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Updates: Passport Office strike, Priority Pass cafe access in Berlin, Qatar insurance requirements

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News in brief:

Passport Office staff to launch a five week strike

The Public & Commercial Services Union has announced that over 1,000 Passport Office workers will launch a five week strike.

The action will start on 3rd April and run to 5th May.

Around 25% of Passport Office staff will be involved, with substantial delays in passport processing times predicted.

Workers at Passport Offices in Durham, Glasgow, Liverpool, London, Newport, Peterborough and Southport will join the strike. The Belfast office is still going through the process of balloting members.

It has been timed to hit the peak of applications as passengers submit in advance of Summer holiday plans.

The dispute is over an imposed 2% pay rise which the union believes is not acceptable.

PCS union passport office strike

Priority Pass lounge access in Berlin update

Yesterday we reviewed the Tempelhof lounge at Berlin Brandenburg airport. This is the lounge used by British Airways, and can also be accessed by DragonPass cardholders. It cannot be accessed with Priority Pass.

Priority Pass cardholders can use the Moevenpick Cafe in the terminal, where you can claim €23 of free food and drink.

As many HfP readers will know, Priority Pass cards issued by American Express are NOT allowed to use restaurant partners. The only exception is The Grain Store at London Gatwick.

It seems that there are actually TWO global exceptions to the ‘no restaurant credit for Amex-issued Priority Pass cards’. The Moevenpick Cafe at Brandenburg is the second exception.

You can confirm this by looking at the American Express Lounge Collection website. If you search for Berlin, the Moevenpick Cafe shows up as one you can access.

Movenpick Cafe Berlin Brandenburg Airport

An update on the compulsory insurance requirement for Qatar

As we covered yesterday, the rules for requiring compulsory health insurance to enter Qatar have been loosened. It is no longer necessary to buy insurance from a company based in Qatar which is registered with the Ministry of Public Health – the list had been extended more widely, although we couldn’t actually find the list!

It turns out the list is here. The additional ‘valid’ policies are all from Middle East insurers which doesn’t help.

However …. is now saying that compulsory insurance from a Qatari based company is only required if you are staying in the country for over 30 days. This obviously means that anyone on a stopover or short visit is exempt.

This doesn’t make a lot of sense because when you buy your insurance policy you have to pick a duration in order to calculate the price. One of the options is ’30 days’. If you don’t need coverage unless you are staying in Qatar for 31+ days, why do they sell a policy for stays of up to 30 days? The Ministry of Public Health website does not seem to mention the 30 day cut-off rule that highlights.

Comments (51)

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  • masaccio says:

    I got my new passport in 3 days. The extra few quid was worth the removal of any angst. Of course it helps that I am 30 minutes from a passport office. Appointment took about 5 minutes from arrival to walking out.

    I’d recommend the process for anyone needing a passport pretty soon. For me it was about having to choose a 2-week window between travel to get a new passport and a visa in that new passport. I ‘lost’ a few months validity, but the extra months would have been unusable in the EU anyway.

    • SammyJ says:

      I helped renew 2 child passports for a friend yesterday to try and couldn’t find any options to fast-track the process, the only up-sell was the passport with extra pages. How do you buy the expedited services?

      • masaccio says:

        Book an appointment: ( and take along a paper form to the selected passport office along with photos and the old passport. You can use the online application to check photos, but I ended up just going to Tesco in the end as I just couldn’t get a photo anywhere close to being suitable. I also didn’t need to get a photo countersigned, but I have teacher friends so I did anyway just in case.

        The paper forms are only available at ‘proper’ post offices and not the corner shop style counters.

      • Rob says:

        Don’t think you can do this with child passports. We had this issue recently.

        Last time I renewed mine I did a ‘same day’ appointment at Victoria which was a result, especially as it is walkable for me. Slots for these are very limited though and you may end up, for example, having to fly to Belfast if they have slots when your local office does not.

        There was a twitter feed last year, automated, which sent out alerts when same day slots opened for booking.

        • masaccio says:

          From the website:

          You can use the 1 week Fast Track to:

          renew an adult or child passport that has expired or that is about to expire
          change personal details on your passport (for example your name, place of birth or gender)
          replace a lost, stolen or damaged passport
          apply for a first child passport

          Can’t comment on immediate appointments though. My urgency was about not being without my passport for too long so I had the luxury of booking 3 weeks in advance for the first appointment of the day. The appointments website is very clear about availability, but looks like Belfast or Glasgow may be the only options if you choose a child passport.

          • SammyJ says:

            Ah fair enough, I thought there was a priority option you could choose at checkout. I’m sure there used to be different options. Maybe not! Fingers crossed they don’t take ages, they don’t need them until August so without the strike it wouldn’t have been an issue at all.

  • Save East Coast Rewards says:

    More slippery slope devaluations of Priority Pass. They’ve added a gym at Washington Baltimore airport to the PP list. However this gym is not accessible to anyone who received PP through a credit card, even if it’s one that still allows access to the bars and restaurants you need to have a PP card that you’ve paid for directly to use this benefit.

    So it seems there’ll be three tiers of PP in future:
    – Ones where you pay PP directly
    – Credit card ones that allow access to bar/restaurant experiences but not the gyms
    – Credit card ones (like Amex) that exclude the non-lounge benefits, except for a couple of legacy ones like LGW and BER.

    • AlexT says:

      BER is certainly not a legacy one. It must have been added earlier this year, because it definitely wasn’t on the PP list for AMEX in the Fall. The Movenpick Cafe specifically had a sign last summer that said that AMEX-linked PP cards are ineligible and cardholders need to contact the credit card provider if they have questions.

  • Pb says:

    Did mine and my daughters a couple of weeks ago , standard service , took 9 days to have them both back .

  • supergraeme says:

    It’ll be interesting to see how they keep functioning – it’s around a fifth of the workforce striking, I wonder if they’ll do less 7 day appointments etc?

    I was planning on doing a 7 day appointment at the start of April at the new office near LCY as I’m so strapped for time before June when I need a) a new passport and b) my old one with my US visa, so I’m hopeful they’ll still be running at least a reduced service.

  • Skellig says:

    For anyone trying to get an in-person appointment at a passport office, I did this a couple of months ago. Availability of appointments does seem to vary ie sometimes there are none anywhere. You can use to monitor when any given website changes (eg when the passport office website changes from no appointments available to appointments available)

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

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