When myself (Dave) and Dan set up Save East Coast Rewards in January I never expected things to turn out quite the way they did. Back in January we feared that cutting the loyalty scheme from day one (something even National Express didn't do) was going to be the start of a massive decline of a generally popular service.
We've already written about the double points Nectar promotion and how it's still a rubbish deal.
However, what's surprising is that Virgin Trains East Coast have been sending out emails to members who have Flying Club in their profile encouraging them to sign up with Nectar.
Compared to rewards scheme we used to have Nectar is a rubbish scheme. Even compared to other supermarket schemes it does not perform well, as shown on NoToNectar. However, if you collect Nectar points because they're 'better than nothing' you really should be booking all your rail travel through a FirstGroup site.
First of all I'd like to apologise on behalf of Save East Coast Rewards to those organising the first HackTrain event in March. March was the first month of operation of Virgin Trains East Coast and there was a lot of anger that they scrapped an excellent rewards scheme and replaced it with one of the worst in the UK. At the time it felt like VTEC were ignoring us and our Twitter followers who are regular travellers on the East Coast route, we genuinely thought that scrapping the rewards scheme was going to be the first of many cutbacks.
I often get asked about my views about the fare rises on Virgin Trains East Coast, the only honest answer I can give is 'I don't know'.
A new ale was added to the Virgin Trains East Coast Foodbar menu towards the end of 2015, it's called "Hop on Board" and has been available since Monday 19th October. It's been a long time since we've had bottled ales on East Coast trains, GNER used to offer a guest ale but they scrapped it around 2003 citing lack of demand (they never did anything to promote it).
When Virgin Trains East Coast mentioned they were switching to Nectar some people asked me about Eurostar redemptions, these seemed poor to me as Nectar has a £10 booking fee for Eurostar journeys so you'd need to spend £12.50 in points to save the first £2.50.
Let's look at each in turn:
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club has fixed mileage rates for Eurostar trips, these rates are:
This blog post has been updated - previously there was a 20% off Virgin Trains East and West Coast offer. The September offer gives you 30% off East Coast, there's still a 20% off West Coast showing up for some people too.
The Virgin Red iOS app launched recently and the train related offer for September is 30% off Virgin Trains East Coast and for some users a 20% off Virgin Trains West Coast offer will also be available.
When it was announced Virgin Trains East Coast were getting rid of the excellent East Coast Rewards and replacing with Nectar it seemed pretty obvious that all my London - Newcastle travel was going to switch to British Airways. They fly from London Heathrow which wasn't as convenient as London City Airport (or Kings Cross) but the only other flying option is from Stansted which would mean spending around an hour on the Greater Anglia operated Stansted Express, to me this does not seem like a viable option.