BA sale

Bits: the Club Aspire lounge in Gatwick South is finally open!, Virgin’s Star Wars plane, IHG sale extended

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News in brief:

The Club Aspire lounge in Gatwick South is finally open!

According to a press release I got on Friday, the long-awaited Club Aspire lounge at Gatwick South (the British Airways terminal) was due to open at midday yesterday.

This lounge has suffered from excessive delays – it was due in early 2019.  It is taking over about 2/3rd of the old Virgin Atlantic lounge – the other 1/3rd became MyLounge, which has been open for months and which we reviewed here.

This is a much needed lounge.  If you can access the British Airways lounges then you’re fine (see my review here of the EXCELLENT new BA Gatwick lounge complex).  If you are relying on Priority Pass etc, your only option has been the No 1 Lounge (reviewed here).  The problem is that No 1 Lounge runs to 100% capacity most of the time and you are unlikely to get in unless you pay £5 to reserve a slot.

Priority Pass seems to be deliberately not working with Gatwick South’s MyLounge.  Collinson, the company behind Priority Pass, is also a 50% shareholder in Club Aspire lounges and probably wants to drive traffic there.

If we’re lucky, the Priority Pass crisis at Gatwick South is now over!

But what’s it like?  Good question.  All we know is:

“The lounge is split into three main zones: a business area with workstations; a quiet lounge and rest area with an amazing view of the runway; and a dining area next to the servery and bar. Travellers have access to a seasonal self-serve buffet selection of hot and cold food; an extensive range of non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks; charging points; complimentary newspapers and magazines; and unlimited WiFi to stay connected.”

I intend to check it out in the next couple of weeks and will report back.

In the meantime, you can find full details, and book places for cash, on the Aspire website here.  The website says it opens tomorrow, but apparently it is open today.

Virgin Atlantic Star Wars plane

Virgin Atlantic repaints a Boeing 747 in ‘Star Wars’ livery

Virgin Atlantic has unveiled a new livery on one of its Boeing 747 aircraft based on Stars Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.  This is the new Star Wars-themed area at Walt Disney World Resort which opened in August.

Images are above and below, click to enlarge, and there is also a YouTube video here.

The aircraft, which is already in service, will be used on the London Gatwick to Orlando route.  The plane has also been renamed ‘The Falcon’.

If you are a huge Star Wars fan, you might also be interested in The Ultimate Virgin Holidays Star Wars Experience.  This is a curated themed holiday experience to Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, between 15th and 22nd February 2020.  It includes:

  • Early access to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge area
  • A themed dinner with Character experiences
  • A dedicated area to watch the night-time spectacular at the Dessert Party at Epcot

Full details are on the Virgin Holidays website here.

Virgin Atlantic Star Wars plane

IHG extends its Stay in the Moment promotion

IHG has extended its promotion for IHG Rewards Club members called ‘Stay In The Moment’.

Due to end on 24th September, it will now run until 8th October.

It guarantees that IHG Rewards Club members will save at least 25% off the Best Flexible Rate when they book.  Do note that rooms will be non-refundable, so you are not saving the full 25%, but the price should be lower than the usual Advanced Purchase Rate which is often only discounted by 10% or so.

You must either book the ‘IHG Rewards Club Sale’ rate or ‘YOUR RATE by IHG Rewards Club – IHG Rewards Club Sale’ to get the discount.

Stays must be completed by 31st March 2020.  The special booking site is here.

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  1. OT
    Anyone else having problems with getting curve support to work?

  2. Apologies if already been discussed here, but just seen something that was news to me whilst exploring the card range on the Amex site, and which I thought may be of interest – a new type of Amex business card in the UK. Rather than explain how to find it on their site, I found this link to a promotional page for the card:

    • Think Rob said there was going to be a promo/ article on it in the next week or two

      • All happening this week. Amex wanted us to hold back.

        • Sounds interesting. I’ve noticed that it’s not a referral option from other cards, but perhaps that will change.

          I eagerly await your article anyway.

  3. OT but did anyone else get the IHG spire status match and in your account says you have it until dec 2019? I haven’t yet fulfilled the number of nights but if I have until December I most likely will… but that’s more than 90 days …

    • The Original Nick says:

      I’m waiting on mine to change back to the existing status as I’ve not completed the required stays so who knows??

    • Needed to complete challenge within 90 days to retain status through end of 2020. However, my 90 days expired on Friday andai’m still Spire. Never made the stays required and I’m not fussed as Spire is akmost useless in mh experience.

      • I’d generally agree, however, I’m in New York to see my daughter and made two non refundable cash bookings ( partly to hit accelerate targets).

        Circumstances changed and needed to upgrade both bookings from a king bed to two queens. Both were duly upgraded merely by turning up at the front desk days before we were due to stay. I’d call that a result.

  4. OT. Spending in Thailand. Has anyone found an ATM that doesn’t charge the 200 or so Baht per withdrawal?

    Or still best to bring in cash in large note demonations? Seems so 1980s wandering around with a money belt fatter than a vicar’s bible.

    • I think they have all dried up. I’d just use cash if it is just a short trip, be sure to take the latest variants of notes £10+ and ensure they are in good condition to avoid any issues.

      • Sandgrounder says:

        You could get a cash advance at a bank branch if you have a zero rate card. Plenty info about this on the net. I did it a couple of years ago with the travel Barclaycard and it was successful.

  5. IslandDweller says:

    Gatwick North. Thursday last week, all 3 lounges that claim to accept PP were refusing entry to anyone without a reservation. PP is becoming useless at most of London’s airports.

    • Please complain to Amex, presuming you have it courtesy of them. We should all unite in raising a complaint each time we are turned away. Hopefully it would result in positive change.

      • And keep receipts if you need to spend on food and drink. Amex don’t like that PP are refused entry. So make a nicely worded complaint.

        • Lady London says:

          PP miles it Polly! Er…apparently.

          Noticed on PP app today that for Gatwick No.1 lounges thé PP app now has an extra Burton against each lounge to prepay a reservation.

          They can s*^ *ππ as far as I’m concerned. With that PP is selling it’s clients down the river. With that and the generally poor quality of most PP lounges I can’t see myself renewing next year.

          • Lady London says:

            *PP likes it.. Above.
            Just when I think I’ve got this text editor under control…grr

    • Shoestring says:

      you already know this 🙂 and had the option of simply paying £5 to secure your reservation and a very cheap couple of hours in the lounge with unlimited alcoholic or soft drinks, tea & coffee plus a good spread of food

      so what was your thought process? ‘I’ve always been lucky in life so it’s simply not worth £5 upfront for 2 hours in the lounge, I’ll trust to my lucky star’

      • I would agree with you that, if our PPs were sold/granted on the basis that they allow entry subject to availability, it would be a no-brainer to pay the £5 as an insurance policy.

        However, Amex don’t sell the PP feature of the platinum cards on the basis of ‘get free entry to lounges most of the time’ or ‘subject to availability or guaranteed for £5 each’. I’m fairly sure PP don’t market their cards on a subject to availability basis either.

        • Shoestring says:

          PP T&Cs – 20:
          Third Party Organisations: Lounge and Merchants are owned and operated by third party organisations. Customer and guests must abide by the rules and policies of each location, and Customer accepts provision of a Priority Pass Card for a Lounge or Merchant location does not guarantee continued access and is subject to capacity restrictions. Customer accepts that Priority Pass has no control over the Lounge or Merchant’s decision on whether to admit any Customer, the number of people allowed in any location at any time, facilities offered, the opening/closing times, the length of time which Customers may spend in the location, any charges payable for extended Lounge or Merchant location visits, or the personnel employed. Priority Pass will use reasonable endeavors to ensure the benefits and facilities are available as advertised, but the Customer accepts that Priority Pass does not warrant, nor guarantee in any way, that all or any of the benefits and facilities will be available at the time of the Customer’s visit.

          • Shoestring says:

            Amex: Access to the Priority Pass lounges may be subject to availability or wait times, please read the Priority Pass conditions of use for more information.

          • I’m not talking about fine print. My point is that they don’t market the cards based on that. It’s not in any of the headline sales pitches on their websites. I’m sure you know the majority of people buy based on the initial blurb, without reading the fine print. That often leads to people being caught out, true, but unfairly caught out.

          • “Complimentary access to over 1,200 airport lounges across more than 130 countries worldwide.” – Doesn’t say at the end …but not complimentary if you definitely want access.

          • Shoestring says:

            All lounges have a legal occupancy capacity and they are not allowed to let more people come in than that number – I think all adults know (or should know) this fact, it’s pretty basic knowledge. It applies to all venues such as pubs, restaurants etc.

            Ergo all Priority Pass holders should be 100% aware they stand a chance of being turned away at busy times/ or when the lounge has been pre-booked. It shouldn’t come as a surprise when it happens. Plus with certain lounges (eg the No1s) it’s only £5 to reserve your place, which hardly seems expensive.

          • Lady London says:

            @Shoestring Amex and PP are failing on ‘reasonable endeavours’. As the failure to access at key locations given customer base and type, is consistent.

            If Amex and PP have no plans to provide promised benefits on a reasonably consistent basis – and we are not talking about cardholders being turned away occasionally or only at peak times – then Amex and PP need to change the way they’re marketing PP. Within the Amex fee this means PP has definitely become worth less than it was.

          • Agree, they should market it as discounted or occasional entry.

            Given PP charge for the card it’s actually hard to justify what you pay for if you travel mainly through Gatwick.

            Certainly challengeable legally on the grounds of being mis sold.

      • The one and only time we got into the Escape lounge at MAN using PP I would say it wasn’t even worth £5 each! Rammed to the gills, boiling hot, some rather limp looking chicken and mushroom pies and only 1 kind of (very cheap) red & white wine unless you paid extra (on top of the £5!).

  6. Any thoughts on whether I should pre book a lounge at Gatwick South during October half term?
    Using lounge pass.

    • Shoestring says:

      of course you should, unless you are happy with a couple of pints in the pub

      that’s my current thinking with T3, the Guinness in the pub is only £5 a pint last time I paid, so – at half term – I have the choice of 2x £20 for Club Aspire via LC, which I don’t mind paying – or get refused and just go to the pub with my son instead, making a good saving and it’s hardly a problem to sit there on my tablet & a beer for 90 mins

    • Def book the lounge. Good use of a fiver.

    • If alcohol is not a major consideration I’d consider the Grain Store and the £15 credit you get there. Food was far better. The No 1 lounges have gone downhill. Nando’s would be preferable…

  7. The Original Nick says:

    Didn’t that £15 credit for the Grain store get stopped?

    • No, oddly the ONLY restaurant in the world where it carried on was Grain Store. It may stop now of course.

  8. Bonvoyage says:

    If you’re free on 11-13 October…

    100k Bonvoy points for 2 nights with breakfast at the Ritz-Carlton Vienna, a horse-drawn carriage ride, private tour of an art exhibition, and a tasting dinner menu, for two people. 5 packages available, only 1 bid on one package

  9. I don’t think many if any IHG hotels are continuing to participate in the sale, certainly the ones I have checked do not have the sale rate available

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