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Wizz Air to launch Luton to St Petersburg and Moscow

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Wizz Air has announced that it is launching Luton to St Petersburg and Moscow.

Most people were taken by surprise when British Airways announced in May that it was dropping flights to St Petersburg.  Kiev was also closed at the same time.

As I wrote at the time, I assume that the continued economic sanctions against Russia have finally taken their toll.  Russia doesn’t help itself, however, by imposing its tough visa restrictions on St Petersburg.  This should be one of the most popular UK weekend break destinations, but in reality few people are willing to go to the trouble of arranging the necessary paperwork for the sake of a 2-3 night trip.

Wizz Air to launch St Petersburg

The good news is that Wizz Air has announced new routes to Moscow and St Petersburg from London Luton.

The services start on 1st October, just in time for the suspension of the British Airways St Petersburg flight on 4th October.  The only other direct option from the UK is the Aeroflot service from London Gatwick.

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  1. Shoestring says:
    £6 credit when you buy £50 Amazon giftcard – not eligible if you bought giftcards in the last 36 months

  2. I was in the Luton Clubrooms on Saturday. It’s a small space and I would dread to see it at full capacity with 65 people. I wasn’t impressed with the experience due to issues with service. There were no more than 15-20 guests at any time, often fewer during my two hour visit there, with no shortage of staff. However, they were constantly forgetting to fulfil drinks orders, getting specific requests wrong for both drinks and food. Long delays for food that was lukewarm when it arrived. As the space is fairly compact I could see this happening at most tables.

    Maybe it was teething problems and service will become slicker over time. If I’m flying from Luton again later in the year, I’ll give the place another chance in the hope that it was just early issues. It’s a much nicer space than the other Luton lounge to spend time in and the drinks and food are obviously a more premium offering.

    • Lady London says:

      Thanks for the heads up @Tony i will wait to try Clubrooms at LTN till when the Aspire Lounge there closes in the autumn for refurbishment.

  3. filipino_chino says:

    Not been to Russia for a few years, but the pain of getting a visa might mean that the route will not last that long, unless Wizz air know something that we don’t…. (York based, so went to Edinburgh to do my finger prints)

    I know London has a lot of people from Russia, but i doubt enough to keep the route going…

    • Maybe that Russia will introduce electronic visa from 2021,with a cost of about $50,the 2018 World Football Cup when you could apply for a visa online if you had a ticket was apparently a success

      • It’s not clear if this electronic visa regime will cover the UK, it might not as far as I heard from reliable sources

    • Kipto says:

      Am I right that you don’t have to visit the Russian embassy to get a visa and that it can be done online ?

      • You need to get a hotel to send you a letter of invitation. Not sure if the rest of the process can be done online or if you still need to pay a visa service to queue for you.

        • Jonathan says:

          The invitation letter doesn’t necessarily have to be from a hotel, from what I can tell they’re also issued by travel agencies that operate within Russia as well. When I went there, I took a high speed train from St. Petersburg to Moscow, and the company who sold me the train ticket offered to issue an invitation letter if needed, which was lucky because my hotel bookings didn’t offer that!

      • Genghis says:

        Since 2014 you need to give fingerprints which can only be done in person.
        For my last work visa I used an agency but still had to go in person to the VFS Global offices.

        • Jonathan says:

          If you’re entering the country through designated entry points, I don’t understand why this can’t be done when the Border guard checks and stamps your passport, for instance you have evidence that you’ll enter via St Petersburg or Moscow’s DME or SVO, then why can’t they take fingerprints there. I can understand needing to go to the VFS office if you want enter via a land border crossing in a rural part of a third party country, but having people going to London or Edinburgh or Manchester simply to supply fingerprints will make people who live a few hours travel from these places not bother going at all since someone who lives at least 250 miles from the nearest office would have to really want to visit Russia to go and do this. Hopefully this is something the Russian ministry of foreign affairs might look at in the future

          • Alex M says:

            Same reason why Russians need to provide fingerprints when applying for a UK visa. Imagine how easy it is when you live 2000 miles from a visa application centre.

          • The process is a petty retaliation against the UK’s own process for Russians. As is the ridiculous cost. We had first class flights and 5 nights in the ritz Carlton Moscow for a total cash price of £110 thanks to this site, but our visas cost us £370 plus the inconvenience of a trip to the visa application centre.

            The process won’t change – they just mirror what we require apparently.

          • The theory is that the person applying may not be the person travelling. The practice is because they don’t care and they can.

    • It was enough to keep easyJet routes from LGW and MAN going for 4 years, it’s mostly economics which drives the demand, rather than politics

  4. Has anyone done a Curve cash withdrawal on the new Lloyds Avios MC? Any charges?

  5. Jeremy I says:

    Morning all sorry for the OT but a question for all the Tokyo / Japan experts out there. I need 4 nights in Tokyo in mid August. Best I can find of the international chains is the Hilton Tokyo for £180 a night. Does that seem reasonable? Any other options which might be a bit cheaper (as we’re not looking for super fancy this time?). Thank you in advance

    • Very few options, oddly. Have you looked at buying IHG or Hilton points, or even Hyatt, and redeeming immediately?

      • Buying points might work out more expensive than £180 a night though perhaps look at Hyatt Regency Tokyo (it’s building next to Hilton). They are usually slightly cheaper than Hilton. Other advice would be to look for some of the Japanese chains such as Otani, Nikko, etc.

    • Gavin says:

      If you’re not looking for somewhere fancy, stay at one of the Japanese business hotels. We usually stay at Fresa Inn or Mystays Hamamatsucho. Very convenient for Haneda airport, lots of food options etc locally, and close to metro stops. Always very clean and efficient. Not sure of your dates but 14th-18th August is £60/night at Fresa Inn for a small double.

      • Joseph Heenan says:

        Not sure why you’re limiting yourself to the international chains? If it’s language worries don’t worry about that, I’ve yet to find a hotel in central Tokyo where front end staff don’t speak English.

        Do check, e.g. mitsui garden hotels are all fine (not huge rooms for the cheapest, but also not the smallest then there’s very few hotels in Tokyo with huge rooms) and the prices I’ve got from are the same as the best price I could find from any of the other big sites and cheaper than direct with the hotel (plus you earn reward nights and Avios from If you’re not looking for hotels with pools/gyms/etc I’d expect you can get something closer to £100/night.

    • Lady London says:

      I guess you tried agoda (which seems particularly strong in Asia) and ctrip? not sure how competitive room77 and rakuten travel (Rakuten is Japan owned I think) are, but could be worth trying

    • tracy says:

      Have friends who stayed at Ibis Tokyo Shinjuku, usually under £100 per night. They said location was pretty decent and would stay again…..

      • Jeremy I says:

        Thanks all. That’s immensly helpful. Ended up booking the Celestine Tokyo Shiba which is part of the Mitsui chain Joseph mentioned. it looks nice, has a lounge and is a stone’s throw from a outdoor public pool which will be fun. thanks once again for all your tips.

  6. KBuffett says:

    OT – I have a free night up to 25000 points voucher from SPG AMEX. Any recommendations where can I get the most bang for buck in the UK (or perhaps Europe)?

    • Isn’t that for UK stays only?

      • KBuffett says:

        You’re probably right!

        • My understanding is that you can use it anywhere for hotels up to 25k, not limited to UK.

        • New Card says:

          Hanbury Manor is a good option if you’re based near London.

      • I used my last one in Poland and the one before in Bankok so unless it’s changed within the last 3 months then it’s worldwide.

        You can refine by category on the Marriott website, try that and see what’s available.

    • Michael says:

      How do you get one of those – is it targeted or have I missed something?

      • Shoestring says:

        spend £25K in a year on the card

        • Michael says:

          haha – didn’t even know that was a benefit.

          • Doug M says:

            Bit of stretch to describe spending £25K to get a free night at a Cat 1 to 4 as benefit 🙂

          • TGLoyalty says:

            25k points voucher for 25k Spend

            that’s a 2% return. If its was a Cat 8 tvoucher like IHG or Hilton ones in the past I’d make SPG my main card.

          • Freddy says:

            It could be alot better but I think of the free stay as covering the card fee

  7. Louise says:

    Now I’ve cancelled my virgin card, can anyone confirm if there are charges by MBNA horizon card using curve for cash withdrawals and other typical purchase like transactions?

  8. OT. Looking for assurance really.
    I have a AA flight coming into DFW at 18.30 and then I have a BA flight from DFW-LHR at 22.30. They are not on the same PNR so will still have to collect luggage and clear customs but knowing AA are often delayed do you think thats enough time? Also would there be an insurance cover if its longer than the minium connection time?

    • RussC says:

      Is it an internal AA flight? If so at check-in sweet talk the staff to check luggage through to LHR – they should do as its all OneWorld. Have done no problem for me a few times.

    • Michael says:

      4 Hours is probably pushing the limit of safe – But you’ll be okay if the inbound is on time. If you’ve booked now there’s not much you can do about it. Where are you coming from?

      DFW is quite spread out but quite an easy airport to get around.

      • Well I havent booked it yet but the only other option is pretty rough timings, as in departs at 1am landing at 5am.
        he inbound is also international. Coming from Costa Rica so im not sure they will check the bags all the way through. Thats what im concerned about, apparently AA often have delays so I would be pretty screwed.

        • Michael says:

          No they won’t check it through – as US customs will make you collect your bags again and re-check. Can you connect somewhere else like Miami or New York?

          • Unfortunately not. I might just have to take the horrible flight as if the AA flight is delayed I will be forced to buy a one way ticket back…ouch

          • sunguy says:

            Im assuming you are starting your jorney within the USA ? If so, then there is no Customs or DHS required – and as long as the AA agent at your starting airport books your luggage through to LHR, all is good – however, as BA take a hard line on bags on different PNRs, its possibly unlikely they will be able to do this.

            BA have this ridiculous rule that if you are on 2 (or more) PNRs, they will absolutely not event think about booking your bags through to your final destination. This is part of the reason that if you do B2B reservations, you cannot take luggage with you…..

        • Lady London says:

          I would not do it incoming internationally. I would want far longer than that if on separate tickets..

        • AA will protect on separate tickets. Some US airports don’t require baggage collection for transits, not sure for your case.

  9. Shactar, the Curve CEO is doing a presentation at my work place right now….he seems quite humble.

    • He is, he rings me up occasionally for a chat! I am in an interesting spot for him because of my knowledge of private equity (having done it for over a decade) plus my fintech knowledge plus my loyalty knowledge plus my ‘influencer’ position.

      • Gringo says:

        Talking of humble 😉

        • Can’t beat a humble brag, its a HfP staple 😛

        • Those are all statements of fact.

          • I once had a colleague who claimed on his CV that he was familiar with any instrument/technique he had seen, and was experienced with any instrument/technique he had used just once. He became a VP of a multinational engineering company before he was 40.

      • Lady London says:

        Ever thought of doing a fintech, Rob? 🙂

        • Seems like hard work at my age! Let’s leave it to Shak.

          We’d certainly look at working together with someone if they had an early stage project that was heavily loyalty dependent.

          There is someone involved in the frequent flyer scene who made a reported $60m by taking equity in a start-up which wanted promoting on his website, and which later went on to float for a substantial sum.

  10. Froggee says:

    OT – I need 190,000 Krisflyer points for an SQ redemption. At my disposal I have:

    90,000 Amex MR = 90,000 Krisflyer
    150,000 HSBC points = 75,000 Krisflyer
    180,000 Bonvoy = 75,000 Krisfyer

    I’m pretty sure that the HSBC points should be the first to be used given that they expire but I’m torn between the Membership rewards points and the Bonvoy to make up the balance. My instinct is to keep 120,000 Bonvoy given the possibility for out-sized hotel rewards at some point but I have no idea if that is bonkers or not. I imagine MR are less likely to be devalued? Help!

    • Michael says:

      Bonvoy points are much more versatile than Membership rewards – i think Bonvoy converts into something like 40 different schemes. Membership Rewards less than half of that.

      I think if I was in your position, I’d use the MR’s up. Purely because you can use your Bonvoys for a nice hotel stay.

      • Peter K says:

        I’d agree with Michael?

      • Is there any legs in a Marriott travel package: 100,000 miles + 7 night hotel stay?

        • They are SUBSTANTIALLY less good value than they were. However, if you are planning a 7-night redemption anyway then it is worth thinking about. It is no longer a no-brainer though, so think about your need for the miles vs what you’d do with the extra Bonvoy points.

          • Froggee says:

            Thank you all. Deed is done. or at least I think it is done as the first time with Marriott I got an error…

            I’ve left 120,000 Bonvoy for another occasion.

            The Marriott travel packages wouldn’t work – there are four of us “needing” a one way flight in business class which is silly money for cash but quite reasonable in miles. This allows us to open jaw next year’s holiday hopefully with an Amex 241 + a GUF2 being used for the long haul flights.

            I almost feel like a professional!

          • David says:

            Froggee – note for furture reference, the Marriott travel package, you can do whatever you want with the miles. They don’t need to be linked to using the hotel voucher, you can spend them however adn whenever you want with the airlines scheme.
            And the hotel voucher does not need to be used immediately either.

            That said, I agree – they are not the ‘no brainier’ that they once were.

          • Froggee says:

            Okay – thanks David. I get you. Bonvoys definitely have more use than my Hilton points. Sadly I have a lot more of the latter 🙁

          • The Original David says:

            What are the expiry rules on HSBC Premier points?

          • Genghis says:

            3 years

          • Genghis says:

            “Points can be redeemed for up to three years from the month that they are first shown on your
            Statement. After that, they will expire and be deducted on a monthly basis and you will lose the benefits of these Points”

          • Thanks Rob. Forgot about the changes.

      • But you can convert mr into bonvoy? So surely they cannot be less versatile?

        • Depends how you look at. 40 airline partners vs 12? with Amex, although of course no other hotel partners except Marriot (and no Eurostar, no shopping vouchers etc).

          Looking purely at airline miles on the credit card, 1.25 miles per £1 on the SPG Amex (assuming you convert in chunks of 60k Bonvoy points) out-earns Gold and Platinum. For many airlines (Aeroplan, Qatar Qmiles etc) the SPG Amex is the only game in town.

        • Michael says:

          You convert a 2 MR : 3 Bonvoy so you lose value.

  11. Credit card newbie says:

    OT: Have just triggered the 241 on my BAPP. Can I downgrade now to the free BA Amex, keep the 241 and receive a pro-rota refund of the annual fee? Are there any downsides to this? Will this be treated as an entirely new card application (ie would I need to cancel the BAPP, then apply for the free BA Amex)?

    • No impact on the voucher. You can apply online but it will be treated as the same account, just with a blue card instead of a black one, so it might be easier to just call or see if you can do it via chat (experiences of this seem to vary). You can actually just cancel the card and start your sign up bonus clock ticking if you want, however I would (now) only do this is I was going to use the voucher soon as there have been so many Amex changes recently!

    • Chris L says:

      The taxes and charges on a 241 booking must be paid with an Amex card, so you just need to make sure you have one available. Officially I think it’s meant to be the one that earned the voucher, but in practice any Amex is fine.

      • Sorry, yes, but any Amex in any name will do currently. We usually make sure one of us has a BAPP at the time of booking as the 3 x avios per £1 can add up to quite a lot when paying the “fees”!

    • I have a ‘mirror’ OT question on BA Amex. I currently have a Blue card and am close to 10K spending mark (anniversary on 20 Aug). I was thinking of upgrading it to Black and getting a 241 voucher. Hence a few questions:

      1) How long does it take to process an upgrade?
      2) Will it trigger the voucher?
      3) For how long will I need to have a Black card before I can downgrade back to Blue?
      4) Most importantly – will Paypal transfer to a friend/family funded with BA Amex count as a purchase? I am short of 800-900 pounds spend to reach 10K but don’t want to spend on nonsense

      • 1. The usual as if you applied for a new card. It can be a few days or 10 working days.
        2. Don’t spend 10k until the upgrade and then when you do after the upgrade it will trigger as normal.
        3. Not sure, but people suggest 3 months.
        4. It will, but Paypal may block your account. Better would be to purchase gift cards for future spend.

        You also might be lucky to get 6k Avios for upgrade.

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