Bits: Aspire lounge in Gatwick North to close, Hilton status match extended?, Radisson rebranding

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News in brief:

Aspire lounge in Gatwick North to close for refurbishment

Aspire has announced that its lounge in Gatwick North will close on 26th February for refurbishment.  It will re-open under the Club Aspire format in May.

This is the oldest Aspire lounge in the portfolio, albeit only 6 years old, so the company clearly believes it is due a revamp.

This closure will put additional pressure on the No 1 Lounge (reviewed here) and My Lounge (reviewed here).  If you are planning to visit Gatwick North – the easyJet terminal – with a Priority Pass or Lounge Club card you may want to consider paying £5 per person via this link to reserve a spot and guarantee admission, as well as getting Fast Track Security.

Hilton Honors status match extended?

Hilton Honors has been running a very generous status match for the last 18 months or so.  It was so good, I did it myself.

Via this link, you can match your top tier or mid tier status in any other hotel scheme to Hilton Honors.  You will get Hilton Gold or Diamond status for 90 days, effective immediately, with your status extended if you complete four or eight stays respectively in the period.  Reward stays count.

I did this challenge last year, picking up Diamond status until 31st March 2019.

The status match website still stays that your new status, if you complete the four or eight stays, will expire on 31st March 2019.  That is less useful than it was a year ago when I got mine.  However, a reader who just completed his 8th stay has been told that his Diamond status will run until 31st March 2020.

Hopefully Hilton will update the status match website soon to reflect this new closing date.  If you are tempted to sign up before the site shows a 2020 expiry date, I would contact Hilton Honors in writing first for confirmation.  You don’t want to do four or eight stays just to find that your status ends in 12 months.

Radisson Blu Hamburg Airport

Changes ahead for Radisson and Club Carlson

Skift published this interesting article about the Radisson hotel group yesterday.  They certainly have a job on their hands, having been acquired by a Chinese conglomerate which is now reportedly in financial difficulties.

If there was a prize for most complex hotel group then Radisson would win it by a mile.  Carlson Hotels, based in the US and wholly owned by HNA, controls the group. Rezidor Hotel Group, which is the master franchisor for Carlson, is only 70% owned by HNA and retains a listing in Sweden.  The two companies are jointly referred to as Carlson Rezidor although we are now meant to call them Radisson Hotel Group.

(For extra fun, neither Carlson nor Rezidor actually controls Park Plaza and art’otel, two of the brands in the portfolio, in 56 countries across EMEA including the UK.  These properties are run by PPHE Hotel Group, quoted in London, although bookings are handled by Radisson and the properties are part of Club Carlson.)

Here are some of the changes underway as Radisson attempts to get itself up to the level of the other major brands:

10% of Radisson hotels in the USA to be deflagged (the general standard of Radisson hotels in the US is very poor, apart from a couple of Radisson Blu properties)

25% of Radisson hotels in the USA to be told to ‘shape up or ship out’

Radisson Blu hotels to be targeted for 21 major US ‘gateway’ cities

60% of the EMEA properties “losing revenue due to some opportunities that we have seen regarding the asset or the brand realization” (ie they need refurbishment or rebranding to reflect their current condition)

30 of the 60 leased hotels in Europe, Middle East and Africa are losing money

High-end Quorvus Collection to be rebranded as Radisson Collection

Club Carlson to be rebranded, although the new name has not been released

If you have 5 minutes to spare the full article is worth a read if you’re interested in the corporate side of this business.

Thanks to TravelBloggerBuzz.  The photo above is the decent Radisson Blu Hamburg Airport.

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

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  1. I miss Harry !

  2. Anybody knkw if the Hilton status match is matching IHG platinum to gold or diamond? I should be gold when my diamond status ends in March as a reshlt of amex p,atinum benefit but would like to get back to diamond.

    • Tomh1987 says:

      they matched me to Diamond 6 months ago from IHG Plat

      • Thanks Tom, good news. Enjoy your status. Worked great for me for the last three years.

    • Pangolin says:

      Check the Status Matcher site to see if it’s changed recently. Hilton should match IHG Plat with Diamond though.

      • Those of us who actually EARN Hilton Diamond hope not! 🙂

      • Thanks, forgot about that.

        @Dale, if I had pushed it I could have earned it this year for the first time ever but then an oppoftunity from IHG came along I couldn’t pass up.

  3. Early OT, but lounge related. As we now have a 6 hour wait at LHR, due to BA deciding to cull the Saturday LHR-MAN connection, are there any pre-bookable lounges at T5 where we could go for some of this time? I don’t want to rely on Lounge Club as it’s bound to be very busy on a summer weekend.

    • Anna, would a reroute to LBA be a viable option to resolve the layover issue?

      • Not really as our car will be at MAN! I’ve just spoken to UK CS and they haven’t got a clue why so many flights have been cancelled but were in agreement that there will be huge issues as availability will be near to zero even 6 – 7 months out.

        • Think a re route to LBA but a prepaid cab to get you over to MAN to pick up your car, maybe?

        • The only flight showing that day is 0920, we don’t land till 1200 but thanks for the thought!

        • @Anna, I’m guessing you have 3 seats which will now be very valuable to BA if they could sell them. You could try calling again, ask for a supervisor and offer a trade for a one way car transfer to MAN. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Only fownside us that that long layover has value as insurance against a delay to your longhaul.

        • JamesB, I will give that a go – those seats are now selling at £300 one way! Just out of interest I checked LBA and EDI, both look as though Saturday services have been somewhat reduced.

        • Tom Cook says:

          We’ve been mixing MAN and LBA of late to try to make better use of the changing timetables – taxi to Manchester for £50, fly back to Leeds, taxi home £15 or better £0 if my old man can pick us up!

    • If you have Priority Pass you could use the landside Plaza Premium arrivals lounges at T2 and T4, you’d have plenty of time to do that.

      As for T5 airside I’m not sure if Aspire or Plaza Premium in T5 airside take paid bookings but that will usually guarantee access for a given time slot. For walk-ups Aspire has had a queue out the door every time I have been past it and expect a summer Saturday will be very busy. The new Plaza Premium Lounge doesn’t currently take Priority Pass but you can get in with an Amex Plat it you have that. I plan to check it out this weekend so can report back.

      • Or you could properly escape and do a wee trip to Windsor if it’s a nice day…

      • The_real_a says:

        I do this often. The shower are nice and food ok if a littke small. The plaza premium is virtually empty in T5 each time i use that but im not paying 20quid forba shower. (Not included with amex plat entry)

    • I would book a one way car hire rather than sit around Heathrow for 6 hours.

      • Mr(s) Entitled says:

        The drive from MAN to LHR isnt that bad. Any connection over 2hrs and I’d rather take my destiny into my own hands and drive. I’ve been burnt too many times with the domestic flight being delayed turning a long connection into an unbearable one, especially with tired little ones,

        • Indeed! I’m trying to formulate a Plan B (see below) but it will depend on getting an extra couple of days off work.

      • Lady London says:

        Gordon Ramsay’s is highly recommended even for breakfast. A few people have told me they use it even when they could use the T5 BA Gold lounge. Not sure it would do for six hours’ worth of wait though!

  4. OT 1. HH bonus on transfer of Amex, did mine 4th Jan still no bonus, HH say it’s Amex, anyone know if that’s true.
    OT 2. Find the occurrence of failure using Android pay or contactless with Amex is getting worse. Outside of TfL and Pret I know longer expect it to work. I’m wondering if this is more than accidental, and a good way of limiting the amount of people bothering with Amex.

    • I don’t know why payments are failing but I do think banks are starting to realise how much money they are losing through theft of contactless cards – they can be used multiple times before thefts are spotted and reported, it’s started an entire new wave of organised crime.

      • I had my wallet stolen last month, and the person who took it went on a contactless spending spree and spent around £750 before I’d even realised it was gone!

      • We had an PRGC stolen in the post – they managed to activate it and get pin through the app. Amex cancelled it within hours (after ~£2000 of charges!) but I saw that they continued to get contactless transactions through for several days afterwards, so even reporting a card cannot stop it.

    • Andrew M says:

      RE OT1. No idea, but still waiting. Given those with transfers in Dec seemed to get around 23 Jan, I’m thinking could still be around 10 days yet. Hoping not, as getting mighty close to my Plat anniversary, and I want to cancel!

  5. Michael C says:

    Only slightly OT, but the “lounge” at the Park Plaza Victoria last week was one of the most hysterical I’ve seen in my life: zero (lieterally) people on Sat. evening, one screw-top bottle of Spanish plonk, and one plate of mystery…sweet and sour battered meatballs?!

    • I was there on Sunday 4th Feb arrived at 7 45 pm lounge only had a bit of fruit and a couple of cakes. Went down to reception had a word with duty manager re the lounge offerings, she had a word with the bar manager the result was I had a free bar for the rest of the evening plus a plate of nibbles.
      This was my 4th Stay in the last 6 months booking the cheapest rate and have always been upgraded to exec room with lounge access.

  6. OT – took the plunge last night and used the upgrade link posted on HFP to upgrade my PRG to Plat, mainly for the 20k MR, HH gold status and priority pass. Hoping can also use the insurance rather than renew annual cover we have expiring mid way through trip to Toronto. Got message saying couldn’t make decision immediately and would be 10 days before finding out if approved. Logged into online acct this morning and my gold is now showing as a plat. Not had any email though from amex to say approved. Is this normal?

    • Brighton Belle says:

      Did the same last month, app updates within a day if approved, cards arrive around 4 days later.
      When Amex imposed the age 70 cutoff on insurance they killed Platinum for me (almost). The £200 travel promo in January plus Priority Pass for 2 just about funds the annual fee for this year.

      I won’t renew. The card benefits, MR points earning and the dull offers aren’t big enough to keep me.

    • Tilly – things seem to be moving a lot slower at Amex nowadays. I applied for the Gold companion credit card last Monday, contacted Amex on Sunday via “chat” asking if I’d been approved, which was less than useless, and today received an email saying “welcome to paperless statements”!

      • Jumble Tales says:

        Same here. Applied for PRG last Tuesday night. Got the “can’t make an instant decision…allow ten working days” for the first time. Chased by phone.They just repeated the same. Not heard any more.

    • fivebobbill says:

      Happens to me every time now, used to be of mild concern when initially “snubbed” by the “10 days” message, but now i just take it as the norm. New card always arrives in 2 or 3 days, and if lucky, a welcome email in a week or two!

    • Seems to be. Your post is verbatim of my recent experience of upgrading last month. You should have your card by Thursday maybe even tommorrow. The welcome pack is too big for a regular post box though. Unless mine is particularly small.

      • Yes be aware the pack is definitely too big for a regular letter box. I know to my cost as 7 weeks ago the the post man ripped the flap off my letter box trying to force the PLAT pack through it….arrrgh. I have added the cost of repair to budget for my AVIOS collecting hobby – an unexpected additional cost.

      • Think your’s is small, fits through ours no problem!

    • Thanks all! Good to know. I have the rest of a new sofa to pay in the next month before delivery which is way more than the £1k spend required to hit the target for 20k bonus MR. Now need to work out how I upgrade my silver HH to gold via this card.

  7. Pangolin says:

    I got matched to Diamond status yesterday and in the email it still says (in two seperate places) that I’ll retain Diamond until March 31, 2019 if I complete the 8 stays.

    However, on FlyerTalk the consensus seems to be that you can ignore it because whoever completes the challenge is being told that they will retain Diamond till 2020. The same would apply to Gold status challenges, presumably.

    • Pangolin says:

      Doh! How on earth did I manage to misspell ‘separate’? It drives me mad when I see that spelling myself!

      That’ll teach me for posting first thing in the morning.

  8. O/T – Qatar Flights , need some advice !
    I normally wait this time of year for the companion offers in Business on Qatar. This year from LHR they dont seem to be so attractively priced. ( Paid £1573 last year, this year cheapest is around £1800)
    Thinking of booking this by tomorrow, specifically to go on the 16.00 QR8 to get the Q suite
    1) – Do you think the prices are not likley to go down
    2) Is the Q suite worth it !!
    Sorry in advance for posting on this thread. I appreciate the valuable advice from HFP readers !

  9. OT: Have a JFK trip booked for end of year, currently on 777 both ways (every single flight on our outbound was a 777 which is unusual). As the route is notorious for 747777 swaps I’d like to keep a close eye on it. Is it just down to checking MMB periodically or any smart ideas since the demise of MyFlights?

    • Snap, just booked on 777 yesterday. I’d be interested in replies.

    • Hi Stu ,
      One suggestiion could be Expert Flyer. you can enter your dates of travel and flight number and the software provides the seat map along with any vacant seats / Booked seats
      Free trial allows X number of searches per day

      • Thanks, will give that a go. Nothing seems to compare with ease of use of MyFlights, I happily paid for Gold for months covering “valuable” flights. Such a shame there was no way around GDPR for them.

  10. HSBC World Elite 2nd year Fee Update.

    Realise a few of us have this and have had issues with the T’s & C’s; HSBC have written to me that as a goodwill gesture if I change to the standard premier mastercard they will refund the £195 2nd year fee for the world elite and can keep the points.

    • HSBC elite fee. Same with us. The issue was the points, you would lose them if you dropped down to free card even one day before the year was up. If you wait until that exact day of 1 year, you are charged the fee. It’s really a no win situation. The manager who dealt with mine agreed it was a mess. They are trying to clarify it.. They said most people don’t fight it. I told her we were used to exceptional cs from amex, and that amex wouldn’t hesitate one second to refund the fee and keep us a customer. And make sure we kept our points.
      Am now waiting for a BA bonus! Some hope.

      • Lady London says:

        @Polly very impressed with your brisk answer to HSBC above “we were used to exceptional cs from amex, and that amex wouldn’t hesitate one second to refund the fee and keep us a customer. And make sure we kept our points.”

        I have filed this for my own future use.
        Btw I think the World Elite MasterCard also has access to the excellent MasterCard hotel scheme? which the standard HSBC MasterCard won’t.

  11. Following my experience at the Radisson in Crystal City a few years back, it doesn’t surprise me.

    Google Streetview is a great way to see how hotel brands change. In the link below, it’s easy to see how this hotel lost it’s Radisson brand, temporarily became a “Crystal Inn” with a classy branded tarpaulin over the original Radisson sign and following some building work is now a Hilton Garden Inn.

    (It took 4 attempts by the staff to find us a room that, at least matched the booking of two doubles, wasn’t already occupied, and had been cleaned.)

  12. Is the gold to plat link still working? If so could someone post for me?

  13. I signed up for the Hilton challenge last year, but was underwhelmed by the US Hiltons I stayed at, so I didnt complete.

    Does anyone have any experience of repeating the challenge – will they offer the same deal again?

    • Pangolin says:

      US is probably the worst choice for testing out Hiltons as everyone and his dog are Diamonds there.

      AFAIK, Hilton is the one scheme that doesn’t specifically block people from repeating a status challenge (e.g. without a five year period), so no harm in trying.

  14. The_real_a says:

    Lets hope for some club carlson pointd promotions! Always suprised there was never a points credit card in the uk for them (amex mr aside)

  15. OT: Seems like Rob has gone on strike today!

  16. Formulating Plan B – coming home via the states but definitely not in WT! There are a few F redemption seats from US cities which would alleviate the trauma of extra connections. Is one allowed in the Concorde Room when one lands at LHR from an F journey?

    • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

      Only if connecting to another flight. There is a concord breakfast area in the arrivals lounge but I wouldn’t get too excited.

      • We would be connecting to MAN, does that count?

        • Yes iv done that when connecting to ABZ

        • Yes – just hang onto your F boarding pass. You can also go landside and back into lounge complex via F Wing. It’s probably about the same time-wise as the flight connections route but a longer walk which I like to get legs moving and much quicker security. Plus it’s worth it for the novelty value of a nice check-in area and actual premium security!

      • Actually, you can go into the arrivals lounge just landing in t5 off an F flight. You don’t need to be going onwards. The concord room is lovely for nice dining. And you can book in for a nice facial if there’s a slot. Go straight to the Lee is desk when you go into the arrivals lounge.

  17. OT as bits: am I right in thinking that when booking a BA reward flight to CPT (flying to JNB and connecting on ComAir) that my bags won’t be checked all the way through?

    I think I read on here a while ago that I would need to collect the bags and then go to a different terminal and drop the bag off/go through security etc again. If so, how much time do I need between the flights to do this?

    • 4 hours minimum

    • Yes. Even if this wasn’t BA policy, though, you’d need to do it anyway due to SA customs.

    • Thanks Polly & Rob. Have booked the JNB flights on my 2-4-1 voucher (will be the first time in First!!) and will sort the connecting flights separately which will give greater flexibility with the itinerary.

  18. Off topic – Doubletree Excel or Doubletree Greenwich – which is best? Am Hilton gold and will be staying there on Saturday night with Mrs Gavin, we are spending the weekend house hunting in the area so a quiet spot to rest is the key.

    • Doubletree Excel is quiet if there is nothing on at Excel – apart from City Airport which is about 100 metres away 🙂 There is literally nothing to do except visit the pub behind it. Could not be more deserted but the airport is there (shut Sat noon to Sun noon).

    • Not sure which hotel is better but I’d stay in Greenwich over Excel. We used to live in Greenwich Town Centre. Loads of decent pubs and a few good restaurants.

      • Shame is that it’s Deptford (by the bridge) rather than Greenwich. I stay there a lot for work. It’s decent, they’ll upgrade you and give you a drinks voucher. The service isn’t always great on reception (though now they’ve settled into being a Doubletree it’s improved – the transition from Mercure through independent to DTbH was a struggle for them!), the breakfast room is odd (and in the basement so no windows). The top floor rooms are large with great views, but you need two lifts (or one lift and a flight of stairs) to get there.


        • Thanks all. Will go for Greenwich as it’s £20 cheaper, sounds like not a lot in it though. Another long weekend of tramping the streets of London trying to find somewhere we like awaits!

  19. BluehorizonUK says:

    OT but really trying to book the following but hitting brick wall. HELP!!

  20. Regarding Hilton Honours, I am sure there are a few readers who have Diamond that will expire at the end of March and would like tho keep it. Ive read the previous comments about status match and wonder can i do it before out expires? I will go down to Gold thanks to Amex Plat butt would like to stay Diamond (as it does make a difference in real world terms) and I’ve got IHG Platinum so was intrigued to hear of that route compared to the status challenge. Do I wait or apply now and do I ask for the challenge (I’ve already got 4 stays booked with Hilton’s in April but don’t know if they would be counted towards a challenge) Or do I ask for a straight match to IHG Platinum to Diamond? Many thanks guys

    • Your stays booked for April should count for status match. Are you concerned it’s because u booked them before?

      I don’t think Hilton are status matching without the 8 stay requirement

      • Thanks Louise,
        In part, yes I am wondering if those already booked count but also wanted to know if I could do a straight match to from IHG Platinum to Diamond as someone else said they got but I don’t know if they were a newbie or, like me, already had Hilton status. Will they offer me an extension basically?

    • I find it annoying that you have to do eight stays when you are already Gold; but that’s life.

      • Pangolin says:

        With Marriott you have to do 9 stays from Gold, and unlike Hilton they don’t count award stays.

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