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Bits: BA US Club World sale, Air Passenger Duty hiked, Surf Air moves to London City

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News in brief:

British Airways launches US Club World Christmas sale

This has not been officially announced yet but the fares have been loaded into ba.com.

Many US routes are showing at £1,500 (East Coast) to £1,650 (West Coast) return in Club World.

You must fly out between 25th December and 31st December.  The minimum stay is 3 days.

Book at ba.com here.

British Airways black Friday sale

Air Passenger Duty hiked in the budget

‘Premium rate’ Air Passenger Duty took another battering in the budget yesterday.  The biggest hit comes from April 2019 when – instead of increasing all bands – the entire increase is being absorbed by Premium Economy, Business and First Class passengers.  They will be paying an extra £16 per person.

Current:

Short-haul Economy: £13

Short-haul Business: £26

Long-haul Economy: £75

Long-haul Premium Economy and above: £150

From 1st April 2018:

Short-haul Economy: £13

Short-haul Business: £26

Long-haul Economy: £78

Long-haul Premium Economy and above: £156

From 1st April 2019:

Short-haul Economy: £13

Short-haul Business: £26

Long-haul Economy: £78

Long-haul Premium Economy and above: £172

Short-haul is defined as any flight under 2,000 miles.

Surf Air to fly from London City Airport

The American membership based private jet company Surf Air, which expanded to Europe earlier this year, has listened to their members and the press and is moving their London base from Luton to London City Airport.

From December, the daily Surf Air flight to Zurich will operate out of the City Airport Jet Centre using the First Class lounge which I reviewed here.  To be honest, I see this as a very positive move – both Rob and I have trialled private jet flights from Luton this year and we both felt that the trouble involved in getting to the airport outweighed many of the benefits.

A while ago Surf Air was offering a free private jet flight to top tier members of frequent flyer schemes.  I was informed that applications are now closed (although quite a few HFP readers are booked in to fly) and those who booked a flight from Luton can still fly from London City Airport.

My review of the Surf Air flight from Luton to Zurich is here.

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Comments (94)

  • Genghis says:

    Re APD, aren’t the bandings based on the distance from London to the capital city of the country you’re flying to, not the actual airport itself, so not based on the ‘flight’?

  • Pascal says:

    Thanks again for the Surf Air flight. Had a brilliant flight with my girlfriend to Ibiza a few weeks ago. Great experience…

  • Murtaza Iqbal says:

    Off topic question:

    What is the cheapest way to purchase access to a lounge in Heathrow T5? My younger brother is flying via BA to Doha and I thought I’d treat him to the lounge experience..

    Thanks 🙂

    • JamesB says:

      Any lounge experience at T5 is dire, you would be much better getting him a gift voucher to Gordon Ramsey Plane Food.

      • Frank says:

        Not so. The new T5 Plaza Premium Airside Lounge has been getting rave reviews. Better than the BA lounges is frequently mentioned.

        • JamesB says:

          Except it will become overcrowded like the rest of them, and that’s the fundamental problem.

          • Rob says:

            Not until they accept Priority Pass. If they never do, it will stay very quiet – very few Dragonpass members in UK and few Amex Plats (and the deal is not promoted anyway).

        • @mkcol says:

          And as I found yesterday when booking it for my mum, is US$49 for a 2 hour slot. 5 hour was the other option I didn’t look at.
          No idea what the walk-up rate is, but then you’d not be guaranteed entry.

        • the real harry1 says:

          @ JamesB – as reported here, quite the opposite at the moment – it’s mostly empty

          if they start accepting PP/ LC / DP etc, yes, it’ll become a scrum – no signs of that happening anytime soon

          @ Murtaza Iqbal – you could do your brother a favour by referring him for Amex Gold card (22000 MR points for him, 9000 for you), letting him hit spend target & banking the points, then getting him to upgrade to Platinum – timed to fit with his trip to Doha
          https://www.americanexpress.com/uk/content/platinum-charge/upgrade/

          another 20,000 MR points from the Plat upgrade with £1000 spend – AND he gets into the T5 Plaza Premium lounge for free (by showing the Plat card)

          he can cancel once he banks the points

          hey presto – cheap present – and your bro has banked £400 of points and got a free lounge pass

        • Genghis says:

          Good idea TRH1. And if he’s not into points / credit cards, no problem. You offer to pay the fees on the card, he uses the Priority Pass and then you add him to your BA HHA and get the points?

        • the real harry1 says:

          @ Genghis, yep with his bro’s permission, he could do that but never let bro even see the Amex cards – I’ve never (well, just once, he wanted to call the police lol) had a problem using my wife’s Amex during Shop Small

          so you get all the points & he gets a free lounge pass via PP

        • Genghis says:

          @TRH1. I use my wife’s cards during shop small too. Never had a problem

    • Rob says:

      Best option would be to find a deal for a one off Dragonpass voucher and use that at Plaza Premium. I wouldn’t pay for Aspire.

      • Lady London says:

        Pretty sure I’ve seen the Daily Mail offering the odd one off Dragonpass lounge pass at a cheaper price.

        • the real harry1 says:

          https://thetelegraph.dragonpassuk.com/
          code TELEDP16
          £18

          they have not added Plaza Premium T5 (site needs updating) so you would need to phone them to order lounge pass

        • Rob says:

          Thanks Harry. I actually have a Dragonpass article in the system waiting for a quiet day, will add this in.

          • Rob says:

            Actually, now I’ve looked at this, it is a VERY good deal – £11 less than Terminal 5 ‘on the door’ price and you get membership for a year too.

        • the real harry1 says:

          I gave Dragonpass a ring and the main DP cardholder can purchase additional visits online/ on the app – this means, for example, that a family only needs (say) Dad to buy the DP membership, then he can guest in Mum & 2 kids @ £16 each

          in before ‘it’s only £15 with Lounge Club’ etc – but you can’t get into No1 T3 or Plaza Premium T5 with Lounge Club!

    • John says:

      Dragonpass absolutely huge improvement on Airport Angel.

      It genuinely helps keep me loyal to the Barclays Travel Plus add on pack.

      Perhaps unusually I find that the insurance etc in the add on works well for me financially.

      But even if I shopped around and found marginally cheaper alternatives, the hassle free and very useful Dragonpass feature would probably keep me with Barclays.

      I’ve a suspicion that good loyalty programmes are supposed to work for the promoter as well as the customer.

      Incidentally Rob, I find that the list of available Dragonpass lounges is kept up to date on their website and app, and that they regularly cull substandard ones.

  • mark2 says:

    So, based on previous experience, will the many among us who have already paid the APD for flights between April 2018 and November 2018 have to pay the extra have to pay the extra £6?

  • Rob says:

    OT: Had this Nutmeg offer:

    As a thank you…
    Having previously collected Avios, if you commit to transferring an existing pension or ISA of more than £10,000 to Nutmeg before 22 December 2017, we will reward you with up to 100,000 Avios. That’s 10,000 Avios for every £10,000 you transfer.

    Terms and conditions apply.

    Have to keep money with them until 10th Dec 2018.

  • Jovanna says:

    The APD figures above, are those one way or for a return journey?

  • James says:

    Well even after Brexit it will probably still make a lot of sense to short-haul a positioning flight before taking the J or F long-haul ex-EU.

    Doing a good job of pricing Heathrow out of the market when it comes to connecting passengers 🙁 AND clued-up domestics 🙂 with all this tax on air fares.

    I wonder if they’d need to up it if we had, say, an extra £40Bn in the Govt’s coffers ?!

    • the real harry1 says:

      my guess is GBP will strengthen considerably over the next 20 yrs relative to EUR and USD

      the Swissie is ‘artificially’ over-highly rated for various reasons but GBP will start to be seen similarly

      ie independent well-regulated strong economy that is a safe place to dump currency and GBP is NOT the USD or EUR

      could see GBP1 = USD2 again

      • RussellH says:

        Sorry, but I really cannot see anything like that happening. Quite the opposite, I expect. Over the last 50 years, the £ fell from DM13,40 to ~ DM2,25 (€1=DM2). What possible reason could there be for reversing that trend? A “well-regulated strong economy that is a safe place to dump currency” and the United Kingdom have never belonged in the same sentence in my lifetime, though in the late 1970s / early 1980s oil receipts artificially boosted stirling, making my CHF earnings worth less than expected in GBP terms!

        If the lunatics remain in charge of the asylum, then I would expect £1=€0,85 and £1=$1 within a very few years, as the UK economy collapses further.

        As to “independent “, these days I think that there is arguably only one reasonably independent economy in the world – North Korea – though I would not apply the word reasonable to that one!

        • Sussex Bantam says:

          Be careful – Harry has taken significant money off me betting on exchange rates recently !!

          I agree with your view Russell – but I’m not putting any money on it !

  • Nick_C says:

    I think APD is particularly unfair on passengers in Premium Economy. You should be able to pay a modest premium to sit in a seat that gives a reasonable amount of space. But you have to pay an extra £75 government tax, going up to an extra £94 in 2018.

    PE is not luxury travel. It’s not business people on expenses. It’s mainly ordinary people on holiday, trying to compensate for the 18% reduction in space that economy passengers have suffered in recent years.

    And of you are going to have a higher rate of APD for premium classes, why should passengers in PE pay the same as passengers in F?

    A percentage of base fare would be more equitable.

    But yes, another reason to stay your journey in Dublin.

    • Mike says:

      Time to wake and smell the roses – everything is getting more expensive as the gap between the 2 gets wider and wider.

    • TripRep says:

      Or start in Inverness.

    • Nick says:

      Actually the majority of PE is business people on expenses, and this is increasing as companies develop stricter travel policies (a lot is downgrading from J). Obviously this doesn’t apply to Orlando in August.

      But as usual, why let facts get in the way of a good rant.

      • Nick_C says:

        Happy to be corrected if you have some facts to back up your assertion. I’m just basing my remarks on my observations of flying in PE.

        Think it’s harsh to dismiss this as a rant though. I think taxes should be fair. I don’t think taxing PE at twice the rate as Y and the same rate as F is fair, that’s all.

        And I’ve taken more flights in J than I have in PE, so this is not sour grapes!