BA Sale

The new Club Aspire lounge is now open in London Gatwick’s North Terminal

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The Aspire Lounge in Gatwick’s North (easyJet) terminal has now reopened following a refurbishment.  It is now a Club Aspire lounge.

For those who care about the business side of things, ownership is now split between Swissport (which owns the Aspire brand) and Collinson Latitude, which owns Priority Pass and is moving into direct lounge ownership.

The good news is that free prosecco is being served for the first two months!

We will be reviewing the lounge in a couple of weeks, so keep an eye out for that.

Access is via Priority Pass (free with Amex Platinum or buy one here), Lounge Club (two free passes with the free Amex Gold) or Mastercard World Elite’s LoungeKey.  You can also pre-book entry via the Aspire website here for £24.99.  Walk-up entry is £28.

Getting airport lounge access via a UK credit card

As a reminder, here are the three options to get FREE airport lounge access via a credit or charge card:

The Platinum Card from American Express

Two free Priority Pass cards (one for you, one for your supplementary Platinum cardholder, each admitting two – so a family of four gets in free) giving access to every lounge in the Priority Pass network – search it here.  You also get access to Plaza Premium, Delta and Eurostar lounges.  Our American Express Platinum review is here.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

You get a Lounge Club card loaded with two free visits to any Lounge Club network lounge – see the list here.  The list is slightly shorter than the Priority Pass list, but not by much.  Additional visits are charged at £20 per person.  You get two more free visits for every year you keep the card.  No annual fee in Year 1.  Full details are in our American Express Preferred Rewards Gold review here.

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard

You get a free LoungeKey card allowing you access to any property in the LoungeKey network.  Guests are charged at £20 although regular travellers will find it cheaper to pay £60 for a supplementary credit card (adults only, of course).  The card has an annual fee of £195 and there are strict financial requirements to become a HSBC Premier customer.  Full details are in my HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard review.

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  1. The old Aspire was great, a little haven of tranquillity, walking past the check-in and around to the left to the quiet zone. Food in the mornings recently went from bacon rolls to hot buffet breakfast and the few staff there was got on with the job at hand.We were there on Saturday morning and felt it had lost its charm to the extent we moved to the No1 lounge. The food was unimpressive though the sausages were enjoyable, and I’ve never seen so many staff though what the majority of them did I couldn’t say. It’s personal choice I know. Some might live the change.

  2. Does anybody know if I book two rooms on le Accor hotels for Novotel if I get the points and status for both rooms or just the one I sleep in?

  3. oonagh cacioppo says:

    Can I take a guest flying with me into Aspire North Gatwick ? (Amex Plat therefore PP holder)

  4. Frankie says:

    Is anyone having any issues with the BA website in making avios bookings? I’ve been having issues for days. I keep trying to book a reward flight and I keep getting messages saying there is a technical issue on the site and to try later. Or if it’s not that error, I keep getting asked if I want a stopover (no matter where I am trying to fly to. Even GLA to LON is asking if I want a stopover!) and when I select NO it then just throws an error and asks me again if I want a stopover and this just repeats again and again until I give up. I’ve tried 3 different browers and the BA app on my phone is throwing the same errors.

    • +1

      • the real harry1 says:

        It was OK for me yesterday, though yes: the stopovers pop up was making an appearance. There are a couple of different pathways into making reward bookings on the BA site, so if one is throwing a wobbly, try going in another way, the page where you can choose left or right search box, try rhs/ clear cookies might help.

        • Frankie says:

          Harry where is ‘the page where you can choose left or right search box’? and what do you mean by rhs? I’m stuck in the stopover loop again this morning having cleared cookies

        • the real harry1 says:

          log in
          Home Executive Club
          Avios – our Club currency
          Spending Avios
          Reward availability tools

          You get to a page with:
          lhs Reward Flight Finder (search box #1),
          rhs Search and Book – check all availability and prices, including partners, for specific dates (search box #2)

          I’m suggesting you can different results whether you opt for lhs or rhs

    • Nick_C says:

      I’m having the same problem on the BA Web Site and the app.

      Although the Avios app works fine!

    • You need to clear that particular page from your history. Are you using a Mac?

    • Pareet Shah says:

      Yes. Had this for 2-3 weeks. Sometimes it eventually goes through to the page where it shows availability. I tweeted BA but all I got in response was to call them!

  5. OT – as far as I understand, the Amex Platinum does not cover van rentals (no commercial vehicles per their T&C). Could someone recommend a good insurance for a van hire in the UK?

    • Lev441 says:

      If you’re talking about the excess insurance for a van, we used to use – had to make a couple of claims and never had any issues.

      • Do you declare these claims when purchasing insurance for you own car? I read that any claims on car/van hire insurance is logged on the same data base as what normal vehicle insurance claims are but not sure if this is true.

        • George says:

          The law is that if you have an accident (RTC) you have to report it when you apply for insurance – it is part of the same data that insurers share and they will use it to invalidate or refuse your policy if they can. Once that has happened life gets tough.

          However, excess insurance is most often used for non-RTC damage (I can’t think of a better way to put it but there is one) like a scratch or stone chip damage. This you wouldn’t traditionally report. I don’t know the exact distinction but claiming on excess insurance when you caught your door on a wall is not something that would require reporting when you are purchasing insurance IMO

  6. Bits O/T:. Sorted my peak season Florida Car Hire…

    Top Tips, if you use an intermediary like Holiday Autos but don’t book immediately you may get a sponsored advertising on webpages you visit for 15% off. But beware using Europcar in Florida, looks like they subcontract to a local company called Advantage that are based off airport via shuttle bus and get terrible reviews.

    In the end for only a few $$$ more I went with Alamo via Virgin Atlantic website, prepaided to get a voucher. For a small SUV (eg RAV4, etc), fully insured, works out at less than £30 /day.

    Also earn 2x VS miles. They also do extremely good one-way deals, that I’ve travel hacked in the past. Email me for details if interested 😀

    Thanks again to all those that responded to my original question

    Rob if you reading is it worth filing stuff like this away for future reference?

    • Nice work, have dropped you an email re one way deals!

      • thehornets says:

        Harry.. am definitely interested in your one way hacks. Am looking to book SFO to LAX and LAX to LAS as one way trips soon…

    • David says:

      I used Advantage through Europcar last year in Las Vegas. Seemed fine, although every car hire operator was in the off-airport car hire centre, accessed by shuttle bus. Booking via Europcar means you get CDW and SLI by default (like in Europe), rather than the standard US scheme of having them separately.

      • Though in Europe there tends to be a horrendous excess attached to any car hire insurance policy (1400 euros for our recent hire car in Nice, fortunately we have an excess cover policy).

    • the_real_a says:

      I had a weeks car hire for £130 via europacar/advantage last year for a road trip. The service is appalling – the staff REALLY do not care, its so bad that its quite funny if you can connect with them a little. The great was new and in good condition. Watch out for the toll transmitter if fitted, mine was “working” even in the off position which despite declining the use, charged $30 a day for the full length of the rental. I needed to do a charge-back via AMEX.

      • the_real_a says:

        great = car!

      • pauldb says:

        I don’t think there’s much point trying to create a reference for this type of thing as price is the most important thing and fluctuates so much. I can see Advantage as the cheapest for a 2 week SUV at MCO in August – £316, and that’s what I’d take, regardless of the reviews (I believe they are on-airport, not shuttle). I just ensure I know how not to get ripped off.
        We hired from Hertz there at Easter, £364 for 2 weeks full size SUV. We got a rather tired Toyota Highlander (as a Presidents Circle member) and the staff were equally disinterested. The only emotion shown was incredulity that I wouldn’t take a “special discounted upgrade” that cost more than the rental to a newer Chevy Tahoe.
        Incidentally if you have Hertz status (through Amex Plat) and book a mid-size at the main US stations, they will typically offer a good choice of cars, called Ultimate Choice, which should dependably include 5 seater SUVs as well as premium cars – it just didn’t work out for me as we needed 7 seats.

        • Paul,

          Europcar claim Advantage have a desk at MCO but I have been informed cars are based off site via shuttle. It’s also not uncommon to have to wait upto 3 hours to get the car type you’d booked, particulary at peak US hols, eg Thanksgiving/Xmas. A shuttle and a long wait is not my idea of starting a holiday after a long flight.

          Good luck with using them, sounds like you’ll need it.. 1.5/5*

          “I wish I could give them 0*”

          Virgin/Alamo also allows online check-in and “skip the counter”, means you walk to the parking lot get in the car type of your choice and drive off. According to the very helpful staff at TripWheels Alamo are currently the best for customer service. They also advised steering clear of Europcar/Advantage.

  7. Optimus Prime says:

    OT – I’ll be flying MSY-LHR in February. Looks like doesn’t have any OneWorld or PP lounges. Is that correct?

    • Roberto says:

      Correct.. you may get a voucher for some fast food or booze. I flew AA outta NOLA and got neither

      • Optimus Prime says:

        Thanks, have just seen that’s what others have reported in both TA and FT.

  8. Does the priority pass card arrive automatically with the platinum card or do you have to apply? Thinking of upgrading to plat before next holiday and want to make sure I time it to arrive before we go so that we can use the lounge!

  9. Neil Donoghue says:

    O/T – I was rejected for the Virgin Atlantic Rewards + card. After taking Rob’s advice and writing an appeal letter, I can confirm that the card arrived this morning (28 days after the letter was sent). The card arrived with a £12k credit limit despite being rejected online! Thanks Rob….very happy with the 1.5 earning rate after all the recent cut backs!

    • Mark2 says:

      Thanks Neil.
      I was about to ask how long this took.

    • Catalan says:

      Neil, were there any specific points you brought to their attention in your appeal?
      Just wondering in case I have to go through the same process.

      • Neil Donoghue says:

        Catalan – I informed them that I have held the Virgin White & Black cards for the past 2 years. I also told them my current salary and that I have a near perfect credit score. I didn’t receive any word back until the card turned up in my letter box! It’s a very strange process and appealing was a pain in the ass but I’m glad it was all worth it. Just to confirm, I sent the appeal letter by signed for mail. The credit card arrived 28 days after Virgin had signed for my appeal letter.

    • Mark2 says:

      If anyone has been refused again, how long did that take?

  10. The IHG points look interesting as we’ve got a stay coming up where even bog standard hotels are going for £200 a night.

    I’ve had a IHG account for a while but never stayed or accumulated points – would I have any issue buying and redeeming?

    • It would be so nice if there was a legit grey market to trade points. We’ve got a boat-load of IHG points and no sensible way to spend the damn things… 🙁

      • Andrew M says:

        If there was, I think redemption prices would go up for the rest of us!

    • No, no odd rules with IHG on active accounts.

  11. OT – Gold and priority pass

    I have recently taken out the Amex gold, having last had it over a year ago.

    Can someone please remind me how I can get lunge access through priority pass? I have not yet received a priority pass card.

    Do I need the physical card to get access? I am travelling tomorrow and it would be great to be able to use one of the two passes then, but I don’t know if/how this is possible without the priority pass card.

    Is it possible I would still be in the priority pass system from when I last had my Amex gold?


    • palcsaky says:

      Gold card comes with the lounge club card, not priority pass. The lounge club card arrives a couple of weeks after the gold card. Without the lounge club card you won’t be able to use your 2 complimentary lounge passes. You could buy lounge passes for £18 through using discount code TELEDP17

    • Lev441 says:

      It’s a lounge club card and not priority pass. You can try and ring them up to get your details and use those at the lounge instead? (I think I they typed it into the handheld device) I’ve done that once when I forgot my card m..

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