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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)

  • Andrew M says:

    Today’s BA flight to Tel Aviv has been cancelled.

  • a9504477 says:

    So, is there a way to see the Spire (not the Ambassador) expiration date on the website?

    • Kevin says:

      See the reply from FFoxSake in page 2

      • a9504477 says:

        That shows the Ambassador expiry, not the Spire one, so, no, not what i’m after.

  • Lee says:

    Requalified last week and claimed 25k bonus points. Looks like if I waited for a month I should get 50k.

  • Chris K says:

    I claimed my 25k yesterday. Hadn’t yet re-qualified for Spire this year yet. My expiry shows as Dec 2022.

    Wonder now if there’s any point trying to re-qualify this year through card spend now – I doubt it would get me an extra year to 2023? Or get me a second lot of 25k requalification bonus this year?

    • Alex W says:

      Same here. I’m probably going to stop at 10k spending to get my free night and spend on a different card for the rest of the year.

    • Jamie says:

      How would anyone know, Chris?

      • Chris K says:

        They likely wouldn’t know definitively, Jamie. Just thought I’d share my experience/thoughts and see what other in a similar situation are planning to do.

        • Chris says:

          I should requalify in the next month plus I received a 2nd 25k bonus last month, so I’ll be well placed to answer that question soon

        • C says:

          I’m in this position, but for now still plan to keep using my IHG Black card. My other Visa/MC option is the VS free card, but particularly taking into account the more limited VS network, having a young child (so we’re not jetting off on too many long-haul holidays in Club/Upper, or indeed any class, even notwithstanding COVID), and plenty of Avios sitting around, I see hotel points as relatively more valuable. Even just another 25,000 for requalifying for Spire this year will cover the annual fee on the card, before the free night voucher, and there are no shortage of redemption opportunities.

          • C says:

            Adding that the only other Visa/MC that looks appealing would be the [free] HSBC Premier card, particularly as I find KrisFlyer miles somewhat useful for *A redemptions (usually from Amex IEC MR points).

          • C says:

            Looks like my Spire elite status was also extended to 31 December 2022.

          • Alex W says:

            We took our son when he was 7 months old on a round the world trip! Fortunately he was very well behaved.

          • John says:

            7 months is a good time to travel, my son is just turning 2 and not sure how we are going to manage travelling over summer… he needs so many physical items and he isn’t going to gain much from going to exotic places. Kind of glad that we aren’t really planning to travel overseas (anyway the places with relatives we want to see all require hotel quarantine so we will wait)

  • IanM says:

    No extra 25k here but I am really pissed off with IHG, they still haven’t contacted me about free credit card night booked for 9th June at the IC O2, which is clearly dead.

    When I asked to get this returned to my account on the phone they said it had expired and I’d already had another free one so tough! #shambles

  • will says:

    I found it quite odd how little there was in BA’s Concorde lounges to acknowledge their namesake.

    At JFK there are some pictures on the wall at check in of Concorde in action but personally I think if you’re going to have the name on the lounge at least make an effort to either have some information about it’s history or some decoration around the place as a hat tip.

  • Andy S says:

    Not the best of idea by Virgin Atlantic since all out war is about to start in Isreal.

  • paul says:

    Less concerned about an extension to Spoire as I am about an extension to the free weekend night. Mine expires 1/8/21 but just when IHG think I could use it is not clear.

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