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Bits: BA’s Heathrow domination, Amex Platinum closes ‘UK Hotel Collection’, Regus at T3

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News in brief:

How British Airways dominates Heathrow

Virgin Atlantic sent me a press release this week about the expansion of Heathrow.  There is nothing in it that you haven’t heard before, but it did contain three interesting statistics about British Airways position.

According to Virgin Atlantic, for Summer 2017:

52 short-haul routes from Heathrow were operated by just BA and other IAG airlines – including Glasgow, Dublin and Barcelona

21 long-haul routes from Heathrow were operated by just BA and other IAG airlines – including Bangalore, Buenos Aires, and Chennai

In total BA / IAG controlled 54.7% of Heathrow take-off and landing slots in Summer 2017.

I’ve no idea what you are meant to do with this information, but I found it interesting ….

American Express UK Hotel Collection

Amex Platinum closes “UK Hotel Collection”

American Express Platinum and Centurion cardholders get a number of decent hotel deals, mainly through the Fine Hotels & Resorts programme (late check-out, upgrade if available at check-in, free breakfast, bonus amenity).

A relatively new venture over the last 5-6 years is the Amex Platinum UK Hotel Collection (PDF document, this is the 2016 version – there is no 2017 version.  Mobile users should click here instead.)  It showcases 31 top properties, both city and country, such as Chewton Glen, Gleneagles, The Grove, Coworth Park, Lucknam Park and Cliveden (photo above).

Unlike many hotel promotions, this scheme manages to tick all my boxes:

Your upgrade – it is guaranteed AT TIME OF BOOKING

Late check-out – GUARANTEED for 2pm, except at two properties

Breakfast – included for two guests per room

And a special amenity, which is often a food and drink credit so as good as cash

Rates are guaranteed to be no higher than the Best Flexible Rate offered by the hotel itself.  This means, if you need a cancellable rate, you will get value here as your only alternative is Best Flex from the hotel without these benefits.  If you are happy with a cheaper, non-refundable rate, you’d need to weigh up the benefits of this programme versus the extra cost.

Unfortunately, American Express is closing the UK Hotel Collection on 31st March as you can read here.  It isn’t clear if 31st March is the last day to book or the last day to stay.

It is a shame to see the end of this offer, although Amex did a bad job of promoting it.  There has always been quite a lot of churn in the portfolio since it launched and the total number of hotels kept getting smaller.  It would have been better if all of the hotels had been folded into Fine Hotels & Resorts instead although I can imagine that some would not want to do the 4pm guaranteed check-out required by FHR members.

If you are planning a UK break over the next few weeks and have an American Express Platinum card, you may still be able to squeeze in a booking.  You can find out more here.

Regus Express now open at Heathrow Terminal 3

If you have a Regus card (or a DragonPass, as they are usually accepted at airport locations), you’ll be interested to know that the new Regus Express business centre in Heathrow Terminal 3 I wrote about a few months ago is now open.

Unlike the Terminal 5 centre, which is in the Arrivals area, this one is in Departures.  You need to go up the Terminal 3 escalators in Departures to the level where security is.  Instead of turning left towards security channel, turn right towards Pret.  Regus Express is just around the corner.

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  1. I did find it staggering that Mr Walsh should complain about Heathrow running a monopoly a couple of days ago. Perhaps if he is such a fan of competition he should give away a few slots!

    • Rob Brown says:

      But Walsh is pushing harder than anyone for Heathrow expansion so he doesn’t appear to want the monopoly.

      • Walsh has lately supported the 3rd runway because it maintains BA dominance. He vehemently opposed Borus Island as that is the only way ( short of breaking IAG up) that brings greater choice and more competition to the U.K. market.

    • Mr(s) Entitled says:

      He is an employee of IAG. Why would he do anything other than try to further IAG’s ambitions? That is what he is paid to do. Hardly astounding.

  2. How would the stats compare for any other national flag carrier at their home base?

    • or the various US carriers at their home base?

    • thehornets says:

      This was covered (at least from one perspective) in issue 8 of the Anker report:

      It’s a relatively new website but full of interesting airline and aviation stats that will probably be of interest to this community.

  3. Rob Brown says:

    I have no idea how the system works, but surely if they are worried about a BA monopoly Virgin can move some of their flights from where there is competition to these routes if they are so worried about it.

    VA press releases always seem to be more whining about what isn’t fair than talking about why they are good (obviously I have never seen any directly but from the news so probably not a fair representation) they remind me of the whiny kid at school who would never try anything and then complain that no one picked them for PE.

    • +1

    • +1 but then we’re a nation of whingers, just read most of the press for the evidence, especially the comments sections – or ask the Aussies!! I did think that Wee Willie was against the third runway for a while, good to see he’s changed his mind.

      • He is still against because he knows BA will not get any new slots and his landing fees will shoot up. It could be devastating for BA.

        • Intentionally Blank says:

          One actually hope that it is. Yes, I fully understand what I’m saying, but perhaps if BA had a worthy competitor in Europe based out of heathrow, then perhaps he’d start competing. Competition is always good for two reasons: Price and Product

    • “no one picked them for PE.”

      Good product, but I prefer their Upper Class, boom, boom 😀

    • VS’s m.o. since launch has been to complain about BA and cherry-pick their best routes. Ostensibly for ‘competition’ but really where they could make the most money. Ok, they’re a business, they found a niche, but they’re still whining after 30 years??

      BA tried Dirty Tricks, got caught, paid the damages, moved on.
      VS in turn paid their damages, but kept complaining… boohoo!

  4. I doubt the situation with BA at LHR differs much from that of other flag carriers at their main hubs in other countries. I would not be surprised if some even had substantially greater dominance. Also, I suspect any measures that might reduce BA dominance at LHR would largely see increased presence of the ME3, none of which have offered particularly great value from LHR, so there would possibly be a risk to the number of longhaul direct flights which would not ne a good thing.

    • Dominance of a hub is one thing but across Europe carriers offer better products and service because they face competition.

      LH dominate FRA but German consumers can also choose MUC DUS. BA don’t have any flights from anywhere north of the M25 except to LHR and occasionally some bucket and spade runs to improve utilisation.

      • True, but if they did, would you want to fly them given their prices and products? In reality BA already have competion from the regions and it is obviously working well because options from the regions continue to expand. Clearly we are already choosing the ME3, AF/KLM, TK, LH, AY, UA etc as oppised to BA via LHR. Tough luck on BA, they had the opportunity for years and didn’t take it. If they end up with a problem in the future from putting all their eggs in one basket so be it. It is also true that despite BA dominance at LHR people in London and the south east still have more competition than the rest of us in the regions but that is only to be expected given the population and the capital. Personally, the issues relating to BA and London airports have become almost irrelevant to me now, I can fly just about anyplace from the regions on nicer airlines from nicer airports with easier connections and better prices. IMO, those of us in tbe regions should no longer feel any need for BA or LHR.

    • It differs significantly. Although those carriers may have a similar or even greater dominance at their home bases, BA has a dominant position at an airport with very lucrative routes that other airlports don’t have, with the exception of JFK/EWR. For obvious reasons, there is a huge volume of premium banking, insurance, military, diplomatic and other business travellers between London and JFK, and other cities in the USA, and some other capitals around the world. So BA’s position at LHR is far more significant than say LH’s position at FRA.

  5. BAs position at LHR is bad news for customers. Higher fares combined with their pretty appalling service and their dated high density product.

    What Virgin have missed is that while 54% of slots are held by IAG you also need to add in the commercial agreements with the likes of AA JAL Finair etc which allows them to revenue share, set fares and schedules with those airlines and whichbfurther limit customer choice.

    Fares from LHR are the highest in Western Europe and it rare for QR for example to offer fares from the U.K. and Eire at levels they offer from Europe, because they own a chunk of IAG.

    It all adds up to bad news for consumers

    • BA’s position at LHR is broadly similar to that of AF at CDG. BA’s operations in Paris are nowhere near as big as VS/KL/DL/AF at Heathrow – strange they didn’t mention that…

      the U.K. has the most competitive aviation market in Europe and is the only European country that has a second major airline like VS (albeit it is much smaller).

  6. Re UK Hotel Collection it is for stays until end of March. Coworth Park, Chewton Glen and Four Seasons Hampshire are all FHR.

  7. Haven’t Virgin dropped many routes since their association with Delta?

  8. Slightly off topic, AMEX are no longer doing Annual Travel Insurance for new customers, this is the paid version that anyone use to be able to buy, ie independent of Plat card.

    • That’s annoying. I have had this cover for the last 5 years. Expires in May part way through my Toronto trip so need to renew.

      Still considering the gold to plat card upgrade. £450 is a lot though. I could take it out for a few months though, hit the spend for 20kMR , male use of the Hilton gold as have a few stays booked, use the lounge access for one trip where we’re booked into ET and then cancel. All by end of May.

      • That is indeed annoying. Especially as I cancelled the renewal of my Amex Travel Insurance last week as I was planning on upgrading to the platinum card. I even told the guy on the phone that was what I was doing? You would think he would know his products!!!!!

    • Yes, I thought this was the case. I bought a family member their travel insurance last year, and while it renewed a few weeks ago without hassle, I couldn’t see how I could get a quote for myself!

    • That’s disappointing. I’ve had then for couple of years earlier….

    • Seems like the want to get out of the insurance game. They used to do a great “gadget” insurance policy which basically covered anything electrical that could be used without being connected to the mains (phone, tablet, laptop etc.) It was only £12 a month and there was no excess on any claim. Was ideal for someone like myself in rented accommodation as it basically covered everything I owned that had a high value and the used to approve most claims with hardly any fuss (go to this repairer, get it fixed, email them the receipt and they’d send a cheque in the post a few days later).

      Was great until they increased the price to £18 a month and slapped on a £50-100 excess on each claim.

  9. Andrew Stock says:

    Virgin had the chance to operate LHR to Edinburgh, Manchester and Dublin, however they failed.

    • This is true.

      They were very unhappy that passengers were “only” using their product to travel between London & Edinburgh/Aberdeen rather than travel transatlantic. I was one of those passengers.

      It is one of the occasions when they shouldn’t have used the Virgin Brand. Something new that was affiliated with both Star Alliance and Virgin/Delta would have been very helpful indeed for Scottish passengers who were looking at non-Oneworld connections in London.

      Flybe now take most of the non-BA connections to EDI & ABZ.

  10. Anonymous says:

    O/T I am looking at the current Avis/VS deal for 5.5k bonus miles for a 2-day rental. I actually need a 4-day rental, so does anyone know if i make 2 separate booking of 2 days each, would I qualify to receive the bonus twice? I am concerned that as these are consecutive days I would only qualify for the bonus once. I cannot change my pickup/dropoff locations and would prefer to have less than an hour gap between rental 1 and rental 2 if possible. Any reassurance/guidance would be appreciated…

    • I’m also interested in the answer to this question, I have reached out to someone on flyertalk to see if they have an answer and I will let you know if they reply. Jovanna who posts on here sometimes may know the answer to this…

    • I know someone who used to do 3 £18 Hertz rentals per day during a big Virgin promo. You should be ok, for absolute certainty swap over at a different depot.

  11. I wonder why Virgin didn’t provide context by giving the same statistics for their co-owners’ positions at ATL and CDG? Truly, it’s a mystery, somebody call Poirot…

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