Bits: the best Amex MR redemption is dropped, don’t appeal your BA compensation!

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News in brief:

The most valuable Membership Rewards redemption has been dropped

Once a year I publish this list which ranks American Express Membership Rewards redemptions in terms of ‘value per point’.

It is clearly very subjective but – on my maths – the best deal was, surprisingly, Melia Hotels redemptions.  You could redeem Membership Rewards points for a voucher for a free night – 14,000 points for Grand Melia down to 5,500 points for a Sol Hotel.

I reckon that you would easily get 1p per Membership Rewards point at those prices, and probably more.

The problem was that the booking process was complex and not well explained by Amex.  You had to ring Melia and speak to an agent who had probably not heard of this offer.  They had to find availability and reserve your room.  After that, you called Amex and ordered a voucher which you presented at the hotel at check-in.

Melia Hotels redemptions have now disappeared from the Membership Rewards website.  This is a little odd as Melia has been deepening its Amex partnership and now offers Melia Rewards Gold status to Amex Platinum cardholders.  My best guess is that the vouchers proved too complex to use and were causing negative feedback.

PS.  A review of Melia’s smart new INNSIDE hotel in Hamburg will appear next week.

Melia Hotels American Express Membership Rewards

Why you shouldn’t appeal your BA compensation!

A friend of mine recently flew British Airways First Class.  After a litany of issues, including BA only loading one fish plate for a cabin of nine people and only loading one bottle of a particular wine, he wrote to complain.

10,000 Avios was offered.  He felt that was not suitable and wrote back to say so.  This is what happened (note that the person is BA Gold):

Apparently he can have the 10,000 Avios back if, at any point in the next 12 months, he changes his mind and decides that it is suitable compensation.

PS.  I have, in the past, received a written complaint from BA for referring to Avios as ‘Avios points’, which apparently they are not.  It seems no-one told the app development team.

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Comments

  1. I’ve had cause to complain on 3 or 4 occasions about a BA long haul flight in Club or First when they have failed to provide adequate food for a vegan diet. When it’s a cash flight they’ve tended to offer Avios as compensation. I’m not sure if it’s common experience but when the flight is an Avios redemption all you get is a standard email saying how they’re always looking to improve and thanks for the feedback.

    • BA’s special meals are appalling! And you can forget ‘Club Kitchen’ snacks if you can’t have dairy – even the pretzels are cheese flavoured, if you’re lucky they might have a bag of nuts left over.

      I woke up half way through SIN-LHR absolutely starving (it being my breakfast time) and then had to wait 5 hours with nothing but black tea and a packet of cashew nuts to tide me over till breakfast.

      • I requested a kids’ meal in CW last year and they gave my son chicken nuggets from the PE cabin!

        • BA Club Europe kids meals are really good. Chicken nuggets and mash. I am always very envious of my kids.

        • @Rob – you can always order a kids meal for yourself, no different to me ordering a muslim or kosher meal for a bit of variety 🙂

          I’ve seen adults order the kids meal before, sometimes the crew checks with the passenger to see if a mistake has been made.

          Can you confirm whether you’ve travelled with kids since the last service changes a year ago? I was led to believe the kids meal is no longer anything special, if they’re back to their old style I might order one myself next time!

          • The last one, definitely chicken nuggets, was three weeks ago but Stockholm is Band 3? Can’t remember what they got on recent Germany flights.

  2. Cheshire Pete says:

    It’s pretty obvious their 1st line response is a copy/paste job. Happens every time. They don’t actually have authority to award service recovery. You have to respond and ask a Manager to review the case. Our latest incident was the Snow delays last month & our flight MAN>LHR was delayed about 4 hours. When finally boarding there was no catering of any sort and we were in CE. We got 10k each after escalation with no quibbles.

    • Someone at BA is a John Grisham fan. He or she must have read the rainmaker and adopted the policy of refusing all claims. I have had some issues with lack of service recovery but these stories of BA telling their customers to bugger off really irritates me, and the pathetic language of their emails is inexcusable. On some occasions the think people are complaining about trivial issues but serious failures should be dealt with properly.

  3. OT: how soon after do you get the 10000 MR points on gold card? Is it only after they apply the renewal fee and if so when? Keen to apply for plat upgrade do you get refund on gold renewal fee if u upgrade to plat?

    • It can take a few weeks, I rang about the same issue and was advised I could upgrade the day after my anniversary date and still receive the points

  4. Frenske says:

    A £100 worth of compensation for having to skip the fish dish and with a certain wine is in my opinion more than enough. He just tried to milk it, still BA should have not taken the points back.

    • I kind of agree…hubris?

    • Certainly not! In BA First they serve LPGS (£120 a bottle) – I can drink 2 bottles on a Lh flight no problem, so that’s £240, without any consideration for white/red and food…

      • If you’re drinking 2 bottles of champagne on a flight then I think you need to first see a doctor about a drinking problem, and then learn the art of class and restraint.

        • Ouch!

        • 2 bottles of champagne over 12 hours is manageable! I am a bit old for that now but I had lunch with someone yesterday who had managed to get 5 gin and tonics off BA in a one hour CE flight …..

        • Feel a bit of a lush here given I’ve drunk two full bottles on a Larnaca flight (4.5 hours)

        • Rebecca says:

          Between the lounge and the flight I managed about the equivalent of two bottles of red on a flight to Abu Dhabi. I had a lovely time!

      • At least on BA you can get proper drinks in Busines or First. On my last Lufthansa flight in Germany they had a total of three miniature bottles of Gin and three cans of Tonic loaded in business class. They managed to fill five glasses. Unfortunately my second round would have been glass number six (sitting in row one).

        Two bottles of Champagne… That‘s only three large glasses of beer in Bavaria, Germany.

    • Combat Johnny says:

      Agreed. He basically said he didnt want the avios

    • Andrew says:

      Or 15% of the avios needed to get to New York first class off peak. That does seem rather generous for missing out on your first choice of meal and only getting one glass of your favourite wine.

      • You are either selling a first class product or you are not.
        If you are, you need to deliver it.

        • Andrew says:

          I’m not sure what you’re suggesting. Should this passenger have been given a full refund just because there wasn’t an unlimited amount of their favourite wine? Obviously not. The only question is what amount of compensation is appropriate. I think 10,000 avios isn’t too bad and had we not all been conditioned by the last 10 years when BA tossed avios around like candy for even the most frivolous complaint I think more would too.

          That’s not to say BA shouldn’t try a bit harder to not run out of things in all classes.

        • What constitutes First class is subjective however. Air China versus SQ?

    • callum says:

      Having spent so long in customer service dealing with ungrateful customers, I sorely wish I had the power to take back initially offered compensation and say “fine, have nothing then”!

      Not that I’m saying this guy reacted badly – I obviously haven’t seen their interactions. Though I agree it’s adequate compensation to me (perhaps those with more money just value it less?).

      • Why?

        If the company decided that 10,000 Avios is adequate to compensate for *their* failure. Why should you take this away when the customer doesn‘t agree. This is childish behavior. If you don‘t want to give more, just say so.

    • Did they offer GBP100, or was it actually 10k Avios? 🙂

  5. Mark1980 says:

    Noooooooo! This was my go-to MR redemption. So many good hotels for a family with young children who don’t want to fly long haul. Genuinely gutted.

    • @ Mark – I quickly scanned the comments and yours was the only one about the loss of melia!

      I’m surprised such little response is general….and so perhaps they withdrew it because not enough people knew about it or used it?

      In fact, I am one of those but just when I thought of devoting some MRs to Melia on a forthcoming trip they pull the plug. I hope that is because they are going to make Melia a full MR transfer partner…..thereby doing away with the unwieldy booking process described by Rob.

      • Mark1980 says:

        Hi, whilst I agree with the sentiment – points redemptions in the actual Melia loyalty programme seem to be unrealistic. For me, getting a night in a Sol hotel for 5500 MR points was a steal! Granted many Sol properties are pretty poor but there are some gems in there, some of which cost £200+ per night in school holidays. I’m still hoping it may be an IT glitch at Amex but doubt it.

        • @ Mark1980 – sadly, I don’t think its an IT glitch, as I have an email from Amex saying the only way to get a Melia nite at present is via pay by points (i.e. not a good deal). Although I never used it, I agree on the Sol nites. Paradisus fully inclusive for 17,500 MR points with kids also a steal! As a UK Cent, they give Melia Platinum, with which you get their Red service including access to their The Level lounges – again not tried it, but it looked pretty impressive. So I’m lamenting that part of it too. (1st world problem i know – but still, especially when you consider the cost of holidays with kids!!)

  6. Mr Hopeful here! I was delayed over 24 hours last year when part of the wing fell off the plane in flight – my wife was seriously ill for some months after and (unrelated) my father died last year. I could not find the time to complain at the time because of family health; but from a BA perspective I was BA Silver at that stage. What address could I write a letter to?

    • What’s all that sob story got to do with your ability to Google ‘contact BA’?

      There’s a web form you can fill in, which is easy to find on their website, and sends your note to Customer Relations.

    • Andrew says:

      Sorry for your personal issues but it’s not really relevant to your claim and you don’t need to justify to BA why you’re waited a year. You need to make a claim under EU261. Just google ‘BA EU261’

    • Sorry to hear of your family problems David, sounds like you should be due EU 261 compensation, although BA will probably try to claim that bits falling off the wing are beyond their control. You can claim here https://www.britishairways.com/travel/customerportal/public/en_gb#/

    • David, hopefully your wife has since recovered from her illness. I think you will find you are still well within the deadline to claim the EU compensation from BA. You may find this Civil Aviation Authority information useful – https://www.caa.co.uk/Passengers/Resolving-Travel-Problems/Delays-and-cancellations/ Somewhere they include a sample letter which can help with the free-form section of the BA on-line claim form. Good luck.

  7. OT – HH. I recently upgraded to Platinum Amex and enrolled for HH gold. I just chatted to them to confirm the expiry date of the gold status and they said that Amex are currently running a special offer where you get 2 years gold status instead of 1. I’ve requested a transcript of the chat, however the chat rep said he would also update my account to reflect this. Worth knowing if your status would otherwise expire!

    • Anyone know what happens if HH Gold already, then get Amex Plat and apply for the Hilton Gold benefit? (would they add it on…as an extra 2 years?)

      • No they won’t.

        • JamesB says:

          IME it does rollover, and I think other comments have confirmed that. No idea about the two year offer though.

        • While JamesB’s experience differs, is it viable to create a new (separate account, differing email, shortened name) to acquire the benefit then?

        • JamesB says:

          @John, why not just call them and ask. That’s what I did and they confirmed it. Mg doubts persisted but from but my status is gold this month as promised.

    • Graeme says:

      Anna, thanks for this.

      I can confirm I did this after dropping from diamon to Silver at the start of this month. I applied via Amex Platinum and got an email stating Gold through March 2020.

      Although the app states 2019 so will see but keeping my email!

  8. Optimus Prime says:

    OT – Just read on LL: “Marriott Rewards & SPG Program Merger Announcement Coming At 4:30PM EDT On Monday”

    • It is, which is annoyingly late. Albeit I am at a big charity event on Monday night so I will be up late, but probably very drunk ….

      • Pangolin says:

        Probably better to be drunk on hearing the news, considering how bad it’s likely to be.

        • JamesB says:

          I’ve got enough SPG points for 7 nights at the moment.Spoiled for choice, cannot decide whether to leave the points as they are, book the hotel, transfer to Marriott or transfer to an airline. Choice is nice but what to do?

  9. “PS. I have, in the past, received a written complaint from BA for referring to Avios as ‘Avios points’, which apparently they are not. It seems no-one told the app development team.”

    This just made my day!!! HAHAHAHA!!!

  10. I’ve just returned from 11 days in South America. F out to São Paulo and J back from Santiago. Left my coat with house keys in the cupboard next to my chair. Realised later that day and called You First, was told that someone would be in touch, but didn’t hear back. Also, wrote twice to You First, again no reply. On flight back spoke with Cabin Services Director and he wrote them an email, still no response. What are my rights and expectations of compensation? (Coat probably worth £100, but annoyingly, the keys are expensive to cut, and when I got back after 15 hour fight, needed to spend many more hours travelling to my mother’s house to pick up spare set).

    • You’re expecting BA to offer some kind of service recovery because they apparently don’t care about their customers?

      Sorry, wrong airline.

    • Andrew says:

      You forgot some stuff on a BA flight and expect them to compensate you? Really?

      Claim off your travel insurance. That’s what it’s there for.

      • He expects that they did not throw away the coat and that it could be found at a lost & found counter. Is it too much to ask?

        • Andrew says:

          BA could have done more to locate the passenger’s possessions but they don’t have to and in this case they didn’t. By the time they’d have received the passengers communication the possessions will have long since been removed by cleaners. By all means be disgruntled at BA and take your business elsewhere but no compensation is due for the passengers own forgetfulness.

        • Does this generalise? Perhaps it’s universal – *The First Law Of BA*, perhaps?

          “BA could have done more to ______ but they don’t have to and in this case they didn’t”

        • Oh wow at the comments.
          I forgot a jacket with certain positions in a bus in London and after reporting it to tfl, they contacted me one month later informing me that they had found a jacket which seemed to match the description and managed to get it back!
          Seriously if tfl can do that, BA giving a call back to a First Class / Business customer is not that much to ask for…

        • Andrew says:

          There’s a difference between BA should have been more helpful and BA now owe the passenger for his forgotten belongings

      • +1. Things left on planes should end up in airport lost property at the arrival airport. It’s not BA’s job to find your lost possessions.

        • (That was +1 to Andrew’s comment).

        • Anthony Dunn says:

          Correct, I now have a drill whenever I get up from a train/tube/bus seat and/or from an aircraft seat: I pad myself down to confirm keys, wallet, passport, phone etc. I now prefer to take a little bit more time getting up and departing to ensure that I have everything after leaving an ancient mobile phone on a BA LGW/AMS flight and not having it found or returned. For all I know, it’s still down the back of the seat.

          In the meantime, excellent response and service from when I did leave my jacket behind in the AY First lounge in HEL: very prompt response and despatch upon receipt of my payment.

    • Catalan says:

      Wait a minute. YOU forgot YOUR property on the aircraft and want the airline to compensate you? Am I reading this correctly?

      • A little presemuptious in my first posting. I conflated leaving an item in known place which has since gone missing with not getting an adequate response from customer service. I guess if the first person I spoke to had acted quickly, the coat might not now be lost. In any case, just a question, thanks for you answers.

        • Technically if someone has found the coat/keys and kept it or thrown it away, they have stolen it (legally they have no right to retain it or dispose of it). I doubt very much that BA would offer compensation under these circumstances but if it’s not in a lost and found property store you could log a complaint of theft with them.

          For something like this, unless you are covered for simply “losing” an item, your insurer may well ask for a crime reference number before paying out.

        • Ah barrack room lawyering…..

        • No Leo, professionally…

        • Ditto….

    • sunguy says:

      Oh! Come on folks – its not that bad…

      You will usually find that its the airport not the airline you have to deal with (yes, even in 1st).

      When I left my iPad and headphones in the seatback pocket on a BA LHREDI (returning 2 days later), I very nearly wasnt able to get them because of the stupidty factor.

      The handling agents (Menzies) and the Airport (EDI) make it absolutely impossible for anyone to contact them, especially at the weekend. At EDI, lost and found is outsourced to a private shop that sells suitcases and charges £20 per item (yes, this includes your £2.50 umbrella).

      EDI suggest that they had too much pilfering to allow the baggage/security folks to look after it!

      From Friday night, it took until the Sunday evening for my stuff to make it to the lost property office and be listed. They dont make it easy, it has to be listed on their website before you can possibly ask about it – oh and it used to be that Items collected within 2 hours of being processed are subject to a £2 administration fee only – however, not only was that rule not upheld by the outsourced shop, but, the way the items are dealt with meant that was totally unlikely to happen anyway….

      SO, this is probably where your coat is – somewhere between the aircraft cleaners, handling agents, airport security and the outsourced lost property shop.

      Try http://www.airport-lostproperty.com … and be prepared to pay a fee…

      • They can’t charge you to return your own stuff, unless you’ve undertaken to abide by their conditions.

        • Andrew says:

          Correct. If you can get to Sao Paulo airport and convince the Brazilian police to help you then you can get your belongings back for free.

          Alternatively if you’d rather an independant third party communicate with the airport and then transport the belongings to your home (dealing with any customs paperwork along the way) then you might have to pay them for their trouble

      • Rebecca says:

        I left some headphones behind on a CW flight and they were never handed into lost property. I was a bit disappointed, you’d hope they possibly might hand stuff in that gets left in a premium cabin. I know its my fault for leaving them, but it was a sleeper flight and I’d not been awake long!
        Have to wonder what happens to them.
        I did have travel insurance but between the fee I have to pay to the police site for registering them lost and my travel insurance excess I wouldn’t have got much back so I didn’t bother. Lesson learnt.

        • “the fee I have to pay to the police site” ?

          What fee? What site?

          There is no fee to report a loss to the Police (in the UK)

    • Also don’t see why compensation would be due.
      I left an item on a QR flight a couple of weeks ago, this was their response (after 3 days):
      Greetings from Found Property Central Office!

      Please accept my sincere apologies as we were not able to reply
      to your email immediately due to the large number of emails we
      are receiving on a daily basis. All inquiries are being replied
      to in order by which they are received.

      In reference to your claim ID No.xxxxx, we are pleased to
      inform you that the same item was found and now in our
      storage lockers for safe keeping. The is under
      found property reference number xxxxxxx.

      As a part of our commitment to give you a 5-star service,
      kindly advise if your currently in Doha or the nearest airport
      to your location where Qatar Airways operates, and we will
      arrange to send the item to our colleagues.
      You will have to collect it personally and present a valid
      Photo identification and your boarding pass/ticket as a
      proof that you travelled on the said flight.

    • Just to clarify you are talking about the cupbord next to your seat on the plane right? Otherwise I am having trouble understanding your complaint.

    • Partner left earphones on CX J flight in Hong Kong. Still at the airport when realised and raised issue in the lounge. All very smiley response but couldn’t help us – nothing on the air craft 10 minutes later etc. Claimed on NatWest Black insurance – paid up no problem, that’s what insurance is for. Sympathetic re-losing expensive keys, have done it myself.

    • A similar story in the interests of balance: my wife did the same thing on a flight to Singapore. The fantastic cabin crew chased after us for quite some distance through the airport to return it. She was one of the older cabin crew with loads of experience – amazing service throughout the flight. This is BA’s biggest asset from a flight experience perspective, but sadly they don’t seem to value the amazing service that many of their staff provide.

    • Another story with a different outcome: a friend left an iPad on an Etihad flight (economy) and remembered when he was in Abu Dhabi airport terminal (after a bus from the aircraft). Ground staff said they couldn’t do anything and told him to call Etihad. Several calls, including at his final destination in Melbourne, seemed not very promising as they just said they would pass the message on to Etihad baggage services. Then about a week later he suddenly gets a call from Etihad’s office at Melbourne airport. They had found the iPad and sent it on a later flight. He just picked it up with no fees – we were impressed with the service.

  11. Sundar says:

    Quick question – Lounge card, obtained through Amex Gold, allows holder +1 for 2 free entries/year ?

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