Saturday, 25 August 2012

The Curse of Barcelona

The curse of Barcelona has struck again. I think I may have to give up going to that fair city. I've been once, but was struck down with manflu the entire time, so apart from a short walk down the Ramblas and a wander around the Barrio Gotico, I didn't see much of it. The other three times I've planned to go have never materialised, once the conference was cancelled due to a problem with the venue, another time the airline (Duo) went bust the day I was supposed to fly and this time a family illness has meant that it wasn't possible for me to go. I'm not sure if I should try and go again, there's obviously a bit of a curse on the place for me. Anyway, if it stops raining, I shall spend the Bank Holiday weekend in the garden instead.

This, of course, is why travel insurance is very important, although my losses are so low (it was a £99 fare) that I won't be bothering making a claim. I get mine through my Amex Platinum card and through my bank, so I'm doubly covered, but it's always worth looking at the conditions - especially when they change. Amex in particular have recently "enhanced" theirs.

So apart from a couple of work trips, there's nothing planned until October when I'm taking a friend to ─░stanbul for her birthday. Hopefully, the weather will be a lot better than last time, because what I saw of the city, I loved.

On the future good news front, my return from Australia has become a five hour connection in Frankfurt, but as I have a confirmed upgrade on the Singapore-Frankfurt leg, that means five hours in the First Class Lounge or even possibly in the First Class Terminal. How terrible...

Sunday, 12 August 2012

The horns of two dilemmas

As we all know, loyalty programmes change and not always for the best. They are frequently "enhanced", also contracts changes and this isn't always for the best either.

My first dilemma is with Miles and More. There have been changes, fairly dire changes concerned both the mileage earnings from 'Z' fares (a discounted business class) and to be able to upgrade from the said fares except on Swiss. It is also noticeable that what used to be the 'D' fare is now the 'Z' fare in terms of price on some routes and that what used to be the 'Z' fare is now the unspeakable 'P' fare - a business class fare which earns sub-economy milage.

Now, regaining SEN in 2013 was going to be a doddle, however, it's now looking like a somewhat expensive proposition, but just doable as long as my gambit holds up. But the question is, is it worth it. Two e-vouchers is nice and the SEN lounges are a distinct improvement on the FTL lounges, but with no additional miles accumulation - I do begin to wonder. However, FTL has been "enhanced" as well, no doubt as a consequence of the 30 segment rule and various contract lounges are now unavailable to FTL's. Other Star Gold schemes are possible, I am fairly sure that the Aegean bargain won't last the year out and am looking at a possible hidey-hole in Turkish Airlines Miles and Smiles. Actually, I'm looking at Turkish in for some long-haul trips due to their additional services from BHX, HKG looks very attractively timed and priced and the lounge at IST is a delight. I'll probably go for requalification with LH, I'm a sucker that way.

With hotels, it's well known that I'd defect in a heartbeat if there was anywhere to go to. Despite changes to Diamond which supposedly include "suites", I am still batting on 3 very ordinary upgrades out of 14 stays this year and have had to accept a downgrade on booked room once. However, it seems we have done a deal at work with Accor, I have been assured this doesn't mean Ibis, but it is still disturbing as the Accor programme is about the worst in the business. I suspect this means 2013 is burn-baby-burn time as I have nearly a million Hilton points to deal with. 

Anyway, I'm off to BCN at the bank holiday. I may or may not do a report depending on how I feel about it at the time.