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. 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.

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

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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. Well done Nick G – enjoy your flights!

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

  7. 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?

  8. 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!

  9. 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.

  10. Lady London says:

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

  11. wally1976 says:

    Are there any similar rumours of BA using long haul aircraft on the LGW-PFO route (very nearly as long)? I’m booked into CE late August so would be nice 🙂

  12. Does anyone have any feedback on Cobalt?
    My mother-in-law is flying MAN-LCA with them this summer – to join the rest of us going MAN-LHR-LCA on an Avios redemption.

    • I flew them LCA-BRU a few months ago. It’s a long flight in a pretty small plane but no complaints. Probably the most lax LCC on hand luggage I’ve ever seen – many people took 3 hand luggage items each on board. Fine for a half full flight like mine was but in peak summer it wouldn’t work!
      I’d fly them again.

  13. OT: If I hold a BA Amex PP, Can i refer my friend for the free card? Thanks in advance.

  14. OT: Never parked at an airport before, any tips for the best places (convenience matters, as our 18-month old will be with us!; but I’d also like to avoid being ripped off) to park for a flight from Manchester airport? I have started searching through all the comparison websites recommended by MoneySavingExpert, but it’s hard to get a true sense of what’s any good without a recommendation from someone who’s actually been themselves. Thank you.

    • We fly from MAN and never had a bad experience parking. JetParks are fine but the bus journey to the terminals is a pain. We’ve used a valet parking service which was brilliant, they often have special offers which work out nearly as good as the Park & Rides. There’s a website called Looking 4 Parking or something similar which has very reasonable prices and also has reviews of all the companies so you can get idea of what you’re getting. With a toddler I suggest you go for convenience! Also if you’re going long haul the last thing you want is a long wait for the bus back to an off site car park.

      Tip – if you do a search and don’t book, they will often send you an email offering 10% off or similar.

    • I’ve found the best/ easiest place to park is the short stay multi storey. I often get emails offering 20% off a booking once I signed up. Not expensive compared to LGW / LHR parking.

    • Tom Cook says:

      We fly often from Manchester and I have to say we use the meet and greet. It is more usually £20 than Jetparks but there is something nice about driving right up and dropping the car off. Plus you can often get some security fast passes thrown in too which makes the whole car to departure gates much more pleasant.

      • Jetparks seems a long bus ride and a long drive round the car park (think un-tarmaced wasteland) finding a space. I used I think Jetparks 3 twice, it’s right by the runway, but the opposite side to the terminal, hence the long bus ride. Based on my two AA flights last August and October fast passes would be a waste of time, there’s no meaningful fast track at that terminal, just chaos.

  15. OT – saw someone mentioned that 50% more for exchange AMEX MR to Hilton points, is this offer targeted?

  16. The Original Nick says:

    Well done Nick G

  17. Phillip says:

    I fly the LHR-LCA route multiple times a year. Although I have an unexplained fondness for the 767 (Stockholm Syndrome), I actually prefer the A320 rotation to LCA, because the empty seat gives you more personal space (unless the person sitting next to you has an infant and they decide to take over the middle seat). BA has repeatedly “expanded” Club Europe on the 767 all the way back to row 17! That’s nearly half the aircraft (90+ seats) in Club Europe! I needn’t say what happens to the service then!

    As far as soft product, Aegean has always won my vote, although latterly, the LCA-LHR was operated by the Larnaca based crew, as opposed to the Athens based crew! The difference is vast – the Athens based crew are exceptional. Aegean claimed that hiring slots became too expensive hence why they dropped the route. Cobalt has major Chinese investment and although initially started off as a low cost carrier, very quickly changed its mind to becoming a full service carrier. Plans are to soon launch flights to China from Larnaca alongside other longhaul routes, no doubt trying to attract connecting traffic.

    • There’s a lot of Chinese investment in Cypriot property, I also met a lot of South Africans out there who were buying apartments.

      • Phillip says:

        Might have something to do with easy granting of Citizenship and subsequent access to the EU…

  18. I think I entered this and registered as Nick G, but possibly another Nick G got this. When are winners getting contacted?

    • As per the rules, we contacted the winner before we announced it just to check that they did exist under that name (as the tickets will only be issued in that name). The days when we announced the winner first and then started confirming that they were ‘allowed’ to win under the rules have gone as the site has grown.

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