Firstly today I am very excited as I will be trying out Virgin Voyages new cruise ship, Scarlet Lady! It looks very different to other cruise ships – modern, luxurious and on-trend. So follow along on social media today as I try out all the ship has to offer and see the legendary Richard Branson launch the ship!
Virgin Atlantic ends all free chauffeur cars
Virgin Atlantic had gradually reduced their chauffeur benefit over the years until it was just available to those in an eligible J, C or D booking class. This excluded miles redemption flights. Virgin yesterday announced that they have decided to stop any free chauffeur transfers but they will continue to sell them as an add on with miles or cash.
Virgin blame the decision on a decline in demand within recent years with fewer than 50%of eligible customers choosing to use one. So from 1 July 2020, they will no longer offer complimentary ground transfers as part of the Upper Class service. This includes chauffeur cars, limobikes and Heathrow and Gatwick Express tickets.
This change also means that they will be providing a consistent experience with partners Delta, Air France and KLM. Customers will still be able to pay to pre-book a chauffeur car to take them to and from the airport.
The Upper Class Wing at London Heathrow Terminal 3 will continue to operate as normal, so you can get your own car service to drop you off at the Upper Class wing for the full experience. (read review here)
You can find the official announcement here.
BA’s load of flannel
BA has decided to withdraw all hot towel services on all their flights due to the Coronavirus outbreak. This is with immediate effect in both first and club and I can confirm that there were no hot towels on either of my US flights in the last week. Cathay Pacific have also done similar but gone a step further with no hot towels, pillows, blankets and magazines to passengers on Cathay Pacific and subsidiary Cathay Dragon flights to and from mainland China. Trolley services and in-flight sales will also be suspended.
Whilst we all want to stop the spread of the virus this seems like a rather extreme step as it stops passengers being able to clean their hands when they get on board. I also use mine to wipe the surfaces around me (and yes I know that won’t kill viruses). There are so many other things that could spread the virus on board, it seems rather a strange measure and it will be interesting to see if they make a return!
New Accor Visa card
Accor hotel group and Visa have announced a global partnership to bring new payment card to ALL-Accor Live Limitless loyalty members.
The partnership will bring together Accor’s loyalty program and Visa’s global payment capabilities to create the new ALL Visa card. Accor will be collaborating with Visa partner financial institutions and banks across Europe, North and South America, Middle East and Asia Pacific to issue the new ALL Visa card. It will offer members tailored rewards based on customer preferences and the ability to earn more loyalty points when staying at an Accor property or when making purchases. There is currently no agreement with a bank in the UK to offer the card, so I don’t expect it to happen any time soon.
Accor operates a different type of loyalty program which I actually quite like as it offers a simple cash discount based on your points total. You can also use points for money off from only 2000 points to get €40 off a booking. This means you can do a small number of stays and use the proceeds very quickly. I like Accor as a hotel group due to the number of luxury brands they have such as Raffles, Fairmont, Sofitel, Banyan Tree, Mondrian and Delano.
With Accor points you can also use them to convert into airline miles such as Avios, Flying Blue Miles, Emirates and Etihad which would give some flexibility to the card points.
Sébastien Bazin, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Accor, said:
“Partnering with Visa will be a huge boost to Accor as we embark on the shared journey to develop an innovative co-branded payment card. This new initiative will provide unmatched benefits to our members and reinforce the success of our ALL loyalty program by increasing our member base driving additional engagement and giving each member incentives to stay with us more frequently and easily. The development of ALL is a major milestone for us, and in Visa we are very pleased to have found a partner which shares our passion for delivering everyday rewards and recognition.”