Bits: our NYC competition winner, Cobalt Air to launch Heathrow-Larnaca, £60 off flight + hotel with ebookers

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News in brief:

Announcing our NYC competition winner!

Earlier this month we asked for your help in working with an airline on a research piece which we linked to a competition.

The airline was interested in what airline you would fly with – in economy – if price was not an issue and airline miles or elite status benefits were not an issue.  In order to get a genuine result the prize was two economy flights to New York on the carrier the winner had said was their favourite.

We can now announce the winner!

Nick G. and a friend will fly to New York on his choice of preferred carrier, Virgin Atlantic.  Well done Nick.

We are not going to say if Virgin was the airline who sponsored the competition or not, as we might be doing something similar (but bigger and better) in the near future given the fantastic response we had.

Cobalt Air to launch Heathrow to Larnaca flights with new business class seat

Cobalt Air has announced daily flights between London Heathrow and Larnaca, Cyprus from 27th March 2018.

This adds a further daily flight to Cobalt’s current flights from London Gatwick and Stansted.

The outbound flight will leave London Heathrow’s Terminal 3 at 17:20 arriving in Larnaca at 23:50 and the inbound flight will leave Larnaca at 12:45 arriving in Heathrow at 15:45.

The Terminal 3 departure means that there are two good lounges for economy passengers if they have the right card – No 1 Lounge, reviewed here, and the new Club Aspire, reviewed here.  Cobalt will almost certainly do a deal with one of these for its business class passengers.

Flights will be operated by an A320 with 12 business class seats and 144 economy seats featuring Cobalt’s new business product as shown in the picture below.

Larnaca is one of the longest BA short-haul routes and there are occasional rumours, increasing recently, of it switching to a long-haul aircraft.  The Club Europe seat on a Boeing 767 really is not acceptable for a flight of 4 hours and 40 minutes.

I think this looks like an impressive alternative to BA on this route.  You can find out more on the Cobalt website here.

Cobalt Air Business Seat

£60 off flight + hotel with ebookers

ebookers has launched a new money off code for ‘flight + hotel’ package bookings as its sale reaches its end.

Until 31st January you will get £60 off a ‘flight + hotel’ booking of £500+ when using the code LASTCHANCE60 at checkout.

The stay period for this offer is 24th January until 31st October.

Whilst this offer sounds generous, note that most branded hotels are excluded from the offerthe full list is here.

(Want to earn more Virgin Flying Club miles?  Click here to see our recent articles on Virgin Atlantic and Flying Club and click here for our home page with the latest news on earning and spending other airline and hotel points.)

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Comments

  1. Raffles says:

    Travel insurance isn’t cheap if you’ve got a family especially if heading to North America.

    Think of Plat as Gareth Bale and you as Spurs. You can flog Bale and use the money for 6 players each of which equals Bale in one area, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it makes sense.

    Similarly, you can buy a camera, torch, diary, stopwatch etc for less than an iPhone but …..

    • Tom Cook says:

      Thanks Rob.

    • Mark1980 says:

      This may have been answered in the article from the other day, but I presume the new churning rules (if they come in to force) won’t stop you from getting the card again, it will just stop you from getting the sign up bonus again?

    • RussellH says:

      And when you drop your iPhone down the loo, you have al;so dropped your camera, torch, diary, stopwatch etc.
      🙂

      Alternatively, if you already have camera, torch, diary, stopwatch etc (and you actually feel that you need all these) then you can get by on a phone that just makes phone calls.

    • Tom Cook says:

      Sorry, just a thought, I always assumed the travel insurance benefit with the plat card only applied if you paid for the trip / car hire etc on that plat card?

      • No, any UK personal Amex is ok for small stuff and big stuff is covered regardless.

      • Tom Cook says:

        I feel like I’m being a bit dim here (!) as the summary of the travel benefits state;

        “Pay with your Platinum Card and you’ll enjoy worldwide protection for you, your partner, your children and your Supplementary Cardmembers.”

        If you don’t pay with the Plat card then surely that means that you’ll not get the protection? We often pay for our hols on our BAPP for the 3 avios per £ with BA but are you suggesting that we’d be covered by my Plat?

      • Genghis says:

        So for the small stuff that Rob refers to, see 1.2 at https://icm.aexp-static.com/Internet/internationalcardshop/en_gb/pdf/platinum-card/UK_Platinum_Charge_Insurance_Documentation_v1_0.pdf

        For the benefits under this section to apply transport and/or accommodation must have been Purchased in full using:
        I. the Card;

        Where “Card” means any card or other Account access device issued to a Cardmember (or a Supplementary Cardmember) for the purpose of accessing the Account.

        And
        “Account” or “Card Account” means your consumer and small business cards issued by American Express in the UK, excluding corporate cards and any American Express Cards issued by bank partners.

      • Tom Cook says:

        Thanks G!

  2. If you have not already done so, the return on 5 referrals could wipe out the cost to you of keeping it. Remember, you can now refer any card, except it seems the new ARCC, so you are not trying to persuade others to take platinum.

  3. I really hope they change the BA planes to Larnaca before May . I booked using my companion voucher as I hadn’t used it and it was due to expire . Thought it would be a nice trip for some early sun for my partner’s birthday . And I thought £100 got two business class flights wasn’t bad …. until I realised it was the same seating as short haul for flights of nearly 5 hours ☹️. He is 6ft 3 …. he’s not going to like it

    • Chris L says:

      I’ve done the same, Joan. Actually one advantage of the 767 which is normally used is they still have the old CE seats which are a bit more roomy than the economy seats (and especially more so than those on the A320s!). If you book the middle section of a 767 you get a blocked out middle seat as well, so slightly more space that the window sections in 2s. If you’re on the earlier flight it’s normally an A320, but the later departure (BA0662) has normally been a 767, though these are being retired this year and things are therefore uncertain.

      • Thanks Chris – I’ve booked middle for the outward journey . Looks like 2 / 2 configuration for the return so I guess that’s a different plane

        • Chris L says:

          Probably an A320 on the way back, which means in Club Europe you’ll still get a blocked out middle seat with a little table on it. OK it’s not the most comfortable way to travel in the world, but you’ll be more comfortable than those in Economy!! Bear in mind you’ll also have lounge access, priority boarding, a 3-course meal with champagne and wine, and 4 x 32kg bags of luggage between you for your souvenirs. You could do worse for £100!

      • Yes we went to Valencia club Europe last week ( obviously a much shorter flight ) and I was surprised at how tasty the food was – we had a lovely lunch coming back of four courses ! And on the way out I had to have champagne at 6.30am in the lounge … well it was my birthday!

    • The business seats on the 767 are fine for legroom – 6’1 here and had loads of room coming back from ARN this month.

  4. I just cancelled my Plat, as I was approaching my original gold anniversary and didn’t want to be charged the fee, however because my husband now has the platinum it was an easier decision. It may not be if Amex do change the rules re sign up bonus

    • So, if I have the gold Amex (first year without charge) and I upgrade to Plat, I will be charged £450 on the Gold anniversary? I thought I will be charged straight away.

  5. I dithered between Virgin and BA…

    But then once I added the mental filters for points, lounge and so forth and focussed on the economy product to get me from London to New York, I went for United.

    It surprised me too.

  6. OT re Curve card: anyone understand the waitlist system? Applied for a consumer card a few days ago and my place was about 50000. Next day it dropped to 7000ish, but no movement at all after that. Did they really issue a batch of 43000 cards in one go and then stop?
    Not sure if I should expect a card in days, weeks, months, or years.
    (I know you can improve your position by referring – haven’t tried that yet.)
    Thanks for any enlightenment.

    • FlyingChris says:

      Exactly the same. Used Rob’s link, jumped to 7000ish from 49,000ish overnight. Referred the other half. She got instantly through and I haven’t moved any further! How bizarre. Hoping she hasn’t actually got the business version by mistake.

    • +1, it now seems to be dropping slowly day on day. I don’t need mine until my Lloyds MasterCard earning year restarts next month so I’ll just keep an eye on it.

  7. Arriving in Larnaca at 23.50…….very useful. Clearly stealing a trick from Lyin’ Air.

  8. O/T I’m reading in some foreign press that all licensed Amex cards in the EU must end by 31 Dec 2019.

  9. Stuart_f says:

    Also bear in mind the £450 is refunded pro-rata if you cancel so there’s no major loss if you hang on for another month to see what changes with sign up bonuses before cancelling.

  10. Off Topic: The Heathrow Rewards 50% conversion bonus to Avios.
    In the back of mind wasn’t it 100% bonus last year? (Not taking into account this new tier) I signed up for the deal where I got the 3k points for hitting the spending target, so I am now tempted to move it over before the end of Jan but I just wanted to check others opinions?

    • Genghis says:

      I converted mine to avios at 50% bonus last time but I wish I had kept the points to use at for LHR vouchers at 100%. Effectively buying avios (in hindsight) at 1.33p! Ouch.

      • A timely reminder to us all not to be swayed by headlines and think twice, and that the host scheme in the main is the best place to keep miles and points.

  11. Well done Nick G – enjoy your flights!

    Looking forward to more competitions of a similar ilk in the future!

  12. O/T: Comparing HSBC Premier Elite (£195 fee) vs the free card. Am I right that the Elite card has a break-even point of £39,000 of yearly spend? I am confused by Rob saying it must be six digit figures spend in his review.

    • If you value an Avios at 1p then yes. However a) I am not a buyer at 1p and b) you are investing £195 up front. I am a buy of Avios at 0.4p to 0.5p which is where my £100k figure comes from.

      • New Card says:

        I think I must be being dim but I can’t understand the maths here.

        The fee paying HSBC card gives 2 points = 1 Avios per £1 spent in the UK. So to recoup the £195 fee in Avios, I think one needs to spend £19.5k on the card?

        That’s also not including the value of the initial 40,000 (20,000 Avios) sign up bonus and the second 40,000 (20,000 Avios) sign up bonus which some people have managed to get HSBC to pay out (in accordance with their Terms) in year one. Plus the family travel insurance & Lounge Key …

        • New Card says:

          Sorry – think I have worked this out. Opportunity cost is £19.5k of spend on the free HSBC card at half the earnings rate. Got it now!

      • Thanks Rob. Makes sense now.
        With the Curve debit bombshell – is IHG Premium a no-brainer for high spenders then?

  13. I’m in the same position – upgraded around June but haven’t got around to cancelling it yet… made use of the new referral bonuses, but don’t think there is anyone else to refer at the moment. And last weekend away before the Gold anniversary is this weekend – so will be planning to transfer points out and cancel next week most likely!

  14. OT, if you get declined for a Gold Card and your not sure why that would happen (first amex application) how long would you leave it before applying again?

    Thanks in advance.

    • The simplest explanation is too many other cards and/or too much credit relative to your income. If you suspect this to be the reason then reduce some debt and/or close some cards. Leave 2-3 months for this to be reflected on your credit file then apply again. However, if you can see no reason for rejection you could try challenging the decusion in writing, there are mixed reports on success of doing so.

    • 3 months.

      • Is this a judgement call or a rule Rob? After getting rejected for the SPG card last November during the period of reported system errors I was wondering whether to try applying again now or leaving it a few months. If I leave it I run the risk of getting caught up in new churn rules.

        • Judgement call, but based on the fact that I believe Amex does have a rule – according to a reader who mentioned it on here a while back after he asked – and it was 2-3 months I’m sure.

        • Amex seem to have a three month rule. I reapplied inside this once and got a letter to let me know they considered it a duplicate and cancelled the application before the hard score. This was at ~2months

        • Thanks Rob & George, I guess I better give it a miss then. Must be a card-specific rule though as I successfully applied for PRG less than one month after getting rejected for SPG.

        • I have always found the current balance to be a big factor in my acceptance – if I spend a few weeks clearing balances before statements then I’m accepted nearly all the time. Let my usual spending run and clear at due as I would normally do and I find myself getting referred a lot more.

      • Believe Amex have a 90-day logic when their internal systems seem to reject same-card applications if done within 90 days.

        • Thanks, comments seem to be supporting this. Not good news but understandable and useful for us all to be aware of it.

      • Tom Cook says:

        3 months is right – when I got knocked back in error for the SPG card I rang and asked why this had happened, albeit 2 months later. They retrieved the application as they said that technically i wouldn’t be able to reapply until late Jan so they reopened and approved the initial application.

        • Were you referred Tom, and if so, was the referral hnoured? I let Rob refer me for the application that was rejected, I could do the same as you or risk waiting a few weeks and starting again after three months have elapsed.

        • Tom Cook says:

          Rob referred me – when they said that they would approve the original I asked about the referrer and they said that they would go back to the original reference and honour that. Wonder if Rob can confirm if he has an SPG bump more than he expected!

        • Impossible to track because about 25% of those I refer get rejected or do not apply in the end so you cannot match them up.

  15. Lady London says:

    Could this be an upside to Brexit then ? We won’t be in the EU after that…

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