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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)

  • Mike says:

    Well Israel was on my holiday list – unfortunately it looks like it is off for a while !

    • Andrew says:

      Virgin will be cancelling all the Tel Aviv flights as quickly as they have scheduled them.

      • 1ATL says:

        VS have cancelled this evenings service.

        • Michael Jennings says:

          I had a booking to Tel Aviv on Easyjet for next month – that got cancelled yesterday.

    • Doug M says:

      An Israel article without the comments turned off, should get interesting.

  • Bill Carson says:

    I’m in no doubt of your information regarding the Concorde lounge being closed but are there any BA lounges at T5 open atm? My wife has to travel next week and the only mention on BA’s website on lounges is to check the link https://www.oneworld.com/airport-lounges?location=LHR which claims that the south lounges are open including the Concorde lounge. I guess it’s just not separating them?
    Would be pretty sucky for nothing to be open. When I had to travel last Nov for work with everything, lounges included, closed they didn’t even offer me a cup of tea or something while I sat around in the barren wasteland that T5 had become (and some might say was always pretty post-apocalyptic).

    • Andrew says:

      Galleries First at T5 is open and the terrace is reserved for those who would normally be eligible for the Concorde Room – so technically there is a Concorde lounge available currently (and from Monday should be serving LPGS).

  • Nick says:

    I only qualified for Spire elite last year due to the reduced point threshold, and I’ve got the extension & additional bonus points.
    Given most of it was done by card spend, 50,000 bonus points almost doubled the earning value on the card!

    • Jonathan says:

      Nothing from IHG for me last year, requalified spire by earning the original 75k required points. And nothing from them now either. The ihg benefits are so marginal I’m not sure it’s worth the effort any more.

      • Andy says:

        Same here. Qualified last year by 75000 points and again this year but no extra 25000. I don’t begrudge anyone getting the free points but it’s a bit disappointing not to have got them myself!

  • Nick says:

    Also the IHG app is suggesting that the 5k bonus point promotion, which was meant to be April-only, will trigger as long as I stay one night by the end of July…

    • Andrew says:

      Correct

    • Kai says:

      It’s for bonus points packages.

    • Sandra says:

      It was originally 2 nights in April for 5000 points on mine then it was replaced by a new 1 night by 29 July offer for 5000 points – I guess because not many people, including me, were able to use in April?

  • YC says:

    Any reason why virgin don’t launch short haul European flights (like to Portugal)? I’m sure demand is there to fill up the 787 given limited green countries

    • Rob says:

      Virgin has been running flights to Brussels and Oslo for months, albeit cargo only, so I’m sure they could. However, once other countries open up the pinch on Portugal will stop so it is a lot of work for a very short period.

      • Lady London says:

        Virgin also runs nightly to Abuja. It’s on Flightradar most nights over my house. Also another at more or less the same time to Lagos.

        There’s more of the above 2 destinations than JNB.

  • Simon says:

    25,000 extra points. Nice! That was a good way to start the day!

  • Steve says:

    I doubt they’ll find a way of selling Waterside for s meaningful amount, given it’s on the site where the new runway will be laid

  • Andrew says:

    There’s quite a few sets of the Conran Concorde seats at Waterside too – they would make a great addition to the Concorde Room.

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