Bits: BA to USA in First from £1700 (ex-INV!), GWR to run Heathrow Express, new Amex lounge in Melbourne

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News in brief:

BA to North America in First from £1,700

British Airways has released a large number of seats from the UK to North America in First from £1,700.  It looks like you have to travel to Inverness in order to pay this little, however!

There is no Air Passenger Duty from Inverness, which saves £150 or so.  That doesn’t account for the entire fare difference as I show below.

A flight on 21st June from Inverness via London Heathrow to New York returning on 27th June costs just £1,796 (click to enlarge).

However, if you leave out the Inverness – Heathrow leg, you will pay almost twice as must.

The good news, if you are willing to travel to Inverness, is that you will earn 500 tier points for the whole trip (40 + 210 + 210 + 40).

A few other First Class fares I found include:

Inverness to Chicago at £1,696

Inverness to Boston at £1,746

Inverness to Philadelphia at £1,696

Availability for the cheap fares is pretty good.  The only rule seems to be that you stay away for a Saturday night.  The fare rules are not available via ITA Matrix so I can’t get the full details.  You may want to try pricing it up from your nearest BA regional departure to see what is available.

If you do want to fly direct from Heathrow to the U.S., it’s worth checking the BA low fare finder as you can find flights from Heathrow to Chicago, New York, Philadelphia or Boston in First from around £2,500.  Is it worth a £700 saving (and the sacrifice of 80 tier points from Inverness – Heathrow and back) to fly to Inverness first though ….?

To maximise your miles when paying, your best bet is the British Airways American Express Premium Plus card which earns double Avios (3 per £1) when you book at or via BA Holidays.  You do not get double Avios if you book with the free British Airways American Express card.  Another option is American Express Preferred Rewards Gold which offers double points – 2 per £1 – when you book flight tickets directly with an airline.

You can find out more about BA’s Inverness service and local attractions on here.

GWR to manage Heathrow Express for 10 years

Heathrow Express has agreed a 10 year management contract with GWR to operate its train services.  This guarantees the future of the service until at least 2028.

Heathrow Express will retain a large amount of control.  It will oversee marketing and ticket pricing as well as continuing to manage the stations at the airport.  The company is also spared the cost of building a new train depot, as the existing facility has to be closed next year to facilitate HS2 construction.

The existing trains are to be used for other services.  GWR will manage the introduction of a new dedicated fleet of Class 387 trains by December 2019 which will be maintained at existing GWR facilities.  These will be improved from the standard specification to include first-class carriages, Wi-Fi, additional luggage racks and onboard entertainment.

Heathrow Express will become an official part of the GWR franchise and will be transferred to any new operator should it change control over the period of the contract.

GWR to manage Heathrow Express

New Amex lounge at Melbourne Airport

American Express has opened a new lounge for Platinum cardholders at Melbourne Airport.

Located in Terminal 2 at the Satellite Level Departures the lounge shares some facilities with the new Plaza Premium lounge next door (Plaza Premium is running both).  It is the 2nd American Express lounge in Australia following the original Sydney facility.

The lounge is open daily between 6 am and 11 pm.

Access rules are VERY generous – you can brings two adult guests plus unlimited children between 2-17 years, all free of charge.

American Express Platinum cardholders already receive free access to the Virgin Australia lounge in the same terminal.  We wrote about the ability to access Virgin Australia lounges with an Amex Plat in this article.

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  1. Flights still available on BA website!!! Example date was 9-16 June

  2. Billy says:

    The BA exINV F fares have been around for at least six months. Mentioned on HfP and they’re pulled. Well done.

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