BREAKING NEWS: BA Elemis spas will not reopen, Turkey open to all Brits with cheap insurance & Virgin trial IATA pass

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British Airways Elemis spas will not reopen

When the BA spas closed around the world, I always assumed that they would reopen again. Sadly I now fear that the “new normal” will be lots of things we took for granted being cut in the name of cost savings. The first of these is that British Airways has confirmed that it will not reopen its Elemis spas. This includes the spas in the Heathrow lounges (T5 South, Arrivals, T5B and T3) and the spa in New York JFK. Several of these were only given a makeover very recently.

Kelly Hoppen MBE partnered with Elemis to redesign the BA Travel Spas in 2019

Personally, I think this is a mistake. While it is not necessarily the most important part of a trip, it was one of the things that set it apart from the US airlines. I have always maintained there would be a way to do this much cheaper by using the Virgin Atlantic model where you get one short free treatment but can buy others, which is also used by other airlines. Airport spas have actually been a growth area in recent years so this seems a rather short-sighted cut. Surely even if they just restricted it to First class for free and offered charged treatments to business class customers (perhaps even using Avios) it could actually be almost self-funding? Particularly if they followed the US model of selling products as well. 

The only good news is that they will still offer showers in the future as they did before.

BA says that they are investigating other ways to support customers’ well-being in flight, but let’s be honest, none of us are holding our breath for something substantial to be forthcoming. My guess is it will be some minor concession like a partnership with a health app or discount on something.

What do you think about the BA spa closure? Let us know in the comments below.


Turkey to allow Brits with no vaccine and cheap insurance


Turkey is expected to initially be amber when the UK traffic light system comes in. However, most of Europe is likely to go green over the summer as vaccines continue to be rolled out. Turkey has now lifted the suspension of direct flights from the UK and announced that no vaccination certificates will be required for international travellers entering the country. At the moment you only need to present a negative PCR test result.

Employees at hotels and other tourist facilities are being prioritised to be vaccinated. One of the most interesting parts of the Turkey announcement is the special insurance package, which will cost from €15 for a week and covers Covid-19 medical-related expenses in either a state-owned or private hospital in Turkey. It also covers extra accommodation expenses that may be necessary if you have to quarantine in your hotel. You can find information and apply for the insurance here. 


Virgin Atlantic becomes first UK airline to begin IATA Travel Pass live trials

Virgin Atlantic started the first live trials of the IATA Travel Pass by a UK airline today. It was originally due to happen last week by was delayed due to the volcano erupting on a neighbouring island to Barbados. Customers on flight VS131, travelling from London Heathrow to Barbados, were invited to download the free smartphone app and participate in the successful first trial flight, which departed just ahead of schedule at 10.24am from Terminal 2.

The IATA Travel Pass allows customers to verify that they meet the health criteria needed to travel between certain countries, locate labs, and present evidence of a negative Covid-19 test to the relevant authorities. Future updates of the app will also incorporate vaccine records. Using the app to create a digital ID, comprising a profile photo and linked to passport details, Virgin Atlantic customers are able to add their negative PCR test results for Barbados, taken at a participating lab within three days of departure. With the information and flight details already loaded on to their Travel Pass, customers’ experience at Heathrow should be swift and efficient, removing paper-based Covid-19 documentation with a digital ‘one-stop shop’ to collect, store and verify documents in the secure app. When implemented more widely, digital health passes will help reduce check in times, make border checks more manageable, and streamline customer journeys, with a Priority Virgin Atlantic Check-In lane in place at Terminal 2 for IATA Travel Pass holders in the trial.

The one-month trial of the IATA Travel Pass is being run in close collaboration with the Government of Barbados, which is leading the way through its active involvement in the trial. Governments around the world are currently considering the Travel Pass to support the restart of international travel at scale. Virgin Atlantic continues to engage with the UK Government to enable the trial to expand and accommodate customers arriving at the UK border on Barbados-Heathrow flights.

Corneel Koster, Chief Customer & Operating Officer, Virgin Atlantic, said:
“Our innovative trial with the IATA Travel Pass and the Government of Barbados supports a smooth and streamlined experience, helping our customers to fly safe and well and navigate new travel requirements from the palm of their hands.

“When international restarts at scale; rapid, affordable testing and effective digital proof of Covid-19 credentials based on global common standards will make journeys easier and provide greater confidence to book. We urge the UK Government to confirm that our customers can use digital apps and that these will be accepted at the UK border. The current paper-only-based processes will not be viable as customer numbers increase.

“With its vaccination programme progressing well, there is also a clear opportunity to designate Barbados ‘green’ as part of the UK’s risk-based traffic light framework, to enable safe travel. We welcome progress towards the resumption of travel from 17 May, but consumers and industry need greater clarity on the green list timeline, criteria and countries, in order to prepare effectively.”

15 Comments on "BREAKING NEWS: BA Elemis spas will not reopen, Turkey open to all Brits with cheap insurance & Virgin trial IATA pass"

  1. Quite disappointed by the spa news. Seems like the premium experience is being pared-down to nothing bit by bit. Starting to feel like bigger seats are becoming the only meaningful reason to upgrade any more.

  2. Foolish move by British Airways. I thought Sean Doyle might have realised the many mistakes of Alex Cruz and started to rectify them but it doesn’t appear so!

  3. Gillian Wilson | 24 April 2021 at 12:47 am |

    It looks like a lot of the benefits of status are going to be stripped away. I didn’t often use the spa but I feel this is just the start. COVID is giving them the excuse to cut back and we may never see things the way they were 😢

  4. Mark Wilkins | 24 April 2021 at 6:10 am |

    This doesn’t really surprise me. If the past has anything to go by, my last two attempts whilst booked in first (booked a month in advance on one occasion) proved fruitless, with an apologetic e mail. I guess I will have to prop up the bar in the Concorde room if we get off the ground to Boston, late August.

  5. You wait Mark, it’ll be the Concorde Room going next!! Or maybe the dining room within it! It’s still going to be a fairly long time until I fly again, unfortunately. I await the traffic light list and the time interval between reviews…..

    • Mark Wilkins | 24 April 2021 at 6:53 am |

      Nigel, the dining room closure is a fair bet. It’s all a lottery now. I try to remain ever optimistic, a glass half full and all that, but I personally have had two trips cancelled and refunded, two sets of vouchers waiting in the wings (expire early 2022) and the Boston trip in August, a rescheduled Amex 241 ticket, originally booked Oct 2020! BA have my cash, and a modest deposit, but really don’t know where we are going with all this overseas travel under the current climate. Good luck on future trips!

  6. Hopefully it will only be temporarily
    I have always managed to have a facial in the spa
    As I always get into the Concord Room many hours before my flight
    So hopefully when we get back to normal the spa will come back otherwise I may fly with another airline

  7. As somebody that pays for his first class tickets in full, I’m pissed to say the least. This only confirms what I said to my wife two days ago. “It may be time to move our loyalty to another airline”.

  8. mr clayton powers | 24 April 2021 at 10:57 am |

    Ahhh new chief organ grinder at the helm, same ‘race-to-the-bottom’ approach. LGW is our ‘home’ airport but when we use LHR the good lady certainly looks forward to the spa treatment and it’s part of her ‘F Experience’ for sure.

    I think a fair few would agree with me if I said that BA seem to have been suffering terminal short-sightedness for a fair few years now. Always happy to jump feet first if they think they can save a penny or two over the next 6-12 months without any thought as to the possible long term implications. Of course they, as all others, have been hit hard by this but its for exactly that reason this is, imho, a stupid a self defeating move.

    It will be the airlines that offer the extra little touches that will win the pax and therefore the market share. Anyone who thinks the “but business pax don’t care about such things” is a valid argument shouldn’t be holding any position of power. The days of blue chip pax on multi year corporate accounts flying LHR-JFK two, three, four times a month are gone for the short-medium term at least and I imagine will never return to prior levels now companies the world over have seen the feared drop in productivity & bottom lines isn’t anything like they’d always assumed. It is the leisure traveller who will lead airlines recoveries and they want the pampering if they’re flying in a premium cabin and certainly if they’ve earnt status off their own hard work and money. Those fliers don’t have any contract tying them into years long deals and they WILL go where they feel they get treated the best. Yes a Spa isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea but also it matters little if Bob doesn’t care for a foot massage. If Linda does then you can bet your bottom dollar Bob & Linda are flying on the airline who gives that massage if there’s less than a few hundred difference in the underlying fare.

    It pains me to think how blind to market trends some people at BA are at times. If any of them are reading and would like some help on ‘reality in flying post coof’ then i’m more than happy to consult for a terribly reasonable fee.

  9. The real concern for me is whether this is the thin end of the wedge – if they start messing around with the Concorde Room offering, that would be a big mistake. I could rarely get a reservation in the Elmis Spa but I don’t like products being eroded- I got upset when they. Removed flowers from the loos in Club- or was it First…
    All of us can see the need to save money, of course we can but BA must look carefully at where they have great USP’s and leave well alone. I really like the Concorde room, the tired cabanas and the restaurant…and the LPGS so it would be a big disappointment if they diluted their offering. Let’s remember, BA have form when it comes to penny pinching. Wasn’t it SHOCKING what Al Baker of Qatar said about BA being a 2 star airline? Nasty piece of work.

  10. Betsy B Mathieson | 24 April 2021 at 12:04 pm |

    Speaking as a Wellness professional, I often marvelled at the loss of potential commercial possibilities at those Spas…if you were lucky enough to get an appointment, there were no onsite retail sales available after treatments…big mistake….or even the follow up of purchase and delivery to home address…two missed opportunities, also making additional treatments available for a fee was also a lost opportunity….I am sure Elemis were not happy with this as they are usually very marketing savvy….I would recommend a new Spa Partner with the above additions and others…it could be a self-funding/profit making project with the right business model in place, including the contract for the inflight goodie bags etc…. BA need to step up their game in many areas and find new USP’s! As a Wellness/Spa Consultant I see endless possibilities in this area. I would be interested in investing in such a venture….anyone else?

  11. Agree with everyone here. It was a lovely perk to have and I was lucky enough to get my appointments in as soon as I booked trips to enjoy a lovely massage before long flights. I agree it’s short sighted but I also think they will start looking at the Qatar model where not every premium ticket allows you lounge access in an effort to save ££. I have about £10k tied up in vouchers as decided to take them with the thought of getting away sooner and not taking the cash back. Now thinking they’re going to be worth about 1/3 less and with less to enjoy pre flight.☹️

  12. Guys listen to yourselves. The Spa and the lounge closures would never have happened if it wasn’t for the pandemic.

    Wake up!

    Some people don’t have the and won’t ever have the luxury of a premium cabin or an airport lounge, let alone a Spa. All that talk of getting rid of the Concorde room is just silly.

    I just hope to get flying again – if it means cutting back then we have to suck it up. Everyone seems to love trashing on BA. Bottom line if you don’t like it don’t fly with them. Simples.

  13. If BA had decided to turn it into a paid facility, increased the range & quality of treatments and allowed proper pre-booking, it could have turned it into quite a big a selling point.

    The last time we did a ex-EU from Paris to Bali via Doha we were on a 4pm departure. We booked the Hilton Charles de Gaulle for the night before and treated ourselves to a late morning massage – we’d had a hectic few weeks and the massage got us into the perfect relaxed mood for our holiday. We said we’d do that more often… but not many airport hotels have a decent spa or offer a good massage.

    • I agree. Considering the space will just be sitting empty, it’s a big missed opportunity.

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