Now that the new year has begun and our wallets are starting to recover from the onslaught of Christmas, I have decided to write an article about a question I get almost every day: Which free credit card is the best?
Now, obviously this question has a lot of answers and depends on your spending habits, airline choices and so on but in this article I will explore your options for credit cards in 2019.
What do I use?
Personally, I have used all of American Express’ airline credit/charge cards out there apart from the top-of-the-range platinum card. As a university student, my biggest spends go on accommodation payments for my student halls which can luckily be paid using American Express cards. This is perfect for me as I am able to sign up for credit cards based on the timings of these payments to ensure that I hit the sign up bonuses most semesters. In my first semester I used my favourite charge card going at the moment which is the AMEX Gold Card. The payment of £1,600 enabled me to be only £400 off the sign up bonus. After three weeks I hit this bonus and was rewarded with a total of 22,000 Membership Rewards points which I recently transferred into Avios (British Airways Miles).
For my second semester I will be using the British Airways Premium Plus credit card to pay my rent. This will leave me £1,400 off the sign up bonus but seeing as I recently spent £1,000 on British Airways (netting me 3x points) I am only £400 away from the sign up bonus where I will rack up 26,000 Avios points.
That’s enough of my story but hopefully it shows you how easy it is to acquire large amounts of frequent flyer miles in a short space of time.
My Picks for 2019:
Being British, a love a bargain but there is one thing we all love more than a bargain and that is a freebie. There are currently two cards on the market that cater to this market and those are as follows.
The number one selling point of this card is that it is free. Not only will it not hurt your bank account but as mentioned above it will net you a wonderful 21,000 point sign up bonus (22,000 if you use my special link). For the full review of this card including how it can get you lounge access, hotel upgrades and more click here.
The lesser of the two is also the more simple. Netting you only 5,000 avios (6,000 through my special link) it has the perk of being free forever unlike the gold card which will charge you £140 every year after your first year. This card has the simplicity of transferring your points to British Airways at the end of every month and is definitely a good start up card. What you could do is have the two running side-by-side to net yourself a 28,000 sign up bonus.
While I suggest those two cards if you want a free card, another recommendation of mine is the premium BA card. This card carries a charge of £190 a year but what people don’t realise is that if you cancel your card after receiving your sign-up bonus, money will be returned to you based on how long you had the card for. This card carries a lovely 25,000 (26,000 using my link) sign-up bonus which again is directly moved over to British Airways. For more details and how you can use this card to travel 2-4-1 on British Airways click here.
The choices may not be perfect but in the UK that is all we get. My top choice for anyone out there is the Gold Card. I think the perks of this card are fantastic and being free makes it even more appealing. Good luck with your miles and points in 2018.
Yesterday, I was lucky enough to visit Toulouse, home of Airbus, where I visitied the TAP Portugal A330neo. The product onboard is fantastic and in this short post I will show you around the aircraft. Below you can watch my video tour of the aircraft.
There is only one business class cabin onboard which is fitted in a 1-2-1 configuration.
The window seats have alternating setups with one closer to the window and one closer to the aisle.
If you enjoy looking out of the window I would always choose the seat closer to the window. The window seats are in the odd-numbered rows.
In the middle of the cabin the seats alternate between honeymoon seats which are close together and seats which are further apart and closer to the aisle.
The economy seats are configured in a 2-4-2 configuration.
I personally love 2-4-2 setups and these slimline Recaro seats made the aircraft look very spacious. In terms of comfort, I would always choose business class over this economy if I wanted a comfortable flight!
The 2 seats by the window look like this.
The four middle seats look like this.
Each seat is fitted with a personal IFE screen.
Towards the back of the aircraft, the setup becomes a 2-3-2 setup as the aircraft narrows.
This is only a brief tour of the aircraft and I hope to review it sometime in the future.
20.11.18 18:31: Update – Price for Bremen return updated to £10 return. This deal will expire at midnight tonight! Book Bremen here.
The shops have started selling advent calendars, the children are making Christmas present lists and the temperature has turned cold here in the UK. In the next few weeks I’ll be jetting off to a few countries and then settling down back home for a nice Christmas break.
Something I love to do at this time of year is visit the best Christmas markets in Europe in their birthplace – Germany. Whether its Berlin, Munich, Leipzig or Hannover, the German Christmas markets have something the English ones don’t have and can be a great place to shop around for presents or treat yourself to some delicious Thuringian Sausage.
Here at LondonSpotter, I have been looking out for the best deals to get to Germany and below you can see how you can visit the markets for as little as £10 RETURN.
Important – how to check price.
Now I highly doubt all of you will read this article as soon as it is published so it is important that you follow the below steps to check the price is still valid. You may even see a decrease in price from what I found.
Step 1: Click the link in the text for your preferred location.
Step 2: Click through to the travel agent or airline.
Step 3: Book your flight as usual through the airline or travel agent.
Market #1: Bremen !!! SUPER CHEAP £10 RETURN DEAL !!!
The Bremen Christmas Markets sit on a World Heritage site next to the river which creates a perfect spot to sit and watch the lights reflect in the water. Make sure you visit the market square for the main buzz and stalls.
The Leipzig markets are one of the biggest in Germany with over 300 stands and the tradition dates back 1458. This market also has a hidden secret that not many people know about. The song silent night was first sung here by two brothers who tried to sell gloves at the local market. When the plan ended in financial disaster they began to sing the song which is now sung all around the world at Christmas.
The Berlin Christmas markets are a little bit more expensive than the others but are my personal favourite in Germany. I visited the markets last year and made a day trip out of it. Alongside the markets, be sure to visit the Berlin wall, Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag Building.
I’ve never visited Innsbruck but the scenery is simply fantastic. Be sure to eat Kiachln (piping hot doughnuts laced with Sauerkaut). The market is well known for its exquisite handicrafts and ornaments so if you visit Innsbruck, be sure to take some euros to fund the Christmas presents.
Those are my picks for the best Christmas market deals this December so be sure to check out those fares as they may be coming down as time moves on from the publishing of this post. If you click through to the airline or travel agent from SkyScanner and notice that the price has decreased then drop me an email and I will update the information in this post!
The Concorde Room is notoriously hard to enter. Either rack up 5,000 tier points a year to receive a membership card to the room or spend £5,000 and fly first class out of London Heathrow and you will be able to enjoy the elite room of Terminal 5.
On a recent day-trip to Berlin, I was lucky enough to be accompanied by someone who had racked up enough tier points to have that card. Luckily for me, members can take in one guest with them so when Paul rocked up with me, not a single eyebrow was raised and we walked into T5 paradise. See my full video review below!
There is no other way to describe the CCR than luxurious. The moment you walk in, luggage is taken from you for storage, your coat is hung up and you are personally welcomed to your seat. Paul passes through the lounge so often that Mo (the lounge manager) knew him by name and had a lengthy chat with him as we walked to our seat.
Once seated, he brought us two glasses of cold Laurent Perrier Vintage champagne which retails at a whopping £110 a bottle. It was the perfect way to sit down at 8am.
The lounge isn’t huge by any stretch of the imagination but it also doesn’t need to be. There were probably 10 people inside when we got there but that number did increase over the three hours we were inside. Once you walk in past the storage area, there is a piano sitting there waiting to be played.
To the right of the piano is the large seating area which occupies most of the room. To one side of the seating area is the bar.
To the other side is the Concorde dining room.
The dining area has a handful of small booths where passengers can dine in ones or twos.
We opted to dine outside the dining area which the staff were completely ok about.
Outside the main room is the terrace. As Mo explained to me, the terrace is filled with ‘Moroccan style furniture’.
It was extremely colorful and the seats were as comfortable as inside.
Finally, in the corner of the lounge is a corridor which takes you to the cabanas and washrooms.
There are four cabanas. The cabanas are available for up to four hours and give passengers the opportunity to sit back and relax during their layover.
Each cabana is fit with a sofa/bed and TV
A table for eating on.
And a bathroom fit with a shower. There would be no need to leave the cabana as each one has a button for calling a member of staff.
In terms of food options, the meals are fantastic. Seeing as we were there so early, it was the breakfast menu we could use. You are given two breakfast menus, one for the lounge and one for the dining area.
The lounge menu included croissants, cereal and yogurts while the dining menu had hot food options such as a full English which I tried.
The English was good but wasn’t served with toast which I’m sure I could have requested. During breakfast, the staff made sure to keep refilling our glasses so that we never ran out.
After seeing me filming the menus, a member of staff asked if I would like to see the lunch menu too. When I agreed he came back with every single menu they had and talked us through each one. What it showed was that you’d struggle to go hungry in a lounge like this.
The Concorde staff were really what made the lounge stand out to me. They were welcoming and friendly throughout and knew the regulars by name. This really helped to show me how exclusive this lounge is. Once we had finished eating, snacks were brought to us which tasted fantastic. My personal favourite was the stuffed red peppers.
Once we were ready to leave, Paul asked the staff for two of his favourite drink. I had no idea what was coming but suddenly two Espresso Martini’s arrived and I was over the moon! The drink is amazingly presented and tasted just how it should.
After knocking back the Martini we were ready to go and left the lounge feeling slightly less sober than when we had entered it.
The Concorde room is exclusive and very hard to access. It is probably the most luxurious lounge I have ever been to even though the food and drink were no better than some business class lounges (ie: the Clubhouse). The staff were the best I have ever seen and I can’t wait to come back here in the future.
After flying on Virgin Atlantic’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner in Upper Class only five days earlier, I was very excited to fly home from New York on the Airbus A340 and see just how they compared. Alongside this written review, I also uploaded a video review to my YouTube which you can watch below this paragraph.
Booking This Flight
If you want to fly Virgin Atlantic Upper Class then what are your options? Revenue fares can be quite high, especially at peak times of the year, so I advise to use miles and points. If travelling at peak times, Virgin will charge you £371 and 57,500 miles to book this flight. At off peak times, you can get it for as low as 47,500 miles and £371. However, those fuel surcharges are still very high.
The flight is also bookable through Delta SkyMiles who are an American Express partner with a 1:1 transfer ratio which can help to reduce the surcharge.
If you have read my previous reviews extensively, you’ll know that sleeping before morning flights has never suited me all that well. After returning from watching the New York Yankees at midnight, I wasn’t too keen on going to bed for a few short hours before making my way to JFK so instead, I packed, showered shaved and did some work and before I knew it, it was 3am and I decided to head to the airport to see what was going on at this ungodly hour.
I arrived at around 4am to find it dead. There were people already in the Virgin Atlantic queue who had been there all night having missed their flight the night before and I listened as they told me how cold the airport had been all night… I wasn’t jealous at all.
To my annoyance, I realised that check-in didn’t open until 5am so I found a coffee shop and joined the other half asleep passengers while sipping a terrible flat white.
At 5am, check-in opened and I made my way to the Upper Class line which was empty. I ventured through Fast Track security and by 5.10am I was in the quietest airport departures hall I have ever seen. There were barely any passengers around and those that were there looked half dead from lack of sleep.
The signposting at JFK’s terminal 4 was noticeably poor and after walking around the terminal for a good 10 minutes, I finally found the sign for airline lounges. The lounge at JFK is actually really nice and I arrived to find that I was the first customer of the day! You can read my review of the JFK clubhouse here.
With boarding already in full swing, I headed down to the gate which is around about a 10 minute walk from the lounge. The queue was very large which was surprising as the lounge had still been pretty full when I left it, this shows why Virgin use the A340 on this route which has two Upper Class (business class) cabins instead of just the one on the B787.
As I explained thoroughly in my 787 review, the seating configuration is very different from many of the newer business class products on the market today. The seats are set up in a 1-1-1 configuration with each of the seats facing inwards. I found the cabin nice but at times a little claustrophobic. For a more in-depth review of the cabin, see my 787 review.
What makes the A340 different from the 787 is that the cabin is noticeably outdated. While the seats could be said to be comfier, the technology is outdated to say the least. The screen is not touch-screen but controlled by an annoying, hard to use control that lives under the screen. This was a major downside and it became so fiddly and hard to use that I simply stuck the screen on map and left it for the whole flight.
Another annoyance is that the headphones are double pinned. This means that you can’t use your own without an adapter. This isn’t too much of a problem as the headphones given are noise cancelling and work perfectly well.
The last thing that made this aircraft noticeably old was the lack of power ports. To charge your laptop, you had to ask the crew for an adaptor which went into a plug socket (not a normal plug) under the remote control. Unfortunately, this adaptor was only for a US plug. This meant I couldn’t charge any electronics on the flight.
As soon as I got to my seat I was offered a welcome drink. Breaking with tradition and because I was so tired, I went for an orange juice and a cup of tea and before I knew it I had fallen asleep to be woken by the crew for my first meal service.
Around an hour after takeoff, the crew brought round a bacon baguette and offer of a second drink. The baguette was nothing special but a nice breakfast dish for those who hadn’t visited the lounge beforehand for breakfast.
After eating this, I got changed into my pyjamas and and fell back to sleep for another three hours before being woken again for my main meal service. Being woken up isn’t normally what happens on flights but seeing as I was reviewing this flight, I made sure the crew woke me up for every service.
The second meal service exceeded my expectations and started with a lovely salmon poke. To see the full review, see below.
The dish was served with tortilla style crisps and avocado and was an excellent dish to start with. I somehow failed to take a picture of this dish so check the video out to see it.
For my main course i opted for the ‘charred steak’. The dish was served with vegetables and was cooked very nicely.
I decided to skip dessert as I was ready to burst. To finish the meal I went for a cup of tea and headed back into the lie flat position for a couple of hours.
Upper Class passengers are given amenity kits by Herschel. Herschel are an awesome brand that Virgin have teamed up with and the amenity kits definitely didn’t disappoint. See the full contents below.
We came into land on time and I changed out of my comfortable pyjamas just in time before the cabin was set up for landing.
Overall, I had a great flight with Virgin once again but couldn’t help feeling that the aircraft was highly outdated. The technology onboard is simply embarrassing compared to that on the B787 and the bar is nowhere near as nice. I love Virgin Atlantic but if you are trying to fly this product, avoid the Airbus A340-600.
Virgin Atlantic is known for its super stylish lounge product at London Heathrow. I reviewed this lounge early last summer and found it simply amazing. You can read all about it here.
Having spent a week in New York, it was time to fly home and as an Upper Class passenger, I was allowed access to the clubhouse at New York JFK. I have made a video review of this lounge which you can see below.
I arrived at JFK bright and early with the hope of properly checking out the lounge before my flight to LHR but found that security didn’t open until 5am so had to kill around 30 minutes in the departures hall before heading through.
At 5am, I checked in my bag and headed through security before hunting for a sign for airline lounges. It wasn’t for 10 minutes that I found signs to the lounges and found that I had walked in the completely wrong direction.
I eventually made it to the lounge and was greeted by a very friendly woman on the door who apologised for the closure of the spa. She said that as this was the only morning flight out of JFK, the lounge was only running at half capacity and then would close again once we departed.
I entered the lounge to find that I was the first passenger inside which was an awesome feeling.
The lounge is set up in a really nice way. It has a central bar area which acts as a division between the restaurant/sit down area and the more social, relaxed area.
As soon as you walk in you can see the pool table that is also in the Virgin Atlantic lounge at LHR. I love a game of pool and thus far haven’t played with anyone inside a lounge so I look forward to ticking that off my list shortly!
The middle area is filled with comfy seating, each seat has a table with a menu on it. The menu being displayed was the breakfast menu which I sat down with to have a read.
I chose the eggs royale from the menu and as I was still the only person in the lounge, it came within minutes along with my orange juice and latte.
I re-positioned from the middle area to a more relaxed area in front of the window. From my position I could see the ATC tower, an El Al B747-400 and it allowed lots of natural light in.
Just around the corner from my new position was some more funky seating and two Apple computers for those who needed to work.
Toward the back of the lounge are the toilets and showers. The little bathrooms are fantastic if you want to shower and come equipped with all the amenities you would need. I didn’t shower this time around but I’m sure I will next time I visit.
The food and drink in the lounge were spectacular. My eggs royale was made to perfection as was my latte. Seeing as it was so early in the morning, I opted to stay away from the alcohol and instead buckled down to do some work on my laptop.
The staff came around to clear my plate and mug and often asked if I wanted refills of any drink or more food.
The lounge at JFK may not be quite as good as the one at LHR and I definitely didn’t visit when it was operating at full capacity but it has the same stylish vibe as the LHR clubhouse. The food and drink were excellent and the staff were polite and friendly.
I would love to see what the lounge is like in the evening and next time I fly Virgin Atlantic out of JFK, I will be sure to take the night flight to see just that.
I love the A380. It is as simple as that. So when I saw that China Southern operated the Airbus A380 between the two Chinese cities of Beijing and Guangzhou, i decided to jump on the opportunity immediately. Below is my video review on YouTube which you can watch instead of reading the review.
Having flown the Airbus A380 with Qatar Airways and Emirates before, I was eager to see what China Southern had done with the aircraft and how it compared to the 5* offerings onboard the Middle Eastern carriers. I was also keen to see how it compared to Qantas and Etihad who have been reviewed on LondonSpotter by an ex-contributor, James, and as a guest review respectively.
Seeing as China Southern are based in Guangzhou, I decided to use this trip as a way of getting to Vietnam, my next stop on my Asia trip. I booked Beijing – Guangzhou – Hanoi as well as Guangzhou – Shanghai all in one booking for a total cost of £330 in economy.
This is a pretty good price for the three flights and I was lucky to find it. My go-to website for cheaper airfares is SkyScanner – have a go yourself and see just how low you can get the fares of your next trip. Remember to click all the way through to the booking agent as prices often go down from what is advertised on SkyScanner’s site.
I arrived at Beijing Capital Airport with around 2 hours until takeoff and was pleasantly surprised at the small queues and relative ease of getting through the airport. I checked my bag all the way through to Hanoi and walked through security which was right next to the bag drop desks.
To my annoyance, I had packed my bags in a bit of a hurry that morning and put my toiletries in my carry-on case. This resulted in me losing my shampoo and other bottles over 100ml – stupid mistake.
The gate was a two minute walk from the security exit and as soon as I was through, I noticed the huge A380 being loaded up at the gate.
The gate was directly infront of the China Southern lounge so business class passengers could simply walk from the lounge onto the aircraft in a matter of minutes.
People were seated but seeing as i wanted to get on the aircraft early, I started the queue for economy passengers. As is normal on Chinese flights, as soon as one person queued, everyone followed the herd and suddenly I was at the front of a 100 strong line!
Boarding began on-time and I boarded the aircraft as the first economy passenger.
I arrived at what I thought was my seat and sat down until a passenger came and showed me his boarding pass and it turned out I was sitting in 53A when in fact my seat was 53K. I politely moved to the other side of the aircraft.
As I was sitting in 53A, I noticed something very surprising. In the seat pocket was a safety card for a Boeing 787-9 aircraft. The A380 bares absolutely NO resemblance to a 787 so this posed a serious safety threat if the aircraft were to be evacuated in an emergency.
China Southern’s A380 is set up in a three-cabin configuration with economy taking up the majority of the bottom deck and backward eight rows of the upper deck. The lower deck is configured in a 3-4-3 setup which is an immediate setback from their A330 product which sits in a 2-4-2 configuration.
The upper deck, however, sports the 2-4-2 setup so if you get an opportunity to sit there, take it. The A380 can seat 428 passengers and by walking through the cabin I could estimate that it was around 75-80% full.
The seat is relatively large and comfortable although my legs were pushed up against the seat infront of me for the majority of the flight which was very uncomfortable.
The seats pitch is 32″ and the width is 17.2″. This compares to airlines like Qatar Airways who offer 18.5″ of width in economy – a much comfier option.
Boarding was completed about 25 minutes before departure and the jetbridge was removed from the aircraft giving me the impression that we were heading for an on-time departure.
How wrong I was…
After around 30 minutes of sitting on the ground, the cabin manager came over the loudspeaker to announce that we were delayed because of ATC restrictions but gave no time estimation on how long we would be stranded for. As this was only 30 minutes, I wasn’t massively fussed.
After about 40 minutes on the ground, the crew came around with the drinks trolley and began to serve drinks. I went for coffee which came in a plastic cup but tasted pretty good.
After this drinks service I pulled out my laptop to crack on with some work when I noticed the next serious failure of this aircraft. Above my head, towels had been stuffed into the ceiling to stop a leaking air-conditioner. While the towels were doing an ok job, drips were still coming through and the seat next to me began getting pretty damp – maybe this explains why it was empty.
I considered telling the cabin crew but I thought they had enough to worry about with the delays so put my headphones on and continued to work.
After around 2 hours on the ground, the crew emerged once again from hiding with breakfast. The option was chicken or pork and I went for the chicken.
The meal came with a side salad or celery, vanilla yogurt, a bread roll and some pickled vegetable in a packet.
The meal was piping hot when I opened it up but to my surprise the chicken dish was packed with celery… I’m not a huge fan of celery so the dish really wasn’t that pleasant for me. The yogurt and bread roll, however, were fine. Although I didn’t like it all that much, it was nice to have a hot meal unlike on Vietnam Airlines.
Our meals were cleared away and around 10 minutes later, we were on the move and finally ready to depart for Guangzhou.
We taxied out and departed out of Beijing for the 2 hour 40 minute flight south.
Having already eaten on the ground, I wasn’t expecting too much from this flight and in fact all we had in the way of service was another drinks service.
Each seat on the A380 is fitted with a personal monitor and remote control. There are also headphones waiting in the seat pocket. While the headphones are better than those given on China Southern’s A330, they were still poor quality and only worked when half way in and halfway out of the plug. This meant that I couldn’t watch the IFE and to be honest, after looking at the film options, I wasn’t fussed. I took my own headphones out and listened to music for the rest of the flight.
Something I found very annoying was the lack of power on this aircraft. I had heard that the A380s had power ports but I couldn’t find a USB or AC port at all.
Lastly, I found the crew on this flight to be very unwelcoming and borderline rude. Apart from one lovely crew member who served the food and drink, I found the others to be quite stand-offish. For the majority of the flight they all stood in the galley chatting with each other as the services had already been carried out on the ground.
We came into land in Guangzhou 2 hours late and the aircraft was empty soon after as everyone finally remembered how it felt to stretch their legs!
While I totally understand that China Southern had nothing to do with the delays, I think the way in which it was handled wasn’t great. We were given very little information and the crew seemed rude throughout the flight. The food may have been nice if you LOVE celery but to me it wasn’t very nice at all.
Having a leaking air conditioning system above a seat is VERY BAD. During the flight I had bits of ice falling down on me from above which was definitely not included in my ticket.
Finally, having a 787 safety card in the seat pocket posed a serious security threat and should not be tolerated on any airline.
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I have reviewed this flight both in writing and video format! Be sure to see my video review below.
Vietnam Airlines fly more than five times a day between the two major Vietnamese cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (yes, I refer to it as Saigon too!). They are in direct competition with Vietnamese budget carrier VietJet who operate a fleet of modern A321neo aircraft. I originally booked a ticket with VietJet for August 5th, but once I got to Hanoi I decided I really wanted to stay an extra night so I phoned up VietJet and they said I would have to cancel and rebook if I wanted to change my date of travel.
Not wanting to book another full revenue ticket, I looked into other options. I could see that Vietnam Airlines operated the route with widebody aircraft such as the B787, A350 and A330 so checked out prices. Being so late in advance, however, I decided to skip this option due to it being too expensive. Just as I was about to give up, I remembered that Vietnam Airlines are, of course, partners with Air France! I fired up my Flying Blue account and searched for availability and right there was a stack of award flights for 11,500 Flying Blue miles and £8.
I originally wanted to book the flight in business class but Air France had no availability so seeing as I didn’t would have had to cancel and rebook on VietJet anyway, I decided to choose Vietnam’s A350.
I arrived at Hanoi International Airport two days after arriving on my China Southern flight. The Vietnam Airlines’ domestic departures level at Hanoi is relatively small but was split between destinations instead of just having one big set of queues for everyone. Seeing as their were so many flights to Ho Chi Minh that day, I ended up in a long queue and after 20 minutes of waiting, I was finally able to check-in and drop my bag.
I asked the woman at check in for a window seat which she was happy to give but the only seat she said was available was 36A. I checked the seat map online and saw that the aircraft had a premium economy cabin. Knowing that no premium economy product was sold on this route, I asked if I could sit there but I was told that the cabin was reserved for SkyTeam elites.
A little disappointed that I was SO far back, I headed through security to find that FlightRadar24 was showing my flight as a B787 instead of an A350 – another setback. I had already missed Cathay Pacific’s A350-1000 product on my flight to Taipei because of an aircraft change to a Cathay Dragon A330 so was eager to make this one.
After walking around the small domestic area after security I ended up taking a seat and booking some more award flights!
Boarding started on time and still not knowing which aircraft I was on, I headed down to gate 10 where we boarded a bus which took us to the international stands to board our aircraft.
By the name of this review I’m sure you have guessed what’s coming next: I stepped out of the bus to see the stunning Airbus A350 boarding for my flight to Saigon.
I walked around the aircraft for a while seeing as I would have had to wait on the stairs anyway. It was fun being able to freely take pictures of the aircraft from the tarmac!
I boarded as one of the last passengers through the front door and walked all the way through the aircraft to find my seat.
Unfortunately, the aviation gods dealt me a bad hand and the seats 36 B and C were both nabbed. We pushed back soon after I got onboard and took off straight away to an amazing rainbow which appeared soon after we hit the skies.
Vietnam Airlines’ A350 economy class is set up in a 3-3-3 configuration.
Economy class is set up in two cabins from rows 16-43.
Each seat offers 32 inches of pitch and 18 inches of width.
The aircraft feels super modern and you can definitely tell the plane is new. Each seat is equipped with a personal IFE screen which was overwhelmingly large.
Below the screen is a USB plug which was great as I love to see USB plugs on long-haul aircraft.
The IFE system has a selection of films, TV shows, games, maps and music. I wasn’t able to try any of the video or audio out because headphones aren’t given out on this short flight.
I ended up put the map on the screen and watched as we made our way to Saigon.
Around 30 minutes after departure, the cabin crew made their way through the cabin offering out breakfast. I was expecting a hot breakfast option but the crew simply gave out boxes of crackers.
The drinks trolley followed and I asked for a coffee which they said they didn’t have. I then asked for some orange juice and was told that all they had was coke and water. This was a weird choice seeing as it was very early in the morning and I ended the breakfast still feeling very hungry.
For the rest of the flight I sat back and watched the views as we approached Saigon. The approach is simply stunning as you go over an enormous area of densely packed housing! You can watch the whole takeoff and landing below.
We landed in Saigon on-time and taxied to stand to complete my first flight with Vietnam Airlines.
Overall, I thought the flight’s service offering was poor. For such a busy route, I would have hoped Vietnam Airlines could offer more in the way of food and drink. In terms of the aircraft, I was super impressed. The A350 is super modern and the cabin is more spacious than on other Asian carriers. I hope to try out the business class product next!
Card: British Airways American Express Credit Card
Sign-up Bonus: 5,000 Avios (+1,000 bonus Avios if you apply using our link)
Favourite Perk: It’s free
The American Express British Airways Credit Card is one of AMEX’s lower end cards and sister of the Premium Plus card. The card’s main selling point is that it is completely free so even if you’re undecided if it is worth signing up, you should just do it.
Seeing as the card is free, the perks are limited in comparison to its older sister which offers a 25,000 Avios sign-on bonus and a 2-4-1 voucher. It is important to note that this card also gives users the ability to earn a 2-4-1 ‘companion voucher’ but only after £20,000 of spend… If somebody spends that much in a year, why the heck do they have this card and not the Premium Plus?
With that said, this card is definitely not a bad one. The 6,000 Avios sign on bonus comes after only spending £1,000 in the first three months of membership and you earn 1 Avios point for every £1 spent. That means after spending £1,000 you will have accumulated 7,000 Avios points which is 1,500 points short of a return to Europe and more than enough for a one-way flight.
From this article, I think you’ll see that while this card is no way near as good as its sister card it seems that because it is free, it is definitely worth applying for to start earning those Avios points.
The only thing to hold back on and consider is timing. I will go into this more in an upcoming article where I compare these cards but in my opinion, this card should be applied for after the Premium Plus card.
The £195 fee is actually refunded on a pro-rata basis which means that if you only use the card for three months, get your sign-on bonus of 26,000 points then call them up and downgrade to the basic ‘blue’ card, you will be refunded £146. You won’t be entitled to a sign up bonus for the blue card but you will have 26,000 Avios in your account which will get you a lot further than 7,000 off this card.
Card: American Express British Airways Premium Plus
Cost: £195 per year (worth it, I would argue)
Sign-up Bonus: 25,000 Avios (bonus 1,000 if you use our link)
Favourite Perk: A 2-4-1 voucher on British Airways flights
The British Airways Premium Plus card is an American Express credit card aimed at higher-end spenders who fly British Airways. The card has a hefty annual fee of £195 which its sister card (the British Airways American Express Credit Card) does not have. In this article I will review the card and say exactly why I believe this card is worth that money.
Applying for this card is just like any other American Express card – very simple. It isn’t in the same category of cards as the ‘Membership Rewards’ cards which means you can have this card and receive the large sign-on bonus as well as holding my favourite AMEX card, the American Express Gold Credit Card, and receiving the sign-on bonus for that, too. The sign on bonus for this card is set at 25,000 Avios if you spend £3,000 in the first three months (see what I mean about high-end spenders). For those that fly a lot of British Airways, this target will probably be met.
That brings me on to another aspect I love which is that if you spend that money on BA.com, you’ll receive 3 Avios for every £1 spent instead of the usual 1.5 Avios (still very good). This means that you could rack up 35,000 Avios (9,000 + 26,000) just by booking one family trip! Be sure to check out the ‘LondonSpotter Tip’ below to see how you can get this and save £146 too!
The main thing that makes this card worth the £195, however, is the ability to earn a 2-4-1 ‘companion voucher’ to use on British Airways flights. The companion voucher is added to your BA account when you spend £10,000 in your first year of card membership. The voucher essentially lets you purchase one reward flight and receive a ticket in the same cabin for someone else. If you want to learn more about BA reward flights, click here for my recent guide.
As with all AMEX cards, a nice and easy way to generate points is by referring friends and family. That’s right, I taught my family all about using miles and points and they now have more credit cards than they ever have done before! In fact, my parents are going on a huge trip this September all thanks to these amazing miles credit cards.
So, what do I think? Personally I think the £195 is justified. If you generate enough Avios you could jet off in First Class and take someone with you for free. Alone, that is worth at least a couple of thousand pounds. If you can’t see yourself being that big of a spender then have a look at the free BA AMEX card (full review coming soon) and go for that one instead. Just remember that if you choose the free card then want to upgrade to the premium card, you will not be eligible for the sign-on bonus.
Ready to sign up for this card? I suggest checking out ALL of the benefits here on American Express’s website before making your final decision. Be aware that if you sign up through links on LondonSpotter, you will earn a bonus 1,000 Avios welcome bonus.
To sign up and take full advantage of my bonus 1,000 Avios offer, click here
Something to consider is that the £195 is actually refunded on a pro-rata basis if you cancel before the year is up. This means that you can sign up for three months, get your huge sign on bonus, call up AMEX and downgrade to the blue card. They’ll refund you £146 and you’ll have 27,000 Avios to play with. This is definitely what you should do if you think you won’t spend enough to get the companion voucher.