New in brief:
New £100 Amex Travel cashback offer – for some
According to a handful of reports from HfP readers, a new Amex Travel cashback offer has launched on some cards.
This seems to be a very restricted offer, with none of the HfP team or our immediate families having it. It is definitely out there though.
If targetted, you will receive £100 cashback on a £400 pre-paid hotel booking made via Amex Travel. You need to book by 23rd March although the stay can be at any point.
Remember that stays booked via Amex Travel are treated as third party bookings, so you won’t earn any hotel points or receive any status benefits. You also won’t qualify for any discounted ‘member rates’ offered by the big chains.
Eurostar launches a new logo – and a new loyalty scheme is coming
Last year, Eurostar and Thalys, the French train company merged to form ‘Eurostar Group’, the largest high-speed rail franchise in Europe.
Both companies were already majority owned by French group SNCF so this isn’t a radical change, although it will allow the two companies to to consolidate operations.
As part of the merger ‘Eurostar’ will become the single brand with ‘Thalys’ being ditched. This could get confusing, given that ‘taking the Eurostar’ is often used to mean the train service from London to Paris, Brussels and beyond.
A new brand identity is emerging from October this year. A new logo has been designed, inspired by ‘l’Etoile du Nord’, and it looks quite classy (click to enlarge):
The existing Eurostar trains will retain their blue and yellow branding, whilst ex-Thalys trains will retain their existing red paint job.
A new, unified website will be launched, as will a new loyalty program, although details are firmly under wraps.
Eurostar has set an ambitious goal of carrying 30 million passengers by 2030 which would be an increase of 57% over 2019 numbers. That will be even more challenging, given the new border restrictions that Brexit has introduced which have led to 30% longer processing times. Only 61% of seats are being sold on the first London-Paris, London-Brussels and Paris-London trains of the day due to the inability to process a full load.
In St Pancras, in particular, the extra border checks mean that the station will have to be structurally altered to cater with longer waiting times – not an easy task in an operational train station.
The crunch point will come in December when the ETIAS visa waiver programme is introduced. On top of the time taken to confirm that each passenger is ETIAS registered, first time users will need to have their photograph and fingerprints taken at passport control, a process which will lead to subtantial queues.