Bits: Primera Air goes bust, £750 off Etihad to Australia, new IHG Heathrow hotels open this week

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News in brief:

Primera Air files for bankruptcy

Anyone who has followed our articles on Primera Air this year will not be totally surprised to learn that the Icelandic / Latvian / Danish airline filed for insolvency yesterday.

Primera, despite only appearing on the UK scene this year, was actually 15 years old.  Its attempt to morph from a small charter airline into a low-cost transatlantic carrier, flying from the UK and Paris, failed badly.

This was partly due to reasons outside its control – the late delivery of the Airbus A321neo aircraft it needed and a massive bill for unexpected corrosion found on one of its aircraft.  The long-haul model was to be the same as Aer Lingus is adopting from next year, using small single aisle aircraft with improved engines to fly transatlantic. Whether it would ever have worked from the UK, given APD and the fact that unit costs were presumably higher than using long-haul aircraft, we will never know.

In the short term, passengers were stranded at London Stansted and in the US last night as flights were cancelled.  Stansted Airport reportedly impounded one aircraft, presumably due to unpaid bills.

Passengers who bought tickets on a credit card will be protected, although there are reportedly many people out of pocket after Primera cancelled flights during the Summer.  Compensation had yet to be paid and reportedly many had been told to rebook themselves and send Primera the bill – a bill which will not now be paid.

Primera Air fails for bankruptcy

Save £750 on Business and First Class Etihad fares to Australia (and £50 off Economy)

If you can book by 10th October, Etihad Airways is offering a special £750 discount on flights from the UK to Australia.

If travelling in Business or First Class, it is even valid on some flights over the Christmas period, as long as you head home before New Year.

You need to use the following promo codes on here:

£50 discount in Economy Class – Promotion code AUECONOMY18

£750 discount in Business & First Class – Promotion code AUSPREMIUM18

Our review of Etihad’s excellent A380 Business Class Studio is here – I am due to fly it again later this month.  There is a special section on the Etihad website on the seat here.  Here is my latest review of the frankly enormous A380 First Class Apartment.  You are guaranteed an A380 from Heathrow, check the aircraft used on other legs.

The codes are valid on any of the three daily departures from London Heathrow or twice daily services from Manchester, connecting to Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane.

Blackout dates are:

Economy Class outbound: 1 – 31 December 2018, 1 – 10 April, 5 July – 10 August 2019. Inbound: 26 December 2018 – 15 January 2019, 15 – 23 April, 22 August – 3 September 2019

Business & First Class outbound: 20 – 23 December 2018, inbound: 30 December 2018 – 9 January 2019

In addition, if you are not already an Etihad Guest member, you can sign up here and receive 500 bonus miles.

Etihad Australia business class discount code

New Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn Express Heathrow Terminal 4 delayed – but opening this week?

The opening date for the new Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn Express (one building, two huge hotels) at Heathrow Terminal 4 has slipped but they may open tomorrow.

A HFP reader who was due to stay last weekend was switched to the Renaissance with a free taxi provided to and from Terminal 4.  As of last night, the hotel websites were allowing bookings from tomorrow so it may all be sorted out now.  The hotels are directly connected to the terminal via a walkway.

The website for the Crowne Plaza Terminal 4 is here.  The website for the Holiday Inn Express Heathrow Terminal 4 is here.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

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  1. It’d quite disgusting how these airlines were allowing people to book if they knew they couldn’t fulfill the bookings. But typical now with most companies. Take your money, go bankrupt, no repurcusions from anyone. Daylight robbery at its finest and we just accept it.

    • Well where do you draw the line? As soon as you close forward bookings, you kill the airline, because you run out of cash, and nobody has any confidence so no-one gives you any credit. So whenever you decide to make the announcement, people are always going to lose out.

      What would you have done better?

    • Once you close bookings, you’re dead a few hours later as word gets out. There is no alternative.

    • RussellH says:

      One problem in the Uk is that there is no scheme for protection of client monies when buying tickets directly from an airline. Section 75 is the only protection available.
      Whenever someone in government suggests extending ATOL protection to tickets bought directly from an airline, the likes of BA and LH are up in arms, because the way that ATOL works means that they would effectively be subsidising high-risk startups. One answer would be to require airlines to hold financial protection insurance against them failing. BA etc would still complain, arguing that there is no possibility of them failing, but one would assume that the likes of BA could get cover for a fairly trivial amount per pax: the likes of Primera, however, would be asked to stump up a significantly more expensive premium to cover the increased risk.
      Some would see such a requirement as a hindrance to new entrants to the market,.
      It would also require significant change to the ATOL regulations, as under current rules, ATOL is the only scheme permitted in the UK for financial protection of holidays that include air travel.

      • Why does the government need to intervene? What’s wrong with consumers relying on their own insurance (or self-insurance), or credit card protection?

        • RussellH says:

          The job of the government is to look after its citizens. Tour operators have, since 1992, been required to protect their customers monies paid up front. People are often their own worst enemies.

          Not everyone is able to obtain a credit card. Debit cards do not offer full protection.

      • Catalan says:

        What’s wrong with taking out full travel insurance. Have people forgotten this time tested facility?

        • Travel Insurance doesn’t cover the airlines going into administration. Eye opener for all those who believe your full travel insurance will take care of refund and compensation, good luck with it!! I’m running out of luck since morning. On calls with insurance provider, credit card issuer and who not…… sec 75 is the only relief but no guarantee though….

        • RussellH says:

          > What’s wrong with taking out full travel insurance?

          It can be prohibitively expensive / people do not think about it / all sorts of reasons.
          We are not talking about HFP readers here.
          (A friend of mine frequently criticises her daughter for not pursuing an EU261 claim while at the same time wingeing about the delays in question.)
          A travel insurance policy covers a huge range of potential incidents. I suspect most of the turnover goes on medical claims.
          AFAIK, no one offers a stand-alone financial failure poicy to the general public. Costing such a policy would be a nightmare – you could have apolicy that just covered the likes of IAG and LH Group airlines, but had a long list of other excluded airlines, but such a policy would have a massive impact on the cashflow of those excluded airlines.

          The wording on my travel policy states “…the airline no longer carrying on its its business as a result of financial failure within the meaning of the insolvency act 1986…” Or equivalent situation in other jurisdictions. So I guess that there is scope for lawyers to have fun.

      • Surely the only people walking up with cash to pay for tickets these days are dodgy anyway?

        Almost everyone else is covered by the financial protection arrangements with their Credit Cards, Visa Debit Cards and or travel insurance.

        • RussellH says:

          I suspect that far more people pay with cash than some people here imagine. It will be one of the reasons people book through travel agents.
          In my tour operator days I was amazed that anyone wanted to pay me with cash, but they did.
          Plenty of people still around who do not really trust anything other than cash.

        • Genghis says:

          Tradesmen have to get rid of their guvvy job money somehow.

        • Lady London says:

          Yes I think what Genghis says has a lot to do with it!

  2. RakishDriver says:
  3. OT/Straw Pole – Is the A380 back from HKG to LHR on BA the best product to try or the 777 (later departure time). I tried A380 CW earlier in may back from HKG but was not that impressed with the overnight service, however was not sure if the 777 is any better – thoughts/comments welcome

    • I’d definitely take the A380. A380 is quieter, the cabin pressure is higher and the air more humid so I feel noticeably better at the other end and it feels like a smoother ride due to the sheer size of the thing. If you can get an upper deck window seat you get a side bin for storage as well. If I remember correctly, the flights leave Hong Kong about 30mins apart and are both into LHR by about 0530 so difference in timing would be a very minor factor for me.

    • IMO, a380 is the best aircraft in the sky, by a country mile. 777 is a horrible aircraft, even FA are in wide agreement on that. If by service you meant the soft product, I doubt the aircraft makes that much difference.

    • Genghis says:

      IMO the 388 is better in all respects than the 77W in J and F. Better air quality so less groggy feeling. More storage space in window seats in J (side bins) and in F (no side bin to put your stuff on the 77W). Larger toilets at front on UD on 388 in J.

  4. OT – BA seat downgrade for operational reasons
    Hey all, got a 2-4-1 companion voucher booked for next May to St Lucia. Out in J back in F only just heard from BA that due to operational reasons our seats have changed on the return and now looks like we’re in J on that leg too and they’ve removed F from the route. Anyone got any experience claiming either avios or the taxes and charges compensation from a redemption booking for a seat downgrade? Many thanks in advance.

  5. OT: affect of balance transfers on credit worthiness. Has anybody experienced a sudden drop in Experian’s opinion/free rating, following use of a 0% balance transfer? I’ve recently balance transferred £10k on a 0% & 0 fee Santander All in One card, i.e. interest free money for 2.5 years. However, for years Experian has always rated me ‘excellent’, but this month as ‘fair’, and the balance of that card registering seems to be the only possible explanation. I’m trying to decide whether to do nothing for another month and see what happens, or just yank it out of the interest paying savings account and close the credit card.

    • Why do you care about Experian’s score? No bank or financial institution sees it, it’s just a calculation Experian make to convince you to pay for their tracking service – precisely, incidentally, because they know you’ll worry like this.

      In answer though, yes this is normal on taking out a new (especially when large) credit product. I find it tends to go up again after a few months (once you start paying it off and close the account the transfer was made from).

      But genuinely, stop caring, the ‘score’ means absolutely nothing.

    • @J – average age of accounts may be at play here. Opening new accounts and closing older ones can have a negative effect but this is temporary and should recover in time if all else is equal.

  6. Shoestring says:

    Europcar customers who fell victim to rip off charges for repairs on hire cars will receive compensation as the firm has set aside nearly £40 million to pay them back.
    It means as many as half a million drivers who were “fraudulently” charged artificially inflated prices for repairing scrapes, chipped windows and other damage will be reimbursed by the firm. It is expected that some will receive hundreds of pounds in redress.

    • Hopefully Hertz will be next on the list. Tried to rip me off earlier this year, fortunately I had excess insurance so I was not left out of pocket by exorbitant repair fees. I’d be happy for the excess insurer to get some money back.

      • Hertz are crooks, they charged me about £120 for 1/4 tank of fuel. I managed to recoup the overcharge but no meaningful compo.

  7. Optimus Prime says:

    OT – new Lufthansa credit card.

  8. OT Curve – Any rough timeline of these new changes that are forthcoming? Are we talking weeks, months, or 6 months+? Got a big bill to settle soon and I feel like the changes will be v beneficial to me.

    Rob? Can you give a pointer?

  9. Curveball says:

    RE: Curve.

    Had a chat with them about increasing limits. After two months hit the initial and incredibly low annual limit of £10k. They said they’d be happy to if I put my normal spend on it, not just pay off credit cards. I told them to close it down as it’s useless to me now.

  10. VIrgin and Easyjet

    We are pleased to announce our partnership with easyJet and their ‘Worldwide by easyJet’ program. Customers across the UK and Europe will now be able to enjoy more choice when connecting onto our flights through Gatwick and we look forward to welcoming them on board very soon!

    • If you look at how that works, you’ll see it is pretty useless. There is simply a desk in the baggage hall where you take your bag after collecting it from the belt (from flight 1) and they send it back into the system for flight 2.

  11. OT: Emirates arrived in Edinburgh yesterday…promptly cut the schedule, claims temporary, blames shortage of cockpit crew and aircraft.

  12. Nick Burch says:

    OT Accor have just announced a tie-up with Eurostar.

    500 Club Eurostar points converts to 1,500 Le Club AccorHotels Rewards points. Or, convert 4,000 Le Club AccorHotels Rewards points into 350 Club Eurostar points.

    Conversion rate looks a bit one-sided!

  13. OT: I’m trying to set up a AerClub account to transfer Avios out of my BAEC account using the instructions in Raffles’ post here – but I get the helpful message “Unfortunately we are unable to complete your registration”. Any ideas?

    • There is something that triggers this and I’ve helpfully forgotten what 🙂 Another reader will hopefully remember.

  14. I may have missed this in the comments, but what’s the cutoff date for using the Etihad discount code? Is “within the next week” up to and including next Monday, or does it need to be booked before the end of the week?

  15. Primera (R.I.P.) apparently did a great job for competition on TA routes.
    A colleague who is from DC and regularly travels home to see her family told me that the prices from London to DC dropped SIGNIFICANTLY since Primera came to the market. She booked her flights for thanksgiving with BA 30% or 40% cheaper than usual.
    Similar happened to BA on Moscow routes when easyJet entered the market but as soon as they withdrew BA started charging exorbitant prices again, especially midweek

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