Bits: the FT on BA wine, £50 Hilton cashback, good Norwegian / Economist deal, Flybe adds Guernsey & Jersey to Newquay

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News in brief:

The Financial Times on British Airways wine

I would normally have let this go by, but I thought it was an interesting addition to my review last Saturday of the drinks offered in Emirates First Class, including a £250 Haut Brion and £790 cognac.

In the FT last weekend, Jancis Robinson went on a bit of rant about British Airways wine.  She worked for the airline for many years as its chief wine consultant.  Whilst the FT article is behind a paywall, you can also read it on her blog here.  Here are a few quotes:

“In 2009 Willie Walsh, then head of BA, decided to abandon the policy of choosing wines on the basis of what they tasted like and instead, to cut costs, appointed a single exclusive supplier for each of the three classes. In 2010 I resigned.”

“Unfortunately, the wine selections on the two major airlines based in the UK, Virgin and British Airways, belie our nation’s standing as a major global force in wine. Virgin appeals much more effectively to the cocktail sipper than to the wine drinker, while the current state of wine buying at British Airways is described by one close trade observer as ‘at rock bottom – there’s only one way for them to go’.

BA’s wine buying is currently in the hands of two young Frenchmen working for the parent company IAG who have no wine-buying experience. The dire state of their budget can be judged from a recent discussion on The Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc then on offer in BA First Class was spotted in Morrisons at £5 a bottle, two for £9. Even more recently an Argentine Malbec that retails for $10 was served in First Class. All submissions in a recent First Class tender for wines over €6 a bottle from the cellar door were rejected. (The budget for forward buying of claret used to be €25.)

The glass of champagne that welcomes anyone who has paid thousands for their seat at the front of a plane is seen as the most important wine served on any plane. Even BA realise this, and have not (yet) pared Laurent Perrier’s Grand Siècle from First Class – although one can only imagine the negotiations that keep it there. And they cunningly also offer a much cheaper champagne and, quite rightly, an English sparkling wine too, which presumably helps to reduce costs. Krug and Dom Pérignon are de rigueur for the Asian airlines, and Emirates have been known to offer the super-special, extra-aged Dom Pérignon P2. If you were really greedy you might even be able to drink the cost of your ticket.”

Hilton’s extends its Amex cashback offer

A week ago we wrote about a new Hilton / American Express cashback deal worth £75 back on a £250 spend at selected European hotels before 15th May.  The details are here.

The offer has now been extended to more people so check back if you missed out last time.  It isn’t as generous – you’ll get £50 back on a £250 spend – but better than nothing.

PS. Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Hilton Honors points.  That page is regularly updated with the latest special offers and will still be accurate even if you are reading this article months after publication.

HIlton American Express cashback

Norwegian launches its own attractive offer for The Economist

Norwegian has jumped on the bandwagon of airlines offering attractive subscription deals to The Economist.  This one is good – if you’re confident Norwegian won’t go bust.

The Norwegian loyalty currency is CashPoints.  1 CashPoint is worth roughly 9p (it is based on the value of 1 NOK).  Importantly, you can redeem CashPoints against ANY Norwegian flight.  You don’t need to look for special reward availability, you simply find a flight for cash and use your CashPoints to get a discount.

Here is the new Economist offer.  For UK subscribers, this is what you pay:

Print or Digital: 1 year £145 with £108 of CashPoints / 2 years £259 with £189 of CashPoints / 3 years £349 with £270 of CashPoints

Print and Digital:  1 year £179 with £135 of CashPoints / 2 years £315 with £216 of CashPoints / 3 years £425 with £297 of CashPoints

It isn’t free money – unless you can write off your Economist subscription against tax – but if you are spending money with Norwegian anyway (and trust them to remain solvent until you’ve booked and flown) this is a very cheap way to get magazine.

Blue Islands Flybe Jersey to Newquay

Flybe adds Guernsey / Jersey to Newquay service

Blue Islands is a Channel Islands-based airline which operates as a Flybe franchise.  It has just announced a new Summer route from Jersey and Guernsey to Newquay.

Flights will operate from 3rd June to 31st August.

There will be three services per week, on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday.  The plane will start in Guernsey and make a brief stopover in Jersey before continuing on to Cornwall.

Blue Islands has also recently announced Guernsey to London Southend and Guernsey to Liverpool which commence on 20th May and 21st May respectively, both operating as Flybe franchises and bookable on

Despite being franchised, you can book these Flybe routes with Avios.  A one-way from Guernsey to Newquay is 4,500 Avios plus just £5 of tax, although the costs of flying out of Newquay push up the taxes on a return trip to £39.

(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.)

Bits: £75 of free Wheely rides in London, last call for 75% bonus buying IHG points, last call for 6000 Avios from Accor
LAST DAY: Get 10,000 to 25,000 sign-up miles with the Virgin Atlantic credit cards!
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  1. Received 5000 iPrefer points earlier and I have no idea why. Haven’t stayed or booked anything with them.

  2. Lady London says:

    Even the Arrivals Lounge in T5 has gone right downhill. Staff used to be excellent but it sounds as though we got the same staff in in both. No customer service skills at any level. The Arrivals Lounge felt like a Wimpy when I arrived back at Christmas and visited it for the first time in a long while. I was so disappointed, I’d been looking forward to going back again. British Airways seems to be taking away aspirational things all the time.

  3. Puddicus says:

    T5 Arrivals is all about self-check in now. If you want a BA person to do something, it is difficult indeed.

  4. IanMac says:

    T5 Arrivals Lounge is a disgrace. Service is pathetic (even in Gold / First room) – only reason to go there is to get a shirt ironed !!

    I presume Greg is critiquing the First Class Concorde Lounge.
    With a CCR card I am a frequent visitor – Wednesday this week and will be back again this Sunday afternoon.

    My curiosity has been raised regarding the standard of wine served in the CCR – I will try and check what exactly is on offer (but if its the same style £5 bottle then does it really matter the grape, region, chateau, year, …)
    Having made 90 business trips to the sub-continent in the last 7 years I am very familiar with the cranial movement characteristic.
    However, I have to say that I don’t actually recall personally experiencing that characteristic in the T5 CCR !!
    I have to say that the 4 ladies and all the guys have been great with myself / ourselves over the years – and they make a real mean white Russian (with cream) !!

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