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Virgin bits: the new A350 Upper Class tray table, 50% bonus buying Flying Club miles, Government to take equity in Flybe?

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News in brief:

Exclusive first pictures of the new Virgin Atlantic A350 tray table!

There is a lot to like about the new Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Suite which launched on the A350 last year.  Here is our review of the new Upper Class Suite if you haven’t seen it yet.

Two issues quickly became apparent, however.  The first was the lack of at-seat storage, although there is plenty of space in the overhead lockers.  The second and (literally) more pressing issue was the tray table.

I have to admit that I sat in the mock-up cabin in Crawley pre-launch and did not spot this, but then I have a 34 inch waist.  For anyone who is pregnant or who does not share my svelte figure, the new Upper Class tray table was problematic.  It only had two positions – stored or fully out – and when fully out it was a very cosy fit against your stomach.

The first aircraft with the redesigned tray table is now in service and the remainder will be retrofitted.  As you can see from the photos below, sent by a reader (thanks!), the table can now fold out and expand, depending on how you want to use it.

See here:

New Virgin Atlantic upper class tray table

which opens into this.  I still haven’t tried the A350 in the air yet but hopefully I can see it in action before too long.

New Virgin Atlantic upper class tray table

Get up to 50% bonus when you buy Virgin Flying Club miles

Tomorrow (Thursday) is the day when we should discover how much it will cost to redeem Virgin Flying Club miles for Air France and KLM flights.

If it is attractive – and I honestly don’t know because we haven’t seen the numbers yet either – you may be interested to know that Virgin Flying Club is running a short ‘flash sale’ when you buy miles.

The maximum bonus is 50%.  We have not seen a 50% bonus for a LONG time – I couldn’t find any HFP article from the archive where the deal was so generous.

The link to buy miles is here.

The closing date for the bonus is Sunday 16th February.  The bonus is staggered:

  • 15% bonus when you buy 5,000 – 9,000 miles
  • 20% bonus when you buy 10,000 – 29,000 miles
  • 30% bonus when you buy 30,000 – 69,000 miles
  • 40% bonus when you buy 70,000 – 100,000 miles
  • 50% bonus when you buy 101,000 – 150,000 miles

At the top end, 150,000 Flying Club miles, which comes to 225,000 miles with the bonus, will cost you £2,250.  This works out at exactly 1p per mile.

As usual with these deals, it is difficult to recommend buying miles unless you plan to make an immediate redemption.  1p per mile IS good but I would want to know for certain that I would be using them in a profitable way.

Remember that, until 28th February you receive 25,000 Virgin Flying Club miles with the £160 Virgin Atlantic Reward+ credit card.  This is a better deal than buying 25,000 miles for £315!  Full details of the offer are in this article.

The link to buy miles is here.

Virgin Atlantic buy miles bonus

Will the Government take an equity stake in Flybe?

Talks are continuing over the terms of a Government loan to Flybe, soon to be rebranded as Virgin Connect.

The BBC reported yesterday that the Government may ask for equity warrants.  This would allow it to receive discounted shares in Connect Airways, the Flybe holding company, as part of the loan.  The price of these shares would be set so that it made no sense to buy them at the moment, but the guaranteed price would allow a profit to be made if the value of the company rose.

One problem here, of course, is that Connect Airways is a private company.  Exercising a warrant would leave the Government holding shares which could not easily be sold, given that they are not quoted on any stock exchange.  There would also be minimal demand from elsewhere for a minority stake with no real power.

I am not saying that the Government should not make a loan, because there are broader economic reasons for keeping niche air routes and regional airports open.  Trying to dress it up as a ‘commercial’ loan, however, is never going to wash.

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Comments

  1. I assumed EU wide taxes would be the same
    Nice to see that AMS is a cheaper option. CDG also significantly cheaper than LHR but not enough to shlep on a positioning flight.

    I was looking at Nice to Tel Aviv but it doesn’t seem to be offering domestic french connections yet.

    Is it expected to be possible to make cash bookings on VS for AF flights?

    Looking at AF bookings there doesn’t seem to be the option to credit to flying club yet

  2. OT, is it generally cheaper to by goods in Duty Free or, a tax free country and bring them back in? Thanks.

    • Lady London says:

      You are not supposed to bring goods you bought duty free back into the UK without paying duty.

      Having said that, regular tax-paid prices elsewhere in the EEA are often so much lower than fake ‘duty free’ pricing ex-UK you should do the calculation. If you paid tax in the EEA even at a lower rate than UK VAT you can’t be charged UK VAT bringing them back from your trip in ‘reasonable’ quantities for personal use. Not sure about duty though – reasonable limits are pretty well defined for alcohol and tobacco but not sure other items.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Imagine all the new rules we will need to learn come 31st Dec

        • Not really. Apart from alcohol, I can’t recall the last time I found something genuinely cheaper (and that I wanted to bring home) in an EU country. Also, are we seriously to believe that the government has made it a priority to recruit and train extra customs officials to search returning travellers for fags and booze while their longer-serving colleagues struggle to keep up with the flow of illegal drugs and weapons into the country?!

          • Lady London says:

            Tobacco and alcohol can be considerably cheaper in normal retail outlets, so tax paid, in the EU. And tobacco can be a lot cheaper duty free non-EU some places – but only 250g allowed into UK duty free from outside EU.

          • @LadyLondon – tobacco is really cheap in Qatar duty free, about 80% cheaper than in UK.

          • Lady London says:

            That’s the place I was thinking of. As Anna says US is not bad and IIRC CPH duty free quite good.

          • TGLoyalty says:

            I don’t but the onus is on you the traveller to follow the rules, being ignorant is not an excuse.

            Even if they don’t recruit extra people you could still face being stopped by the existing people.

            Personally I’ll take my chance but I’d rather know the rules I’m dodging than walk around in ignorance.

          • Often electronics are cheaper on the continental Amazon websites.

          • Luxury goods are now massively cheaper in the EU. Something in Vuitton I was looking at for £540 was €450 in Amsterdam recently. (Not in the airport, in Bijenkorf). Cuccinelli is similarly divergent. Currently wearing an Armani coat that I also got in Amsterdam for well under UK prices, even before the sale discount (think I paid £190 in the end!)

    • Russ – it depends what you’re after. If you like expensive whiskies and other spirits, the cheapest places to get them are non-EU countries like the US and Caribbean islands, though of course you are then limited to 1 litre pp. Even prices in “duty free” sections of UK airport shops (where they sell a selection of spirits and tobacco for people travelling outside the EU), don’t compare. I’ve also found that with the poor $ exchange rate it’s no longer worth going on the kind of shopping trips to the USA which were such good value in the 1990s and 2000s.

    • It’s probably going to be shoes, wife’s shoes (I’m in the dog house). She’s going to pick out what she likes and I’ll either bring them back or pick them up at an airport. I only have carry on so don’t want to be lugging stuff around with me.

      @LadyLondon – may I ask if you know how they work out the tax due? Purchase in Qatar.

      @Anna – well whiskey is always sensible 🙂

      • Lady London says:

        @Russ duty is flat rate by quantity – it’s on HM Customs part of dot gov dot UK website. Then VAT is % of the value on top. Pretty sure they charge VAT on the amount with the duty already added but I might be wrong.

      • Lady London says:

        @Russ hum. Wondering if HM Customs will believe the women’s shoes in your hand luggage are for your personal use :-). There is a total max value for general goods brought in from non-EU. Warning: shoes are bulky to fit in hand luggage especially if you keep the box.

        • I had the same thought!

          Thanks LadyLondon, I’m just going to take it on the chin and hope she doesn’t spend too much……

        • TGLoyalty says:

          Who are the HMRC to challenge your personal choices and what you like to wear 😉

          Though if they clearly won’t fit you you might be in trouble lol

          • TGLoyalty, as much as I admire your woke stance on this I want it clearly understood I will not be walking around Heathrow airport in a pair of girly shoes!

  3. Another question on FlyBe: does anyone know when they launch their FF programme? Will it be connected to Virgin in any way?

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