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Bits: Plaza Premium loses Cathay T3 management, LOT launches City to Vilnius, BA launching Islamabad?

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News in brief:

Plaza Premium loses management of Cathay Pacific lounge

Plaza Premium confirmed to us this week that it is no longer managing the Cathay Pacific lounge in Heathrow Terminal 3.

We had heard rumours of this from readers in the last couple of weeks, along with more worrying reports about a deterioration in food quality and service.  I don’t know who has replaced Plaza Premium – Accor manages the nearby Qantas lounge so it could be them – or who initiated the move.

The Cathay Pacific First Class lounge was, by far, the best option for a British Airways Executive Gold member flying out of Heathrow Terminal 3I reviewed it here.  You’d be a mug to use BA’s Galleries First lounge, which I reviewed here.  Let’s hope that the recent feedback reports are only a transitional blip.

(Before anyone asks, if you have a British Airways Executive Club Silver card then I tend to recommend the Qantas lounge in Terminal 3, purely on grounds of scale.  The Cathay Pacific Business lounge is smaller but quieter.  Unless you are looking for a specific drink, item of food or magazine there is no logical reason to go near the American Airlines or British Airways lounges.)

LOT launches London City to Vilnius

Polish airline LOT is launching a direct London City to Vilnius service.  There will be 12 flights per week – two on weekdays and one per day over the weekend.

Flights will launch in May 2019 and are not yet on sale.  The route is underwritten by the Lithuanian Government and will be the only service to Vilnius, pictured above, from either Heathrow, Gatwick or City.

LOT is a member of Star Alliance if you looking for earning or redeeming options.

Islamabad

British Airways to launch Islamabad?

There have been rumours circulating all year that British Airways is to relaunch flights to Pakistan with an Islamabad service.  It was reported in the local press back in February and nothing appeared, but posts from BA insiders on Flyertalk in recent days imply that an announcement will be made soon.

Amex to open its first Centurion Lounge in Europe - at Heathrow Terminal 3
New Avios partner coming: Royal Air Maroc is joining the oneworld alliance
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Comments

  1. I was in the CX lounge last week. The woman at shower reception could not understand what a “razor” was and some pantomime was needed (turned out she knew the word “shaver” but not razor).. In the dining area an order for earl gray tea bought out a green tea and latte. By mistake I asked for bircher muesli, not looking at the menu since I didn’t know it had changed. The look from the waiter was similar to asking him if he could change the oil in my car (perhaps he didn’t know that the menu had changed and items might be different and people might have a memory to remember items from previous visits).Since he was the one that turned earl gray tea into green tea and latte perhaps the concept of “memory” is an unknown concept to him.

  2. Alan Wan says:

    I recently dropped from BA Gold to Silver and visited the CX business lounge last Thursday. I ordered Dan Dan Noodles and dim sum and they were excellent as usual. I was there at around 11:30 and the buffet food offerings looked decent although I never ate anything else. There were cold sandwiches and desserts in the fridge and hot food included chicken straggonaff.

    Now what was a really pleasant surprise I was expecting only Prosecco – which I don’t like. But there was Laurent Perrier NV champagne. Personally I found this much better than the champagne on offer in the CX first lounge the last time I visited in October.

  3. O\T
    Advice please. Landing at Joburg next week at 7.55am and self transfer flight to Dar Es Slamm is 10.30. Is that enough for disembark, luggge immigration and check in for my flight or should I change it for later. Later is much more expensive! Anybody know joburg well enough ? Thanks

    • Immigration at JNB can be a nightmare both entering and leaving the country. It can take an hour to get in and nearly as long getting out. I would want to give yourself at least 3 hours.

    • Prins Polo says:

      Should be ok I flight is on time, you can also consider bidair priority arrival service (was around £35 last time I used it) and they will escort you through arrivals/immigration quickly. Morning queues at JNB at unpredictable, flying in J/F I was sometimes the first one to get to the immigration desks and sometimes it would take me solid 40 minutes to clear immigration if a couple of flights land at the same time.

  4. Nigel the Pensioner says:

    Thank goodness then for the AmEx lounge in T3, although the San Francisco offering is a little sterile inside, but nonetheless, great, to table service. They also give you a welcome pressie of some very high quality ear buds and a free subscription to Reese’s (audio) book club. Tables are also reserved for Centurions!

  5. Michael C says:

    Was told by the barman in Cathay T3 business lounge ten days ago that they had “just” changed management, and was everything ok? V generous with the champagne, also offering to make us cocktails.
    Found the noodle bar had even more options than usual, all of it delicious.

  6. OT: Amex + BP: The app is awful, took ages to work at the pump, it will only accept some of my amex cards, and after using it the £10 credit never appeared. I’m surprised BP are trying to promote their app when it is so very rubbish

    • Heathrow Flyer says:

      Strange. I’ve used it on three different occasions at three different petrol stations and have never had any problems. I’ve always just authorised £31/£32 just in case.

      I was actually amazed at just how fast it was! Would even be tempted to use it without the credit going forward – if the BPstation was offering fuel at a competitive rate of course.

    • I have also found the app slow, but both times I’ve used it the email from Amex has arrived. Just waiting for the credit now.

    • I was expecting a poor experience given some of the comments but aside from the app being very slow, the process was simple and my offer redeemed mail dropped by immediately.

      • Peter K says:

        The only problem I’ve had was when I turned up at a garage, started BPme app, unlocked the pump, then no fuel came as they were closing the petrol station. Lights in the store started going off and so I lost that chance to save the £10.

    • Used it for the first time yesterday and it worked flawlessly. Email & notification instantly.

      I’m not sure why people are messing about trying to authorise £31 or £32. Assuming credit limit is’t a problem, just choose the default option – full tank, which authorises £100 – and use the Mk 1 eyeball to stop when you hit £30?

    • It’s terrible. A similar offer has been available to Visa customers for months now on the BP App and it refuses to work every single time.

    • The Lord says:

      No problems for me, quick and easy to use. Selected the full tank option and got an email straight away from AmEx confirming the £10 offer

      • Sussex Bantam says:

        I must admit – I’ve changed my mind a bit. Had a terrible time with it to start with but now I’ve found a petrol station with strong 4G coverage and it has worked first time every time.

        Only had one credit so far though – but that’s not really the app fault.

        • Isn’t/wasn’t there a rule at petroleum stations that you can’t use mobile phones?

        • Shoestring says:

          You can use them, just recommended/ advised *not* outside. Heaven knows the risks must be so minimal that they’d be immeasurable. Nobody has ever caused a petrol pump to burst into flames by using a mobile.

          But in any case, BPme says leave your mobile in the car.

        • Used for second time tonight on iOS app.

          Anyone else find that it only accepts three digits for the security code instead of 4 for amex? I just left the 4th number off and went through fine – but the Amex security screen enforced a two factor authentication which I don’t think I’ve ever had to before.

          Only received email on the second use, not first.

  7. Roger1* says:

    Thanks for the updates on LHR T3 lounges. I rarely fly BA First from T3 and find I’m soon flying to Cape Town in BA F. (I’m BA silver.)

    Accepting that I should probably avoid AA and BA lounges, whch F lounge should we use: CX or QF? Thanks.

    • QF Lounge is just a shared Business/First facility. So if you want a First lounge then CX is your only option, other then the dire BA or AA First lounges. On the latter – LHR is due to get the AA Flagship makeover soon, which will improve things a lot. Oh and the AA Arrivals lounge at T3 is fantastic – much better than BA T5 – there’s even mini bottles of Moët in the fridges which are hard to avoid popping in your bag!

      • CX all the way if you are flying BA F – Worst case scenario, don’t be afraid to try both. Both have very different feel and offer completely different things. Qantas has a brilliant Gin bar while the dumpling in Cathay are a personal favorite.

        • Agree with F I’d go CX. Last T3 trip though I managed AA, BA, VS, No 1, Aspire, QF and CX all in the one afternoon! 😀

      • Alan, how did you manage to go into VS and One World lounges – did you hold a Virgin and a One World ticket?

        • I was VS Gold at the time and spoke very nicely to the lounge reception staff 🙂 They checked and said not a problem at all – had a fantastic meal and popped out to the viewing deck. Didn’t go for spa treatment though as thought that was perhaps pushing it!

      • Roger1* says:

        Thanks to Andrew, Neil and Alan for great T3 advice. I feel a lounge tour coming on!

        Oh, yes. The AA Arrivals lounge is already ‘reserved’ in my brain. 🙂

    • I find the BA first lounge at T3 is not as bad as everyone makes out. Go try them all before you fly and make your own judgement.

  8. O/T Shop Small
    Anyone know somewhere in central London where I can stock up on stamps? Thanks!

  9. OT – Used my Amex plat for the hotel hold last week in Jo’berg, got the refund today, made £11 back on the transaction. Was thinking I could have lost out in FX fees.

  10. TonTonT3 says:

    O/T

    I’d like to use Avios to book a one way from Las Vegas to Miami. BA isn’t showing me any partner availability for these days – what would be the best way of finding availability / using avios / using MR points for the best redemption? Cash prices are roughly £200…

    Any help appreciated.

    T

    • TonTonT3 says:

      Doh! need more caffeine. Date I’m looking at is Thursday 7th of March 2019.

      Thanks.

    • Check for saver redemption availability with AA.com – if it’s there then BA should be able to book it, sometimes website doesn’t show all availability.

      • TonTonT3 says:

        If it’s available on AA.com how would I through BA, and what would the avios equivalent be? Are there any additional booking fees? Thanks.

        T

        • Would book by phoning BAEC and asking them to check availability. Cost would be usual BA redemption chart.

  11. I still like to go to the BA First lounge at T3 to have a proper fry up with lashings of ketchup and mustard if I am there before midday. And then transfer to the CX lounge to digest and relax. .

  12. Big Ernie McCracken says:

    O/T Just noticed that Nectar /LNER are offering half points back when using Nectar points to buy LNER vouchers. First time I have seen this for a couple of years.

    • Plus were also offering bonus points on first cash booking (which stacked nicely with Amex £10 off £40 offer!)

    • Oh yeah, I’ve got this too.

    • Thanks for this. I’ve been holding out (literally) years for an outsize Nectar redemption. From what I can see, there’s no maximum redemption here. I have 70k Nectar to use, so should be £350 of travel and 35k back!

      Vouchers are valid for 12 months, on *advance LNER fares only*, and partial credit is retained.

    • Thanks for thid, just checked and I got it too 🙂 However, I’m a bit confused, when I click ‘get voucher code’ I don’t get any code for 50% back, it just takes me to an LNER nectar redemption page. Do I need a code or do I simply redeem points for the vouchers from this page within the offer period to get the points refund?

      • The offer page doesn’t have any requirements to enter a code or anything like that. Last time I did something similar (eBay, a few years ago) it was the same thing. Automatic 50% back (as long as you have the offer showing in your account).

    • Well, I’ve gone all-in for 72k/ £360.

      The vouchers came through and actually have a slightly longer expiry date. 31 Jan 2020 (as displayed on the Nectar website), or 1 Feb 2020 (shown on the LNER website once I’d credited them.

      No timescale given for the 50% back, but I’m going to diarise 28 days after the closing date, 19 Dec.

    • LNER: https://www.lner.co.uk/rewards/spend-your-nectar-points/

      “LNER eVouchers are only valid against LNER Advance tickets purchased at lner.co.uk”

      i.e. Can’t be used on Season Ticket, may someone please confirm this

      • Shoestring says:

        You can’t buy season tickets online?

        • You can buy season ticket online, with converted voucher is the question.

        • Shoestring says:

          Thanks! I mean that. You just saved me about £125.

          Why? Because I was under the impression you could only buy season ticket @station. My son turns 16 whilst we are away for Xmas hols. You can buy a child’s season ticket (journey to school) for max 3 months after their 16th birthday, provided you buy it before they turn 16. It’s half the adult price.

          Was racking my brains trying to think of somebody who would take his photocard & my money to the station to do it for me on 1st January – big ask 🙂

          Online it is!

        • Shoestring says:

          Correction – 4 months max!

  13. OT: Test.

    • I deleted the other two Craig! The site now runs with a 30 second cache. This means that pages are only updated every 30 seconds and the server – instead of recreating each page from scratch for every visitor – creates it and then, for the next 29 seconds, serves the same thing. It then recreates it, at which point it will pick up new comments. It reduces server drain during peak periods and is why we are now running on page load times of under 1 second for the first time ever (despite the slow-loading Google ads).

    • Feel free to delete this completely Rob, I was having trouble posting comments. I think I know what was stopping it now?

  14. Sorry for the multiple replies, the abbreviation of a certain flashback site seems to be blocked.

    Does anyone know of any Hilton booking options for earning Avios etc?

  15. David Ward says:

    I noticed a few small changes in the CX Business Class lounge last week – they won’t make you coffee from the bar anymore etc – but all minor in the grand scheme of things.

  16. OT Has anyone in Scotland used the Amex offer for Magestic Wine £100 get £25 back. T&C say excludes Scotland but the link for participating shops includes Scotland. Do I need to ring Amex to clarify it – not sure that will help tho!

    • Jill (Kinkell) says:

      No Liz. Not tried . Saw the ‘excludes Scotland’ .Didnt investigate further.dDo update if you phone Amex

      • It’s a code to quote, and the Majestic staff (and website) are very clued up on the alcohol pricing and promotion legislation (other retailers have been more flexible) and I’m sure it won’t work!
        I did consider stopping by a Majestic en route to MAN to buy a couple of cases last time the offer it was on!

        • Called Amex and despite the misleading T&Cs Scotland is excluded – stupid drinks laws!

  17. LOT have a bid for upgrade option – anyone had any success with this and know what a good offer is to get to business from Warsaw to Singapore? No idea what loads are like and never flown them before.

    • Pangolin says:

      Their business loads (especially Eastbound) tend to be quite low. TBH you have a good chance of the bid being accepted even if you offer the minimum.

  18. BlueHorizonuk says:

    OT: Rob I got a notification from twitter when you posted something last night about GUF changes. But clicking on it the tweet was deleted.

    What was it!!! LOL

  19. OT: what’s the best travel FX deals at the moment, got an Amex spend target to hit, but only needing £300ish USD.

  20. BlueThroughCrimp says:

    Been to Vilnius a couple of times.
    It’s a nice place, and when the City Fiesta is on at the end of August / beginning of September there’s a really good atmosphere around, with a huge range of stalls of local produce along one of the main streets.

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