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Bits: BA San Francisco lounge closure, Virgin Atlantic launching Tel Aviv?

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News in brief:

British Airways lounge in San Francisco to close next week

British Airways has announced that its lounge in San Francisco will close on 2nd January ahead of some construction work.

It isn’t entirely clear what is happening or when the lounge will reopen.  ba.com talks of “working to bring you a brand new British Airways lounge in San Francisco”.

A few years ago there were plans, eventually shelved on cost grounds, to add a new floor to the lounge.  It isn’t clear if this is back on the agenda or if we will simply see some new furniture.  The latter would do nothing to solve the chronic overcrowding seen when A380 departures are scheduled.

BA will be sending passengers to the China Airlines Dynasty Lounge during the closure.  This is situated in International Terminal A on the second floor.

You don’t need to go there, however.  Cathay Pacific and JAL have their own lounges in San Francisco – albeit JAL is only open for three hours per day – and you are welcome to use those by virtue of their oneworld alliance membership.  Many regular BA San Francisco passengers were already choosing to use the Cathay Pacific lounge due to BA overcrowding.

Virgin Atlantic to launch Tel Aviv?

Reports in some Israeli newspapers in recent days, eg here, have suggested that Virgin Atlantic is planning to launch flights to Tel Aviv in September.

The only logic quoted is that Shai Weiss, the new CEO, is Israeli.  However, there are a couple of other potential reasons:

the Dubai flight terminates at the end of the March, freeing up a pair of landing slots which would presumably work OK for an overnight Tel Aviv flight (EDIT: apparently these slots are being used for the additional Boston flight)

alternatively, a day flight could presumably be fitted around existing North America services (it would be a 12-hour round trip)

the arrival of the A350 fleet from mid 2019 will give Virgin Atlantic extra capacity, especially when coupled with the four ex-Air Berlin A330 planes leased in 2018

If this is true, it would be an interesting strategic move for Virgin which has been focusing very heavily on North America for growth in recent years.

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Comments

  1. Regarding the Dubai flight closing: isn’t that slot going towards the second daily BOS (which launches the day after DXB ends)?

    • Yes

      And the A350s (12 due) are replacing the 747s (8 in current fleet) and the A346s. (7 currently) so even with ex Air Berlin A332s (4) they are only one plane up. And the A332s are really covering for 787s.

      And that assumes the 787 issues get sorted out soon to be able to use the A332a for expansion, Once the 787s are back to 100% THEN they will have some planes to allow for additional expansion.

      But as to Tel Aviv it really dosen’t fit with current VS strategy which is to move flights to TATL rather than the east.

      Still waiting for Rio and that flight to Harare & Victoria Falls than the Zimbabwe media said was coming!

  2. Shoestring says:

    Another STILL RUNNING until 31/12 – the £25 off £40 Amex discount when you buy sold-by-Amazon items, must link your Gold/ Plat Amex card & part pay with MR points to acxtivate deal, code

    Shop with Points and get £25 off your eligible purchase at Amazon.co.uk
    Use your Membership Rewards eligible American Express Card to Shop with Points at Amazon.co.uk and get £25 off an order of £40 or more with promo code AMEX25OFFSWP by 30/11/2018. Offer only applies to eligible items sold by Amazon.co.uk
    To receive your promotional discount, you must:
    1. Add £40 or more of eligible items sold and shipped by Amazon.co.uk to your shopping cart.
    2. Enter the promo code AMEX25OFFSWP in the box provided on the checkout page and pay for at least a portion of your order with Membership Rewards points.

    • Harry, can you please remind if I can use the offer twice on the account (but different cards)? Thank you!

      • Shoestring says:

        This one, once per a/c. But same Amex card can be used on multiple family Amazon a/cs. there’s no age limit for Amazon a/cs so your kids can also benefit from all that Amazon has to offer including free Prime months etc.

        But this offer *and* the everlasting £15 off £25 Amex/ Amazon offer can both be used on the same Amazon a/c.

        & round about Jan 24th, Amazon BIGTHANKS will be back for 1 day only (£10 off £50).

        • Harry, can both offers be used in a single purchase?

        • Shoestring says:

          @Jay – yes

        • I take it the accounts must have been set up for a period of time before you can use this offer?

        • Shoestring says:

          @GRIMZ – yes, it’s normally a rolling date about 3 months previous to whichever Amex promotion is current. BIGTHANKS will be open to all a/cs, though (new ones included). So you might want to get the kids an Amazon a/c.

    • thanks for the reminder on this, just used the offer

  3. ROBERT FREUDMANN says:

    Virgin’s plans are to start the route from September, but would like to do a soft launch in May, and fly an A330 brining Eurovision fans over for the contest taking place in Tel-aviv next year.

    Not that I think it’s going to have much of an effect on the high prices BA and LY demand on the route (all the LCCs flying it haven’t made the slightest difference in that respect), but it would be nice to have the option to fly VS on the route.

  4. Nigel the pensioner says:

    Dont forget the Centurion lounge too from AmEx ……. and yes dont panic, Platinum card holders are very welcome too! It is accessible from the BA international departures wing.
    We were also given an expensively packaged pair of Master and Dynamic ear buds too as a first time guest pressie 😁!
    We will try out the HKG version tonight rather than the over large and impersonal Qantas offering…..

    • What about the Wing or the Pier? QF too impersonal, agree.

    • I haven’t been to HKG but if you’re flying oneworld, the stand out lounge is presumably Cathay Pacific Wing or Pier?

      • If you can get in F, been to The Wing Business and I prefer Centurion.

        • Really, must try Centurian next month then…

        • Kai, or anyone please, another question. We have never found an arrivals lounge that alliqs BA F pax into CX always say no! Just thought it would be so nice to trwat ourselves even more! On arrival…any thoughts?

        • Mr(s) Entitled says:

          I can’t decide if this read better with the R removed or with a shuffle and an E added.

        • Polly, the CX arrivals lounge has closed down now. I gave the Plaza Premium arrivals lounge (diagonally opposite where the CX arrivals lounge used to be) a go earlier this month using one of my 2 free lounge visits from lounge club (courtesy of Amex gold) and found it to be better than the old CX lounge (more food in the buffet selection albeit no a la carte menu for breakfast, though I believe the noodle bar opens after 11am).

          For me, I rank the HK CX lounges in the following order (I regularly lounge hop across all the CX lounges, both F and J, most recently 2 weeks ago):

          – The Pier F
          – The Wing F (The Wing F lounge has a smaller a la carte menu than The Pier F. The cabanas are nice but there is sometimes a long wait for them.)
          – The Pier J (food is probably not too far behind the Wing F lounge IMHO)
          – The Bridge (the right side usually has more food – egg or Portuguese tarts, Chinese style soup, sometimes pizza, good buffet selection, but the left side is usually a lot more quieter)
          – The Wing J
          – The Deck (there is a serious overcrowding problem here, otherwise it would be quite nice).

          I’ve only been to the Qantas lounge twice, and it wasn’t as nice as I thought it would be, so now I leave it out of my lounge hopping plans. I will do another lounge hop in HK in 2 weeks’ time so if anyone has any specific questions let me know and I can check it out then.

        • The Pier F lounge is the real standout in my view – substantially better than the Wing F lounge. It has the ambience of a high-end hotel

        • +1 for Pier F but I find the service in the restaurant a bit weird.

    • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

      The Centurion lounge is in T3, accessible from the G gates side of the international terminal, but BA flights are (always?) from A gates. Doable but you’d have to re-clear security to get back to the A gates.

  5. Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

    The China Airlines lounge is tiny! No chance they’ll fit an A380s worth in there. I thought it was okay, not terrible. Catering much the same as the AF/KLM lounge below (which is the Priority Pass option, and alright if it’s quiet). Nice selection of Anchor beers at least.

    • Lady London says:

      JAL lounge was pretty small but visited awhile ago. CX lounge opening hours were aligned to their flights pretty much.

      BA’s right though the BA lounge got very overcrowded due to its small size relative to aircraft size. Everyone I talked to was a BA passenger not one world. The lounge seemed very well run in the circumstances however.

  6. OT how long are MR transfer taking to Hilton. I want to cancel my Plat card today and I transferred on 17/12 but the points haven’t arrived yet – only received the email saying in progress. Everything is taking so much longer going in to HH since their “upgrade”.

    • I transferred a chunk last week to take advantage of the targeted 50% bonus. The base points posted after 2-3 days, still waiting for the bonus.

      • Mr(s) Entitled says:

        I followed up with them on the bonus and was told 6-8wks. Not sure if anyone elses have posted but I’m waiting until Feb to chase again.

        • The T&Cs of the offer were spectacularly unclear:

          “Points may take up to 8 weeks to be bonused from the time of submission. The additional Hilton Honors Bonus Points will be awarded at the time of transfer.”

          So is it “at the time of transfer” or 8 weeks later? Seems to mean 8 weeks later…

      • I did the same but as the base points only posted and no bonus within 5 days of the transfer, I contacted them via online chat and got the HH points manually added to my account. They were updated within an hour.

    • Mr(s) Entitled says:

      I moved points last week of Nov and they went through in the usual 2-3 days.

      If the transfer was initiated during membership and you have written confirmation of such I would have thought you were safe to cancel.

      • I wasn’t targeted for the offer so just a straight forward transfer out. Email says 10 working days so might wait till next week and then phone. Wanted to reset the clock for next years churn. I did a test one in Nov and it worked ok within a couple of days.

        • Phoned Amex and it is showing as issued but not completed – it appears to be stuck in limbo – the person who can authorise a cancellation and reissue is not in today so I am no further forward.

  7. A word of warning on the CX lounge at SFO. We tried using it back in August when we flew home BA CW, and were turned away even though we could see that the lounge was nearly deserted. The reason given was that there were 2 Qantas flights that evening and the lounge would get overcrowded. It was particularly frustrating as a) we only had about 45 minutes before boarding of the BA flight b) the QF flights were much later that evening and c) QF passengers can also use the KLM/AF lounge!

    I hope they get this sorted before the (dreadful) BA Lounge closes.

    • I’ve had arguments getting into the CX lounge at SFO before too – very rude staff also.

    • That’s not good, used the CX lounge before and it was pretty good, showers were nice.

      • I used the Cathay lounge when returning on BA286, earlier in the year.

        The Cathay flight wasn’t until much later in the evening. Half the lounge was closed off. There was only one other couple in there. It was sandwiches and soft drinks only.

  8. I got turned away at the JAL lounge due to capacity issues. CX lounge wasn‘t fully operating until closer to the departure of their flights, so no hot food for the earlier BA departure there. Part of the lounge was roped off, too.

  9. BA’s problem with the SFO lounge is restrictive union-led labour agreements there that demand minimum hours for staff, so it’s not been worth expanding just for their own flights unless they can convince other airlines to use their lounge at other times of day. Which itself doesn’t happen unless there’s capex to make it better… which BA doesn’t want to approve on spec. Hopefully this means they’ve finally got an answer to this conundrum!

    As for VS and TLV, it actually makes a lot of sense – there’s huge connecting flows between Israel and the US as well as the point-to-point customers, which they’ll be hoping to be tapping into.

  10. The plat upgrade link I have has no mention of the extra points. Is that normal or do I have the wrong link?
    Thanks

  11. Barry cutters says:

    With ‘virgin focussing on North America’ this would make sense no? Surely With all the virgin/delta traffic in to LHR this would make a good connection for American nationals to visit Israel.
    A bit like why ba often used the best aircraft in that route . – it’s aimed at the American market.

    Could be wrong but just a thought

  12. OT: Re. hotel status via Amex Platinum (e.g. Hilton Gold) – is the start date for the status based on the card start date or date of status request on the Amex website? I’m considering whether to upgrade PRG (charge) card today or wait until Jan. I understand that status gained in Jan 2019 may then apply through until end March 2021 – is that correct? Thanks.

    • It’s when you link from Amex, I’ve just upgraded so I can have the plat card by Jan and upgraded statuses then.

    • Depends … it might work, you might also only get a year. Sometimes if you do the upgrade after July you get the rest of the current year and then the whole next year. In your case, nothing to lose by waiting until January.

  13. I recently upgRaded my free BA card to the BAPP after spending £10k. The 2-4-1 voucher has now posted but it is only showing a one year expiry. Is this a common problem? Thanks in advance!

    • My data point is old (March 2017), but I called both BA and Amex and they sorted it out. It took about a month or so for it to be processed and a few phone calls. However, some reported here that they haven’t had any luck.

    • Yes. You should have upgraded before spending the 10k for the two year expiry

  14. OT – RE: Lloyds Avios duo pack and getting a 2nd upgrade voucher… I’m a couple of grand off £14k spend on this…am tempted to take it over the £14k mark to see if I’ll get a 2nd upg voucher, as I believe a number of folks did recently… Has anyone pushed it over the £14k mark in the past few weeks and, if so, did you get an extra voucher? Thanks in advance for any data…

    • TGLoyalty says:

      I thought the ‘extra’ voucher was an admin mistake rather than after hitting £14k spend

    • Duo cards are 1 x 241 voucher per card anniversary. I’ve had these cards (the £50 premium ones) for 10+ years and have tried before to get two vouchers within 12
      months……no success. Better channeling your spend elsewhere after getting your voucher. Ps, the Lloyds ‘Rewards’ cards give an upgrade voucher after £7k spend, the Duo cards you refer to earn a 241 voucher after £10k for premium and £15k for standard
      (I think?).

  15. Nick

    I once got to the BA SFO lounge very early. They let me in but it was being used by Korean Airlines. So there is at least one other airline using it other than OW airlines.

    Cathay is the best though and I have never had a problem getting in (BA Gold)

  16. Rob you’d be lucky to get into the CX longe on BA metal. BA check in staff now encourage people not to visit it. I have tried three times in the last three months and on arrival at the CX lounge, despite it being empty, we were turned away on the basis that QF x 2 (day depenedent) and CX later in the evening use the lounge.

    The 380 is currently operating a reduced scheduled into SFO for the winter months in any event. My last two flights have been on the 77W. At least BA have picked a quieter time of year to close the lounge. I guess the big question is how long it will be closed for.

  17. How much will the TLV tickets cost, and will it be LHR?

  18. Will,

    Twice in 2018 I have used the CX lounge. Once when flying BA and once when flying JL.

    It might depend what time you visit in relation to the CX flight, however.

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