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 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. O/T recently stayed two nights at The Venetian on points which was great. Zero points have posted even though $400 of incidentals were charged to room. CS say that you don’t earn points on incidentals for Intercontinental Alliance resorts. Also they say you earn fixed 2000 points per qualifying stay. Is this true as that’s a terrible deal!

  2. £95 per person to check in at the terminal, wait at a bus stop and all to be driven to the plane in a car. That’s mad.
    It’s hardly LH first class!

    • All things are relative. I’m sure the salary of the typical city airport user is many multiples of the UK average and therefore wouldn’t baulk at paying £95 for a civilised airport experience.

      • Try sitting on the floor in the terminal for 2 hours with young kids which is what happened last time we flew out of City on a Friday and the weather turned a bit wet.

        As I said in the article, it works better if you’re with hand baggage and get dropped directly at the Jet Centre.

        • Rob,

          I guess your doing this solely for research purposes, no one would really pay close to £400 for a short cab ride surely?

          • I wouldn’t pay for all 4 of us. I’d do it for myself, I think (especially as any HFP trip would be a tax write off). You are totally missing the point though. It isn’t ‘paying for a taxi ride’, you are paying to totally escape (if on hand baggage) the hell-hole that is City Airport on a Friday night with effectively your own private lounge, private security channel and be driven to the plane.

            Given that Heathrow charges £4k, I think, for the same service £95 is not pricey. It only adds up if you’ve got kids. As I said in the article, if you would pay for CE then I would suggest not paying for CE and doing Economy plus this instead.

        • I wouldn’t do either, especially as CE isn’t very good, but then again I’ve totally missed the point!

  3. Andrew M says:

    OT. Any success stories to report of Amex overturning a card application decline via calling the Brighton call centre? First decline, despite many of their cards held in past (+ only Gold Credit held at present), perfect 999 on Experian (perhaps “too” good), stable income vs previous applications. Have a large credit limit on Gold Credit, which they upped themselves earlier this month. Would be very happy to trade down some of that, but do they ever negotiate on such things?!? Thanks!

    • I managed to get a rejected nectar card appealed by phoning up. However, before I appealed, I drastically reduced my credit limits on all my cards as I believe that was the reason I was rejected.

    • Scallder says:

      Yes – late 2017 I had one overturned. Was simply as I had a few other Amex cards with high limit, they approved it when I moved some of my credit limit from one of my other cards to the new one. So credit limit across all cards with Amex stayed the same, but number of cards was increased.

  4. Stayed at the Pullman in 2016 (pre refurb) and even then it was superb. Really big rooms, excellent breakfast, service was really good too.

    The location is perfect. With the Zoo and Tiergarten being on the door step it’s great to find a quiet spot. But the transports links make its so easy to get to places. The Zoo station, Wittenbergplatz is a 10 min walk and has 3 lines if I remember right. And there are bus stops 100m away outside the IC so you can grab a bus to basically anywhere in the city.

  5. Hi Rob, do you have any useful tips for booking flights with long layovers i.e. one or two nights?

    Your comment about an overnight stop in Berlin made me realise I don’t know where to begin with finding these types of flights.

    Perhaps there is enough for a ‘beginners guide’ article?

    • Anthony Edwards says:

      +100. I am flying back from Seville next week on TAP with a 36 hour lay-over in Lisbon which I found purely by accident. I would love to know how to do this strategically.

      • Just search for a multicity flight instead of one way or return, or book two separate tickets.

        Otherwise, ITA Matrix is a useful tool if you want to put in some time learning how to use it (there are several guides if you do a search for it).

      • Or search for your desired route on Kayak.com, filter it by 1 stop flight and list the flights by Longest to shortest. You will see all the stop-over options there.

    • +1

    • Technically stopovers are aspects of air fares that allow +24h connections (less than <24h is considered normal connection). The "problem" is that not always stopovers are allowed in airfares, or you have to pay an additional sum (sometimes 100-200 extra), just for the stopover – which doesn't include any additional taxes/fees (example, you are travelling on a BA fare from AMS to JFK on a fare that allows stopover in London – because your connection will be longer that 24h you must pay additional taxes/fees, such as APD which is exempt on <24h connections).

      In summary, the key is to fina "free stopovers" in cities/countries that do not charge excessive fees/taxes. TAP Portugal and Cathay usually are good examples to get used to it.

      • Some airlines (like Swiss and Icelandair) even encourage long stopovers. How do they ensure they are free and seamless? Perhaps there is a feature on Amadeus?

  6. OT: How long for SPG Amex points to post? They have left my Amex account fee days ago (balance showing zero) but not hit my Marriott account yet.

  7. I’m about to cancel my Amex gold now I have got my annual points. What is the best way to get my pro rata fee back, is it via paying the account off and asking for a cheque / bank transfer or is asking for a credit against the balance before paying it off?

    • You don’t make the decision now. You cancel and you need to wait until the credit balance shows on your online statement. Easiest thing to do at that point is message Amex and ask for it to be moved to another Amex account you have.

    • I always make sure that I owe at least enough to offset the credit before I cancel.
      Incidentally, just cancelled SPG Amex and no offer to keep it.

    • They can BT or move to another one of your amex account, very simple.

  8. Shoestring says:

    O/T woo-hoo! – just found over £5 worth of RSH vouchers, expiry 2020 (gotta buy my daughter a ticket today).

    Worth a check if you played the points game.

  9. OT: we are flying from Singapore T2 on Malaysian Airline flying Economy but have BA Silver,
    and from KL on BA Business
    what are the best lounge to visit? Thanks

  10. rams1981 says:

    OT if I have a non-refundable train ticket booked I can no longer make, can I claim this through insurance?

  11. OT When transferring avios from Membership Rewards to BA Executive Club, I understand that the name has to match on both accounts but does the registered address need to match?

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