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

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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.

Hotel offers update – June 2021:

Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.

Want to buy hotel points? There is currently a special offer running with Marriott Bonvoy (30% discount to 20th June), Hilton Honors (100% bonus to 8th July) and World of Hyatt (30% bonus to 25th June).

Comments (81)

  • 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?

  • JW says:

    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”.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Brian says:

    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.

  • 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?

    • Talay says:

      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.

      • Nick says:

        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

        • Rob says:

          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 🙂

  • Mr Dee says:

    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.

      • Mr Dee says:

        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.

      • Rob says:

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

        • Mr Dee says:

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

  • Will says:

    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.

    • Jamie says:

      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.

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