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Bits: Virgin delays Orlando, new Spanish Santander Avios deal, Eurostar delays £32 reward fee

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News in brief:

Virgin Atlantic delays the relaunch of Orlando flights

Unsurprisingly, Virgin Atlantic has pushed back the relaunch of its Orlando services.

The Heathrow service will now start on 10th December, using an A330-300.

The Manchester service will relaunch on the same day, also using an A330-300.

Both services are scheduled to operate daily, although clearly a lot can still change before then.

Remember that you earn double Virgin Points on all Virgin Atlantic flight bookings made by 15th October – full details here.

Virgin Atlantic delays relaunch of Orlando

Avios launches new Santander deal in Spain

I know that we have a large number of expat readers, so I thought I’d flag the major new partnership which IAG Loyalty has just annouced with Santander for Spanish residents.

It isn’t live yet so we don’t have full details. However, according to IAG:

“From November 5th 2020, Iberia Plus members who hold a Santander One Account can earn Avios on a wide range of banking products. The more they engage with Santander, the more benefits they receive, including more Avios.

The partnership gives Iberia Plus members access to a wide range of choice benefits across their Santander banking relationship including insurance, credit and debit cards and other Santander products.”

One interesting point to note is that this includes status benefits with Iberia.

Those who sign up for Santander One Iberia Plus at the Elite level will receive 15,000 bonus Avios plus 10% discount on Iberia flights, as well extra luggage allowance, priority check-in and boarding, and 25% extra Avios for flights with Iberia.

There will also be a temporary 15,000 Avios bonus for anyone who opens a Santander One Iberia Plus account, at any level, as long as they pay their salary into the account.

Readers in Spain will be able to apply from 5th November.

Club Eurostar delays introduction of network charge on redemptions

Eurostar delays the introduction of redemption fees

Today was meant to be the day that Club Eurostar introduced a £32 ‘network charge’ per return reward ticket.

The ‘network charge’ is a flat-rate and not tied to your class of travel, status or destination.  The fee is the same whether you are in Standard or Business Premier, and whether you are travelling to Paris or Amsterdam.  There is no discount for children.

This is a genuine expense to Eurostar – it represents the track access charges per passenger that Eurostar has to pay. With its services currently down to a fraction of the usual number this is one way of reducing their cash bleed.

Eurostar told me yesterday that the new fee will not be introduced today. It is still coming, however, so this is only a temporary hiatus. You still have some time to make reward bookings for the future without being charged £32.

Comments (36)

  • ChrisW says:

    Who on earth would be going to Orlando in December???

    • Doug M says:

      Agree it seems a strange one. Not an obvious freight route either. Cash tease maybe? But the volume of people prepared to book a December flight given the current situation I’d have thought was trivial.

      • ChrisW says:

        Is it technically illegal to sell tickets to flights they have no intention of operating purely to collect cash and they delay refunds as long as they possibly can?

      • Nick says:

        @Doug, you’d be surprised how much cargo goes through Orlando (well, not once you’ve thought about the reasons anyway). Miami is a major cargo gateway to south America. But while the US will allow ‘Freeport’ transshipping through a single airport, anything moving overland has to be landed and formally im/exported first. It’s such high volumes that what VS/BA do is fill up MIA flights with connecting freight, and use MCO for anything actually heading to Florida/Alabama.

        Added to that of course are the fairly large volumes of second home owners / British expats across Florida, many of whom have taken green cards or US passports, are exempt from travel restrictions, and want to go for winter.

        • Doug M says:

          Do you have any references to cargo and MCO, I couldn’t find anything after 2017 when it was the 29th in the USA in terms of tons of cargo. Memphis is top, which is all about FedEx. I’ve thought about it and I still don’t know why MCO would be a big cargo base.
          Is second home owners seriously going to fill 2 x A330-300 daily?

    • TripRep says:

      If you had FL residency and owned your own property there?

  • mradey says:

    Christmas Vacation?

    • ChrisW says:

      They don’t allow British travellers entry, travel insurance is invalid in a country with some of the most expensive healthcare in the world, and Florida is one of the worst covid hotspots on the planet. Plus 14 days quarantine on return the U.K.

      Merry Christmas!!

      • Henry says:

        Surely this will be all over by Christmas!

      • J says:

        A lot of British people own property there?

      • Andrew says:

        That’s not exactly true.

        If you are the right kind of British traveller, there’s no problem whatsoever with entry or healthcare. There is the inconvenience of quarantine, but sometimes the reason for travelling is more important than the incovenience in either direction.

      • Jessiefan says:

        Fake news! Daily cases in Florida are no worse than UK and on a steep downward curve…unlike the UK

        • Anna says:

          That’s good to know. Florida might be a possibility for next Easter if we can surmount all the hurdles associated with foreign travel by then!

          • Jessiefan says:

            Yes! I’m looking at using up some points for a trip EDI-ATL next Easter. SO long as FCO restrictions are lifted then there’s very little risk if you stay away from houseparties and busy bars.

          • Anna says:

            Though NY Times is reporting that Florida’s infections have increased 16% in the last fortnight!

          • MT says:

            I’ve booked avios redemptions from DUB to MCO on Lingus for Spring Half Term in May. Hotels are v cheap looking right now even on flex rates. Will only loose a hundred or so if we need to cancel.

          • Genghis says:

            @Anna Not sure how useful percentages are in this. If a small villages has 1 person and then has 3, that’s a 200% increase.

          • Anna says:

            Ghengis, I get your point but I wouldn’t really compare Florida to a small village!

        • Rob says:

          I doubt there are many places on the planet where the infection rate is higher than the 500 per 100k in Manchester ….

          • Anna says:

            I know! I think I’m the new Harry T. My last 3 trips were to Newcastle, Solihull and Manchester 🤦‍♀️

          • TGLoyalty says:

            They must all have been on holidays to Ibiza and Mykonos. The virus doesn’t spread in the UK …

          • Lady London says:

            Seriously, what is causing this in Manchester?

          • dezbez says:

            On my son’s new Fallowfield campus, it’s 558 out of approx 3,500….
            They’ve been there less than three weeks

          • dezbez says:

            Figures across all the other campuses across the city total approx 1,500, which actually means students account for 50% of total cases (if you assume m/cr pop = 600k)

          • TGLoyalty says:


            you are constantly told ONLY to get a test if you had symptoms yourself or if told by a health care professional. Yet Schools and universities had been telling everyone to get tested regardless of symptoms.

            So it’s not like for like

            Also as the economy opens up and people return to life there will be more symptomatic cases.

  • ChrisBCN says:

    Thanks for the Santander news, one I will look at closely! The current Iberia Icon credit card (€90 per year) gives the same benefits as the Santander deal (equivalent to BA bronze) – the pay a little bit for a little bit of status seems to be the model!

    • marcw says:

      Be aware that the criteria to have a “free” (new) ONE Santander bank account is hefty: you need to pay in your salary/pension, + at least 3 direct debit, +mortgage/insurance or investment. If you don’t meet the requirements, there will be at least a monthly 10€ fee. This does provide you the bare minimum: if you want status and additional perks, expect to pay on top a minimum of 4€ per month. The “new” Santander Avios card will give you 1 Avios every 3€ spend on the card.
      Do you honestly pay 90€ per year to have the ICON card? Have you not learnt the Spanish way? call, say you are planning to leave and question what they can provide? They have different options, including pay full fee + free 9.000 Avios, 50%/75%/100% discount on the fee, extra Avios per months,… oh! the same applies to Amex Spain.

  • James says:

    Many people all over the world, including British, travel to Orlando in December and all year around. It’s always busy there. Regarding Covid 19, UK isn’t safer than Florida. And Corona isn’t worse than regular seasonal flu. One should be careful anyway but not panicking

    • Anna says:

      I think for many of us at this stage, it’s not the fear of catching COVID that’s preventing us booking trips to the US, it’s the fact that we’re still not allowed in and even if we were we may well not be insured.

      • Bagoly says:

        At the beginning of Covid the most likely to happen risk seemed to be that one would be denied boarding if one had ordinary ‘flu or something else causing a temperature.
        Is that still a risk, or have they stopped checking temperature when arriving at airports?

  • ADS says:

    “This is a genuine expense to Eurostar – it represents the track access charges per passenger that Eurostar has to pay”

    Is it though ?

    Do we really know how much they actually pay per passenger ??

    • Rob says:

      Someone who used to work there told me it used to be £15, so very likely it is now £16 each way.