG Moments added

Starwood Preferred Guest has released tickets for a few more O2 concerts in London.  All of these are for the SPG Suite, and include all you can drink and a very decent hot buffet.  This is the updated list of concerts currently available with the newly added ones in bold.

  • Bluesfest presents Chic feat. Nile Rogers, 27th October (15,000 points for two tickets)
  • Bluesfest presents Daryl Hall & John Oats, 29th October (15,000 points for two tickets)
  • Queens of the Stone Age, 21st November (15,000 points for two tickets)
  • Depeche Mode, 22nd November (15,000 points for two tickets)
  • Deep Purple, 23rd November (15,000 points for two tickets)
  • Little Mix, 25th November (15,000 points for two tickets)
  • Kasabian, 1st December (15,000 points for two ticekts)
  • Jamiroquai, 3rd December (15,000 points for two tickets)
  • Gorillaz, 4th December (15,000 points for two tickets)
  • Mariah Carey, 11th December (15,000 points for two tickets)
  • Disney On Ice presents Passport to Adventure, 21st December (15,000 points for two tickets)
  • Disney On Ice presents Passport to Adventure, 28th December (15,000 points for two tickets)
  • Paramore, 12th January (15,000 points for two tickets)
  • Chris Rock, 27th January, (20,000 points for two tickets)
  • Chris Rock, 28th January, (20,000 points for two tickets)

(I saw Paramore in one of Hamburg’s tiniest concert venues about 10 years ago – my friend’s boyfriend’s band was Paramore’s support act.)

You can get your tickets via the SPG Moments site here.  Click on ‘see all music moments’ and then choose Europe, London.

Amba Hotels American Express cashback offer

New Amex offers with Thistle, Amba, every and Guoman

American Express has added some new hotel cashback offers.  These are probably – but not guaranteed – showing on the ‘Offers’ section on the online statement page of one or more of your cards.  They are:

£35 off £100 at Thistle Hotels, excluding Thistle Express

£55 off £200 at every Hotels

£55 off £200 at Amba Hotels

£55 off £200 at Guoman Hotels

All offers are valid at participating London hotels, plus Thistle Poole, for stays until 17th December.  The cashback will be triggered on both prepaid and ‘pay at check-out’ bookings. Remember that you need to ‘save’ the offer to your card to trigger the payment.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

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  1. Stevie G says:

    Hall and OatEs 😉

  2. Anika – I notice some of those listed are now sold out, which ones did you book? 🙂

  3. OT: I booked an Avios reception through BA’s website for a Qatar Airways flight between Oslo and Doha. The flight is for me, my wife and my baby son (4 months). I checked the travel itineraries on both BA and Qatar’s website and my baby son’s name has been spelt different on Qatar’s website “mstr” instead of ““. I called up BA yesterday and they are saying that they have to cancel the ticket because my baby’s name will now not match his passport. They cannot rebook me on the same plane as it is now full. What are my rights here? Thanks in advance, I’m so upset as I have done nothing wrong.

    • Give QR a call directly

    • I think it is wrong advice from BA. Most airlines add ‘Mstr’ before the name for an infant. We are travelling today from Heathrow with a 4 month old that has ‘Mstr’ added. Not envisaging any problems. Incidentally NHS does that too. Nearly had a ‘Mstr’ added to his name on the birth certificate! 🙂 So I think you should James. Run it by the Qatar team

      • Concerto says:

        Yes, it stands for Master, I believe

      • ‘Master’ is the normal title for a male child. Looking at my BA booking for next week, it shows Mr Robert, Miss Molly and Master Max as ticket names.

        It is also normal for Qatar Airways to add the title to the end of the surname, so it reads ‘Burgessmr/Robert’.

        • BA does this too, it’s a GDS/Amadeus thing. Title gets put on the end of the surname field. Nothing to worry about.

    • Do nothing and 99% chance of no problem at all.

      Move to Malaysia and buy a fake Malaysian passport, male children are titled MSTR there

      • They’re titled Master in the UK too – where the Malaysian custom no doubt came from.

        Granted you won’t hear it often, but I’d say thats largely because people don’t refer to each other using titles very often – doubly so with children.

  4. BA clearly have no strategic direction beyond cut cut cut and slash. I can’t understand why anyone chooses the over any other carrier now on direct point to point services from London. They are only good for cheap ex EU and ideally when you can fly AA across the pond. Air canada must be a better option to Toronto.
    First we had the Ryanairisation of short haul. Now the norwegianisation of long haul

    • AC is worse than BA at the moment, but they are both racing towards the bottom. Have you ever been into an MLL? No BA lounge may push a minority of people towards AC, until AC takes something away, then they will come back to BA, repeat.

    • ‘ Air Canada must be a better option to Toronto’
      unless you have got loads of Avios and a 241!

    • I have some sympathy for BA on this one. You have a lounge which is used for 4-5 hours per day. Why not maximise revenue by opening it up to other airlines? The issue, presumably, is there are no other oneworld flights that could use it so it needs to become a proper third party lounge for the rest of the day. The downside is when you take all the BA staff out of it and, presumably, remove the British touches such as specific food items, magazines etc.

      • Do you think 3rd party lounges at out stations are the way to go? I have limited experience of lounge available flying, and it’s really only the last couple of years where I’ve had access. Tampa for example seems a waste of space as a lounge, very limited food, OK space, and drink, but I’m fairly easy going about things. I think well I only bought a really cheap Ex-EU business ticket so suck it up, but those on more expensive versions, and 1st class must be quite disappointed at poor facilities. Toronto always seems expensive too, so compared to say JFK you’re getting a poor offering, and on-board service too until the new business product is rolled out beyond JFK. Much of what I read indicates this is BAs main problem, inconsistency of service. UD 747 seats, especially 62AK and 64AK compared to dorm ones, that sort of thing.

      • How would that be different from SEA where BA managed to maintain a proper BA lounge while earlier that day the lounge became a decent LH lounge? After Lufthansa moved, they simply open the lounge later now.

    • People have been saying the exact same thing for what feels like 10 years now. When is it finally going to sink in for all of you that their “cut cut cut and slash” policy works!?

  5. OT: I booked an Avios reception through BA’s website for a Qatar Airways flight between Oslo and Doha. The flight is for me, my wife and my baby son (4 months). I checked the travel itineraries on both BA and Qatar’s website and my baby son’s name has been spelt different on Qatar’s website (they gassed the salutation “mstr” to the end of his name). I called up BA yesterday and they are saying that they have to cancel the ticket because my baby’s name will now not match his passport. They cannot rebook me on the same plane as it is now full. What are my rights here? Thanks in advance, I’m so upset as I have done nothing wrong.

    • the real harry1 says:

      try another BA agent first? then a Qatar agent if that fails

      or reverse order might be more logical, Qatar could be easier to ask as they made the mistake

      • See above in the answers to where you posted the first time, it’s not a mistake!

  6. By the way, just to warn you Thistle prepaid does not trigger the offer (Anika, may be consider changing your advice). I got burned last time this offer was on.
    Still considering if I should try the Melia offer which expires on the 26th Oct for a prepaid stay. Anyone has experience of that if it triggers with a prepaid stay?

    • Brighton Belle says:

      Odd, worked ok for me

    • Brighton Belle says:

      I have had things fail because I forgot to activate the offer at Amex….. OT Amex pushed out a new Apple app and it’s a dogs breakfast. Doesn’t work on ios9 now. Looks more like an A Level project. Does it look any better if you a using a rather more recent iPad?

      • the additional card I hold on BAPP no longer shows on the new style website. I spoke to Amex and I hope it will get sorted soon as it means I can not load any offers to the card.

        I could also not find a way of saving the link to the offer so the trick of moving offers to different cards may now be gone.

    • Worked for me as pre-paid in the past. And T&C says it should work – so if pre-paid I’d have no hesitation in contacting Amex to get it applied manually.

  7. Harry Hv says:

    THE pre flight dining at Toronto was excellent, shame to see it go in a way – but for those of us who aren’t flying BA any more it doesn’t really matter

    • I am always heartened to hear that all these people will not fly BA again as it makes it easier for me to get a redemption.

      • the real harry1 says:

        Unfortunately, whilst I don’t doubt Harry Hv’s sincerity, comments like that are meaningless in gauging wider public opinion. BA’s financial contribution to IAG goes from strength to strength. I’m pretty happy with European fares getting cheaper and cheaper.

        Same as the Ryanair story – the most hated airline in Europe was disparaged widely and criticised in the pre-let’s-be-nicer days for its charges and general behaviour – all whilst passenger numbers have gone from 60 million pa 8 years ago to 130 million this year.

  8. The current lounge is NOT staffed by BA employees either. They may work in a BA-owned lounge but they are third-party staff.

  9. BA-Flyer says:

    InterContinental Ambassador. Does anyone know how long after your memberships expires you can still renew at the cheaper rate? Or is it a case of 1 day after expiry you have to join as a new member again?

  10. I have been flying on average twice a year to Atlanta for the past 11 years. Generally club but on occasions first. These are self pay vacations with my wife. Before the new international terminal was built BA had its own dedicated lounge shared with Lufthansa. There was a First small lounge separated from Club. Since the ne international terminal has been built both BA first and club passengers have to use a lounge which anybody can gain access for about $35 and is also used by Priority Pass holders. It is always very busy when we use it and certainly when travelling First feel rather cheated. We have expected something more “special”.

  11. Lady London says:

    OT: Which airline in Star Alliance are people currently collecting miles with? I’ve got a couple of Economy longhauls on Star Alliance coming up. Ability to take more luggage is often important to me. I have no idea where to credit them. My usual use of miles is short haul flights in Europe, USA, and Australasia. I tried Aegean for a while but I can’t do their minimum required flights on Aegean.

    Are Asiana and Turkish still worth considering? I was also wondering whether AS could be worth considering.

  12. Jamie Carter says:

    Thanks for the heads up on the SPG Moments offers. I’m pretty ecstatic that I just bagged myself 2 tickets to Mariah Carey in December for 15000 points.

  13. Just got an email from every hotels – apparently, you can book the Piccadilly hotel for (from) £129 per night from Tuesday, for stays from 15 December to mid-Jan. With the Amex offer, that works out at about 100 pounds a night, which is not bad for the location, especially given that you can get free breakfast there quite easily.

  14. the real harry1 says:

    O/T got another £30 back this morning on the Esso Amex deal (6x success emails)

    £30 off my £60 of diesel for the badass 4WD 🙂

    Wally are you on HUKD?

    • I feel for you.

      On the cold winter mornings ahead, the rumble of my ex station car 4×4 (hence MPG didn’t matter) on the school run of a short mile or two makes the MPG number drop into mid single figures (though it marginally improves).

      Pressing the button and seeing 6 MPG is akin to getting the magic 666 number !

      (6 miles per 2 x school run, 6 miles per gallon and £6 a gallon to boot !).

      It’s probably -6c outside as well.

      • the real harry1 says:

        heh heh!

        yep mine gives something rubbish like 30p/ mile – compared to my BMW 320d which @ 70 mpg gets me to LHR from Cornwall & back for £40! 🙂

        but it’s a 21YO worthless rustheap – actually no bodywork rust on it all, it’s a Toyota – and I can dump it overnight & leave it with no fears whatsoever that anybody would want to pinch it, just did that today & walked home 12 miles to get my 5 a day (or something like that)

        Wally: give me contact details & I’ll sort you out w/ Esso

        • Genghis says:

          Good advice, as always. I remember going for grad jobs and those psychometric tests require a certain mentality that simply requires a bit of practice.

        • Wally1976 says:

          Thanks Harry :-). Not really used HUKD before but you should be able to send me a message @petewally1976.

      • You do a ‘school run’ for a mile or two?! No wonder the country is a mess. What happened to kids walking to school?

        • the real harry1 says:

          sounds like Canada not UK

          wind in your neck

        • The rules now allow you to send your kids to any school you want in your council area, don’t they?

        • the real harry1 says:

          what I don’t get about the newspaper articles telling us about higher house prices near good schools, is that they usually cite the grammar schools eg

          yet living in proximity to the school is usually a very minor points item (if at all) on the scoring (& getting a place), probably having a sibling there helps but in reality it’s nearly all about the entrance exams

          and from experience I can tell you that as long as your child is mildly clever, you can coach them to perform well just by practice – some people pay but my wife & I did it ourselves, she covered maths & I got English, our daughter came 50th in the practice test but with a bit of coaching and incentivisation (basically, money bribes), she came 15th in the real exam (2 girls grammar schools so 240 places up for grabs)

          anyway, the catchment areas for grammar schools are huge, basically they accept any student who does well in the exams, regardless of where they live

          you can monetise the value of this, I guess (Raffles?) any decent independent secondary school is going to charge about £20K a year or more, so your time spent coaching (or paying for a coach if you can’t do it yourself) has saved maybe 7x £20k = £140K to ensure a decent education outcome

        • the real harry1 says:

          oh & Raffles – you can choose a school in any council area you like, we live in Cornwall but my kids go to grammar schools in Devon

        • the real harry1 says:

          we could take the financial logic a bit further, some people won’t work it out until it’s too late

          OK here we have somebody (let’s call him Raffles) who has every intention of sending his 2 kids to a decent independent school as that is one effective way of ensuring an optimised education outcome – you pay the money, you get the results, in most cases

          yet living in London, our Raffles could send his kids on the train & taxi to two of the excellent Bucks grammar schools, eg Beaconsfield (girls) & Dr Challoner’s (boys, Amersham).

          thus saving himself 14x £20K = £240K

        • the real harry1 says:

          OK I’m wrong

          (catchment area)

          strange, as down here, they don’t have this rule – I guess every school will have its own policy on the issue of catchment area, so worth checking & in that case my logic might work for you

        • Genghis says:

          Good arguments TRH1. We bought in an area close to both good primary and grammar schools so that’s our plan…

        • the real harry1 says:

          actually I was right all along

          catchment area doesn’t matter so as long as you do well in the entrance exams, the issue of where you live is irrelevant

        • the real harry1 says:

          @Genghis, you have time on your side 🙂

          what I suggest is: obviously force them to read as much as possible, as early as possible plus get the maths brain ticking

          then once they get close to 11 – say, start @ 9 – get the 11+ books that are freely for sale (actually there are 10+ and 9+ books as well) & incentivise them to work at it

          as an optimist I think 95% of us are pretty bright, but some don’t get the training or opportunity to shine – just make sure you optimise their outcomes

          I remember about 25 years ago we had one of those FTSE100 re-organisations where they are going to sack 40% of you ‘to save money’ (or so they claim) and everybody has to fight for their jobs with tests and interviews

          I learned early about the IQ tests so immediately bought a few IQ test books and started working on it pretty seriously, a couple of hours a day

          I came top out of about 30 managers in those tests, I later learned – not remotely because I was the most intelligent (these were rather good colleagues) but because I’d prepared properly…

      • the real harry1 says:

        too blimming polite to correct to £280K 🙂

  15. OT Amex related, does anyone know if there is VAT included in the Annual Fee for the Gold Business Card or is the fee exempt from VAT?

    Reason I ask is I am sure I read somewhere that VAT was included

    • Genghis says:

      Supplying credit type services is normally a VAT exempt supply.

      • That is what they have said as well but I note additional cards for certain types of card do contain VAT which had me a bit confused but I guess they are charging for the actual production of the card in that case.

      • Never been offered a VAT receipt, neither have I ever seen Amex quoting a VAT number.

        • Thanks wanted it confirmed with the HFP experts on Amex as don’t trust the amex staff :`

  16. I think a well run 3rd party with a properly funded contract could easily be a better way of running lounges at outposts. There must be economies of scale in partnering with a lounge which already opens and generally things should be bette taken care of if you have a full time team of staff.

    Hopefully BA will cough up for nice pre flight dining and the only difference will be where it is and who it is served by.

    Just passed through Chicago’s new AA admirals flagship first lounge. BA should call whoever designed that to get inspiration for 1st class outposts.

    • The problem comes when there are flight distruptions and the lougne staff no longer have the power nor facilities to rebook or alter travellers bookings.

  17. Peter K says:

    I’m trying to book a Marriott Travel Package. The first (American) lady I spoke to was saying these are not bookable with points, only cash!! She also said I needed to say what “hotel and state” I wanted to book into and refused to go any further without this. Eventually she has put me through to someone else and I’m on hold.
    Do I need to have decided which hotel I want to go to as I just wanted to get the 270k Marriott point package while the BAEC 35% conversion bonus was on then choose a hotel later and upgrade to more than a category 1-5 when I had decided?

    • Peter K says:

      I’ve just got through to another representative (after 20 mins on hold) and they have done it perfectly fine with no need to choose a hotel in advance. 3 days to transfer the miles to BA apparently and as previously been said you can upgrade the package at a later date to a higher category of hotel.

      • the real harry1 says:

        sounds good & nice success to you, I think Genghis also mentioned it?

        how are they making any money out of this?

        • Peter K says:

          I imagine they hope you will be loyal to them and also buy lunches/dinners at the hotels you are staying at. Or pay cash to upgrade like Rob does.

        • Genghis says:

          They seemed equally useless when I called on Wed but then I called it what it was: a 7 night stay and airline miles package and they then understood. Miles posted within 2 days for me

        • rams1981 says:

          7 days is a hard stretch for me. Maybe Cape Town as not booked that yet. Where do people tend to stay for 7 days in the same hotel?

        • Genghis says:

          Relaxing stays. We stayed in a Bali beach hotel recently for 7 nights and could easily do a similar holiday again. I used to love rushing around exploring but as I’m getting older can appreciate more relaxing stays – have a nice breakfast, have a swim, do some reading, a nice lunch, some booze etc.

          Cape Town only have Protea hotels, a bit of a waste of the certificate perhaps

        • Genghis says:

          Sorry – there is the African Pride brand too

        • the real harry1 says:

          breakfast/ booze? sort of interchangeable at the weekend 🙂

        • I booked at African Pride in CPT using a cert in January.

          Will report back after!

  18. BA do this in Tel Aviv where they use one of the Dan Lounges that is available exclusively to BA passengers for part of the day and used as a third party lounge at other times. Like all the Dan Lounges at Tel Aviv, this one is not worth going out of your way for. They are dated, crowded and without any decent food or any computer access.

    • Genghis says:

      One of the worst lounges I’ve been to. I was starving after my proper search at security

  19. Can u earn 2 Ba companion vouchers on 1 acc in 1 year by completing 10k spend on premium card then reverting to the free ba card and then spending another 10k on the free card to make 20k total spend in a year to trip the voucher for 20k spend ?

    Hope this makes some sense.

    • Genghis says:

      No. You can spend £10k, wait 6 months, apply again and get another bonus and then spend another £10k for a total of two vouchers earned within the year though. I guess it’s possible to do it again and have 3 vouchers sitting in your account

      • Stuart F says:

        But with the free card voucher having only 1 year validity vs 2 years on the premium card, wouldn’t the first voucher have expired by the time you qualify for the third using this scheme?

        • Genghis says:

          There was meant to be a “and cancel” in there and assuming all BAPP.
          Ie. Month 1 apply, spend £10k, cancel
          Month 8 apply, spend £10k, cancel
          Month 15 apply, spend £10k, cancel
          Voilà, 3 vouchers.

  20. The new Amex website is horrendous. They have totally ruined it. Almost unusable. What on earth were they thinking????