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Details about FoundersCard benefits (Cathy Pacific, Avis, hotel discounts)

I recently got a thoughtful email from a reader with a few questions about FoundersCard benefits (HT: Kevin).

I’ve written before about the many benefits FoundersCard offers.

Also see:

I thought I’d turn my reply into a blog post as others might have similar questions before deciding to sign up for the card.

His email:

Let me get your advice…

1.  I am already BA Gold (Emerald) but could use a bit of VS Silver and CX Silver headstarts… and definitely could use the 10% off on US-originating BA flights to the UK (and the rest of Europe?).

2.  I’m already Avis Presidents’ Club so not sure about the Car Rental benefits.

3.  Especially keen on the hotel discounts, eg Park Hyatt Tokyo, SLS in Los Angeles.   Would you be able to share with me as a prospect what the rates are at these properties if you have the FoundersCard?

Awesome questions! I’ll go in order.

#1

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Trip Report: Economy on Virgin Atlantic JFK-LHR

The award redemption

On October 17, 2013, I headed over to London to see the new Tori Amos musical, The Light Princess, which I highly, highly recommend. I wanted to see the October 18th show because there was a Q&A with Tori, who wrote the lyrics, and Samuel Adamson, who wrote the book, before the show. Also, Tori watched the show with the audience after the Q&A. It was a special treat, and I wanted to make sure to be there on that day. Translation: my dates weren’t flexible, so that did limit my flight options.

I considered biting the bullet and buying a ticket on British Airways. It would earn me American EQMs toward my coveted Executive Platinum status and lots of RDMs. Ticket prices weren’t bad: about $800 R/T. Between the price of the tickets and hotel, and after buying a ticket to Santiago for late November, my finances were dry. Plus, I was done with Delta, and wanted to get rid of some SkyPesos.

Following their recent announcement of a partnership with Virgin Atlantic, I decided to take a look at award inventory. To my surprise, not only was there a flight every day in October, but I had the choice of multiple flights a day. I could even allow myself to get a little picky with flight times. Amazing. I settled on leaving late Thursday night and arriving early Friday morning. That would give me time to check into the Hilton London Bridge Tower early as a HHonors Gold member, take a nap, and get ready for the show at 8pm. Perfect.

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Review: Wingtips Lounge JFK @ Terminal 4

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Wingtips Lounge @ JFK: main seating area

Off to London on Virgin Atlantic

Last weekend, I popped over to London to see the first run of the new Tori Amos musical, The Light Princess. To get started for my first Virgin Atlantic flight to Heathrow from JFK, I decided to hit the Wingtips Lounge JFK, which I found on the Priority Pass iPhone app.

Virgin Atlantic also operates the famous Clubhouse at JFK, but I didn’t have a ticket in Upperclass, which would’ve permitted access, but rather just regular ol’ economy.

Why?

I took advantage of Delta’s recent partnership with VA to use Skymiles to book this itinerary. For one, I didn’t have enough Skymiles to book two tickets in Upperclass. And two, even if I did, wouldn’t have burned them that way. Skymiles are notoriously hard to use, but where they shine is on partner redemptions. So why not this one? I’ve had my eye on a biz class ticket on Virgin Australia for 150K Skymiles for.ev.er. And I WILL use them for that purpose one day (unless they devalue first, which is totally possible).

Never mind getting to LAX to adding a stopover or open jaw, although it IS possible to route through PPT and AKL on Air Tahiti Nui, but that’s for another post.

The reason I went for economy is to conserve for that future redemption and because I felt like it simply wasn’t worth it. It’s only 5-6 hours to LHR, short than flying to the west coast, and I’d rather redeem the bulk of my points and miles on long-haul business class products, although Upperclass did look really nice.

Anyway, the Wingtips Lounge.

The lounge

I wasn’t expecting much, as it’s the only other lounge in T4 at JFK. But wow.

The seating is ample, there is a self-serve bar, the snackies were plentiful and featured a hot and cold food buffet, the wifi was blazing fast, the seats were comfy, and the lounge afforded us nice views of our Virgin Atlantic plane on the tarmac.

And really, isn’t that all anyone can ever really ask for in a lounge?

I’ve read lots of reviews of other lounges at JFK/LGA/EWR, but have never even heard of the Wingtips Lounge. Because of this, I sorta assumed it was the bastard stepchild of lounges. You know what they say about assumptions… well, it’s especially true here.

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Great plane watching

Entrance was free thanks to the Priority Pass Select card through AMEX Platinum Card. After checking in, I grabbed a plate of snackies, a Bailey’s, a rum and coke, and a water.

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Cold buffet

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You know I love a self-serve open bar

Wifi was open, so I checked my email one last time before leaving the U.S.

The place was clean and the staff was nice as can be. I felt very welcomed and comfortable. As boarding time rolled around, I found myself so relaxed and content in the Wingtips Lounge, I almost didn’t want to leave. I took a sparkling water and a couple of packaged snacks for the ride across the pond in economy, and will most certainly come back to this lounge if I ever find myself in T4 again. You never know, right?

I’d definitely show up early just to hang out here for a little while.

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Plenty of open seats in the alternate seating area

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Looking back toward the entrance

Bottom line

If you find yourself in T4 at JFK, head to the Wingtips Lounge. It’s just beyond security, and features ample offerings. I LOVED this lounge. It’s everything an airport lounge should be.

Booked: London on Virgin Atlantic in October

I’m a HUGE Tori Amos fan, and have been looking forward to seeing the musical she’s been working on, The Light Princess, for a while now. Well, tickets went on sale this past week and I was able to snag some good seats to both her talk beforehand and the show itself – in London. Which meant I had to get myself to London.

Luckily, ol’ Deltoid just entered into a partnership with Virgin Atlantic – and award space (in economy) is great. I had the pick of about 5 different flights each day, all at the low-level cost. There was nothing in business or Upper Class as it’s called, but that’s fine because I’d like to hoard my Skymiles to go down to Patagonia on Aerolineas Argentina in the near future anyway.

And the point – to get to London – was quickly addressed. I booked some great flights on Virgin Atlantic and cannot WAIT to see the musical. My out-of-pocket cost was 120,00 miles and $369 for two flights. Not bad for crossing the Atlantic.

Cheep! (Most of it is GB tax.)

Cheep! (Most of it is GB tax.)

This, for me, is the true value of points and miles. Being able to pop over to London for the weekend to see this show is something I’ve been looking forward to for a few years now. The day came, I bought my tickets, and I’m able to go without paying very much at all. Now we just need to find a place to stay for two nights, which should be pretty easy. Then head to JFK, enjoy the flights – and the show!

Looking forward to flying on VA metal. It’ll be my first time. Trip report and show report to follow! October 18th!