Saturday, 14 March 2020

Opportunities of the Corona crisis for a travel hacker

This might sound cynical, and maybe it is, but the adage 'never waste a good crisis' applies to the travel hacker's universe as well. I found myself with a lot of planned trips with nonrefundable flight and hotel bookings. I'm still trying to sort out the mess, but many waivers issued by airlines and hotel chains might provide chances to recover some of the damages.

My wife's repeatedly asking to contact the Hilton hotel we booked in Italy actually led to a full refund for a non-refundable booking at the Venice Molino Stucky (many, many thanks for that!). easyJet kept on flying to Italy way beyond what could be considered responsible, but at least allows you to ask a refund for government taxes. Other airlines, especially legacy carriers, allow rebooking.

Anyway, it's all in the game and if travel insurance won't pay out, it's just a loss - remember that a lot of people suffer from their businesses stalling or even from health issues or death. One or more trips forfeited is not the main concern these days. Think of the full hospitals in Italy and health care personnel working very hard to save lives.

Now back to the cynical part. Can you actually take advantage from the current crisis (of course without making others suffer)? Yes, you can. Travel companies need cash, loads of it, and are trying to convince you of booking trips even now, in the middle of the crisis. Because people tend not to look to far into the future, they need to be convinced that this is still a good time to book trips.

Convincing occurs in two ways: through a considerably lower price point, and/or by flexibility of travel arrangements. Hotel chains and airlines allow you to book rooms and tickets for the same low prices you would usually not receive any flexibility for. Many of these opportunities are offered past the near future in which it would not be wise to travel at all.

In fact, in a few months' time, the situation with Corona may well have stabilised. Travel plans for summer, autumn or even the winter of 2021 can be made now, and with flexilibity added there might be some real steals to be had. Today travel-dealz.de mentioned business class tickets from Budapest to New York and other US cities from only 680 euro - I think that's the lowest fare I ever saw from Europe.

I doubt it's an error fare, I think it's Skyteam (Air France/KLM) trying to collect some cash. Remember that airlines can go bankrupt so always pay with a credit card with decent protection. Also book directly with the airline to avoid hassle in dealing with an online travel agency (they're a real pain to deal with in case you have to change your plans, or the airline does, so you'd better pay slightly more at the airline itself).

Making bookings these days may involve some risk for you (again, reduce the risks by paying with credit cards only) but it also may provide you with some fantastic deals, and provide the travel industry and their employees with some very much needed cash to survive these difficult times.

One more incredible deal can be found at Lufthansa.com. Starting from Strasbourg, taking an obligatory bus to Frankfurt, you can fly business class to South-East Asia under 1,000 euro or for slightly more you can even reach Australia.

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Visiting Catania by air

Catania's airport is small. It hosts some 5 million travellers per year, so you cannot easily get lost. If you want to go into the city center, the Alibus airport bus is your best bet. It leaves every 20 to 25 minutes from a stop right in front of the arrivals hall. You can buy a single ticket for 4 euro from the driver, which entitles you to 90 minutes of transport on the rest of Catania's bus network as well, but the odds are that you don't need to.

Unlike Google Maps suggests, the airport bus doesn't end at the Catania railway station (which is a good thing, Italian railway stations are to be avoided whenever possible). The bus only takes 10 to 15 minutes to reach the railway station and then sets out on a circular trajectory through the city center, in one direction only (counter clock-wise). You can find a very helpful map here, rest assured that the route basically covers all the main hotels and sights in the city.

Alibus Catania airport shuttle map, courtesy of AMT Alibus (I guess)

Take into account that circling through the city center takes more time, it easily costs some 20 minutes to make the full circle. Don't expect there to be clear indications of Alibus stops, let alone timetables, at the bus stops. There is also a local bus, number 457, which should cost only 1 euro and has a similar route, but I haven't used it so I cannot tell if it's a viable budget option. 4 euro won't break the bank either. By the way, shock absorption it not the strongest feature of Catania buses.

If you fly business class or have a Priority Pass, on leaving Catania you can visit the business lounge. It can be reached by stairs or elevator between gates 5 and 6 in the terminal. Don't expect more than 15 to 20 seats in total, but it is much quieter than below in the main terminal, and you can get essentials such as Coke Zero.

Short review of Mercure Excelsior in Catania


Mercure Catania Excelsior living room and view into bedroom

On a trip to Catania in Sicily, we booked a 5 night stay in the Mercure Excelsior, a 4 star property in the city center, within walking distance of the main sights. Mercure hotels vary widely in quality, with a just acceptable Mercure Bologna city center to a very good Mercure Krakow, but the focus is on budget-focused 4 star properties in central locations, usually either at the railway station or in the city center.
Mercure Excelsior Catania bathroom

We checked in at 9 PM and I asked if there would be an upgrade (being a Accor 'ALL' gold member) and this was indeed affirmed. Upgrade policies vary widely across hotels, but this time we we lucky, receiving a double upgrade to a suite. It consisted of a luggage room (a small 'walk-in closet'), a small hallway, a bathroom with separate bath and shower and two sinks, a living room and a bedroom. Both living and bedroom had their own balcony, however, without furniture.

All in all, the room was very nice given the hotel category, if slightly dated (but not as dated as the almost campy Mercure Bologna). At some 90 euros per night including breakfast, we had very little to complain about, even receiving a complimentary bottle of water and some snacks. The view, however, was probably the room's best feature. Although it looked primarily at a large parking and the justice palace, behind that was a clear view of the Etna.

The breakfast wasn't overwhelming, but generally good. However, removing tea and coffee at 10.15 when the breakfast is to last until 10.30 is an absolute no-go. And using thermos flasks for tea that once contained coffee is a no-go too - you'll always taste coffee in your tea. The hotel is a conference venue as well, and actively used as such, so expect the usual murmur of conference attendees in the evening at the hotel bar.

Etna view at sunset from the Hotel Palace Catania UNA Esperienze hotel
Would I go there again? Yes, if I were to stay in Catania again (which is a different story). However, given the absolutely gorgeous roof top bar at the Hotel Palace Catania UNA Esperienze, you might consider this hotel too (at a premium probably, but also featuring more temporary d├ęcor). Let the photo above speak for itself.

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Spectacular first and business class fares Lufthansa/Swiss from Amsterdam

Gone are the days we had to position to Saint Petersburg to get a low first class fare from Lufthansa. This week, Lufthansa and Swiss announced a so-called partner sale to many destinations worldwide, for premium economy, business class and first class. The low fares only are available if you travel in pairs. Not all offers have been published, and some can only be booked via an online travel agency.

For instance, it's very hard or even impossible to find the first class fare of 1,890 euro return from Amsterdam to Bangkok on Lufthansa.com or Swiss.com, but it can be found via e.g. momondo.nl. The regular warnings for booking via an OTA apply: always pay with a credit card, even if there's a fee, and avoid all the upsell stuff such as choosing your seats and getting travel insurance. For premium cabins, choosing seats is mostly free of charge with the airline itself and travel insurance is always cheaper when bought directly from an insurance company.

Apart from all the other fares, notable ones are Bangkok in business class for 1,090 euro, Delhi for some 1,650 return (per person) in first class. There is not a single overview of all low fares, but you can find some overviews here, here, and here.

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

'Free' London trip

I said it before and I will say it again: loyalty programs' points often show higher inflation than the German Papiermark in the Weimar republic. I just lost a considerable part of the spending power of my Aegean miles, and while the pace of collecting Hilton Honor points has accelerated considering the number of stays there, it seems they quickly get worthless because of the new dynamic pricing system Hilton uses for its redemption rates.

However, there is a small but noticeable loophole in the system. There are still 'standard room rewards' that are priced at the original redemption categories. Enter the possibility of getting a room in an expensive hotel. I once stayed at the Trafalgar St. James at a ridiculously low rate of 99 GBP because the MGallery Victory House hotel offered all its rooms (including suites) at that rate and then appeared not to be open in time to honour the reservation.

My wife and I thus got rebooked to the St. James as 'vips', which got us a 50 square meter suite in the heart of London, one of the greatest travel hacks I ever used (thanks to the kind folks of Insideflyer.co.uk). Anyway, how to get back into this fantastic hotel? The cash rates in July are around 450 GBP, an amount I never paid for a hotel room. But the lowest points rate is 70,000. And my balance showed that number. No suite this time, unfortunately.

A single flight from London City Airport to Rotterdam would set me back 135 GBP, but I used 4,500 Avios per person plus 22,50 in fees per person to book that flight. Then I booked a cash fare from Amsterdam to London Heathrow for 53 euro on British Airways. If you ever fly to Heathrow, book your connecting train early. You can book a single to Paddington station for only 5,50 GBP if you're early enough. At a cash total of 160 euro for 2 persons, plus 9,000 Avios and 70,000 HH points this represents a 800 euro theoretical saving.

Whatever happened to LATAM 704/705 FRA/MAD?

A big blow for aviation geeks: Europe's most popular fifth freedom flight between Frankfurt and Madrid is dying. Rumour has it that the service will be replaced by direct flights between Frankfurt and Santiago de Chile. This means that the intra-European hop has been made redundant.

It used to be a great catch if you wanted to experience a real business class with lie-flat seats without breaking the bank. Last time, for May 2020, I managed to book a return just below 150 euro. But, given the news about the change of service, I checked my itinerary, only to find that my outbound flight between Frankfurt and Madrid had been cancelled.

So in addition to disappearing altogether, all weekend flights (at least the Saturday flight, I'm not sure if there was a service on Sunday) have been cancelled. If you've made your booking through an online travel agency, you probably haven't heard anything.

What to do? First check your booking online here. Look carefully: only one flight (outbound or inbound) may have been cancelled. Then call 00496986799099 (Latam customer service). Be patient as you have to go through quite some options.

I ended up with a very capable agent who, despite the fact that I had booked through an OTA, rebooked my outbound flight at no fee. I'm don't know exactly what your rights are, but if you booked through an OTA, in principle they have to help you and they're usually very hard to do business with.

Lesson learned: booking through an OTA might save you a few euros, but poses a risk that you're not made aware of changes and that you have to rebook at additional cost via the OTA. I consciously took that risk, but will be more careful in the future.

You can read my review of a previous Frankfurt-Madrid flight here.

Monday, 27 January 2020

Where to find the best first and business class deals - and what to expect

Nowadays, I use a handful of websites to track interesting business class deals. There is not a single source that lists them all, so you need to monitor a few, use social media handles or a blog aggregation tool such as www.bloglovin.com.

www.travel-dealz.de: a very active blog listing all kinds of travel deals, including hotels, economy and business tickets and also occasional train deals. Focused on Germany, Austria and Switzerland, but also listing attractive deals elsewhere.

www.travel-dealz.eu: the English language sister website of the resource above. Allows you to choose a particular region or country for deals applicable to that part of Europe. Also lets you subscribe to a daily newsletter with the latest deals. Will send you an immediate message when there is a spectacular deal.

www.insideflyer.de: this website also consistently publishes attractive business class fares.

www.insideflyer.co.uk: this site publishes occasional business class deals.

www.thepointsguy.co.uk: the UK sister of the originally US based website is basically a credit card selling channel, masked as a travel blog (as many frequent flyer sites). Nothing wrong with that (well, until you've seen interest rates on UK credit cards).

www.secretflying.com: I basically stopped monitoring this site because of its annoying navigation and its tendency to plug error fares (which, contrary to what they claim, have very high odds to be cancelled).

What to expect

The best business class deals for South-East Asia (Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore) are from 1,000 euro return with a decent airline. The deals to wait for are Lufthansa/Swiss' companion offerings (appearing all over Europe in no apparent pattern), Qatar's special sales (though increasingly rare).

If you're looking for first class, your best bet is a Lufthansa/Swiss companion sale. These occur from Saint Petersburg, Moscow, Kiev, but also from more approachable cities such as Oslo, Stockholm and Milan. The lowest fare you'll find will be just under 2,000 euro. If you're heading for Dubai, you might even pay just over 1,500 euro.

The best fare I ever found to New York was 800 euro (from Dublin) years ago, but I've never been able to replicate it. Fares go as low as 1,000 euro for TAP flights via Lisbon originating in Scandinavia, and for La Compagnie flights from Paris. There are regular sales from various alliances starting at 1,200 euro.

If you want to experience a 'real' business class, there are only few intra-European options. The best value one is LATAM between Frankfurt and Madrid, which you can book from an amazing 150 euro return including lounge access and priority security (only in Frankfurt, not in Madrid). There is an occasional Zurich - Tel Aviv flight on a wide body priced very attractively.

Ever see a sub-1,000 euro long haul business class return? Chances are that it will be with EgyptAir or Saudia. For what it's worth: avoid these carriers at all cost. Not because they're dry airlines (not serving any alcohol), maybe not even because they represent horrific regimes, but because they tend to live up to their - awful - reputation. And even if they don't, you really don't want to transfer in either Cairo, Riyadh or Jeddah.

Friday, 8 November 2019

KLM short haul business class review

When checking in for a flight from Venice to Amsterdam, I received an offer to upgrade to business class. Although my wife and I already have lounge access and de facto priority lane security, the benefits were limited to enjoying the onboard business class experience and having access to the Skyteam lounge.

On the latter I can be brief: if you have a priority pass, you'd better go to the Marco Polo lounge. It's bigger, it has better food and offers better views of the tarmac. Don't bother with the Alitalia/Skyteam lounge.

The boarding experience on Venice was horrible. Large queues throughout the airport, but especially at the KLM boarding gate, where there was no priority boarding area at all - and if it were there, it wouldn't be accessible through the sheer crowd. As it's a bus gate, the misery doesn't end there, but continuous in a very crowded bus and the crowds then storming the two plane stairs.

Talking about people boarding: why do you not only take a child on board, but also two suitcases per person, have assigned seats on row 29 and then enter the plane at the front while the back door also has stairs? Come on folks, use those brain cells.

Having seats 1D and 1F things improved after having boarded. Given that Europe short haul business class is basically just a blocked middle seat and some better catering, my expectations were low. Given those low expectations, we had the bulkhead seats with two 'private' windows and some breathing space.

Also, catering turned out to be quite good. KLM puts attentio to details, using specially designed cups and glasses, and not to forget little disposable orange clogs as pepper and sault sets. I really enjoy having my food and drinks from real plates, real crockery, using real cutlery. Maybe I'm easy to please.

Also, considering this is short haul business class, the drinks menu was fine, with two kinds of red and two kinds of white wine, in addition to some other alcoholic and non-alcoholic options. And the salad served tasted really nice. Together with the friendly, personal yet slightly chaotic service, I'd pay the premium again.

We paid slightly less than 60 euro per person for this leg, in addition to the economy comfort fee we'd already paid before (10,80 euro). When you don't already have lounge access and priority security, and you're not on a budget, I'd say this is a no-brainer. Recommended.

Monday, 14 October 2019

Attractive business class and first class deals from Milan

After I ventured to fly Lufthansa first class starting in Saint Petersburg - an adventure that I'd not recommend to anyone - I found that such attractive fares are sometimes also available from Europe. This makes positioning (flying to the departure city for a low fare) much easier. One of the easiest cities in Europe to position to is Milan: a hub that is well connected by both legacy and low cost carriers.

Swiss is currently offering very attractive business class and first class fares from Milan (Malpensa airport). A return ticket in business class to Singapore starts at 1,070 euro. A first class return ticket to Bangkok starts at 2,130 euro. Don't forget to book a longer stopover at Zurich (or Munich or Frankfurt) in order to enjoy the first class lounges, which are amazing.

An incomplete overview of the fares can be found here (first class) and here (business class). The above promotion fares aren't displayed in this overview - so there may be other destinations out there as well. Remember to choose a frequent flyer program before flying - you can earn up to 300% of the miles flown as both status and reward miles. You can read a short review of Lufthansa first class here.

Monday, 23 September 2019

Thomas Cook bankrupt - another one down, many more to come?

The museum of Islamic art in Doha

The tragic bankruptcy of Thomas Cook, one of the largest travel groups in Europe, reveals the truth about the future of mainstream package travel: there is none. As much as the traditional travel industry claims there will be a steady demand for package travel including transport, transfer and accommodation, changing travel behaviour will marginalise this segment of the market.

Really, who's still making a booking through a traditional high street travel agency? Browsing through catalogues with similar looking beach properties in locations that have become the relics of sixties' and seventies' mass travel? Obviously, younger generations make their own arrangements through new channels.

And, yes, of course, there is still demand for such package holidays, but it is decreasing and it will keep on decreasing for years to come. Margins are so thin that one wonders who still wants to be in that business. It's not a coincidence that so many hotel inventory is 'leaking' through online travel agencies (despite the demise of amoma.com just last week).

The 'margin game' is being played elsewhere, not in traditional package travel, but online. And although by the signs of it the game has ended in favour of the large online travel agencies (OTAs) such as Booking and Expedia, it actually hasn't. Signs are there that OTAs are stalling - which makes sense.

An ever larger choice of accommodation and an interface full of psychological tricks are starting to frighten bookers away. If you visit Booking, you're made to believe that even the darkest shithole in London is a great place to stay - just because its review scores are pumped up by its central location and great wifi.

Moreover, how to make a decent selection from thousands of accommodations (nowadays including many of the properties that are on Airbnb) when the ranking is mostly driven by the commissions paid, not by the customer's interests? Is the new adage of the travel industry: if you can't convince them, confuse them?

Yes, then there should be a market for parties who give a clearer overview of relevant options. But my guess is that it won't be traditional package travel companies that will take up this role. There's a market for personalised travel looming, based on technology rather than human agency. With knowledge of individual preferences, it should be possible to automate large parts of one's travel planning.

Saturday, 14 September 2019

Another online travel agency bankrupt: Amoma leaves guests stranded

Amoma.com was one of the smaller hotel booking platforms. It used to have good hotel rates, and I used it quite a few times myself. Now it has filed for bankruptcy, and people with a booking via this platform will not see their reservation honoured.

Always remember to use a credit card when you book a hotel online. In case of a bankruptcy, this will very probably protect you against loosing the deposit you made - in case of Amoma.com, this will probably be the full sum of the booking.

However, the misery might not end there. If you turn up in a hotel and have an Amoma booking which wasn't paid for by Amoma to the hotel, you have to make new arrangements. That might very well be more expensive than your original booking.

A few tips if you find yourself stranded: download the app 'Hotels tonight' and check if there is availability via this app - check rates elsewhere as well, because not all rates are good. What is more, I have once seen a lousy property being advertised for almost 500 euro a night.

The usual suspects for checking last minute hotel rates are Trivago.com, Momondo and Kayak, but also check your favourite hotel chain's app, because they might have very good last minute rates sometimes.

Monday, 9 September 2019

Latam Frankfurt - Madrid flight in business class

In Europe, Latam, the merger of TAM and LAN airlines from South-America, is a relatively unknown member of the OneWorld alliance. It is well known among aviation enthusiasts, though, because it flies a short-haul intra-European route with a wide-body plane, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. That plane is known for its comfortable atmosphere, a higher cabin pressure and higher humidity.

Apart from that, because the route is only flown once a day each way, the tickets are often sold against incredibly low fares. My wife and I just flew over to Madrid for 152 euro return - in business class. You get a lot of bang for the buck: priority check-in and security (not in Madrid), lounge access, priority boarding some 45 minutes before departure, and of course a very nice 2,5 hour flight including catering.

The business class cabin consists of five rows in a 2-2-2 layout. This is ideal if travelling as a pair, less so if you're flying as an individual. The seats turn into flat beds - however I'd rather stay awake on such a short flight. For those connecting from South America, this will be different: after the long haul leg from there, they will probably want to catch a few hours of sleep on their way to Frankfurt.

Latam provides a limited catering on the short flights; there is no choice for a main, only for a desert (which are delicious, by the way). The 'main course' consisted of a lovely cold cuts platter on the FRA-MAD flight and a rather meagre brie-turkey sandwich on the reverse leg. That said, food presentation is much, much better than on regular intra-European business class so there is no reason whatsoever to complain.

Personnel is generally friendly and speaks English well. They respond very quickly to calls made after the meal service. All in all, for those enjoying the experience, including lounge access 152 euro buys you 10 hours of 'quality time', which is truly amazing value. If you credit the tier points and miles to British Airways Executive Club, the return tickets also earns you 80 tier points and some 2,000 avios, worth some 20 euro.

You can find availability either by searching on the latam.com website or on matrix.itasoftware.com, where you can do a 30 day window search for business class flights between FRA and MAD. I would recommend you to book directly via latam.com (slightly more expensive at 168 euro) but if you like to take the risk of booking via a discounter OTA this will save you some additional 16 to 20 euro depending on the means of payment.

Monday, 29 July 2019

Why business class matters

Relatively few people fly business class, and the ones that never have often do not understand the degree of trouble I'm willing to accept in order to sit before the curtain. This post is meant to explain why I book these ridiculous iteneraries (like the one from Amsterdam to Singapore through Saint Petersburg and Frankfurt).

Here's why: I love flying. The feeling of being miles high in the sky, seeing the curvature of the horizon, leaving every day stuff literally far behind, I love it. There's an added romantic feeling even when it's night, when dinner is served and when you can sleep. It's similar to train journeys, although comfortable night trains have virtually disappeared, at least in Europe.

What I don't like is: being stuck in the middle seat, constantly aware of where you put your elbows (unlike your neighbours, who don't respect your personal space), screaming children not being guarded by their indifferent parents, the chair before you that is put in maximum recline without a word of warning while you're finishing your meal, taking away your personal 5 mm of legroom that you created by emptying the seatpocket entirely.

Flying economy, especially on long haul flights, has become a mild form of torture. Putting too many people in two little space is simply not a good idea, except from an economic viewpoint. I remember my 13 hour legs in the back of the economy section, with children screaming at least half of the flight, and a little bit of fine turbulence thrown in for added fun. My wife have said: no more of this.

The step from economy to business class is not about more room, better food, a bigger screen or priority boarding. The step from economy to business is about flying without feeling the stress of a fully loaded economy cabin and being able to enjoy that you're on a plane. Forget that you're paying at least three times the economy fare - it's money well spent.

Sunday, 28 July 2019

Review of Mercure Bologna Centro

When the review mark on Booking.com is below 8, and Tripadvisor shows only 3,5 stars, you know you enter dangerous ground. However, I had booked the Mercure Bologna Centro willingly, for good reasons: a central location right across the Bologna central station, decent room size with a considerable chance of an upgrade because of my Accor gold status, and a right price including breakfast.

I arrived in Bologna when the temperature was 35 degrees, and after 20 minutes in the cramped airport bus I was very happy when I entered the hotel lobby and found it had excellent airconditioning. I had made two separate bookings because they were cheaper together than when booking the same room in a single booking. Therefore the agent had some trouble finding a room that would be available for the full duration of the stay, but she found one and upgraded me to a double room.

Entering the room, I found myself back in the eighties. Carpet, furniture that had seen better days, and a bathroom with fluorescent tubes - had they not been there, I would not have noticed that these have basically disappeared from hotel rooms over the past decade. The bathroom boasted 'vintage' dark green tiling, a bath with integrated shower (the horror! - spoiled brat that I am). However, on the positive side: both the room and the bathroom were very spacious.

Two features made the room stand out of the crowd, unfortunately in a negative way. This was a smoking room, and, yet again, I had forgotten what a smoking room smells like. I was catapulted 10, 20 years back in time once I walked into that room, remembering the smell of a smoking hotel room that seemed not to bother that many people at the time. But after smoking has gradually been banned from public life, its hits you right in the face.

The second 'feature' was a balcony. At least that was what it was called by the receptionist. However, a small strip of some 1 x 2 meters that has no furniture yet shows the signs of a serious lack of cleaning. Especially when the rain starts pooring and the pigeons' excrements start floating because the floor drain doesn't work. But this is where my hotel character assassination stops. Because I really had a fine time staying there, because almost all personnel was friendly and attentive, noticeably the breakfast crew.

The thing with the Mercure brand is that it's not very consistent. That will often be a problem with hotel brands, but only weeks before my wife and I stayed at the Mercure Krakow Stare Miasto, which was really excellent in all respects, and lightyears away from the time capsule that this Bologna property is. But then, you're in Bologna, you're only an hour by train away from beautiful other cities such as Parma, Modena and Ravenna, so who cares about the hotel room anyway? And the airconditioning did a great job in the room as well, by the way.

Saturday, 13 July 2019

Get 1000 yums instantly for discounts at restaurants via The Fork

Yums are the 'currency' of restaurant website The Fork, available in a fair number of European countries. Use this link to sign up and make your reservation. When you do so, you get 1000 yums, 'worth' 20 euro in discount. I get 500 yums if you use the link and honour your first restaurant reservation.

The Fork lets you book a table easily. You can always cancel if you change your mind. Note that the restaurant owner pays for the booking. Last time I checked every reservation costs them 1,50 euro. The yums you earn can be used for discount (1000 yums = 20 euro, 2000 yums = 50 euro).

This discount cannot be combined with other offers. Many restaurants offer a percentage of your bill as a discount, varying from 20% to 50%. Sometimes the discount only applies to food items, and not to menus. Restaurants not honouring the discounts are very rare in my experience (I had one occassion only in recent years).

Please be aware that yums are a currency that is entirely paid for by restaurant owners. The restaurants that accept yums in return for discount only get a 50% discount on their The Fork cheque in return, insofar as I could check.