Bits: Club Eurostar redemptions to Amsterdam and Rotterdam, Qatar hits Gatwick, Ethiopian boosts Heathrow

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News in brief:

Club Eurostar adds online redemptions to Amsterdam and Rotterdam

Eurostar is gearing up for the launch of its services to the Netherlands on 4th April.

Redemption seats on the new routes for Club Eurostar members are now bookable online.  In reality – because the return trip currently requires a change of train in Brussels as passport facilities are not yet available in Amsterdam and Rotterdam – most people will choose to take the train outbound and then fly back.

There will be two trains per day from London St Pancras, leaving at 8.31am and 5.31pm.  It will take 3 hours 1 minute to Rotterdam and 3 hours 41 minutes to Amsterdam.

A one-way Club Eurostar ticket is priced at:

Standard – 500 points for a general redemption, 750 points for an ‘anytime’ redemption

Standard Premier – 1000 points for a general redemption, 1250 points for an ‘anytime’ redemption

Business Premier – 1500 points for an ‘anytime’ redemption

An ‘anytime’ redemption is when you force open a seat on a train which otherwise has no reward availability.

If you are converting American Express Membership Rewards points into Club Eurostar, the rate is 15:1.  Do check cash fares before booking a redemption, however, as Eurostar is being quite aggressive with pricing at the moment in order to build momentum.

Remember that American Express Platinum cardholders get free access to Eurostar lounges.  You cannot bring a guest but your partner is likely to have a supplementary Amex Platinum card anyway.

Qatar Airways launches THREE daily flights from Gatwick

On a one to ten scale of weirdness, this is – on the face of it – quite high.

At the ITB travel show in Berlin yesterday (and where I am today) Qatar Airways announced two to three new daily flights between London Gatwick and Doha.

The flights will start on 22nd May with two new daily services.

A third service will run on Friday and Saturday between 15th June and 29th September.

All flights use a Boeing 787-8, so this will be the very good herringbone layout in Business Class and not the new Qsuite.  My review of that seat is here.

This is a lot of extra capacity to add into the market with just three months notice.  The continuation of the blockade with the UAE is stopping Qatar Airways being used as a cheaper indirect option to get to Dubai or Abu Dhabi

Late May is also a bad time to start a service because you are entering the peak Summer months where Doha as a final destination starts to look very unattractive due to the heat.   Adding a 3rd daily flight just as the heat becomes unbearable is even odder!  Most people will choose to transfer onwards, of course.

I get a feeling that this is linked to British Airways and its need to ‘use or lose’ the Gatwick slots it acquired from the administrators of Monarch.  BA has possibly given its biggest shareholder free use of three slot pairs.

BA and Qatar Airways have a joint venture on routes between London and Doha so British Airways will be getting a cut of the revenue.  This may also allow British Airways to effectively drop its own Doha service – which has been suspended for a while – to free up an aircraft whilst the 787 fleet is awaiting engine repairs.

The press release is here.

Qatar Airways launches new routes from London Gatwick

Ethiopian Airlines boosts Heathrow services

If you thought that South African Airways was the major airline in Africa, you’re wrong.  Following major investment in recent years, Ethiopian Airlines is now Africa’s largest airline and one with a primarily new fleet of A350 and Boeing 787 aircraft.

The airline is also a member of Star Alliance, allowing you to earn and redeem miles with any of the Star loyalty schemes such as Singapore Airlines Krisflyer, United MileagePlus or Lufthansa’s Miles & More.

Between June and October, Ethiopian is increasing its Heathrow services from seven to 10 per week.  They will operate with a new Airbus A350 with 30 business class and 313 economy seats.

One of my biggest regrets whilst running HFP is that a proposed Ethiopian Airlines press trip to Addis Ababa a couple of years ago never happened.  That would have been a fascinating couple of days.

PS.  Did you know that Ethopian Airlines flies from Dublin to Los Angeles?!  It is an interesting redemption if you have Star Alliance miles.

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  1. Luthar says:

    OT but I have just taken advantage of a promotion by Iberia, who are offering 25% on avios redemptions to Chicago, Boston and New York for bookings made before 18th March (travel must be between 1st October and 1st December). I managed to get a business class flight to New York from Madrid for 25k and the taxes were around £100. I read about it on godsavethepoints, but I don’t know the etiquette around posting links to other travel blogs.

    • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

      How did you get it to price up? Kept showing at 34k each way when I tried.

      • Luthar says:

        Change your address on your Iberia account to a Spanish or US address. The offer is technically only available to residents in Spain, USA, Argentina and some other countries. However, changing your address is all you need to do, I don’t see how they can verify it.

        • Ah, that would explain why I couldn’t get it to work last time they did this offer ….

    • do you know if it works oneway from the US back to EU?

      • Luthar says:

        Yes it does. I have just booked a flight in J from JFK to Madrid for 25k.

    • xcalx says:

      Great, Thanks for sharing. Also works for Miami 31.900 avios.

  2. AndyGWP says:

    OT – does an Avios.com booking (as I had to use my Lloyds upgrade voucher), have the same 24 hour ‘cooling off’ period (for full refund including £’s) that would be provided if booked via. BA.com?

    • Lady London says:

      It worked for me when I needed to cancel one. However on two other occasions I’ve booked an avios ticket and tried to cancel but couldn’t get any of the BA call centres to pick up the phone in the time.

  3. SarahO says:

    What’s Ethiopian Business Class like? Have the option to fly with them to Windhoek but wasn’t sure.

  4. O/T: Amex Gold, finally got an offer to add a supplementary card holder for 3k MR points.

    Had it about 6 months not spent much on it recently, is that about par for the course?

    I think I’ll be tempted and bite…

    • wally1976 says:

      Yes I think the standard is 3k for the gold and 5k for platinum.

      Has anyone tried adding a supp card, collecting the bonus points, cancelling the supp card, adding the supp card again…??

    • Mark LLL says:

      TripRep, Don’t do what I did:
      3k MR Supp offer required application via link in e-mail. I used the link but did not complete my application at that time (I actually got scared I might be victim of a phishing scam).
      Later logged into my online account and discovered my Supp application sitting there and ready for completion. I foolishly completed the form from my online account – resulting in a Supp but no bonus points. Queried it with CS they adamant I didn’t use the link so didn’t deserve bonus MR.
      Unfortunately you only get one chance at a first Supp, and I blew it.

  5. On the subject of Qatar Airways what has happened to their reward seat availability? Nothing coming up on BA.com for any route I have checked recently. Any insights from anyone?

  6. As this is the bits section… one of the Virgin Trains East Coast employees have shared an email sent by their MD regarding their current situation. Management still seem to have their head in the sand. Complaints increased in 2017 as on-board catering became unreliable, fares rose, the new website was full of bugs. They also killed on-board morale with the cutbacks.

    Here’s the email: https://saveecrewards.co.uk/blog/email-vtec-staff

  7. I have 1100 points listed in my account as “Points Migrated” in December 2017.
    What do you reckon the expiry date for them will be, would they count 2 (is it 2 now?) years from that date?

  8. Re: Eurostar’s new Club.
    I have 1100 points listed in my account as “Points Migrated” in December 2017.
    What do you reckon the expiry date for them will be, would they count 2 (is it 2 now?) years from that date?

    • James says:

      I asked Eurostar this question and they confirmed its 2 years from the date migrated. To keep them active you just have to earn at least 1 point every 2 years

  9. Off-topic sorry.,Could anyone confirm whether there is a BA lounge at New Orleans airport and if not, whether there are other alternatives. I have an Amex Platinum and Priority Pass. Thanks.

    • AndyGWP says:

      Last I read (about a month ago), there wasn’t a lounge there… can’t remember what it said the alternatives were though! Sorry

  10. OT – anyone applied Platinum companion credit card recently? Hit the £500 spending more than a week ago but no bonus points. What’s the time frame for that? Amex used to be very good at crediting rewards points.

    • Roger says:

      Still waiting for mine.
      Do I need to spend £500 for 5000 points offer? I thought it was straight application and you get points.

  11. Cate ⛱️ says:

    OT as bits, I’ve just received an invite to apply for a SPG credit card (I already have one) and I thought this was an interesting addition:

    ‘Two Starpoints for every £1 of eligible purchases charged to your Card at participating SPG and Marriott Rewards® hotels until 31 December 2018.’

    Seems like things are gearing up for January 2019.

    • New Card says:

      Has anyone recently been offered the “2 points per £1” retention deal on the SPG Amex? I know some people were getting offered this recently – thinking of asking myself…

  12. Mikeact says:

    One for bits…..,.i see that Norwegian are going to launch between Buenos Aires and Perth and possibly onwards to maybe Singapore. Sit on the right hand side for spectacular views of the South Pole. Possibly not for all readers, but a great round the world via the Southern Hemisphere trip.

  13. My partner and I flew on Ethiopian from Dublin to LA last October. The service was acceptable though Dublin is a stop en-route from Addis, so you board a half-full plane and the passengers and crew are pretty tired by then already. No opportunity for the US pre-clearance in Dublin – this is reserved for Air Lingus. Price, timing of flights and new planes – these are the three biggest pros for using this service, the rest are cons

  14. Edwin W Davies says:

    Thinking of booking an autumn break to Aviginon or Marseille. Can anyone confirm these are available for 15000 return or is that rate only applicable to short trips to Paris or Brussels. Is the upgrade to Premier from Standard worth the double points?

    • Everywhere is the same redemption price. The Standard Premier food in itself certainly isn’t worth the extra points so it is really down to whether you want a bigger seat and a quieter, less busy, cabin. I always book Standard Premier but I am not short of Amex points. Given the length of the trip the upgrade is decent value on a ‘points per hour’ basis.

  15. Saira says:

    I flew Ethiopian a couple of years ago to Burundi via Addis Ababa and Nairobi in economy. Seats were comfortable, good service and meals. Connecting flights within Africa can be changed last minute (initially my connection should have gone via Kigali) and timings can be changed, so that’s a con if you’re on a tight schedule. Transit at Addis was as comfortable as it can be without lounge access; they have plenty loungers to lie down on as well as standard seating, a meal voucher was provided as transit time was over a certain number of hours and a decent selection of items in duty free. It is a really busy terminal, and you do feel totally surrounded at times. My mother flew business with them on separate dates and was happy with the lounge and special assistance (wheelchair). My regional flight back to Addis was on a Bombardier Q400… Now that was an interesting experience!

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