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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. 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.

  2. 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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