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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  1. OT: Anyone who took out the free HSBC premier credit card (and spent >£1000 in first 30days) been awarded the 10,000 HSBC bonus points yet? Opened mine in mid Jan, but nothing as yet. TIA

    • Allycat says:

      Had the statement this week, just showing the normal points at the moment. I guess the bonus will follow in due course …

  2. Doug M says:

    OT: Credit Card Spend. Do we agree the Platinum is a poor card to spend on once you’ve done the spend for the MR bonus. Better to spend on Gold for 10K MR at £15K, or SPG at 3 Bonvoy per £. Platinum good for benefits and referrals, poor to use? Am I missing something?

    • Michael says:

      I haven’t got the Platinum but it does seem very expensive for the earning rate you get.

      • The Original Nick says:

        Depends if you factor in PP lounge access, all hotel benefits, travel insurance etc etc. And that’s for 2 people.

        • Doug M says:

          Definitely has value. But wanted confirmation it’s a bad card to spend on.

      • You don’t spend on it ….!

        • Doug M says:

          Got it.

        • We only use Plat for holiday bookings to get the insurance. All other spend is dependent on which sign up bonus we’re chasing.

        • Genghis says:

          Remember you just need to use any Amex, not necessary Plat, to get all insurance bens.

        • If I booked flights on an Amex card (not plat) and then took out Plat AFTER I had booked but before I flew, would that be covered on plat insurance for the cancellation/etc/etc?

          (I’m assuming the medical is covered as soon as plat card is activated)

        • Nick Burch says:

          Online travel booking with Amex gets 2x MR points on the plat, so I use mine for that! Then anything with an offer to trigger too 🙂

    • Optimus Prime says:

      Speaking of – when requesting a supplementary for your Amex Plat you’re presented with three choices: Platinum, Gold or Green.

      So if you choose to issue a supplementary Gold – Does this card come with the typical Gold earning rate as in 2 points for every £1 spent directly with airlines or in a foreign currency, etc ?

    • Alex W says:
    • illuminatus says:

      The earning rate on Platinum is indeed poor, so I put all my spending on BA card, but still keep my Platinum for other benefits (lounges, hotel programs, Fine Hotels and Resorts).

      Also, Amex offers on Platinum have saved me about £600 within the last 12 months alone – they were never that generous for me before but last year was great.

      Platinum events on the other hand have been very disappointing lately as virtually no availability.

      • Doug M says:

        Yes, the best offers are on the Plat card for me. I got tickets for the Amex sponsored Q and A with Chris Hughton next Tuesday in Brighton. Really pleased, Chris was a legend at Spurs, met him previously and he’s a good bloke.

  3. Michael says:

    Any update on the new Marriot Bonvoy UK Card?

  4. Are points earned on balance transfers to Virgin Reward + card?

  5. O/T Finally got my Lloyds Avios changes letter. Have until 13/10 to earn another voucher, but I already did this year, so haven’t got another chance there. My card year ends 12/10. Well, it was good while it lasted. This card is going to the bin. Onto the next opportunity! 😄

  6. OT Tesco
    Any updates on the sim card deal, anyone got the CC points. Had a look on the original post but not much added lately.

    • I’m still waiting on my SIM cards coming in the post. I ordered them the day after the article was published

    • I had CS fix issues with one of mine. Take lady said points will be applied with the May statement, not within 28 days as stated in T&C.

    • fivebobbill says:

      2 sim cards arrived today, nothing in the pack regards an “up to 2,000 clubcard bonus”, just the standard blurb of 1 point per £1 top up.
      Can anyone remember does the top-up last one month from purchase? or from first use?
      I only ask as I’m off to the UAE end of April and was gonna burn the sims on voice calls from there (no voip in UAE).
      So don’t want to trigger them too early…

      • I am still waiting even though I got an email on Friday that they’ve been sent 1st class. Anyone knows if any Tesco sim will do? My local Tesco only sells normal Pay as you go sims, so I am wondering if these will work.

        • Mikeact says:

          Rocket packs are regarded as PAYG , you renew or not each month. And you can use your existing Tesco sum.

        • Thanks. I was confused about the fact that it states No Contract SIM on the Tesco page.

      • You may be out of luck

        What can’t I use my Rocket Pack data, minutes and texts on?
        Calls starting 08 and 05 to non-geographic and free device numbers
        Calls to 070 and 076 numbers
        Calls to numbers being used for call-forwarding services, onward-calling services or numbers that pay a revenue share
        Calls to any number starting with these codes 06, 07744, 0845, 079112, 070, 07755, 0870, 079118, 076, 078255, 0871, 079245, 0500, 078730, 077000, 079246, 0505, 07892, 07755, 079879, 0808 and 078930
        Premium rate calls and texts
        Making calls and sending texts while you’re abroad
        Calls and texts to international numbers from the UK
        UK to UK video calls
        Calls to our Customer Care team in the UK
        Calls to voicemail from the UK
        Picture messages (MMS) to UK mobiles

        • Shoestring says:

          not even 0845/ 0870 numbers?!!!

          package sounds a bit ‘thin’ to say the least

        • fivebobbill says:

          Jesus, is there any point even putting it into your phone!
          @xcalx – don’t see anything there about receiving calls abroad tho… 😉

        • Shoestring says:

          OTOH if you can make it work, the points are worth the money regardless of [email protected] Tesco mobile package

          I’m not bothering! Give me inks lol

        • Shoestring – 0845 numbers have generally been replaced by 0345, and these are normally included within allowances.
          I find you can usually simply replace the 0845 with 0345 and the number works.

    • My sim cards arrived today. For those still waiting, and not having used Tesco mobile in the past, you’d be wise to go in store and buy the top up voucher. First one has to be bought in store. Can’t be done online or over the phone which is annoying! You need to buy a top up voucher and then use this to credit your account. You can buy a rocket pack with the credit. Rocket packs last for 1 month if you are intending to make use of the data / texts / minutes

      They don’t make it easy!

  7. OT but BA:

    I keep receiving FB ads from a company called SPG (sic!) Law offering to claim on my behalf for BA Data Breach:

    “BA travellers should complete their claim applications before 6th April 2019 to get the full 100% compensation. Complete your Data Breach claim now, it only takes 2 minutes.”

    I am not entitled to comp anywayt but just wanted to ask whether you can in theory claim for that yet? I remember it was discussed in detail here last year but have the things moved on since then at all? What is the legal ground for these claims in general?

  8. Waddle says:

    OT Amex referrals.
    How long do points for referrals take to post? I decided to take the plunge and do a self-referral from my BAPP to a Platinum. I did pause my application and pick it up again from an email reminder a week later but in my experience that doesn’t prevent the application from being registered as ‘referred’.

    • In my experience the points arrive in your account the day the new card arrives in the post

      • Michael says:

        I thought the person you refer had to make their first purchase before you get the points – or have i got that very wrong?

        • No purchase necessary in my experience. Unless you are thinking about a specific targetted offer as opposed to the usual referral bonuses.

    • Doug M says:

      I find it varies a bit. But I have points already from a referral from which I’m told the card has not yet arrived. Previously it’s a few days after card received.

      • My last 3 lots of referral points have appeared the day the card has arrived (the latest one being today) – it’s quite spooky as the post is anything but reliable!

  9. illuminatus says:

    OT – 1) Do PriorityPass lounges check the passengers boarding pass? I do not think it has ever happened to me, but I am considering issuing a new Supplementary card to my Platinum in my dad’s name, but want my wife to continue using the PriorityPass card that comes with it.

    2) If I move from HSBC Premier card to HSBC WE card, do I still get the sign-up bonus?


  10. Leafwarbler says:

    Another OT, this time with added arrrrgh!

    BA have just replaced our inbound 787-9 flight with an Air Belgium operated 343. Any advice from anyone? It’s only a 7 hour flight; should we just suck it up?


  11. Thomas Howard says:

    Will the STN EK flights be added to the Qantas codeshare (for Avios earning)?

    • Good question. You would expect so, but don’t know either way.

    • guesswho2000 says:

      Not sure how you’d book it, Qantas only recognises LGW/LHR when booking online? STN doesn’t come up as an option.

      • Virtually none of the Emirates Qantas codeshares can be booked via Qantas because the site only recognises certain airports. Need to use Expedia, Amex Travel etc.

  12. O/T should I cancel my Marriott points booking and book cash? Have booked a room with points and cash upgrade, will cost 320k points and US$1500. I can book room for US$3300 which will give me $50 per day to spend ($500 in total) which I would probably spend anyway at the pool bar lol. I can also go through cashback site for hopefully 10% back and earn points too on the cash booking. It’s a 10 night stay. By my calculations I will be getting about .3p per points not taking into account the points I would collect if paid cash or the cashback as its not guaranteed. If these were taken into account I think I would only be getting .2p per marriott point (marriott gold member)…..decisions decisions

    • Lady London says:

      I’d switch to cash. Provided I would still have a use for the saved points. And unless points are ready or low cost for me to earn more to replace.

      • Thanks Lady London, just what I was thinking. I can always use marriott points and I earn them through amex churns really but can take a long time to earn 320k points.

        • Hope you have also signed up for the latest double points promotion and also checked to see if you have a personal one.

  13. Hi – OT – what’s the best site which shows the cheapest monthly views for business class flights across all airlines. Skyscanner doesn’t support this for business class flights and Kayak misses a lot of airlines out. I’m not that au fait with ExpertFlyer either! Thanks.

  14. OT – Has anyone transferred Amex points to Radisson? Won’t let me link the account, always showing error. Thanks!
    Sorry, there has been an error!
    We regret that an error has occurred and we are unable to process your request at this time. Please try to transfer points to a registered participant at another time or call Customer Service on 0800 917 8053 for assistance.

  15. OT Can anyone offer me some advice. Daughters boyfriends Norwegian flight for Saturday is cancelled due to Boeing issue. He paid and rebooked another Norwegian flight for Monday night and now they have cancelled that. He didn’t take out any insurance. Staying with a friend so no hotel expenses. Can he rebook himself and claim back from Norwegian – flights are £600 or would they not refund him. He can claim and get refunds for the 2 Norwegian tickets. He has been on hold to norweigan for ages and can get through as yet. Does he have to wait for Norwegian to rebook him. Thanks for any help offered

    • Shoestring says:

      He has to give Norwegian a chance to re-ticket him. Yes, the risk is that they wouldn’t see £600 as reasonable or necessary, so refuse to reimburse on that basis. (They might enjoy advantageous costs on certain competitor airlines, or have capacity themselves that you don’t know about.)

      So his first task has to be to contact Norwegian to get re-ticketed. If they can’t re-ticket him in a reasonable timeframe, then he could go ahead and book something more convenient and seek reimbursement from Norwegian later – with an excellent chance of winning at CEDR if it came to that. (Must be annoying not to get through on the phone, though.)

      • Shoestring says:

        Obvs no compo if it’s a 737 MAX – but he *is* entitled to duty of care until Norwegian re-ticket him, if he is forced to wait a day or so. Could be some free meals in it (no booze).

        Could be a good idea to research flights available then (on the phone to Norwegian) he’d be in a better position to say: no, your offer of a Tuesday flight is unreasonable, how about booking me on this one on Sunday instead xyz?

      • Mikeact says:

        No insurance ? Not for anything ?
        Sounds rather foolish to me.

        • He got through to Norweigan eventually and they told him to rebook himself and then put in a claim and they might pay it. He has now paid out for 3 tickets. At least he is rebooked – will try and help him with the claims/refunds when he gets back. Lesson learned for him not to buy some insurance.

        • Shoestring says:

          Don’t forget not buying insurance can be a sensible choice. In effect, you can be self-insuring, ie saving the insurance costs you would otherwise have paid, possibly putting them into a pool of money for later use.

          Air passengers in Europe are already well-protected by legislation. Which is a free insurance of sorts. Basically, your provider can’t just cancel a ticket and leave you stranded. They must re-ticket you and pay duty of care costs until you make the new journey.

          Hotel, food, drink (not booze), communications.

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