Vienna Trip – Edinburgh Airport & Aspire Lounge

Introduction

Edinburgh Airport & Aspire Lounge

Lufthansa Economy Edinburgh to Frankfurt

Austrian Airways Economy Frankfurt to Vienna

Hotel Bristol (Vienna)

Lufthansa Economy Vienna to Frankfurt

Lufthansa Economy Frankfurt to Edinburgh

Edinburgh Airport & Aspire Lounge

Parking

I used Secure Airparks to park my car, which is so close to the airport that you can see the plane taxiing from where you park your car. It is then a short bus ride to the terminal, all at the fraction of the price of parking at an airport run car park.

2014-04-18 11.26.14

Secure Airparks Car Park & BA Plane Taxiing

 

The Terminal

Edinburgh airport is no longer run than BAA (the main company that runs airports in the UK) and I believe the new owners do not own or operate any other UK airports so that means they can concentrate on improving Edinburgh.

2014-04-18 13.18.57

Edinburgh Airport with the distinctive control tower as the logo

Check-In & Security

No pictures for check-In or Security I am afraid, however as I checked in 2 hours before the flight was due to depart, there were no queues for the Economy bag drop (I had checked in) online.

The line for security was short and I was through in minutes.

Aspire Lounge (Run by Servisair)

As I was flying with Lufthansa (a Star Alliance airline), I could not use my Cathay Pacific status to get access to the British Airways Lounge, which I believe is the best lounge at Edinburgh (but still nothing special compared to most lounges).

The Aspire Lounge is currently being refurbished so it is not fair to judge it based on its current look & feel. However despite this I would say that this is still better than most (if not all) of the US airport lounges that I have been to (come on USA raise your game!).

The lounge is basic, no airside views, no showers, or staffed bar but does have free food & drink.

Aspire seating, it filled up later

Aspire seating, it filled up later

2014-04-18 12.01.13

Snack Selection

2014-04-18 12.00.21

Drink Selection

2014-04-18 12.01.16

Basic snack selection

2014-04-18 12.02.20

I had a Raspberry yoghurt & Diet coke, whilst I waited

2014-04-18 13.17.48

View from the Aspire Lounge

Next post will be about the flight.

Information about AVIOS / BA Exec Club

Introduction to Avios

Avios is a points scheme formed from Air Miles and BA Miles in 2011. Many mistake it for a frequent-flyer scheme. Actually it’s a points scheme like Nectar and Clubcard, earnable in Shell, Tesco and by spending on reward credit cards, though its rewards are travel-focused.

Just to confuse people the main Avios, BA Executive Club, and Iberia Plus points are all called Avios. Points are usually worth the same, regardless of the scheme.

Avios says the main Avios scheme’s better for irregular travellers while the BA Executive Club’s best for frequent flyers, offering benefits such as free airport lounge access for members in certain tiers. You can move or pool Avios and BA Executive Club points at any time, so if you change your mind later, it doesn’t matter.

As this is a travel blog, I shall concentrate on providing some information and tips about the BA Executive club.

You Pay Taxes when using Avios

Avios charges passengers taxes and fees on flights, wiping some of the gain. These can be up to £100 for British Airways return flights in Europe.

Yet under its Reward Flight Saver scheme, you pay a fixed £35 fee on most short-haul economy flights, as long as you earn at least one point during the year before you book.

Remember you don’t get Avios for Nothing

Don’t think Avios is giving you something for nothing. Loyalty points schemes are incorporated into pricing policies. So if you are flying with British Airways (or another Openworld airline), sign up to the BA Executive Club so that you can collect the Avios points that you are paying for!

Avios are not just for Flights – You pay no taxes if you use Avios for Eurostar

Swap Avios points for Eurostar return tickets and you don’t pay taxes or charges, which makes it an excellent value exchange. Plus it’s rare to find hefty discounts on Eurostar fares.

Return tickets to Paris, Lille or Brussels all start from 9,000 Avios points (redeem this way and 1,000 Avios points are worth £8ish). You need to book ahead for peak times, as Eurostar only releases a limited number of 9,000 returns for each day – once those have gone, the price in points goes up.

Collect Avios when buying Milk

When you convert Clubcard vouchers into Avios points, £10 becomes 2,400 Avios points. This means £37.50 of Tesco vouchers buys a Eurostar return to Paris. It could also get you to Prague or Milan (plus £35 fee).

But it occasionally boosts this to 4,000 Avios for every £10. So if you’ve no plans to use your points yet, hold your horses until Tesco runs one of these promotions

Using Avios for Business Class Flights is Relatively Good Value

Using your points for long-haul business flights gives you a better cash equivalent return than economy. Plus, while you pay taxes on long-haul flights, on pricey first class tickets these make up a smaller proportion of the overall ticket price.

Check Availability Using Multiple Sources

Confusingly flight availability sometimes varies between the main Avios site and the British Airways Executive Club’s. If you’re struggling to find the flight you want, check availability on both sites and move your points into the scheme with flights available.

You Don’t Need to Spend Avios on Flights or Eurostar

But think twice before you do! As spending Avios points on hotels or car hire. In my research, seemed to give poor value for points – you’re usually better off redeeming on other rewards.

You Don’t Need to Spend Avios on BA or OpenWorld Flights - Aer Lingus

The best British Airways Avios redemption remains for travel on Aer Lingus between Boston and Dublin. That’s because British Airways has a distance based award chart, and Boston to Dublin is just under 3,000 miles one-way, making it just 12,500 Avios in economy or 25,000 Avios in business class.

There’s no way to search award availability for Aer Lingus using Avios online, so you do have to call British Airways’ Executive Club call center, though they can pull up availability in a matter of seconds. Boston to Dublin using Avios is the cheapest transatlantic award redemption there is (with any airline) in both economy and business class.

Aer Lingus announced that they’ll be launching service to San Francisco and Toronto — their fifth and sixth North American destinations this April.

If booking using British Airways Avios, the service between Dublin and San Francisco will cost 25,000 Avios in coach or 50,000 Avios in business class one-way, while the service between Dublin and Toronto will cost 20,000 Avios in coach or 40,000 Avios in business class one-way. Given that American Express Membership Rewards frequently has transfer bonuses to British Airways, that can be quite a steal.

Aer Lingus North America Destinations

  • Toronto
  • Boston
  •  Chicago
  • Orlando
  • San Francisco

Summary

I believe that for the UK based traveller, that Avios & hence OpenWorld along with Aer Lingus offers is the best airline loyalty scheme to join.

I hope to be taking a trip to the USA this year and trying out the Aer Lingus product & service so please stay tuned!