Bits: I try London City’s First Class Lounge, Pullman Berlin, enter our New York competition

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News in brief:

I finally try London City’s First Class Lounge

You may not know that London City Airport has two lounges tucked away in the private jet terminal (‘Jet Centre’) next door.  The Business Class Lounge costs £35 and is a standard airport lounge experience, requiring you to head back to the main building for departures.  The First Class Lounge lets you use a private security line and be driven to your aircraft.

Anika reviewed the First Class Lounge here.  I finally got to try it on Friday.  For clarity, I paid for my wife and myself but I did not have to pay for my children due to our relationship with the Jet Centre team.  It was money well spent to avoid City’s departure areas on the Friday night of half term – last time we used City on a Friday we all had to sit on the floor.

It was a genuinely civilised experience.  It isn’t flash (don’t come here looking for Johnnie Walker Blue or Dom Perignon) but there was never more than one other group in the lounge for the time we were there.  They even let my kids – but not the parents – put on hi-viz vests and have a look inside one of the private jets parked up.

When it was time to go we went through the private security channel and were driven to the steps of our BA plane, which was very cool.  Note that BA’s JFK flight is excluded due to the extra security rules for US departures.

Is this a cheap experience?  No, not at £95 per person.  Is it ‘worth it’?  Well, there are different definitions of ‘worth it’, of course.  It helps if you’re a bit of a lounge / aviation geek.  It’s a no-brainer if you charge your work by the hour and can fit something in before you fly.  Put it this way … I’d rather pay £95 for this and fly in Economy (which we did) than pay for Club Europe and have to use the standard City Airport procedures.

My only caveat is that, if you have checked luggage, you need to drop it in the main terminal as usual which is a bit of a pain.  The Jet Centre team will pick you up from the airport bus stop afterwards.  It is FAR smoother if you are on hand baggage only as you can then head directly to the Jet Centre and avoid the main building.

Anika’s full review of London City’s First Class Lounge is here.  Anika also did a 60-second video which is on YouTube here.

One lounge photo is below.  A full set are on our Instagram page (I couldn’t photograph the car or the security set-up.)  You can book the lounge via LoungeBuddy here or directly here – it MUST be done in advance so that your passport details can be cleared.

London City Airport First Class Lounge

I recommend Pullman Berlin

When we landed in Berlin, we did a quick overnight stop before flying onwards the next morning.  I decided to try the Pullman Berlin, which is one of Accor’s five star brands.

A h-u-g-e amount of money has just been spent refurbishing Pullman Berlin.  It looks amazing, especially in the public areas.  It is a fusion of Bauhaus style with animal influences (Berlin Zoo is opposite).  Click on the photo below to enlarge.  The only area left to complete is the pool and spa which is closed until the end of April.

We paid £90 per room including breakfast, which even by Berlin prices was cheap for such a high quality property.  Using points in Berlin outside peak season is generally not worth it given the cash rates.  It is very close to Zoo station – the InterContinental Berlin is directly opposite (you can use their pool whilst the Pullman pool is closed) and the new Waldorf Astoria is a couple of minutes away.

I recommend adding Pullman Berlin to your shortlist if you are heading to Berlin soon.  The hotel website is here.

Pullman Berlin

Enter our New York competition!

A quick reminder that we are currently giving away two Economy flights to New York in a special competition, flying from Heathrow or Gatwick at any point up to the end of September.

YOU decide who you fly with.  The entry form – which is here (click) – asks you which airline you’d like to fly with and to pick one reason why.  If you win, that’s who you will be on!

Entries close on Wednesday but you might as well do it now.  One entry per person, UK residents only, the winner MUST travel.

(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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Comments

  1. Travel to Berlin a few times a year for work. Personally I much prefer the former East and Alexanderplatz is is my go to area. Sure the hotels aren’t the big splash that they are in the former West but I love the area. Stay at H4.

  2. *to* seville!

  3. OT- any advice is greatly appreciated, has anyone had experience of Amex Platinum travel insurance claim, due to a friend’s wedding abroad being cancelled, for the air fare and accommodation fees? I would rather have put the money to somewhere I wanted to go than put up for a week there, if possible.

  4. the_real_a says:

    OT – Fintech current account Monese linking with Avios to view, EXCHANGE and earn Avios through debit card spend.

    https://monese.com/blog/2019/02/introducing-avios

  5. OT but need to get a confession off my chest, I just did something I promised I would never do and paid £352 in BA seat selection fees (88 each, each way) – I got panicky as the cabin appeared to be filling up (Gatwick 777 with 32J) and after our last trip I fell in love with the (previously much feared) middle pair so have gone for 3E/F as 4E is the bassinet seat. Not relevant to anything here but feel a mixture of pleasure at not having to rush to check in at T-24 and guilt at shelling out the ££…. ☺️

    • I think BA saw you coming

    • Groan…Never failed to see a middle pair available at T-24h . I have also seen cabin crew help reseat pax when their CW seating assignments didn’t work for them.

      • Not sure why I thought posting on here would make me feel any better 😂 Never mind!

        • Reserving the seats made you feel better though and that is all that matters. It also bought you peace of mind from now until your flight. You can obviously afford it or you wouldn’t have done it. There are no bad decisions if they are the right decisions for you, regardless of what others here think.

        • I’m with BJ on this. Just relax and forget the fee. It’s gone now and you’ve got the seats you want. I’ve paid to get seats on the upstairs of a 747 before. Enjoy your trip.

        • I’ve paid to reserve seats before as my wife hates fitting and knowing we’d get decent seats made it with the cost for me. As said, the peace of mind is invaluable.

  6. O/T
    Could someone post the gold to platinum upgrade link.

    Many thanks

  7. Shoestring says:

    O/T this is meant to be for Ubereats – worth checking on Uber taxis?
    [£5.00 off UberEats when you checkout with Mastercard.
    Use code BRIT2019 when checking out using your Mastercard on UberEats app.
    Valid until 23h59 24/02/2019 for the first 50,000 users.]

  8. Shoestring says:

    Hertz are doing the £1 rental thing now – regional—>London airport
    https://www.hertz.co.uk/p/hertzone

  9. ShouldntCare says:

    Bits – Bit of a lengthy post but would appreciate any input!

    So I only noticed this now, but Iberia decided to ‘clawback’ the unused avios from the 9k / flight offer from last year. I’m currently on negative 9k avios. However, I had actually spent these avios before the December deadline (previous night at 23:58) and have the booking reference with timestamp. Things to consider:

    1-Yes, 23:58 GMT is different to Madrid but nowhere in their T&Cs e-mail did they say ‘Spend before December CET” (however, they flaunt T&Cs all the time, so I don’t know if this matters)
    2-E-mailed but they recommended I call the customer centre (I shudder to think of this as they tend to be appalling)

    Questions:
    a) Is it worth the undoubtedly long and painful process to challenge this? I spent the avios minutes before the deadline (in UK time). Can I challenge the fact that their original & reminder e-mails stated nothing on timezones? Has anyone heard of anyone being successful recouping these avios from Iberia (I remember lots of brazen statements by HFPers threatening legal action ‘if they were affected by this’ ‘Iberia can’t just change the rules’ etc.)

    b) I happen to have more than one passport. Thinking I could just open another Iberia account with my new passport # (Physical address can also be expressed in a different way…). Would this be ‘wrong’? Chances of getting caught by Iberia? The only thing that concerns me is combining my account with my BA one which would effectively now have 2 Iberia accounts associated to it…not sure if that’ll instantly flag within the system.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks.

    • Shoestring says:

      Just challenge it, there are a couple of very similar timezone cases to yours documented here and they got back the missing Avios nice & quick
      https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/iberia-airlines-iberia-plus-683/

      You’re looking for the Iberia 9000 threads, there are about 3 relevant threads, read them backwards ie latest posts first

    • You have zero chance challenging the time zone because that is illogical – you can’t change the rules based on where someone is. We’re not extending our current competition by 5 hours so a Miami resident can get in before midnight local time.

      I had a similar case a while back where a reader lost some Etihad miles because he left it until the expiry day to make a booking, but Etihad wiped his balance at 8pm UK time (midnight UAE).

      • ShouldntCare says:

        Thanks for your answers both.

        @Rob: I guess if you specify the timezone as part of the conditions then it would make sense. Otherwise it’s up for interpretation?

        Also, any thoughts on my second question regarding opening a new Iberia account / issue in combining my BA with two accounts?

        • I don’t think any right-minded arbitrator would expect a clearly foreign-run business to adjust its terms based on your time zone at the time. You then open up even sillier cans of worms – what happens if I have a UK-domiciled account but am in New York on the day? Should I get the extra 5 hours?

          No real insight into the other thing.

        • Shoestring says:

          [After several exchanges on twitter my negative balance was reversed. So I guess IB is not that bad and can make smart choices eventually. I also had a great flight ORD-MAD in bus. The food was great (unlike what some other travelers reported), internet had an option to pay for the whole flight (about E30), not like previous reports per MB. I also spent a couple of days in Madrid, which is a great city. Overall, thank you IB for this promotion but you need to clean up your quirks because they are repelling many travelers from the good things about your program.]
          https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/iberia-airlines-iberia-plus/1943313-check-your-iberia-account-ib-withdrawing-unused-90k-promotion-avios-1-dec-2018-a-10.html

  10. OT: Hilton Aberdeen TECA opening soon. Has spa, leisure facilities, business lounge and airport shuttle. Yet more very cheap weekend nights to flip during promotions 🙂

  11. OT I’m looking for advice on the following Virgin Atlantic booking.

    Currently I have enough points for two return tickets MAN to JFK and two vouchers from my Virgin credit card to upgrade each leg to premium. The points are spread across two accounts -mine and the wife. I’m also looking to book a 3rd seat using my £200 off Amex offer also in Premium.
    My preferred route is to book my wife and daughter using the points and myself using the Amex offer so I collect additional points to my account for the paid flight.
    Is it possible to book using points from my account for my daughter although I will be flying on a paid ticket via Amex? If so I assume I would need to call Virgin after the paid flight is complete to confirm my seat so we all fly together?
    This way I will maximise the offer and receive additional miles and tier points for the paid flight.

  12. Down the Back says:

    How do you move Avios from Iberia to BA ? Searched on here and tried all 3 methods outlined by Rob previously, 1) Log into Iberia will only let you move from BA to Iberia, 2) Log into BA, will only let you move from BA to Iberia, 3) Open an Avios account, not possible, will only let me open an airline account, Iberia, BA, Aer Club, Meridiana or Vueling.

    How do you now get your Iberia points into your BA account ?

    Thanks

    DtB

    • You open an Aer Lingus account or Veuling and it can be used on the avios.com “hosting” website. Then use combine my avios from Iberia to the avios.com based account you have just opened and then from there to BA.

      • Down the Back says:

        Thanks Peter, very straight forward and I now have an Aer Club Account as well 🙂

        DtB

  13. Quite OT:
    Not sure if anyone will be able to answer this. Will I still be able to keep the HSBC Premier World Elite CC if I suddenly lose Premier status with the bank? Just wondering if the eligibility criterium is for applying or holding.

    • So you’re wondering Waddle happen? 😉

    • Qwerty Bertie says:

      You’ll be able to keep it, same as with Premier mortgages. You won’t be able to churn it though.

    • No. But someone who dropped off the Premier criteria told me yesterday that he was allowed to keep it if he opened a HSBC broking account (£40 fee) and bought 1 share through it.

      • Qwerty Bertie says:

        Is that “no” from experience or supposition based on some wording you’ve seen? My wife has temporarily lost the status due to movement of savings, and there was no change with either her Premier mortgage product or her ordinary Premier card. They did amend her sole current account to an Advance though. I’d therefore be amazed if they downgraded the WE card, especially as it has an annual fee paid in advance, unlike her card.

        • It was based on people losing Premier fairly consistently and I assumed the card would go too. Or perhaps HSBC is so keen for the £195 that they turn a blind eye?

  14. Qwerty Bertie says:

    Given most of the reported experiences I’ve seen on here, this is not a good card to churn because users have struggled to get both lots of 40k points without paying the 2nd year’s fee. A few have said they managed it, albeit with considerable hassle on the telephone, but they seem to be the minority.

    My own experience is positive. I not only managed to get the 40k points for £12k spend without the 2nd year’s fee, I also managed to get the points wells before the anniversary. It did involve phoning them, but I wouldn’t describe it as hassle. I was just polite and friendly, and requested what I wanted rather than demanding it. I never once referred to terms & conditions either.

  15. Did anyone stay at Pullman next to Brussels Midi? Any good?

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