The new HFP chat thread – Tuesday 7th April

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We have decided to run this new daily chat thread on Head for Points.

Historically, the daily ‘Bits’ articles were the defacto repository for random comments and questions.  It is unlikely that the news flow will be so big over the next few weeks that we will need many ‘Bits’ articles, however.

The comments under this article are where you should post questions about travel and, indeed, anything else on your mind.  At this tricky time, and given that many of you are stuck at home self-isolating, we want the HFP community to have a place to chat.

Please only comment under the main articles on the site if your comment is directly related to the topic of the article.  This has long-term benefits as its keeps the commentary relevant for people who read those articles in the future.

By default, HFP shows the last page of comments under the article.  If you want to see the first page of comments and read them all from beginning to end in order, click here: https://www.headforpoints.com/2020/04/07/the-new-hfp-chat-thread-tuesday-7th-april/comment-page-1 The page will refresh with this article but the comments will now show the first page and not the last page.

We will continue to monitor how this is working:

we could potentially split it into a daily travel and non-travel chat thread

we may install some basic forum software

we may start suggesting potential topics for daily discussion

Let’s see how it goes.  Take care!

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Comments

  1. Jen T says:

    For anyone wanting to cancel future travel and claim on their travel insurance, the FCO updated their advice on 4 April (previously advised against all but essential travel until 15 April) to advising against travelling overseas for an indefinite period. This change was part of a larger press release although some newspapers picked the change up yesterday morning. May help your case with insurers for dates beyond mid-April. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/foreign-office-steps-up-plans-to-bring-home-britons-stranded-overseas

    • This will be a slightly awkward question as it will be dependent on personal details, but assuming for the average person, what’s the ‘best’ travel insurance policy available via a credit card?

      I’m guessing it’s either Amex Platinum or HSBC World Elite?

      • Genghis says:

        HSBC World Elite credit card does not convey a travel insurance benefit; the Premier bank account does. As you’re aware, the definition of “best” is subjective so I suggest a good reading of the terms. For what it’s worth, I’ve never placed any reliance on the Amex Platinum insurance given the requirement to pay on the “card” and my former high levels of churning. I find now it’s very expensive. When I moved from Barclays Premier to HSBC Premier, I’ve relied on the HSBC Premier insurance ever since; not renewing a travel insurance policy obtained through work.

    • How does this work in practice for trips beyond April?

      E.g. I have a BA Holiday (flight + car) to SFO in mid-June. Have paid a deposit and outstanding balance due in 3 weeks. We are definitely not going even if for some unlikely reason travel is normalised.

      Can I go ahead and cancel through AMEX or even call BA and tell them in light of this they need to refund me? I havent braved the lines as its for flights in upcoming 72h.

      Also have IB and Norwegian flights to Spain and Norway 1st week of May which have yet to be cancelled but will obviously not happen.

      Any thoughts?

      • On what grounds do you think you can cancel? Your flight is showing as departing. Your hotel will probably be open. The US is not saying that it won’t lift restrictions on entering. Until one of those things changes you have no grounds to cancel.

        • stevenhp1987 says:

          BA Holidays are subject to “the package travel and linked travel arrangements 2018”.

          Among many things, it must be “safe” to enter the country for a package holiday.

          If the flights run, and the hotel is open you are still eligible for a full refund if there’s an FCO advisory warning against travel or all but essential travel.

      • MattB says:

        At this time you wont be getting any sort of refund, maybe a voucher for the deposit value from BA.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      I think you will have a very hard claiming on your insurance until close to the date of your actual trip. If the FCO advice changes then there will be no grounds for a claim.

      It’s also last resort after claiming a refund from the airline/hotel/holiday company or credit card.

  2. Craig says:

    Managed to book a room at the CP Times Square for NYE on points, it’s a room with a view of the Square (but not a view of the ball drop). 60k points (non-refundable) versus $3134!!

  3. Doug M says:

    So a variety of bits here, just data points really.
    Called Amex to downgrade Plat to Green, not even asked why, just some general questions to do with what in effect is an application for the Green card.
    Had an AA ticketed flight that got changed to the point of being useless, kicked off the refund process, no voucher offer, no idea how long the cash will take to arrive with me.
    Cancelled some hotel com bookings, one was non-refundable, for a Hilton at CDG, cancelled online making it clear it would be refunded in full.
    Called Amtrak to cancel booking on a train they’ve cancelled, got into a battle of stupidity with their voice based auto system, and hungup before I lost it completely.

    • MattB says:

      I went round in circles with that awful amtrack voice system, doubt it was my accent! I think in the end it just asked if i wanted help i said yes and spoke to an operator in a few mins who promptly refunded and it hit my cc account a few days later

      • Doug M says:

        Having just shouted ‘are you having a f***ing laugh’ at a computer I thought it best to hang up and calm down.

      • I also had to phone Amtrak, really helpful person on the phone and received my refund in just a couple of days. I googled and found one of those numbers that you call before then calling an American number so it doesn’t cost anything.

        • philco says:

          I don’t know what number folks are calling but I live in the States and called to cancel and Amtrak ticket after they changed the train I’d be on and got through to a human in like 2 mins flat. I am certainly not a huge Amtrak fan but it was the most painless cancellation I have done in the last two months.

    • Lady London says:

      HaHa ‘battle of stupidity’ with an automated call-directing system.

      Bern there, done that,these are the only thing worse than my multiple experiences with British Airways’s nasty, obdurately ineffective India-based call centre.

      Here’s my best tip. Most of them have a ‘back door’. at every stage don’t say one of their choices or dial a number. First, try saying clearly “agent”. This can even work on quite a few systems that are not speaking English to you at the time. Sometimes the company’s own local word that they use such as “conseiller’ in French works. Perhaps not on the first time they ask you to say or dial something it will get you straight into the agent queue (which may be zero) but has a good chance to work on a lot of systems by 3rd or 4th prompt.

      Obviously try the standard way first but if you end up in Kafka’s castle the normal route IME it will extend your phone’s life by about two years because you won’t be throwing it against the wall.

      There’s even a website somewhere that lists major travel and banking automated systems in the English speaking world and tells you how to navigate them quickly. I got this off that about 5 years ago, lost the URL though, but my nerves are shredded less often now when I encounter one of these insufficiently programmed but restrictive systems. Oh wait…that’s just like BA’s India call centre.

      Come to think of it, it also describes the setup BA has made to avoid giving struggling passengers the cash refunds they are entitled to for service the BA business did not provide.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        I find agent or complaint usually works.

      • Doug M says:

        Good advice, yesterday I’d somehow made it a personal battle to defeat the system, which of course was a waste of time. It was seemingly so bad I felt I had to keep trying I’d say 89 it would respond you said 91, is that correct? At that point I was not entirely rational.
        Representative is the usual US term for agent I think.

        • Lady London says:

          IIRC “agent” works on Amtrak too.

          The French railways chat bot is even worse. It’s like an AI application they’ve not programmed at all. They still seem to be at the stage where your only purpose as a customer is to provide phrases that the computer is adding to its dictionary. Sometime someday someone will come and upload a next process step against that phrase in the system so it will know what to do with it.

          Are you listening SNCF ? Your idea of getting customers to do your programming for you, is not working.

        • Lady London says:

          Amtrak is literally that bad @Doug M.

      • Charlieface says:

        Often pressing 0 works

  4. Waddle says:

    Can I get a few data points on Virgin -> Hilton transfers? I initiated the transfer on 27 March and have not yet received. How are other readers doing?

    • It’s been reported that they transfer once a month, so 27th March looks to have missed the April transfer and so should hit in May.

      • Doug M says:

        Other posters rubbished that, I have no experience of this transfer.

      • Secret Squirrel says:

        My previous VA – HH transfers gave always taken approx 10x days. These were all done at varying times in the month.

    • Wally1976 says:

      I requested a transfer on 28th March, it was confirmed on 29th March and not in Hilton Honors account yet 🙁

  5. ChrisBCN says:

    How will BA even go bankrupt? Are you saying IAG will allow it? Or that IAG themselves are going bankrupt? Does that mean you have heard the Spanish government aren’t supporting IAG? And the Qataris aren’t putting any more money in? And what about the other governments of other countries?

    Methinks you are being dramatic 😂

  6. Jet2 just cancelled all flights up to the 16th June

    • Lady London says:

      Oops. I hope they are going to be ok and will be able to access any government funds they need to.

      I’ve never flown on them but always heard good things about them.

    • Grant says:

      I posted the same before realising it was on yesterday’s chat thread.

      If your flight / holiday is cancelled and you want a refund, as opposed to moving the dates which you can do on the website, my advice is to call bang on 0800 when the call centre lines open. I only queued for 15 mins and the agent was happy to process a refund after a bit of soft selling of the alternatives. Funds were back on my Amex within 3 days.

  7. Billy Nicholson says:

    Morning all. I need to add a return leg to an existing companion voucher booking. Anyone know the best or perhaps only way to contact BA to do this? It’s only ever doable over the phone but of course that is almost impossible right now…..

    • Lady London says:

      Call them in a quieter country’s number. Look on their website. Make sure you call in the right local timezone opening hours. Weirdly you may land up in Newcastle anyway if you’re lucky!

      Good luck getting the seats you need.

      • Billy Nicholson says:

        So if seats are released at 1am BST in the UK, I could call a foreign office that will be open at 1am BST and they can amend the companion voucher booking?

  8. Free IHG rewards card 20k bonus. Still waiting on the extra 10k of points and the creation phone agent said to contact IHG to sort this…is this true? Anyone else still waiting for these? I have had a statement through with the normal 10k bonus added so getting a bit concerned…

    • Grant says:

      Have you checked your IHG account, rather than just looking at your Creation account? The additional 10k points get credited direct to your IHG account and will show as a line item. It foxed me for a while.

  9. ChrisBCN says:

    Just curious as to why you would delete somebody else’s comment about BA going bust and then rebuttals from others as it’s obviously nonsense?

    Is that something that isn’t allowed? I’ve seen many comments on here over years and years of how Norwegian is about to go bust, and those have been allowed.

    • I think it’s more the angry and scaremongering tone of the poster repeatedly expressing that opinion – and it’s an opinion they are presenting as fact. BA going bust is extremely unlikely and it’s a stressful time for many so that poster spreading misinformation is not being very helpful.

    • Nick_C says:

      I thought the post was an ironic response to people cashing out the Virgin miles for Hilton.

      • If someone wants to make the same point, rationally argued (including how IAG’s €9bn of liquidity gets used up) we’re fine with it. Trolling is something different.

  10. rams1981 says:

    Just downgraded to Amex gold charge card over the phone, easy to do just takes 10 mins. Will pro rata refund fee and gold charge free for year 1.

  11. I was due to fly on Thursday to Madrid in CE, but this flight has been cancelled. The JavaScript refund trick does not seem to work for me. I’ve tried calling the BA number multiple times today, going through the options and also trying not selecting any options as indicated in the refund post but no luck. I get a message saying they are too busy to take my call and the line disconnects.

    Anyone experiencing this too? Any ideas?

    • Ron Harris says:

      Me also – just about every option on 0800 727800 says they are too busy and just cuts off, it doesn’t even let you queue.
      It’s ridiculous.

      • stevenhp1987 says:

        I’m trying to book an open jaw redemption.

        Getting this on the line too. Frustrating to say the least.

        • stevenhp1987 says:

          Update.

          Rang the US number, +1 877 767 7970 – Rang for free from Google Hangouts

          Option 1 for Avios. Got through in approx 10 minutes. All booked.

          Might help to get through to cancel your booking.

    • Tom Cook says:

      I called the 0800 727800 number at 11.24 today. Was on hold for 15 mins and then got through. We’ve apart avios part pay booking to Florence in July. TBF the chap said I could cancel to get back the avios now but obviously I’d lose £35 per booking (x3) which when I paid £300 didn’t really add up so I’ve left the flights as is and if BA don’t cancel I can still obviously do so 24 hrs before the flight.

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