Bits: Businessweek on SPG / Marriott, Turkish Airlines new LEGO safety video is awesome!, Primera Air drops Birmingham

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News in brief:

Businessweek article on the Starwood / Marriott merger

There is a good article in Businessweek this week on the merger of the Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty schemes.

It accurately conveys the cult-like loyalty that many Starwood regulars had towards the chain (I have met members like those in the article at Starwood events) and the pressure on Marriott, especially after having to substantially increase its original Starwood bid, to keep these people by making Marriott Rewards a substantially more relevant scheme.

It is called “Points-Obsessed Travelers Are Terrified of Losing Perks.  Starwood fans fear Marriott mediocrity in the world’s largest hospitality merger.” which gives you an idea of the content.  You can read it here – no paywall etc.

Turkish Airlines lego safety video

Turkish Airlines new safety video stars LEGO characters

At last a safety video that is awesome!

Turkish Airlines has released a new safety video starring the cast of the LEGO movies.  Batman is flying business and telling passengers to not smoke whilst Emmet and Wyldstyle are responsible for the safety briefing.

The video also features a very catchy song which will be stuck in your head for the rest of the day.  Altogether now ….. ‘There’s a party in the sky, let’s pack our dreams and fly” …..

PS.  Fans of ‘alternative’ airline safety videos will be sad to know that the Virgin America ‘safety dance’ was phased out last week.  As per this Mashable link, one Virgin America flight attendant decided to really go for it one last time …..

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Primera Air quits Birmingham International

Low-cost short-haul and long-haul carrier Primera Air has announced that it is quitting Birmingham International.

The short haul routes will be closed, with Palma and Barclona ending first on 3rd September.  Other routes such as Reykjavik and Malaga will close on 29th October.

The long haul routes to Boston, New York and Toronto had already been suspended, with Boston and Toronto scrapped before they were even launched.

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Something I never knew .... Tokyo has lower taxes when Avios tickets booked as 2 x one-ways
A brief review of the Premium Lounge at Doncaster Sheffield Airport
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Comments

  1. Nigel the Pensioner says:

    What did I say… Primera Air as much of a dead duck as BHX! That’s why I know its 93 miles from my driveway to the car park barrier at the Sofitel LHR T5 and a leisurely and easy 1hr 20 min drive down the M40 – no longer than this.

    • Quite a bold statement given the fact that the “Deadduck” airport of BHX was one of the fastest growing airport in the U.K. last year up 11.5% with circa 13million passengers!

      • Bhx is struggling under its growth.
        Rediculous security queues on the way out, overwhelmed passport queues on the way in (no biometric for some arrivals and staff that stand there talking and joking instead of marshalling the queue where biometrics do exist) and the cherry on top for me was having to wait 3 hours on the plane in the cold weather this year because there weren’t enough staff to wheel out steps to the aircraft and despite stopping at a gate for some reason the air bridges can’t be used.
        During this time I missed the last train and the lift that I then called ended up running up a huge parking bill because the airport were still enforcing pick up / drop off charges despite not being able to get people off aircraft that were sat at the gate.

        Stansted is infinitely better organised despite being very busy.

        • Lady London says:

          @Will where you had to wait 3 hours on the plane on arrival… So far as EU261 is concerned despite any landing announcements on the plane, you have not officially arrived until the front door is open AND the airbridge, or steps can be used.

          This is most definitely an EU261 claim that can’t be denied. I would urge you to go get your minimum of 250 euros under this. Your claim should be on the airline even though it seems it’s the airport’s fault. The 250 euros is payable per passenger. Give them 3 requests or 8 weeks (ideally at least the 3 requests) get their final no or non-response and go straight online to moneyclaim dot gov dot uk. Please inform us of the outcome on a future Bits post!

          When the airline has to pay out I am sure they will revert to BHX for compensation. You don’t have to worry about that. But if enough people claim off airlines and BHX has to reimburse the airlines I am sure the airport will rapidly decide providing timely landing facilties is something they need to remedy.

        • Lady London says:

          This is why Luton Airport should get their act together and start offering a quality environment and service.

          There’s a wall of money looking to fly with a bit of luxry on all sides of Luton particularly North and West ish that is not currently being served. Witness how much higher EZ prices get out of Luton, than other airports, at any peak period.

          Luton as it’s currently run is a wasted opportunity.

        • I’ll check my flight details vs what the scheduled arrival was. I had assumed they could duck it with weather as the excuse.

          Agree with Luton, another horrible experience arriving there when it’s busy.

  2. Chris L says:

    Liking the Lego safety vid. I still think Air Arabia’s is my favourite though!
    https://youtu.be/gjlaH6oSMCU

  3. And at least it is a safety video that doesn’t masquerade as some politically correct charity giving nonsense. After 20 years of paying attention to safety videos I purposely start reading my paper whenever the BA video comes on. Flying Start?! F*** O**

    • Callum says:

      Giving to charity is political correctness?

      I don’t think that phrase means what you think it does. Contrary to popular belief it doesn’t mean “something I don’t like”!

      And go you! Those executives who are watching our reactions to safety videos through hidden cameras will be devastated to not only see you reading the paper, but doing so purposefully! Stick it to the man!

    • Catalan says:

      @ Keith. You’re the very type of passenger that would hinder my escape in an emergency because you’d rather bury your head in a newspaper than focus on where the nearest exits are! How ridiculous and childish!

    • Matthew Fisher says:

      And I suspect that paper would be the Daily Mail.

      • best comment of the day….

        • the real harry1 says:

          Come off it. FFers don’t need reminding of where the exits are & how to use a rubber ring every single flight.

          Boring as f***.

          Harry

        • patchy mcbest says:

          i think the opposite. i get bored of people pigeon-holing others without so much as knowing anything about them beyond a comment they don’t agree with. seems lame and immature.

          he makes a fair point – the safety video has nothing to do with charity so why pretend it is and include it within the segment. fly enough on ba to get annoyed by it too, as do many other non-DM readers.

    • Lady London says:

      +1. You’ve clearly seen the safety video enough to be fully aware of its safety content. I too am tired of such politically correct charity nonsense. Similar to the voluntary “carbon offset” surcharge box we are kindly offered to tick to pay that for British Airways!

      Good man if it’s the Daily Mail. Particularly the Saturday edition (has the best TV if they would only give you the Weekend magazine attached).

      • @Lady London, unfortunately the airlines can deny anything they wish. I ended up with an overnight delay in LHR due to Finnair forgetting to check if the toilets were pumped out on an arriving aircraft. By the time EU261 claims went in the delay was caused by bad weather despite captain announcing on board it was due to toilets. By the time we left they rerouted on a longer flight path which they attributed to bad weather (go figure!). Their resistance to EU261 was unbelievable, I eventually gave up after about 2 years of haggling. My partner currently has a dispute with AF that has been going on for 6 months, they have paid 75% of fare difference for a business class to economy downgrade. The refund they calculated was little more than APD difference and they are refusing to budge despite their own published policy stating the refund should be 75% of fare paid which should be about £600. I know some get their EU261 compo easily enough but we should not take it for granted that we will.

        • Lady London says:

          @BJ This. If you don’t follow advice on here and just stop their games and go for moneyclaim dot gov dot uk then you’re missing a certain part of your anatomy.

          Of course airlines delay prevaricate ignore and lie. If you took notes and can state cabin announcements at the time, timing of doors opening at landing (does not count until stairs or airbridge are available for passengers to use), if you look up the websites that will tell you other flights were flying fine at the time you did etc. (just google) then you can and should put an end to the airline’s rubbish by stating all this on a moneyclaim and watch them fold.

          If you really can’t be bothered then just google eu261 claim and hand it to one of the companies that do the claim for you and take a % .

          Very disappointed BJ as you are so knowledgeable in other areas.

        • @LadyLondon, sorry to disappoint you Ma’am, rest assured I am doing better this time 🙂 AF claim is heading in the direction you specified. The AY claim was some years ago before EU261 snowballed so they could probably afford the (wo)man hours to drag any disputes out in a way that is no longer possible due to the volume of claims. Still, I am happy to concede defeat to some Finn of the ‘fairer’ sex who clearly had me by some part of my anatomy, but I trust not the part that a respectable Lady would be referring to.

        • the real harry1 says:

          LL is right – the BA corporate instructions to the team in India are to prevaricate, lie, obfuscate and avoid ready payment – whenever anybody makes a claim of any legal entitlement on the old EC261. They will just lie and say extraordinary circs, no matter the circs. To be honest, Willie Walsh should get the the Booker Prize as his wit & invention far exceeds the beauty of Gorge Orwell’s 1984. When you feel like lying, lie. Willie Walsh invented the Trump fake news – he is the fakemeister incarnate. Just to remind you patsies, I got my full compo for F&B denied but paid for on Avios award trips – I had to grab Senor Cruz by the short & curlies but once I did that he squealed & paid up.

        • the real harry1 says:

          2 +2 = 5

          Willie Walsh said it.

  4. Air NZ used to be my favourite for safety videos but the Lego one has topped the list 🙂

  5. Rob – your article also misses out that whilst Primera have cancelled all there short-haul flights from BHX, Primera have also cancelled 90% of their short-haul flights from STN on the same dates – STN to Malaga, Alicante, Palma all cancelled!

    The “Primera Air pulling out of BHX” statement appears to be a smokescreen for what is actually “Primera pulls out of all Uk – EU flights!”

    • The Stansted changes have slipped under the radar of everyone, will take a look.

      • @mkcol says:

        Yet an ex-colleague of my husband who now works for Primera has told him that they can’t cope with current levels of recruitment & have 300 crew going through training currently.
        I struggle to believe this.

  6. OT – SPG amex related
    I’ve been giving a retention offer when cancelling card with 1 additional Starpoint for 3 months. Just noticed since 1st Aug all base points have been multiplied by 3 which is new Starpoint/Marriott points. However, the additional Starpoint stays as 1 new Starpoint/Marriott point. Dose anyone know that was intention or just IT issue?

    • Andrew S says:

      Same here. Had an spg stay as well but that was the expected 3x, the retention bonus was only 1x. Still waiting on last month’s starpoints to make it to my spg account (left Amex spg card account around 14th July)

    • Hey yeah a few of us have had the same problem. I posted today about this with an update on the thread from a couple of days ago.

      I called Amex today about it. The lady added my missing bonus points manually (at least she said she would. They’re not showing yet). She said she would create a case so the IT staff could look into it and in the meantime if it happens again (which I’m sure it will) to call them and they’ll add the missing bonus points manually.

      • The Amex/SPG opening a ‘special case’ spiel for missing points is getting old. I’ve now got a special case investigating my first special case!

        • Haha yeah some something tells me I will be making a lot of calls getting these points added manually

  7. o/t Amex Plat hire Car Insurance
    I am trying to find the details in the T&Cs but can’t find it

    If I have a Supp Amex card – my wife is the main card holder – am I still covered if the hire car agreement is in my name, and my wife is not named?

    And I think I am right in saying for the car hire, it doesn’t have to be paid on an Amex card.
    Thanks

    • Genghis says:

      Yes
      “These benefits apply to drivers named on the rental agreement which You are named on”
      Where “You/Your” means the Insured” and
      “Insured” means (i) Cardmembers and their Families, (ii) Supplementary Cardmembers and their Families and (iii) grandchildren of the Cardmember or a Supplementary Cardmember who are under the age of 25 and travelling with anyone insured under the Card Account.”
      https://icm.aexp-static.com/Internet/internationalcardshop/en_gb/pdf/platinum-card/UK_Platinum_Charge_Insurance_Documentation_v1_0.pdf

      Correct.

      • Thanks – was just replying to say I found it when I saw your reply!
        Thanks Genghis

    • Bsuije says:

      Is the last bit about it not having to be paid on the Amex correct? My understanding has always been that it has to be paid on an Amex, albeit it doesn’t have to be the card that actually affords you the car insurance (I.e. I can pay with my SPG and I am still covered because I hold a Gold supp to my partner’s Plat).

      That being said, I do remember seeing a comment on here in the recent past that insurance still covers you if the car rental company does not take Amex and you are therefore forced to pay with another card.

      • Genghis says:

        What’s the source for your understanding? The T&Cs don’t say that?

      • Nope, car hire cover has never had to be paid on an Amex – perhaps you’ve confused it with non-medical travel insurance benefits? Personally I still tend to put it on an Amex as easier for reimbursement in case of an issue.

    • the_real_a says:

      Your wife MUST be named on the rental agreement otherwise she is driving without the permission of the vehicle owner – which in most states is theft.

      • Lady London says:

        and you’re probably not covered by insurance if anything happens either if a person is driving that’s not named on the vehicle hire agreement.

      • Genghis says:

        I don’t think OP mentioned his wife would be driving

  8. Nick G says:

    Great my 5 year old is already singing the song….

  9. Gareth says:

    OT staying at a Hilton tonight booked via hotels.com due to 10 night reward voucher running out next week- is there any advantage to adding my honors number to booking when I check in? Thanks

    • Probably not but does no harm.

    • Pangolin says:

      I’ve had benefits recognised (eg free breakfast) at various places when adding my HHonors number to OTA bookings, so worth doing although you obviously won’t get the points.

  10. I am doing a Marriot new member stay 2 get 1 free, the rules are: Make two paid stays at any participating hotel in the Marriott Rewards program between 6/27/2018 and 10/28/2018. Get a free night certificate that you can redeem at any participating Category 1–5 hotel. Any one knows whether this will be honoured after the merge?

    • I cannot see any reason why it would not be honored.

    • Thanks for the reminder. I had forgotten about this. The Ts&Cs are still on their web-site, so it should be. I suppose the question is which new level the certificate will map to.

  11. Lady London says:

    The Businessweek article could have been written about Accor and Fairmont. Or on a smaller scale about Kimpton and IHG. Accor is still on the acquisition trail it seems – seen several over the past year including Moevenpick Hotels have just gone to them.

    • Village Hotels will probably get snapped up by somebody I imagine.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Also acquired a 10% share in Bayan Tree who will participate in Accor at some point.

  12. Kinkell says:

    Anyone having trouble a seeing their offers on their Amex cards?Mine have all disappeared across my cards. Looked on our main computer at website and on my Amex app on iPad. …Zilch. Chat with agent is investigating but I’m not overly hopeful.

  13. O/T. Need a bit of advise on crediting Qatar Airways miles after their recent major devaluation. I will be flying Qatar in business every month for the next three years so will have a decent amount of miles coming my way. However, not sure at where to credit them. Is the a major difference between, for example, crediting them to BA or Iberia (given that the miles can be moved between the two)? Or Amercian Airlines perhaps? I currently have no status with any airlines/alliances and no stack of miles anywhere either… I also live in Ukraine and mostly fly with Europe (but usually not through London) and occasionally to the US. Any advise would be really appreciated.

    • Peter K says:
    • Alex W says:

      Olga, consider status benefits, including additional miles and how quickly you will get promoted. This should be easily possible with those flights. Note with BA you need to do 4 flights on BA planes (or Iberia?) per year to get status. Don’t think you get extra status miles with BA partners though?

  14. OT- Anyone looking for cheap Y flight, there seems to be decent option on GF on AM
    To Lima, for a family of four in Feb half term for £2K

  15. I am crediting my QR on AA, only due to their use on Indian subcontinent

  16. Off Topic….

    I recently did the Hilton Diamond status match, I’m currently in the Hilton in Sydney. This is my 5th stay since getting the Diamond status and I’ve discovered just how tough it is to get late checkout. The best I’ve had so far is 2pm. I checkout of here tomorrow and the best they could offer me as a ‘complementary late checkout’ was 1pm! So if I pay more I have later. Which tells me they obviously have availability.. I only needed 2pm checkout. What’s the crack here, I thought late checkout was a perk of Diamond status..subject to availability. Has anyone got any tips on how to get a late checkout or should I just go back to Marriott/Starwood whenever I need late checkout

    • sunguy says:

      Im not sure what it is with the vast majority of Hiltons – but “late” checkout never seems to be very easy to get – even as a Gold/Diamond…..1pm us usually the limit, much later and its always a hassle – yes, sometimes, it works….but, in general not so much!

      TBH, Ive often found Hamptons the easiest to get very late checkouts in….

    • Ask again in the morning of departure. Tbh, if you only need an hour relax in the lobby with a newspaper and a coffee.

    • I think it is subject to availability but if they are offering you a paid late check out then clearly there is availability…. You should make them aware that you are a diamond member and that since late check out is available they should honor it.

    • Graham Walsh says:

      I was at the DT in Manchester this week and asked for a late checkout, they offered me 1pm and I asked for any more as I had an interview to conduct (and couldn’t do that in the lobby really). Hold Gold status with them. Eventually checked out at 1:45pm

    • Genghis says:

      At least it’s one thing ICs do right for AMBs

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Yes this is a a real perk

        Hilton are shocking with late checkout but Tbh no one has ever kicked me out of the room at 1:30 etc when 1pm has been offered.

    • Always tricky with Hilton, although most properties should be fine with giving you Exec Lounge and health club access for the day. Mind you not all are like that – the Hilton Frankfurt Airport gave me a 10pm late checkout when I had a late flight to catch – plus free upgrade to a suite!!

  17. Graham Walsh says:

    Nice article in Business Week. Re-reading my confirmation from earlier this year for Dubai in October, it clearly states the benefits of being Gold Elite (lounge and breakfast) on my booking directly with SPG. Wonder if any of that will hold up when I question it when I arrive?

    Lego video was great, my 7 year old liked it. I absolutely hate the BA video, terrible.

  18. Has anyone stayed at the Hilton Gatwick airport recently? Is the lounge any good?

    Got an early morning flight in Jan and as it is only £69 it looks a better option than a very early morning start.

    • Peter K says:

      Tripadvisor reviews are very mixed. It is better if you can get in the new wing apparently, but this is hard to get unless you have Hilton Gold/Diamond status according to what ~I have read. The new wing is further from the airport as well with long corridors to traverse.
      The Hampton by Hilton was perfectly fine…but the bed was very hard. Looking at the reviews I have chosen this again over the actual Hilton for my next trip. Hope that helps.

      • Peter K & TGLoyalty, thank you all very useful. I am diamond and my wife is Gold. We have booked two rooms, one for my parents so hopfully we will all get lounge access.

        Last time we stayed at Gatwick we stayed at the Crowne Plaza and although we got lounge access as a spire the room was tiny.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Yep. Even as a gold given an exec room and lounge access in the new wing.

      Lounge is perfectly acceptable but I’d have breakfast down in the resturant. Worth £69

  19. Are there any partner rate links for US IHG hotels? The hertz/mastercard links seem to just be for European hotels, the friends and family option is there, but I’d like to get points from the booking.

  20. OT: Iberia Avios…
    With hotel bookings seemingly impossible, I’ve tried all day to transfer via Avios.com, to no avail.
    Any suggestions to enable this, or a timescale for hotel bookings reactivating?

    • After a bit of playing around, I’ve actually managed a points booking from my history…

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