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Bits: new £100 Amex Travel cashback offer, new Eurostar logo – and new Eurostar loyalty scheme

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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.

New Eurostar livery

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):

New Eurostar logo

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.

Comments (83)

  • AJA says:

    You state that first-time users of ETIAS will have to have their photograph and fingerprints taken.

    Will this apply at airports too? I can see that being a bit of a bottleneck at European airports since you don’t go through passport control on departure at UK airports.

    • Rob says:

      That’s the plan. In reality something will have to change – perhaps some people get a grace period, or a process is set up so you can do it in person at a centre somewhere before you travel (bit like the old covid test).

      This is a permanent crisis, not a short term blip. Your ETIAS only lasts 3 years, so that means new photo and new fingerprints every 3 years. It also expires when your passport is reissued. This means – do the maths – 33% of people need a new set of fingerprints and photos each year PLUS (10% – 3.3%) another 6.6% will forcibly have to get a new one because their passport was reissued. This is 40% of UK nationals travelling to the EU in any particular year requiring fingerprinting.

      • Save East Coast Rewards says:

        Will you really need to take a new set of figerprints and a photo when renewed or will they carry over?

        I won’t need this for travelling to Italy as I’m a resident there but I’m not yet sure whether I need it if I’m travelling from a non-Schengen country to other Schengen countries I don’t have residency rights in.

        • John says:

          I believe you would be exempt from ETIAS but you may still need to do fingerprints on your residence permit (the UK does fingerprints when you apply for a UK visa and may take them on arrival to compare with the application).

          • Save East Coast Rewards says:

            I think I had to do fingerprint scans when getting my residency card. It’s been a while now

          • Bagoly says:

            I come from a visa-exempt country, but I live permanently in the EU – do I need an ETIAS travel authorisation?

            No. ETIAS is a travel authorisation that covers nationals of visa-exempt countries coming to the EU for short-term stays. If you have a residence permit, residence card, or a document issued by any of the European countries requiring ETIAS which authorises your stay, you do not need an ETIAS travel authorisation.
            ___________________________________________________________________________________
            https://travel-europe.europa.eu/etias/faqs-etias_en#about-etias-travel-authorisation

      • LittleNick says:

        In a nutshell, basically there’s not enough space at St Pancras for all the required checks to be done quick enough to enter Schengen. I suppose it would not be possible to do it on arrival (like at airports) at Gare do Nord either?

      • Charles Martel says:

        Can’t “they”/the EU/Frontex lease a concession in St Pancras and do Etias and biometric registration away from the frontier?

    • Nancy says:

      You don’t go through passport control on departure at UK airports because the exit checks are done electronically. However, even if they were in person, it wouldn’t make any difference at European airports – these are entry checks which wouldn’t happen in the UK anyway.

    • John says:

      It wouldn’t be done at UK airports regardless, unless the EU/Schengen sets up “preclearance” at UK airports (and even if it did, it would only be at LHR and maybe LGW).

  • Denise Hales says:

    What is ETIAS please?

  • jjoohhnn says:

    Presumably 30 million is the Thalys + Eurostar combined passengers, i.e. ‘new eurostar”?!

  • Peter says:

    On the ETIAS.info website it says –
    “The ETIAS application for UK citizens will be completed entirely online. This means that travellers will not need to be in the United Kingdom when they are applying for the visa waiver.”
    How cn it be entirely on line if fingferprints are required?

    • Rob says:

      You do the fingerprints and photo at immmigration – exactly the same as the USA system.

    • Kelvin says:

      As I understand it, ETIAS is the electronic visa waver programme (similar to the Canadian eTA) and hence can be done entirely online.

      EES (Entry/Exit System – the biometric part) is a separate element in the process and the two may be implemented at different times.

  • Jeff says:

    I’ve cancelled my cashback card back in beginning of December. Is it fine to apply now for The Platinum Card?

  • ADS says:

    “The crunch point will come in December when the ETIAS visa waiver programme is introduced.”

    The crunch point MAY come in December … unless it is delayed yet again!

  • Rich says:

    Thanks for the heads-up re Amex.

    The offer text makes no mention of it being hotel only. Only if you dig into the T&Cs does it mention that flight only bookings aren’t eligible.

    Very sneaky. That should really be in the headline text

  • sam says:

    amex £200 question i have this on my platinum but when i tried to use it today to book 2 BA domestic flights the cost was about 20% more. did not use it as used 1/2 of my credit. any reason for this?

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