I wrote yesterday about BA’s premium cabin seat sale from London, and today Virgin has matched.

24-10-2014 12-26-16

But for now I wouldn’t book anything until details of the BA sale from Dublin become clearer. There look to be a good number of bargains from there although not on Virgin.

So if you like (love) their lounge at Heathrow, this might be the way to go.

 

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British Airways B747-400

British Airways has just announced a sale for seats in their premium cabins. On sale until 11 November, you can book for Christmas and New Year, half-term for UK schools in February 2015 as well as later in the year.

Decent examples in Club are:

  • New York £1551
  • Boston £1551
  • Mumbai, Channai £1670
  • Orlando £1694
  • Bangkok £1971
  • Austin £1991
  • Las Vegas £1999
  • Rio and Sao Paulo £2228
  • San Francisco, Seattle, San Diego and Los Angeles £2451

These fares usually work with the Shareholder discount for those still having access to these fares.

New York is £2751, San Francisco £3501 in First, and Las Vegas a mere

23-10-2014 12-38-22

I’ll check what American Airlines are doing about these fares in terms of routings to earn extra Tier Points

Posted by MilesFromBlighty | One Comment

Gold Guest List Card

British Airways awards status on the basis of Tier Points rather than miles flown. This method of operating their scheme has been around for a long time and leads to a number of threads on various bulletin boards about how best to score Tier Points. Tier points earning is based on class of service and distance travelled. For example a Business Class one-way flight in Europe earns 40 Tier Points in most cases where as a flight in Business over 2,000 miles earns 140 Tier Points. (There are noticeable exceptions, for example the London City to JFK service earns 210 Tier Points).

Popular methods of boosting Tier Points involve American Airlines UP- fares where you book a coach ticket but sit in First Class. These earn Tier Points and Avios based on the cabin you sit in, rather than the underlying coach fare. I.e. they are treated as First Class tickets. Also using Malaysian’s cheap intra-Asia tickets in Business Class.

British Airways awards Bronze Status after 300 Tier Points, Silver at 600 and Gold at 1,500 Tier Points. You can read about the benefits of each tier at this BA web page.

Lounge access is granted at Silver and above. Gold is sought as it gives access to First Class lounges, and in particular to Admirals Clubs and Flagship Lounges in the USA with American Airlines, and of course to the Cathay Pacific First Class lounges at Hong Kong. (You have to be flying OneWorld to get access it should be noted.)

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So what happens after 1,500 Tier Points you might ask?

You can earn Gold Guest List (GGL) by earning 3,000 points each year for two consecutive years or 5,000 points in a single year. When I crossed the threshold I had earned 3,500 in one year and 2,500 in the second.

BENEFITS
The benefits of GGL are split in to BA and non-BA offerings:

With BA

  • You can nominate one person to BA’s Gold Tier and two people to BA’s Silver Tier.
  • There are no fees for cancelling, changing or booking award tickets.
  • Twice a year you can make a reservation for an award ticket in to revenue class for up to 5 passengers travelling together.
  • The member can take 2 guests in to a BA operated departure lounge and one in to a BA arrivals lounge.
  • Priority phone service with BA reservations.
  • You can transfer Avios to another member for free

Non-BA

  • Diamond status in Hilton’s HHonors scheme

Once you qualify you receive a number of emails from BA allowing you to arrange the various benefits. There is a whole page at ba.com allowing more information about GGL – you can read it here. To secure HHonors Diamond Status you have to phone the GGL reservations number and they process the request to Hilton. Mine took 7 days to come through, although they say allow 6 weeks.

If you earn GGL by getting 5,000 Tier Points in a single year you are issued a Concorde Room card, granting access to these lounges in New York and London. You can read my reviews of these two lounges by clicking the links above.

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ANYTHING MORE?

Yes indeed, GGL offers more benefits as you continue to accrue Tier Points. These are not the dizzy heights I ever expect to reach:

At 6,000 Tier Points you get another chance to make an award reservation in to a revenue class of booking
At 7,000 , 8,000 , and 9,000 Tier Points you get to pick one of the following:

  • treat yourself and a guest to a cabin upgrade with an Upgrade Voucher for two
  • choose another Gold Guest List Redemption for you and four companions
  • enjoy an incredible 50,000 bonus Avios

LIFETIME STATUS?

Yes indeed, BA has recently introduced the ability to lock in status by earning a number of Tier Points over the life of your membership. For Gold you need 35,000 Tier Points and for Gold Guest List a modest 100,000 Tier Points.

ARE THE BENEFITS REAL?

Yes they are! The Service and Reservations Centre is excellent. They have a ‘how can I help you’ attitude from the moment you speak with them. Having had a problem with a couple of bookings they sorted them out right away. I can confirm that my cancelled Avios ticket was not charged the standard cancellation charge and that two friends now have higher status with BA as a result of my gift of status.

SHOULD YOU TIER POINT RUN?

Does the extra Tier Points needed for GGL make such a difference to make a Tier Point run necessary. I am not sure. It’s a long way from Gold to GGL and the benefits are not that much greater in my view. If you are close, I would go for it though.

HOW DO YOU RETAIN GGL?

3,000 Tier Points each year are needed to retain GGL status.

Posted by MilesFromBlighty | 2 Comments

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I stayed at the Hilton JFK Airport a couple of times in recent weeks and it is another JFK hotel to avoid for some.

ARRIVAL
As with all JFK hotels you have to get yourself to Federal Circle to get the shuttle bus and the Hilton bus took over 30 minutes to arrive, at 11pm, after a call to the hotel. No apology of course. We got to the hotel in about 15 minutes.

My second arrival was not much better, but the wait was only 15 minutes at 8pm.

CHECK-IN
Both check-in’s failed to provide an upgrade to an Executive Room. The standard policy here appears to be that Gold and Diamond HHonors member get a standard room with their key being coded to access the lounge. I don’t know that this is huge deal, but it is not supposed to happen. A word with the check-in agent results in an explanation that the Executive Floors are sold out! (Easily checked on the internet, and of course untrue.)

The agents were friendly enough, just checking the last four digits of the card and producing my keys fairly quickly.

ROOM
The rooms are larger than those at the Garden Inn. I had the experience of rooms with one King, or two Queen beds:

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The rooms are comfortable, and the WiFi was fine. You can login with your HHonors account in order to get free access if you are a Gold or Diamond member. Desk are from King Room.

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AIR CONDITIONING
I have to spend a moment talking about this – the living nightmare of this property.

Let me get out that I am a fairly light sleeper and that as both stays were in preparation for early flights, ear plugs were not an option. The air conditioning sounds like an aircraft taking off when it starts. It does this all night unless you find a temperature where it never kicks in. In my first room I could not turn it off and so asked to switch. They found a room where the AirCon did not work and so I slept well. I did move to another room, but Reception forgot to move my alarm call. Jet lag saved me.

My second stay had the same noise problem but would it at least turned off so I spent a warm night sleeping through.

If you are a light sleeper avoid this property unless you can sleep in a warm room.

BATHROOM
The King rooms have showers and the Twin rooms have bath tubs:

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Both bathrooms were clean with standard Hilton toiletries.

THE REST OF THE HOTEL?
Honestly I got to see the bus, reception, my room and the lifts! Nothing else due to short stays, but whilst not as bad as the Radisson JFK stay, is not a property that I will be looking to return to soon. I seem to be running out of acceptable properties at JFK. Gulp.

Posted by MilesFromBlighty | 3 Comments

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There is little choice of lounge at Terminal 1 in Dublin, and so most airlines and memberships use the DAA Executive Lounge. You can see from the list who provides access.

Located between the security checkpoints the lounge is on the first floor, accessible via this lift.

Once you enter the lounge you need to sign in with the staff – to the right as you exit the lift. They are great at explaining how it works. Basically, both sides of the lift are the same although in my experience, the area to the left of the lift is larger and quieter. My recent visit was an early morning and they had breakfast going. Yoghurt, break, jam, muffins, pastries and cereals were all available.

There are plenty of seating areas, although not that many power sockets.

There was a choice of newspapers and the WiFi was free.

A decent lounge, not spectacular, but better than the gate areas which can get very busy.

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British Airways B747-400

There are strong winds forecast for today in the UK and it appears that the National Air Traffic Services and Heathrow have asked airlines to reduce the number of flights today.

So far it doesn’t look too bad, with flights to Dublin, Madrid, Aberdeen, Manchester, Brussels, Milan, Geneva, Edinburgh, Rome, Barcelona, Leeds/Bradford, Newcastle, Amsterdam and Rotterdam all seem to have lost 1-2 flights today as cancellations.

Well worth checking before leaving the house.

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I was in Dublin recently for the Flyertalk Moderator’s Event. Looking for a couple of Hilton stays I chose the Conrad during the Hilton Summer Sale. Priced at EUR149 (non-refundable) it was a pretty good deal. At checkout of the purchase I was offered a chance to upgrade to a suite, on a standby basis, for EUR69. Two days before I arrived the hotel emailed to confirm the upgrade and I was duly charged the additional fee.

Arriving after a long journey from the airport in the rain, I was glad to be inside the cosy Reception area.

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The Reception desk required just my credit to confirm my identity. Producing the card, the agent explained that breakfast was included as a Diamond HHonors member and that I did not need a voucher. She provided a code for the WiFi in the room and pretty soon I was off to the lifts, just up the stairs, and to my room.

ROOM
Located at the end of the corridor, I opened the door to a proper two room suite.

There was a proper Nespresso machine in the room with plenty of capsules.

BEDROOM

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BATHROOM

The large bathroom with a tub, separate shower, plenty of towels and some nice toiletries.

THE BURGER TEST

The weather was so bad that I decided to stay in and have Room Service dinner. The beef sliders were lovely:

The separate chocolate cake was pretty nice:

The view from the window of was of the Dublin Library:

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It was a good night’s sleep and I went down to breakfast early. They operate both a hot and cold buffet as part of the Diamond Breakfast offering. You can also order items form the menu which were either free or chargable for a small number of Euros. In truth the buffet was more than adequate and the toast they brought to the table was super.

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A special mention for the cheery red flowers in the Reception.

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20-10-2014 12-00-30

Book by the 26 October and Quidco will credit £10 to your account for each booking. Seems a really good offer to me as you can book for as little as £36 per night at some Best Western Properties.

Full details here.

If you are not a member of Quidco you can join via this sponsored link. (Be aware that Quidco may charge an annual fee).

 

 

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I had a reasonably long layover at Cancun Airport recently, between my American Airlines and USAirways flights in Terminal 3. Luckily my Priority Pass account gave me access to the only lounge in the terminal. Access is fairly restricted in that no airlines seem to provide access for their club members, with most people being turned away (or asked to pay), by the friendly agent on duty.

The lounge is through the huge Duty Free Shop and right at Bubba Gumps!

The entrance to the lounge:

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If you see this area, you have gone too far:

There are a number of areas within the lounge, although the seats are primarily low sofas. Electrical outlets are fairly scarce but I managed to locate one towards the back, just past the drinks.

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When I arrived there were only biscuits out in terms of food, but small rolls arrived around lunchtime. There was a self-service coffee machine and cans of soft drinks in the fridge.

There are several large TV screen hanging from the ceiling – some with English and some with Spanish stations. The lounge was pretty restful until a family of 6 arrived, including 2 small children, over whom the parents exerted zero control. By the time they left I felt that I needed a drink to recover from the shouting, crying, screaming and bad behaviour.

There is a code for the WiFi which is displayed on signs around the lounge. It was fairly fast and certainly adequate for my need to catch up on email. As I knew my flight to Charlotte would have no in-seat power, I made sure everything was charged before I left the lounge.

The airport terminal is airy, light and modern and I went for a walk whilst waiting for my flight. The agent at the entrance was fine with this.

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The only unfortunate thing is the plumbing, which requires this notice in the toilet:

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(As my bank pays for my Priority Pass membership as part of my monthly fee, this visit cost me nothing. Airport Angel membership is also accepted.)

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I chose to try the Hilton Garden Inn at JFK having tried some of the other properties there. I wrote recently about the hideous Radisson JFK Airport hotel.

The hotel web site indicates that their shuttle leaves Federal Circle on the JFK AirTrain at :00 and :30 and a combination of a late arrival on USAirways and a slow AirTrain meant that I arrived just in time for the bus. It wasn’t there! Having called the hotel I learned that both the hotel’s black bus and the Sheraton Hotel bus stop at the hotel. Pretty soon the mystery black bus, with signs printed and displayed in the window arrived. As you can see there is no livery on the side.

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Arriving at the hotel, after travelling over one of the bumpiest roads I have ever travelled, after about 10 minutes.

The Reception is small but there was no wait as two members of staff were serving.

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The agent gave me two bottles of water and breakfast coupons as a Diamond HHonors member. I had pre-checked in using the Hilton App (you can read a review here), and was given the keys to the room on the 6th floor (611) I had selected.

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The lifts are pretty slow at this property. Like many airport hotels the rooms are not large. However, the bed was comfortable, the WiFi free, the water hot and the room cool. About all I ever ask. The bedroom:

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Air Con Unit is through the wall:

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Bathroom:

Check-out was a little slow as they needed to work out how to apply some US$ I wanted to use, but I was ready by the time the bus was ready to leave. All the passengers (3 of us), were going to Terminal 7 and so we were kerbside after about 15 minutes.

The property is solid, provides what it offers and is well located for the airport. The combined shuttle with the Sheraton provides a good service to the hotel. (The Sheraton is right behind the Hilton Garden Inn.)

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Posted by MilesFromBlighty | One Comment

British Airways B747-400

British Airways has for a long time offered a discount on their tickets if you cash in some of your Avios. Typical savings are:

£10 for 1,500 Avios
£30 for 4,500 Avios
£50 for 7,500 Avios

You can now save £100 if you exchange 15,000 Avios.

If you are Avios rich and cash poor this is not too bad a deal. You still earn full Avios and Tier Points if you use the discount.

Avios Discounts

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