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News: Flybe opening a base in Belfast, Priority Pass opens in Berlin

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News in brief:

Flybe to open its second base at Belfast City Airport

Next Tuesday, 22nd March, is the day that Flybe will officially announce its return to the skies.

The UK regional carrier, bought out of administration by one of its previous shareholders, Cyrus Capital, will announce its first batch of routes and launch ticket sales. A mix of domestic and international destinations are promised.

The airline announced this week that it will be opening a second base at Belfast City Airport. This will operate alongside its main base at Birmingham. The fleet will consist of Dash 8-400 aircraft which tend to have between 70 and 90 seats depending on configuration.

It remains to be seen what Flybe will do with its slots at Heathrow Airport. The airline has slots for 43 weekly departures, and will need to use these at least 70% of the time over the Summer if they are not to be forfeited.

There is gossip online about a potential service to Leeds Bradford from Heathrow now that British Airways has withdrawn from the route. It is possible that aircraft based at Belfast or Birmingham could operate to Leeds Bradford in a triangular pattern via Heathrow.

All will be revealed next week.

Flybe Belfast City

Some Priority Pass holders can now get restaurant credit at Berlin Brandenburg

The new Brandenburg airport in Berlin has been a missing link in the Priority Pass network of pay-to-use airport lounges.

There is some good news, and some bad news.

The good news is that Priority Pass has agreed a deal with the Moevenpick Cafe in the airport. This is located by gate A20, after security.

Cardholders will be given €23 of credit towards food and drink.

The bad news is that this offer is not available to anyone who gets their Priority Pass card from American Express. Amex has an opt-out on Priority Pass restaurant partners, which include The Big Smoke Taphouse & Kitchen at Heathrow Terminal 2, reviewed here.

(The only exception to the opt-out is The Grain Store at London Gatwick’s South Terminal, which does give £15 of credit to American Express Priority Pass cardholders.)

The cafe, open from 4am to 9pm, is in the Schengen zone of the airport. I’m not sure if it is accessible by non-Schengen passengers – ie UK flights.

You can learn more about Priority Pass on its website here.

Getting airport lounge access for free from a credit card

How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (March 2023)

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

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and unbeatable 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 Air Lines and Eurostar lounges.  Our American Express Platinum review is here. You can apply here.

American Express Business Platinum

Crazy 120,000 points bonus (to 30th March) and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review

If you have a small business, consider American Express Business Platinum instead.

Until 30th March 2023, the sign up bonus on American Express Business Platinum is increased to 120,000 Membership Rewards points – click here. T&C apply, see the application forms for details.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four 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 four free visits to any Priority Pass lounge – see the list here.

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

There is no annual fee for Amex Gold in Year 1 and you get 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 (46)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • ChrisC says:

    ” …because there is never a train waiting on the platform at all times …”

    The problem with that was that having a train sat on a platform for 15 minutes restricting not only the use of that platform by other services but it also blocked the line.

    With the need to increase capacity on the Brighton Main Line the GEX was extended to run to Brighton freeing up the Gatwick platforms and train paths to other services.

    This actually increased capacity for all passengers as there were more frequent services.

    Absent some specific circumstances the GEX ceased to be a Victoria – Gatwick only service in 2008.

    • Lady London says:

      Absolute murder trying to get on the train if you land at Gatwick early morning on a weekday though. That puts you onto the platform in rush hour. Often the ordinary trains have corridors full of commuters standing when they pull into Gatwick. Sometimes people haven’t even been able to get on, without luggage, at an earlier stop as well before Gatwick. (although my experience is mainly Mondays).

      Is the Gatwick Express experience better at these times? The pricing gap for not much different service is wide. But if it’s still possible to struggle onto the train with 2 luggage to get to work on time, it might be worth it.

      • lumma says:

        I’ve never thought of that, I’ve never flown long haul into Gatwick so the chances of needing a morning rush hour train back to London are slim.

        My biggest hate about early landings into Heathrow is the switch from the Piccadilly line to the District at rush hour. Hopefully Crossrail will eventually fix that for those of us out East

        • Lady London says:

          You mean they are turfing you off the Piccadilly Line at Acton Town and make you stand on the platform for a District Line train?

      • Ian says:

        Do trains in the South East still have corridors? I thought those trains went to the scrap yard years ago!

        • ChrisC says:

          I think LL was using “corridors” as meaning a train where you can walk through it from end to end with no doors separating the carriages.

          • Lady London says:

            I call corridor the walkway between the seats in an open carriage.

  • ADS says:

    “It is possible that aircraft based at Belfast or Birmingham could operate to Leeds Bradford in a triangular pattern via Heathrow”

    Surely a W service pattern is more likely ?!

  • Sam says:

    So Dragonpass can negotiate lounge access at BER (including Lufthansa lounge!), but priority pass can only negotiate something out of a restaurant. I think the membership base of priority pass is too large, to an extent that a lot of lounges can’t cope with and simply decide not to accept it. LHR T5 Aspire is a very iconic example, so do a lot of the plaza premium lounges in the past.

    I can see that this will only become a trend, that the priority pass will only be accepted by lounges at non-major airport, leaving only restaurant access at the major airports.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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