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News: Virgin Atlantic boosts Israel services, IHG Spire extensions, a Concorde nose moves to T5

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News in brief:

Virgin Atlantic boosts its Tel Aviv services sharply

Virgin Atlantic has seen the Green List-ing of Israel as an opportunity to finally get some passengers back on its aircraft, even though it is currently only accepting tourists on organised tours.

The current ‘four flights per week’ service to Tel Aviv will increase to daily from late May.

From 1st August, based on what is currently bookable, it will increase to double daily.

Flights are currently scheduled with Boeing 787-9 aircraft, which means that you won’t be getting the new Upper Class suite which is installed on the A350 fleet.

Tel Aviv beach

IHG Rewards extends Spire Elite status for some to 12/22

If you have IHG Rewards Spire Elite status, you may want to take a look at your account.

Some people are reporting that their status has been pushed out to December 2022. More importantly, another 25,000 bonus points were waiting to be claimed.

You can check your expiry date by clicking on ‘View Member Materials’ at the top of your account home page.

It isn’t clear why this happened. It seems to be a gift to people who managed to requalify for Spire Elite in 2020 but found that IHG Rewards had extended their status anyway due to covid.

IHG may have decided that these people had been treated a little unfairly compared to other Spire Elite members like me who were rolled over anyway. If you fall into this category, check your account.

Concorde nose cone

A Concorde nose moves to the Concorde Room

As you can see from the photograph above, a Concorde nose cone has appeared on the terrace of the Concorde Room.

The Concorde Room is the Heathrow Terminal 5 lounge used by ticketed First Class passengers. Confusingly, the Galleries First lounge is – effectively – the Gold Card lounge, and not for First Class passengers at all.

The nose cone previously sat at the Waterside head office. It isn’t clear if this is the start of a running down of Waterside in advance of permanent closure or sale.

The Concorde Room remains closed at present, so it won’t be seen by anyone for a few weeks at least.


Getting airport lounge access for free from a credit card

How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (June 2021)

As a reminder, here are the three options to get FREE airport lounge access via a credit or charge card:

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express comes with two free Priority Pass cards, one for you and one for a supplementary cardholder. Each card admits two so a family of four gets in free. You get access to all 1,300 lounges in the Priority Pass network – search it here

You also get access to Plaza Premium, Delta and Eurostar lounges. The card has a sign-up bonus of 30,000 points.  Our American Express Platinum review is here. You can apply here.

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for the first year. It comes with a Priority Pass card loaded with two free visits to any Priority Pass lounge – see the list here

Additional lounge visits are charged at £20.  You get two more free visits for every year you keep the card.  

There is no annual fee for Amex Gold in Year 1 and a 20,000 points sign-up bonus.  Full details are in our American Express Preferred Rewards Gold review here.

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard

A huge bonus, but only available to HSBC Premier clients Read our full review

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard gets you get a free LoungeKey card, allowing you access to the LoungeKey network.  Guests are charged at £20 although it may be cheaper to pay £60 for a supplementary credit card for your partner.

The card has a fee of £195 and there are strict financial requirements to become a HSBC Premier customer.  Full details are in my HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard review.

PS. You can find all of HfP’s UK airport lounge reviews – and we’ve been to most of them – indexed here.

Comments (84)

  • Memesweeper says:

    Sorry to be thick, in previous years I had to claim the 25k, assuming I’ve got it to claim, how/where do I do this? I’ve forgotten…

    • Rob says:

      Click ‘Explore Your Benefits’ under ‘You have 1 award(s) available!” on the account home page.

  • Jordan D says:

    Virgin adding flights to Tel Aviv yesterday reminds me of BMI and their habit for starting flights to countries that fell into conflict. I think they managed one Tripoli rotation before Libya fell…

    • Heathrow Flyer says:

      BMED used to serve Aleppo (via Ankara)…Sadly I think it’ll be a long time before Aleppo sees such a service again.

      • Dubious says:

        bmi used to serve Aleppo too – it was a tag on from their Damascas service. (LHR-DAM-ALP-LHR).

  • Michael Jennings says:

    I earned Spire status last year (almost entirely through IHG Premium credit card spend and doing interesting things with a Curve Card) but did not have it the year before. This has applied to me: my status has been extended to the end of 2022 and I have been given an extra 25,000 points. That’s nice, assuming I ever leave home again.

  • RobbyM says:

    Is the Concorde nose at the edge of the balcony above Louis Vuitton? If it is, then it might actually be seen by lots of people over the next few weeks, just not up close.

    • Rob says:

      Not clear. The photo was supplied by BA so I’m not sure of the angle.

  • Crafty says:

    Does anyone know, or know where to find, the terms for this “stay by 29 July, get 5,000 points” offer popping up on the IHG website? Clicking the offer takes me to an unrelated page (I find this happens with most of IHG’s digital property…).

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