Bits: James Hillier leaving BA, Emirates adds 2nd Stansted service with new First, £70 Opodo discount

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News in brief:

James Hillier to leave British Airways

James Hillier, the man whose signature has probably adorned over one billion British Airways Executive Club emails over the years, is leaving the company this month.

A lot of people don’t believe that James exists.  After all, his name has appeared on BAEC emails for so long that it started to feel unlikely that one person wouldn’t have changed job in that time.

James Hillier leaving British Airways

James is real, however, and I met him last year at a BAEC event.  He was a really nice guy, but to protect his identify he didn’t want to be photographed!  His LinkedIn profile is similarly blank, but if you search his name on social media it is linked to so many BA rants that I don’t blame him.  Being the ‘face’ of the Executive Club is probably not always a good thing.

James has been at BA for just short of 30 years and has spent 22 years working on Executive Club.  I wish him well for the future.

He will apparently be replaced by Niall Rooney, who currently has the intriguing job title of ‘Interim Head of Ground Experience’.

Emirates First Class Suite Stansted

Emirates adding a second Stansted service from June

Those of use who were sceptical when Emirates announced its Stansted service last year – and you can count me amongst them – have been proved wrong.

A 2nd daily service from Stansted to Dubai will launch on 1st July.  Importantly, it will be another Boeing 777-300ER featuring the amazing new Emirates First Class Suite which I reviewed here.

Even better, the outbound flight is not overnight.  It leaves Stansted at 15.00, arriving at 01.05.  This means that you will get full value from the First Class Suite if you try it.  The return is also better timed, leaving Dubai at 14.15 and arriving at 18.45, which is more convenient than the current 09.00 departure.

You can find out more about the new First Class Suite on the Emirates website here.

Emirates First Class Suite stansted

Opodo launches new voucher codes

Opodo is running two discount codes this week which might get you a decent saving.

The code is MARCH19.  You enter this right at the very end of the process – there is a box under the space for your credit card number saying “Add a promo code”.

It is worth:

  • £15 off flight bookings over £350
  • £70 off flight + hotel bookings over £1,000

The end result looks like this:

opodo discount code

You need to book by 19th March.  Flights must depart from the UK.  The Opodo website is here.

New council tax bill arrived? Use Billhop to pay it by Amex
Review: Air New Zealand Premium Economy from London Heathrow to Los Angeles
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Comments

  1. Genghis says:

    I don’t know if I’m being stupid but looking at the timings, will this new Emirates flight sit on the tarmac at Stansted for nearly a day before going back to Dubai?

    • Existing flight lands in STN at 13:20 so that will fly out as new flight at 15:00

      New service will arrive at 18:45 and flight out at 20:15 under exisitng service

      Overnight sitting on the tarmac will happen in DXB unless they want to put it into operation on a shorthaul ME route

      • Genghis says:

        Of course! 🙂

        • Overnight on the tarmac at STN would be an expensive exercise!
          I can’t remember what the rates were but if we ever had an aircraft with excess downtime we would always position from STN to MSE to save costs…not that that is an option now, either for the airline or the airport!

  2. IslandDweller says:

    @Genghis. No, Emirates are assisting the schedule of the existing flight, so both services will only be in STN for a few hours.
    Be interesting to know what’s driven the success – is it London market or have they tapped into underserved markets such as Cambridge and East Anglia?

    • Have to say, it was fairly full in Business when I did First (despite the rubbish business seat layout) and I was chatting to a guy by the doors who said he flew it once for a fortnight for work. There is probably enough tech- and pharma-driven business from Cambridge etc to fill the premium seats, plus the usual local leisure travellers.

      • Absolutely

        Have breakfast early at the Doubletree in Cambridge for a sense of how many people are there overseas (east and west) working at the local scicne parks

    • flyforfun says:

      Combination of both I would say.

      I have a number of friends up there, both Town and Gown. For both it means a saving of several hours or in some cases an overnight airport stay when flying somewhere. My friends in Ely now only have to travel 45 mins to STN, instead of 3 to 5 hours to get to LHR or LGW and with less traffic risk. They have started looking at options Emirates opens up for them, like to Australia where they would have faced a few hours in a car after a 24hr+ flight going from LHR or LGW.

    • and wealthy international students coming to Cambridge schools from Asia, as mentioned in EK press release

      • yeah EK seem to be targeting Cambridge area students – although hard to see that sustaining the flights all year !

  3. Dominic says:

    OT received “exclusive for you” Marriott bonus points offer yesterday, stacking with the 19th March one. 18k points for three stays in 3 months

    • That’s absurdly generous, someone at Marriott loves you!

      I was pleased with 36k for 12…

      • Dominic says:

        To be honest, assuming I don’t receive another in the next three months, yours would actually be of more value to me, as I stay every week on business! But yes, it is a very generous offer for a low stay allowance – although it does awkwardly help me spread my stays between Hilton and Marriott due to low requirement!

    • Yup! 22.5k points for two stays with minimum two nights before end of April. Quite generous indeed.

      • Here, starting with second stay, 1500 extra points for 3 stays taken before end of May. Not as generous as Dominics which is brill.

      • Dominic says:

        I thought I was doing well.. that’s every more generous o.O

  4. I took this exact flight only 3 weeks ago. Although F was empty when I upgraded using points, the return in J was near capacity. The flight attendant informed me economy only had 3 spare seats, I can only imagine they are pricing this route very competitively but personally the smart ones will pick this plane over an A380 if flying economy. After all, no one enjoys being herded around like cattle.

    • John G says:

      You mean prefer the A380 over the 777 right? Try flying a EK 777 then an EK A380 back to back and tell me which made you feel more like cattle! Personal space is terrible on the EK 777 at shoulder level whereas their A380 seats are quite roomy (as Y seats go!)

      • Different strokes for different folks. You prefer the A380, I prefer the 777 purely based on the fact that there isn’t an extra 150 people on the plane. Everything from the speed of the meal service to collecting your bags is painful in Y purely because there is more people. You may also argue that this shouldn’t be true as their is more staff but again, you may have also had a different experience with a different airline.

        • Sounds like your judgement is coloured by your specific seat location on a380. Depending on airlines, the number of pax on an a380 versus a 773ER is not hugely different, and differences in staff will compensate. As for bag collection, that will be largely airport-dependent as opposed to aircraft-dependent.

        • I flew on 777 and 380 before, quietness and normal humidity on 380 made me choose it over 777 on my upcoming flight to Sin (in cattle class).

        • Looks like my experience on the A380 with BA in cattle class is completely different to some. Might be time to give it a go with an ME airline.

    • Having done Economy on an Emirates 777 followed by an A380 I would hands down choose the A380. I thought the 777 was horrific as the seats were so narrow, and I’m not even a large person.

    • Kevin C says:

      I much prefer flying on a 380 in economy class, certainly on the ME airlines. Far roomier.

  5. Leafwarbler says:

    OT – BA’s tier point calculator doesn’t recognise Easter Island (IPC) as a destination even though LATAM fly there from SCL. Anyone know why? Or know what the J tier points and air miles are or this route?
    Thanks.

    • 140 tier points. 3k Avios. Both each way.

      I missed out in one direction as I had a phantom LATAM frequent flyer number on my ticket as well as my BA number so make sure you fight to have it removed. Lounge staff said they had fixed it but they didn’t took about a 45 minute before another flight I noticed it happened to remove it.

      Missing out on the Avios didn’t bother me too much as overall I was up because LATAM gave me Avios and tier point on my redemption bookings elsewhere on my trip…

      I stuck some pictures of the trip on my Instagram linked on my name

      • Kevin C says:

        We’re going to Easter Island this summer. I will look whenever Instagram works again.

        BA don’t recognise Easter Island for a reward search or a hotel search either. And then I found it absolutely impossible to book internal flights using LATAM’s website. Spent ages putting in all the details and then it failed just before payment. Expedia and Amex Travel worked.

        If anyone has any more tips for Easter Island, the Atacama desert or Santiago, please add them. Thanks.

      • Leafwarbler says:

        Thanks, Paul – looks good! Don’t have any loyalty numbers on the booking at all; will ring the Latam call centre to add BA.

        • Also, for Chile flights, book on the LATAM Chile site using google translate if required. Much much cheaper, particularly to Easter island. It is an amazing place

          I can also second atacama and the salt flats

  6. Louise says:

    OT: looking for some advice, have two Lloyd’s Upgrade vouchers, one expires end of March, so looking to maybe redeem both together. It will be 2 Adults and toddler travelling (over 2 so have to get a seat)

    Having mainly travelled west we are considering Hong Kong, and utilising the low taxes back, and maybe using the two upgrade vouchers to upgrade two adults and child to CW for one way HKG-LHR

    We have approx 400k virgin miles and 80k Amex MR points so I was thinking of using them for getting out to Hong Kong, is there any lower tax redemptions I haven’t thought about?

    • Hong Kong would be your best option as you can fly out with Virgin & back with BA using the vouchers.

    • The cheap tax options exHKG I believe you are thinking of ended last November. ExUK, if you want to use your Lloyds voucher and cut taxes you are looking at departing Inverness or Jersey. Unkess either are convenient or you fancy another break then the net saving is probably not worth the hassle.

      • No, not yet for BA at least. It’s still £33ish for one-way from Hong Kong and since Louise’s voucher is expiring end of March she can still benefit from the fact that BA hasn’t changed the taxes.

        • Vivian says:

          yep, just booked one-way CW ex-HKG yesterday (for flight in November) and the tax was £34.20.

        • Didn’t know that, thanks.

        • Slightly related, I just cancelled a VS reward flight from HKG-LHR. taxes were less than £30 so I expected to not get a refund when I cancelled (as VS cancellation fee I thought was £30).

          Got the refund confirmation today and got the full fees/taxes back. So didn’t cost me anything.

          Is that normal?

        • Check that the fee hasn’t been separately charged to your credit card.

  7. Maciek says:

    Shame about James leaving – I had a pleasure of meeting him last year. I hope this is not a sign of new round of “enhancements” coming to BAEC…

    • Mikeact says:

      I wonder what this will mean for the EC? I mean I guess that Niall will want to make his mark…….further changes on the way ?

  8. What’s a good price to India (either DEL or BOM) in J. Can do KLM from LHR for about £1300 which may become closer to £1200 with the Opodo offer, or can wait for a QR sale and try and get it closer to £1000. Ex-EU is fine as well.

    • Try Finnair, seen DEL under £1100 but that was about two years ago and I think fares have generally crept up a little.

    • Dominic says:

      £1300 is pretty standard pricing for DEL. Definitely not a deal, but not a bad price either.

  9. NYC123 says:

    OT: I have a SPG AMEX, I referred my wife for the Amex preferred rewards card, will my referal bonus come in the form of Reward points or Starwood points? Obviously 9000 Starwood would only equate to 3000 mr?

  10. Qwerty Bertie says:

    I just saw a list of about 50 countries that have said no to the particular Boeing model, and Ethiopia isn’t on it! (CNN)

    • Now grounded worldwide by Boeing as I understand it.

      • Alex W says:

        I am slightly confused by the news reports as I didn’t think the manufacturer/certificate holder had the authority to ground an aircraft. The regulators may have issued a mandatory Airworthiness Directive on the recommendation of the certificate holder, but the authority comes from the regulators and not Boeing.

        • Although surely if a manufacturer issued advice saying not to fly that aircraft (which let’s face it is very unusual!) it would be a pretty silly airline that ignored it?

    • Michael says:

      I think it was the airline and not the regular that chose to ground the MAX.

  11. Sorry I posted this last night. Thanks to Jon for replying and I would appreciate any other advice.
    I want the Lounge access, but can I save more in taxes cancelling the domestic leg on my business ticket?
    OT, I have just secured my return flight from MIA to ABZ which i added to my outbound ticket on a Lloyd’s upgrade voucher. My problem is that my domestic up to ABZ is on a plane 2hrs later than the rest of my family. I had a backup reward flight in economy booked MIA to ABZ in case I did not find my return In CW. On cancelling my economy backup booking it opened up a ET seat on the same domestic leg with my family up to ABZ. I booked this for 4500 Avios and £17.50. What will happen if I do not turn up for the domestic leg on the later plane? I don’t want to cancel because I won’t get into the lounge, but I want to be on the same plane as my family up to ABZ even if it is economy. I have just booked all this so any advice would be helpful and I can sort it without fees as I will be within 24hrs.

    • Shoestring says:

      nothing will happen, it’s just a missed flight that you won’t have checked in for

    • Some airlines would block or cancel duplicate bookings, but you would be fine with BA
      I would avoid checking any luggage on your MIA-ABZ booking and get a mobile boarding pass for the earlier Avios flight you intend to take.
      The worst that can happen is that BA picks it up (unlikely) and cancel your Avios booking with a full refund

    • Not sure I understand. So you are booked in CW from MIA-LHR, but you have two bookings for LHR-ABZ? The earlier one in economy which you want to fly, and the later one in business that you don’t want to fly?

      Well, firstly you’ll get into the lounge at LHR on the strength of your inbound long-haul business flight, it doesn’t matter that the domestic is in economy. So you can safely cancel the later LHR-ABZ if you like.

      However if you don’t or can’t cancel it, then as Yan says, do not check in any bags. BA is unlikely to cancel the double booking, but more likely that you can’t check in online and will have to get a BP at the connections desk (may be faster to go landside anyway).

      • Agree with John – I don’t quite follow the question but if it’s as he states then totally agree – you’ll have access from inbound long-haul CW ticket, both to the airside Galleries Club lounges and the landside Arrivals Lounge anyway.

  12. OT: is it possible to transfer my wife’s MR points to my MR account if she closes her account?
    I’m sure I read in a previous article that Amex do do it but don’t make it easy!

  13. OT: Does anyone know if the amex platinum insurance include airline failure (eg the airline going bankrupt, strikes etc.)?

  14. Don’t know too much about Opodo, do you still pick up loyalty air miles?

  15. OT Tesco CC transfer to Uber does the Tesco clubcard holder need to have an Uber account or can the voucher be applied to any Uber account. How long does the transfer take.

    Thanks

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