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.

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.

How to earn Club Eurostar points via UK credit cards

As a reminder, Club Eurostar does not have its own UK credit card.  However, you can earn Club Eurostar points by converting Membership Rewards points earned from selected UK American Express cards.  These are:

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold – 10,000 Membership Rewards points sign-up bonus

The Platinum Card from American Express – 30,000 Membership Rewards points sign-up bonus

American Express Rewards credit card – up to 5,000 Membership Rewards points sign-up bonus

Membership Rewards points convert at 15:1 into Club Eurostar points.  The cards above all earn 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent on your card, so you earn the equivalent of 1 Club Eurostar point for every £15 you spend.

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. SarahO says:

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

  2. 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.

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

  4. 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:

  5. 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?

  6. 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

  7. 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

  8. 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.

  9. 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…

  10. 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.

  11. 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

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