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A warning for British Airways Gold Guest List / GUF / GUF2 holders

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If you a high level member of the Executive Club you may, depending on your tier points, receive a ‘Gold Upgrade’ or ‘Gold Upgrade for Two’ voucher, generally known as a GUF1 / GUF2.  This lets you upgrade a cash or Avios British Airways ticket by one class.

Most GUF holders think that you need Avios availability in the higher class to use the voucher.  This is NOT true if you are upgrading a cash ticket.

What IS true is that, if you try to use your GUF on a cash ticket via ba.com, there MUST be Avios availability in the higher class.  However if you book via a travel agent then this is NOT the case.   Your GUF upgrade can be processed as long as CASH tickets are still available in the higher class in the cheaper ticket buckets.

You can find out more on this travel agent website here which is one of the few agencies who actually know how to process a GUF.

If you want to upgrade a cash-bought Club World ticket to First Class, you need an ‘A’ class ticket available in First.  These are the cheap(er) non-refundable ones.

Now we get to the point …..

Can I get into a British Airways lounge with a Gold card?

From 10th December, British Airways is withdrawing ‘A’ class availability on Dubai and Boston.  Only ‘F’ bucket First Class seats will be sold on those routes.  This is part of “a trial of new inventory buckets” – you can read more about it here.

It is likely that a travel agent will NOT be able to book a GUF into a cash bucket for Boston or Dubai after close of play on December 9th.  If you had been planning to use your GUF to travel in First on either of these routes you may want to move quickly.  Abu Dhabi remains a nearby alternative for Dubai of course.

This will also impact the ‘joker’ reward space opened up for Gold Guest List members since that also requires First Class to be showing ‘A’ bucket availability.

New Airline Timetables 

It is the season of change due to the daylight savings adjustments in many countries. 
Examples 
From Australian Frequent Flyer 

“Cathay Pacific ends Cairns-Hong Kong service

After 25 years serving far-north Queensland, Cathay Pacific will withdraw from Cairns this weekend. There had been rumours of Air Niugini potentially coming in to fill the gap with non-stop Cairns-Hong Kong flights, but this does not appear to be happening after all.

LATAM Airlines commences non-stop Sydney-Santiago flights

LATAM Airlines currently flies daily from Sydney to Santiago via Auckland. From this weekend, LATAM will fly non-stop from Sydney to Santiago on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays – complementing the non-stop Qantas flights running on the other four days per week. LATAM’s Sydney-Santiago service will continue to operate to the current schedule via Auckland four days per week.

United adds Melbourne-San Francisco service

United Airlines will launch its fifth route to Australiawith the beginning of direct Melbourne-San Francisco services using Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners.

United will also reverse its frequency reductions on the Sydney-Los Angeles and Sydney-Houston routes that were made during the northern summer season. The Star Alliance carrier will restore daily service on both routes from next week.

Singapore Airlines upgrades Singapore-Melbourne-Wellington route

Singapore Airlines will next week upgrade the aircraft used on its Singapore-Melbourne-Wellington service from a Boeing 777-200 to an Airbus A350-900 with Business, Premium Economy and Economy class seating. This is an upgrade for Business passengers who now enjoy fully lie-flat beds. Premium Economy seating is also a new addition to the route.

The flight currently runs 4 times per week, but will be upgraded to 5x weekly from January 2020.

Thai Airways increases Melbourne-Bangkok frequency

Thai Airways is increasing the number of flights between Melbourne and Bangkok from 11 to 14 per week from 27 October 2019. TG461/462 (the day flight from Bangkok to Melbourne, and the overnight service back to Thailand) currently runs only four times per week but will be upgraded to daily. This allows for easy connections to and from Europe in both directions.

All Thai Airways flights to Melbourne will be on modern Airbus A350s. (Sorry Sydney, you’re still stuck with the old Thai Airways Boeing 747 only once per day.)

Many airlines are moving flights to Beijing Daxing Airport (PKX)

Following the opening of the huge new Beijing Daxing Airport (PKX), more airlines are moving services to there from the existing Beijing Capital Airport (PEK) from this weekend. Many Chinese carriers are moving domestic services there. British Airways, LOT Polish Airlines, Finnair and Royal Brunei are also commencing services to the new airport.

Changes to various fifth-freedom routes

There are also several changes to fifth freedom routes from this weekend. These include:

  • Czech Airlines commencing Copenhagen-Reykjavik flights
  • Gulf Air commencing Colombo-Male flights
  • Lufthansa ending Baku-Ashgabat flights
  • Sri Lankan Airlines ending Tokyo-Male flights”

 

Air New Zealand launching non-stop Newark to Auckland 

From Condé Nast Traveler 
Accessed 27/10/19
From Condé Nast Traveler 

Delta offers perks for $59 annually - think early boarding etc.

 
Don’t have airline elite status? Delta's latest product offering, Delta SkyMiles Select, aims to make frequent-flier perks available to those who haven't racked up the miles. The annual subscription membership costs $59 per year and offers a couple of benefits that Delta says are worth $100 in value.

Unlike full elite status, which comes with the potential for seat upgrades, bonus miles on flights, and checked bag fee waivers, SkyMiles Select allows travelers to buy a few elite status perks without doing all that flying. The most useful perk: Main Cabin 1 boarding. This is the first boarding group for Delta's economy cabin, but comes after several groups of elite fliers, top Delta co-branded credit card holders, and premium cabin passengers have boarded (so, it's more like the fourth boarding group in most cases). The true benefit of boarding early? A better shot at finding overhead bin space for carry-on luggage.

SkyMiles Select also comes with eight free drink coupons that are valid for a glass of wine, beer, or a cocktail. Delta charges as much as $9 for alcoholic drinks on most flights, so this perk could be valued around $72. Depending upon how often you fly and the types of tickets you buy (hint: basic economy fliers stand to score big here), this could be a good deal. Here’s who should consider purchasing SkyMiles Select membership.

Accessed 24/10/19

Great price out of Italy to Asia on Swiss and LufthansaFirst Class and Business Class from €1,126! Point of origin need not be restricted to major Italian airports like Milan or Rome. Round trip need not begin and end in the same airport. 

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Sent 18/10/19

Mileage Plus: United Airlines revamps programme:

New United Mileage Plus qualifying rules, removing PQD waivers for not U.S.-residents and - again - increases the Qualification thresholds for Premier Tiers.  Partner Airlines can ears PQDs under the new system, but a split into two groups. 
See 
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From Australian Frequent Flyer

Traveler successful in  “Hidden-city”’lawsuit against Lufthansa 

This might not apply to other jurisdictions 

“Earlier this year, Lufthansa attempted to sue a passenger that exploited hidden-city ticketing. After they skipped the last flight on their ticket, the German airline demanded this customer pay the substantial difference in ticket price.

The court case generated a lot of public interest and was seen as a “test” to see if the courts would set a precedent that favoured the airline or passengers. Well, we now know the answer to this.

After taking the case all the way to the Berlin District Court, Lufthansa was forced to withdraw after realising its conditions of carriage were “incompatible with German law”. Dr Matthias Böse, the lawyer defending the passenger, is quoted in Germany’s Bild newspaper saying that the withdrawal of the appeal provides “legal certainty for passengers” that they won’t need to go to court.

The sued passenger had flown from Oslo to Seattle via Frankfurt in Business Class in 2016, taking advantage of a Lufthansa sale fare offered out of Norway. They flew from Oslo to Seattle as ticketed, but on the way home ended their journey in Frankfurt. Instead of flying back to Oslo, this passenger flew from Frankfurt back to their home in Berlin on another ticket. This passenger originally paid 6224 Norwegian krone ($1,011) for their ticket, but after they skipped the last flight, Lufthansa recalculated the fare and sent them a bill for an extra €2,112 ($3,436)....”

Ref. 
Accessed 11 October 2019
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Travelers, including those from the USA, Canada and the UK need a e-Visa to enter New Zealand 

See your local NZ consular website. 

A Culture of Fear at Cathay Pacific 

JEFF EDWARDS

Cathay Pacific employees describe an increasingly mistrustful, suspicious and fraught work environment following pressure from Chinese regulators, a string of employee firings and the abrupt resignation of top airline executives. Some claim that merely voicing support for the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong has cost co-workers their livelihoods. 

As anti-government protests enter a ninth consecutive month, Hong Kong International Airport (HKG)-based Cathay Pacific Airlines has increasingly been drawn into the fray. Now, the airline’s employees are going public with firsthand accounts of a workplace that has become rife with suspicion, mistrust and seething hostility. Some crew members and airport workers say that both pro-democracy advocates and government officials have sought to enlist the Hong Kong flag carrier as a pawn in the sometimes violent political dispute.

Pro-democracy advocates have forced Cathay into the spotlight by encouraging the airline’s workforce to honor a number of general strikes called in response to moves by officials seen as infringing on the Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China’s autonomy. Meanwhile, protesters have repeatedly targeted the airport and transportation links to HKG as a means of focusing international attention on their plight.

After the airport was ordered closed for nearly two full days in August due to large crowds of protesters, HKG officials ran full-page ads begging demonstrators not to obstruct airport operations. Protesters created havoc with ground transportation to and from the facility despite the pleas.

“Spare our passengers further disruption,” one print ad read. “We again strongly urge protesters not to disrupt the journey of tens of thousands of travelers who use our airport every day.”

Earlier this summer, the Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC) reportedly told Cathay management that crew members alleged to have participated in the “illegal protests” would not be permitted to enter mainland China even while on duty. A number of the airline’s most senior executives, including CEO Rupert Hogg, are said to have resigned rather than supply Chinese officials with the names of employees believed to have participated in anti-government demonstrations.

Faced with pushback from government regulators, including stepped-up safety inspections and increased scrutiny of crew members upon entry to China, the new management team at Cathay soon took a decidedly harder line. Following a string of high profile firings of employees who had allegedly been outspoken in support for the demonstrators (including at least one Cathay Dragon cabin crew member who was reportedly terminated for “liking” a pro-democracy post on social media), executives served notice seeming to indicate in internal communications that merely voicing support for protesters could be grounds for termination. Further policy updates made clear that Cathay employees are expected to report coworkers suspected of supporting the protest movement.

“Some cabin crew support the government, and have given fellow workers’ names to the company who have talked about supporting the protests and thence been terminated,” an unnamed Cathay captain told CNN this week.  “The company has actively asked for whistleblowers to come forward, creating a divide amongst fellow employees. Everyone has deleted chat groups and social media (profiles) that have any mention of the protests. The cabin crew don’t even want to talk about the protests in the open, let alone admit they attend protests.”

To make matters worse for rank-and-file workers, the economic impact of the continuing unrest in the region has forced Cathay to tighten its belt at a time when job security is already tenuous. Following a report that tourism to Hong Kong has dropped by nearly 40 percent, airline officials announced the carrier had eliminated flights and introduced a hiring freeze as of September.

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Adria Airways (Slovenia) bankruptcy 

Slovenia’s national airline Adria Airways has cancelled all flights and filed for bankruptcy. The airline’s owner, 4K Invest, declared the airline insolvent late on Monday, following 400 cancelled flights over the past week.

 

From the points guy UK

LATAM Plans to Leave OneWorld 

LATAM Airlines will exit Oneworld, leaving the alliance with no member airlines in South America. Instead, LATAM will create a new strategic partnership with Delta Air Lines in the USA.

After exiting Oneworld, LATAM Airlines intends to remain unaligned to any of the three global airline alliances – Oneworld, Star Alliance and SkyTeam. But LATAM, which is the largest airline in South America, will keep most of its existing bilateral partnerships including its codeshare agreement with Qantas.

While the new partnership will be great news for Delta customers, and for regular travellers between North and South America, LATAM’s exit from the Oneworld alliance is largely bad news for Australians and leaves Oneworld with a gaping hole in South America that it will struggle to fill.

Delta to purchase 20% stake in LATAM Airlines

Delta Air Lines has announced its intention to purchase a 20% stake in LATAM, worth US$1.9 billion and securing Delta a board position at LATAM Airlines. This is in addition to a US$350 million investment, part of which will cover LATAM’s costs of exiting the Oneworld alliance. Delta will also purchase 14 Airbus A350 aircraft from LATAM Airlines.

Qatar Airways, which has a public, bitter and ongoing rivalry with Delta, owns 10% of LATAM Airlines and also holds a seat on the LATAM board. Apparently, Qatar Airways was not consulted about Delta’s decision.

Delta and LATAM Airlines could begin codesharing on some routes by the end of this year, but will need to wait for full regulatory approval before it can commence a joint venture. This process could take 1-2 years. In the meantime, Delta will end its partnership with Brazil’s GOL Airlines. And LATAM Airlines will end its partnership with Oneworld’s American Airlines.

LATAM had previously pursued a joint venture with American Airlines, but this was rejected by Chilean authorities. Delta and LATAM do not foresee regulatory issues this time around as the airlines’ route networks are complementary with almost no overlap.

From Australian Frequent Flyer 

30/9/19