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Bits: Iberia drops Johannesburg, Delta / Virgin add Gatwick to Boston & JFK to stifle JetBlue

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News in brief:

Iberia quietly drops Madrid to Johannesburg

Iberia has suspended its Madrid to Johannesburg route from the end of August.

A Head for Points flagged in our comments yesterday that his booking – without him being notified – had been cancelled.  A search of the Iberia website shows no services after 31st August 2019.  I have found reference to the cancellation in the South African press, which cites substantial losses as the reason for the closure, but nothing published in Europe.

This is a big loss to Avios collectors as the route allowed you to reach South Africa with minimal taxes and charges (around £150 return in Business Class) compared to £570 on British Airways from London.

Unfortunately, Iberia is not (yet?) rebooking people.  Although, to be fair, they haven’t told anyone that they won’t be rebooked.  That said, they haven’t actually told the impacted passengers yet that they don’t have a flight!  ‘Manage My Booking’ does show the cancellation.

EDIT: The Iberia website for travel agents does mention the cancellation and includes this line: “The Commercial division will announce flexibility and relocation conditions for affected passengers.”  If you are ticketed on this route I would wait for Iberia to contact you.

Iberia drops Johannesburg

Virgin and Delta add new Gatwick to Boston and New York JFK services to stifle JetBlue

Virgin Atlantic sent out a very weird press release on Thursday.

It announced that Virgin Atlantic and its joint venture partner – and major shareholder – Delta are launching new services from London Gatwick to Boston and New York JFK in 2020.

This is what the press release didn’t say:

Who is actually operating the flights – Virgin or Delta?  There is an implication that it is Delta but the announcement is not clear

When will the routes start?  All we are told is ‘Summer’ 2020

Are they seasonal or year-round services?

What are the flight times?

What aircraft, and which versions of the Delta or Virgin business class seat, will be used?

But apart from those tiny facts, it was all perfectly clear!

The announcement appears to be a spoiler.  US low cost carrier JetBlue is expected to announce transatlantic services from the US to London next Wednesday, presumably into Gatwick.

Norwegian already flies to Boston and New York from Gatwick, and British Airways has a New York service.  Who knows?  Perhaps BA will also announce a Gatwick to Boston service next week and really turn the screws on JetBlue.

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  1. Louise says:

    OT – Cancelling BA Amex, when do points go across to BA account? Just before statement produced?

  2. O/T – Amex Spending Target – Best way to spend on Forex (and/or Spending in Foreign) and avoiding (lessen) 2.99% charge


    • No ways, now that Amex and Curve are not working together.

    • Grant says:

      The only way I can try and rationalise it to some degree is to spend on Gold where you get 2 MR points per £1 spent in FX so you are offsetting some of the 2.99% fee with extra points. Hitting spend targets for sign up or annual bonuses helps with the pain of the fee too.

  3. Phoned Iberia re my JNB flight. V helpful chap, David I believe.

    Re-routed on to BA business.

    Only slight pain is no change of origin or destination, so I will now be flying LHR – MAD – LHR – JNB and then reverse on way back!

    Still, happy with the changes overall.

    • marcw says:

      yep. It´s doable – but depends how your wife/husband/kids take it.

      • Just the wife this time. Not a great flyer, but happy-ish as we’ll still have a fab holiday in SA. Have previously flown BA business LHR – CPT in old 747, hoping the route to JNB in an A380 will be a better experience. Never flown in an A380 as yet.

      • callum says:

        They’re going to South Africa – if rerouting via London is so distressing then they’re going to be in for a big shock when they arrive!

        • David says:

          I dunno, it’s quite easy to persuade fellow passengers that you need to change planes in Madrid, without raising too many eyebrows. If they end up back at the airport they’ve just left, there might be some more intensive questioning about your itinerary…

        • callum says:

          I’d imagine a very simple “Iberia cancelled the flight so we’ve been rerouted back through London – yes it’s inconvenient and seems weird to be in the same airport twice, but it’s either that or we cancel and spend an extra £1000 each on direct flights” would suffice!

          I still maintain that if you consider that a hardship, Africa probably shouldn’t be the destination for you (unless they were planning to check into a luxury resort and never see the “real” South Africa I guess).

    • Would it not have been worth trying for a LGW -MAD flight on the return necessitating claiming your luggage at LHR. Some unforeseen circumstance could then have resulted in you being unable to make this flight…

      • RIccatti says:

        That is a minor thing.

        He should have asked for re-routing on Qatar citing that he is not happy with backtracking.

  4. OT:
    I hear people talk about tesco mobile offer….I must have missed this when it started. Am I too late to the party?
    Those who have done it and got points….can you let me know what i need to do step by step to do it before closing?
    Thanks in advance

  5. Ref the Madrid to Johannesburg flight cancelation. My wife and I booked business flights from MAD to JNB on 5th March 2020. We just had an E Mail from Iberia saying that the flight was canceled and to phone them. The operator was very terse and kept on saying that there was no availability on any other airline and that our only option was to cancel and get a refund. I was on the phone for 20 minutes and he simply refused to do anything to help. I pointed out to him that there were flights showing with Qatar Airlines but he told me that he couldn’t find any availability so there was nothing he could do to help. I asked him whether we could fly from London or any other city and he refused that. He refused to let me speak to a supervisor and refused to E Mail to confirm that Iberia was refusing to find me another airline, eventually he hung up despite me saying that under EU regulations Iberia were obliged to help.

    So….what are or options now? I am happy to threaten a notice before action to Iberia in London under EU261/2004 but does that apply as they have given me more than 2 weeks notice?

    Thanks guys?


    • I would hang up and try again. I had 4 separate bookings and all have been ‘reprotected’ on to flights wit BA via Heathrow by 2 different agents without any issues.

      Hope you get sorted out.

      • Thanks David….I telephoned back to the UK call centre during business hours and spoke to someone who had changed several flights for other customers last week. He was very professional and sent us MAD to LHR to JNB without complaint. Thank goodness for that as the other guy was SO unhelpful and rude. Phew!

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