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The new HFP chat thread – Saturday 18th 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/2020/04/18/the-new-hfp-chat-thread-saturday-18th-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!

Comments (219)

  • Dominic Barrington says:

    One of the most breathtaking bits of COVID malpractice I’ve yet come across stars Malaysian. I have (well, had…!) a fairly major family holiday planned originating from our home in Chicago, to the UK, on to Israel, then Bali, back to the UK and home to the USA. Much of it is on a BA joker, with TLV/DPS on CX, and one single flight on Malaysian, DPS/KUL to pick up a BA flight onwards to home.

    I had an email today from MH announcing that because of Covid, this flight on 18 August (yes, August) is cancelled. I had booked through Amex Travel, whom I called. They said they could not refund me unless I forfeited $100 per ticket as there was no waiver in place to cover a refund. So I have turned to the US equivalent of an S75. I should say that MH has no other flight DPS/KUL that day, and (assuming my plans hold good, which is, of course, up in the air) it is the only day on which my family and I could travel.

    I think it beyond astonishing that they can make a COVID cancellation five months out, and refuse a refund when there is no way at all they can enable me to make an international journey on the day in question. Breathtaking. Although I am BA GGL and thus biased to flying on OW carriers, I will not fly MH again under any circs.

    • BJ says:

      MAS reportedly going out of business soon and/or taken over by Air Asia. Air Asia has multiple daily rotations to DPS which you could buy separately to complete your trip assuming they are operating and provided the rest of your ticket remains valid despite the loss of the MAS sector. You would need to do this directly with Air Asia or via a TA that sells Air Asia such as Expedia, amex travel do not AFAIK. Could amex travel not add Garuda flights to cover this sector? Personally I think your itinerary is too complicated with too many potential pitfalls given the situation that has now developed. I’d be wanting out at as little cost as possible and if amex is letting you do so for $100pp that sounds not bad to me. If I could reduce those costs further then obviously I would do that too. Another point worth making is that if you can get a MAS ticket the next day, KL is a very pleasant city to spend an overnight. Quite a few places worth seeing and fantastic food, inexpensive high end hotels.

    • Freddy says:

      “One of the most breathtaking bits of COVID malpractice I’ve yet come across”

      Really!! Overstatement of the year!

      • Brian says:

        Not really – Dominic does qualify it by saying ‘I’ve come across’. Maybe he’s just naturally short of breath.

    • Matty says:

      Shouldn’t you be waiting until 2 weeks before you’re scheduled to start your trip before contacting Amex?

      I have a trip, booked through Amex travel, for the end of May. One of the flights within the trip was cancelled during the week and Amex emailed to advise me of the cancellation but requested that I didn’t call until the period 2 weeks prior to the trip commencing because of the high volume of calls that the call centre is experiencing and the need to prioritise those travelling imminently.

      You are just adding to the inconvenience of others.

  • Kev 85 says:

    “ Asked during an interview on Radio 4’s Today for his advice for people who would normally be considering their holiday plans, Mr Shapps said: “Clearly people will want to see what the trajectory of this disease is in the next few weeks.
    “We are not seeing declines yet. I won’t be booking a summer holiday at this point, let’s put it that way.”

    “ The body which represents travel companies reacted angrily, saying the comments were “thoughtless” and risked undermining confidence in the industry.
    “It shows complete disregard for the UK travel industry, the hundreds of thousands of people it employs and the struggle it is facing in this current crisis,” Abta said in a statement.”

    What sort of answer do ABTA think should be given to that question? Pathetic response from them. Encouraging people to book summer holidays would be irresponsible given how difficult people have found it to get back cash refunds, which they’re legally entitled to.

    • Tariq says:

      There is no confidence whatsoever. In the Government or economy or a return to normal life. Apparently quite a lot of people out there are scared!

      I’m hoping for a post Covid cut in VAT, a la 2008.

      • J says:

        Just distract people with clapping every Thursday! The UK is in a bad place and a lot of countries will have restrictions on visitors from the UK for a long time. If Labour were in power the media would have been relentless. The UK is not (yet) a poor country and should be doing a lot better.

      • Rob says:

        Obviously. How about a 10p rise in income tax instead? How do you expect to repay the money being thrown around at the moment?

        • J says:

          Or more borrowing – and devalue/default down the line, maybe some of the thinking behind Corona Bonds could take us there. But as the biggest economy in the world it would be a lot easier for the EU to get away with that. I don’t think it makes sense to saddle generation(s) with debt, higher taxes and cuts to public services to pay for this crisis – if an individual country defaults they’re a pariah but if everyone defaults…

        • TripRep says:

          Maybe Debt Jubilee agreement between G7 countries to try and counter act China launching a new digital gold backed currency?

          I reckon we’ll inflate our way out of it, could be historic years ahead.

        • BJ says:

          HS2 probably get ditched for starters. They could reduce the Commons by half and ditch the other lot. Similar cuts to local councillors across the country too. Extend the transition period indefinitely. And so on and so on before hiking tax 10p.

          • Rob says:

            Ignoring HS2, the rest saves literally nothing in the scheme of things.

            Even a 10p rise in income tax only raises £20 billion per year so it would have a long time to get back to where we were 3 months ago in terms of national debt.

            The problem is that income tax rises only really impact the lower paid on fixed salaries paid via PAYE. A banker due a £1m bonus, for eg, would instead receive a £1m loan from his employer secured against a £1m bonus to be paid in 5 years when income tax levels dropped back. (I have seen this done in the past.) The self employed would leave money in their companies and live off savings for a few years, or take director loans.

          • Spaghetti Town says:

            data point. NS&I have canned the planned interest rate cut across the majority of it’s products. Looks like the government were worried people would withdraw and less cash in the government coffers.

          • Genghis says:

            “ Looks like the government were worried people would withdraw and less cash in the government coffers”
            I think the driver was more not wanting to hurt savers as much rather than the gov actually needing the cash. They can raise on the bond market much cheaper.

        • J says:

          A 10p tax rise will be insufficient given the projected GDP decline. 30% GDP decline is around £600 billion and any growth will be from that lower level, so the total production decline will be trillions. Most SMEs are insolvent and the Coronavirus 80% subsidy is the only thing preventing redundancies in the millions. When the practical effects dawn, people might look at Public Heath England’s own data for 2014/15 and 2017/18 and wonder why mortality projections- even absent lockdown – are not too different form then, when no lockdown occurred.

          • J says:

            Fellow J – the NHS is overwhelmed and at breaking point as it is – without a lockdown things would be even worse.

          • Rob says:

            GDP isn’t cash though, but of course it does feed through into lower tax receipts. My gut feeling is that it will be less bad than anticipated because we are not destroying any productive capacity. This is different to post-war or post-hurricane scenarios when factories, shops, machinery equipment simply does not exist. If your local restaurant goes bust (and one near us has a sign up saying that it will never reopen) then someone else can buy it, with equipment, and reopen very quickly. It’s not the same as the restaurant being blown up.

            Interesting news story last week of an Hermes boutique in mid-size Chinese city which took $2.5m equivalent on its first day after reopening.

            We are also talking to a potential client about an ad campaign. This client is active in China and is happy to plan big marketing campaigns on the back of the sharp improvement they saw there.

          • George C says:

            Is the NHS overwhelmed? We saw lots of coverage of the Excel centre before it opened….but they won’t want to show it now if there’s 1000s of empty beds?

          • BJ says:

            To put that into perspective it remains less than successive conservative governments have borrowed since 2010.

          • Lady London says:

            Yes. Ironically I can see China being considerably better off than the majority of Western economies very soon. And they are not giving up that gain.

            My mother thinks China should pay reparations to countries affected by COVID-19.

          • sunguy says:

            Re: Excel Centre

            Biggest problem with this government is the way they have tried to walk over the NHS not work with it….that testing centre in Milton Keynes has removed most of the access to testing machines and reagents, etc from mostly all hospitals – there are labs and pepole available – MK is not actually an NHS lab but staffed by volunteers from industry and private labs – its very much a white elephant done in the way this government wants to go – and thats privatise the NHS by the back door….except it has backfired…..again…. just like the failure to act in January/February … along with the stupidity of “We can go it alone, we dont need the EU to help us get PPE, breathing machines or anything else” – and you see where thats go ut so far!

            ….rant over….

        • pauldb says:

          When does government debt ever get repaid. This money flush is just going to lift government borrowing to a new high step, counterbalanced bumpy longterm interest rates being anchored even lower. The BoE will print as much money as is needed hoover up all that debt. In a UK only scenario the £ would collapse, but ever major central bank is doing the same.

    • Andrew says:

      It’s terrible isn’t it.

      A politician being honest and taking the same “watch and wait” approach that ordinary families are doing.

      Right now, I’d rather the summer school holidays were cancelled altogether. It’s potentially a once in a lifetime opporunity for children to be allowed to catch up on the schooling they will have missed out on.

      • Martyn Ford says:

        Assuming that children could return to school in July what would happen to the current plans of the half a million teachers in the UK if school holidays were cancelled?

        • TGLoyalty says:

          They are cancelled just like everyone else’s plans right now?

          • Cat says:

            What about if their plans are a staycation in the Lake District? That may (or may not) still be possible.

          • No lockdown for me says:

            There’s no particular coronavirus logic in disallowing people from going on staycation in UK – whether to second homes or holiday lets.

            Some thick people talk about overwhelming local NHS services in the place of the second home/ holiday let, but that never stacked up as an extra risk.

            Nor did the idea of importing coronavirus from London to (say) Cornwall or Peak District.

            Same as sunbathing – why on earth would PC Plodder assume sunbathing was breaking self-isolation principles? Just thick as 2 short planks.

        • sunguy says:

          Well, good question about teachers – nobody else seems to give a **** about them….lots of parents just look at teachers as a free babysitting service, the government loves experimenting with making “teachers” out of untrained teaching assistants (has happened under successive governments) – and they arent really that interested in investing in them…..

          Removing the Easter holidays from teachers so that they could quite literally babysit the kids of “key workers” is obviously not enough for some folks – as a reminder, teachers CANNOT just take 2 weeks off whenever they like, they must fit in with school holidays – and head teachers remain “oncall” throughout. Most of us here can – within reason – take time whenever we need to or want to – as long as we give enough notice and not too many folks are off at the same time – teachers cannot do this. (And even if they could, most would think it abhorrant – why would they want to leave their classes and the kids they are teaching to someone else whilst they are sunning it up – most teachers couldnt do that).

          I could go on – but Ill save it for another time – problem is, like NHS staff, teachers are under paid, over worked and not really looked after as much as they should be by both government and the public alike – making sweeping changes just to suit the whim of government or someone who doesnt even know what the job is really like and demoralising the entire profession – is probably not a great idea, but something that happens very ofthen – one of the best things about teaching are the 6 weeks of summer holidays – allowing not only a bit of catch up on rest and allowing vacations to be booked, but also, the number that actuall spend some of that time working, creating lessons, exams and so on, in their own time is quite significant …. think about that the next time you are taking 2 days off mid-week to do a TP run with only a few days notice…..

      • Lady London says:

        Good idea @Andrew.

      • Anna says:

        Surely they’ve only missed out if they haven’t been set any work in the interim?

        • Peter K says:

          Exactly. I know of secondary students in more than one area being given literally hundreds of pages of work to do at home.

          • Cat says:

            It’s a tough one. TBH, from what I’m seeing, the disparity in progress made over the last month is partly along the lines of how conducive their home environment is to learning, and parental income, but there are many, many other factors.
            – do they have a dedicated space to work (a desk / access to a computer in a room that isn’t shared with other, younger, louder siblings)?
            – do they have to share the computer with another sibling who is online learning, or a parent who is WFH?
            – are parents still working (if away from home, does that mean they’re babysitting younger siblings most days?), or are they furloughed and able and willing to help their kids with their work?
            – have they been ill for a fortnight, and are now struggling to catch up across multiple subjects?
            – have they had family in hospital and been too worried to engage with anything school is setting, work-wise?
            – have they lost a family member?
            I would have replied earlier, but I’ve spent a large chunk of today trying to ascertain where my students are at, now that the holidays are almost over.
            They’re all over the place.
            It’s a nightmare situation, on many levels far, far worse than this, and we will do everything we can to support our students in catching up, because nobody becomes a teacher for the salary. The holidays perhaps, but those that stick around after the first year, do so for something more than that.
            I don’t have the answers @LadyLondon. I suspect my spectacularly well-planned holiday to Indonesia in August (seriously, I outdid myself this time with the gorgeous guesthouses I had booked) will be going the same way as my trip to the Seychelles that I’m supposed to be on now and my planned West Highland Way in half term. I was looking forward to trying the QSuite though!
            I think I need to invent some sort of updated #firstworldproblems for this situation. #seriouslyIknowthatotherpeoplehaveitfarfarworse perhaps.

          • No lockdown for me says:

            My French pal got a sighting of all the teaching staff salaries in a big comprehensive (not London) a couple of years ago. There was a very big group on about £38K-£42K – established career teachers.

          • Cat says:

            For any other trolls out there who wish to know more, our pay scales (for non-academy schools) are freely available, and can be found below:
            https://neu.org.uk/pay-scales-2019-20
            You can’t get paid more than £40,490 without additional responsibility (head of year, head of department assistant head etc) if you don’t at least live in the London fringe area.
            Please troll better in future.

          • No lockdown for me says:

            So my French pal was accurate.

          • Cat says:

            No my love, if you’re choosing to round to two significant figures, that would be £38K-40K.
            Fringe area counts as part of London, and anyone getting a TLR would be referred to as school management, rather than career teachers.

          • No lockdown for me says:

            Seems like a lot of money (and the generous pensions) when we should really be shifting most students 14YO+ onto independent learning/ computer based learning, ie using the Rosetta Stone model.

          • Cat says:

            You are more than welcome to do that with your kids.

  • jil says:

    I have a return ticket operated by non-EU airline from London to Asia, outbound from london all good, inbound cancelled, the airline only offers refund but they were not willing to re-route me (there’s no direct flight anymore, they refuse to put me on their own 2 flights connecting through a 3rd airport to get back to London), I have to purchase another expensive oneway ticket to get back to London, does EC261 cover this siutaion (non EU airline, return ticket outbound from London, but only inbound from Asia is impacted)? Is it possible to ask for the airline to compensate me for the expensive oneway ticket I bought to get back London? (the original return ticket is very cheap and inbound only refund which they are willing to offer is alomost nothing)

    • pauldb says:

      Don’t think you can claim EU261. Which airline is it – what do their conditions of carriage say? That’s your contract with them: if they breach it you can make a credit card S75 claim.

    • Reeferman says:

      EU261 is indeed applicable – as long as you have a r.t. ticket.
      Am sure someone else can explain what is and isn’t covered/allowed under these circumstances (re any new return-leg ticket you purchase), but rest assured you are covered by EU261. If required, can insist upon a full cash refund for the complete round trip (I know from experience- painful as it was – with Qatar).

      • memesweeper says:

        ‘I have to purchase another expensive oneway ticket to get back to London, does EC261 cover this siutaion’

        Yes. Get their refusal to re-route in writing or on a recorded call, and then you’ll have to make your own arrangements and consider legal action afterwards. Bear in mind they might go bust, in which case you’ll only have insurance to fall back on. If it gets to court, the judge will want evidence you minimised your losses in your choices concerning the route back. Long haul one-ways are sometimes a rare example where buying miles can actually be cheaper than buying the flight, availability is required, obviously.

        • pauldb says:

          I don’t believe EU261 will come into play for a change/cancelation of the inbound flight Asia-LON (on an Asian carrier) even if the ticket is from the UK.

          Whether any EU261 refund applies to the whole ticket or just the inbound is irrelevant if EU261 isn’t triggered.

          • Lady London says:

            s.75 via your credit card should cover the cost of a replacement ticket even if higher.

            You are entitled to a full refund though. This airline sounds a bit of a risk to take a reroute with now. Unless you’re doing it to kick the can down the road knowing you still have s.75 rights if you paid any of the ticket by credit card

            Are you sure you really need to travel? Or is it just a case of maintaining some sort of booking to protect against price increases?

      • jil says:

        Unfortunately after reading through the details of EC261, EC261 doesn’t apply to my situation. Here’s the key part in the legal text “The outbound and return flights are always considered as two separate flights even if they were booked as part of one reservation.”

        • Lady London says:

          s.75 then for breach of contract as you did not receive what you paid for. Refund or costs to replace your travel with another ticket.

          • pauldb says:

            Again, you have to read the carrier’s conditions of carriage. That will determine what constitutes a breach of contract. If the CoCs say they can cancel and refund half the journey, or they can put you on their next available flight after many however many days, there is no breach and no s75 claim. Unfair? Well that would be a court case.

  • Peter says:

    I posted a question here y’day on whether Amex Platinum card/AXA Travel Insurance covered all-medical related expenses if I were to be hospitalised for coronavirus in France as I am in effect “stranded” in Paris since March 16 when confinement was introduced.
    A special thank you therefore for the comprehensive answers (and observations for me to consider) from so many – Lady London, TGLoyalty, J, The Original David, Annie, Anna, Sandgrouper, Jonathan and Lyn.

  • DS says:

    Revolut has updated their T&Cs:
    11. Are there any restrictions on using the Revolut app or Revolut Card?

    – only to send money to and receive money from a credit card account;

    -for any transactions to receive cash other than making a withdrawal from an ATM (cash machine);

    -to trade in foreign currencies for speculative purposes (that is, to take advantage of any expected rise or fall in the value of a currency) or to take advantage of discrepancies in the foreign exchange market.

    • Jon says:

      I don’t get it: what does it mean?

      • Colin MacKinnon says:

        I think it means another door has closed!

        If you can’t use a credit card to top up your account that only leaves bank transfers – ie wages – and debit cards.

        Oh! Wait! Curve is a debit card – so how will they know what I’d behind the curve?

        ps. Was asked yesterday by Rev for more ID. But haven’t seen the new Ts and Cs.

        • Froggee says:

          Is the key word not “only”. So you can still top up with a credit card but you can’t rinse and repeat. Vary your spending and all should be fine.

        • Princess says:

          Ohhhh!!!! Yesterday I’ve been asked from revolut to verify the source of my funds(done also in the past). Today I received the message that my account has been closed!!!!😱

          • mark2 says:

            When they asked me that I did not bother because I knew the next step.

          • Lady London says:

            were you doing questionable stuff and if so, what variety, how regularly and to what extent?

          • Guesswho2000 says:

            Really? I put a lot through Revolut, and have had the income verification several times, it’s all fine once I provide the docs, why would they close the account? My top ups are 100% credit card.

          • Princess says:

            I was not doing anything major….I think. Top up from credit card maybe around 2000/3000 a months and I would used to transfer to pay nanny, landlord, cleaners.
            Verified source of funds a couple of times before and everything ok…this time not!

      • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

        For one thing, all the above is implicitly allowed for 30 days until you accept the new terms

        • TGLoyalty says:

          Yet Revolut is know to not give a damn to 30 day rules as seen when they stealth changed their T&Cs about CC loading being fee free from your card issuer.

          Though from memory this is just forming up rules they already had about cash recycling.

        • EwanG says:

          @Andrew – if, as DS has suggested, the T&Cs have been updated Revolut do also need to *communicate new T&Cs out* to customers as well as give notice – acceptance will be taken if you continue to use the service after the required notice period.

          There is some suggestion by Don who has commented later that this clause has been there for some time however Revolut don’t make it easy by adding a date or version number to their personal terms, which is somewhat elementary.
          Wayback machine would be a way to check for sure.

    • Don says:

      I don’t believe this is new. The T&C always had this?

  • Patrycja says:

    Has anyone had any luck getting through to Virgin Money credit card services? I need to do a section 75 claim for my flight with Latam (who are useless!). Telephony service says they only support pin reset, fraud claims and digital services. I submitted an enquiry form for a call back on the website but haven’t heard back. Any top tips on how to deal with this?

    • J says:

      Have you tried any different numbers? I’ve had luck getting through to my bank with land line numbers, saynoto0870 is a useful website for getting these.

    • JJ says:

      I was succesful in getting through almost immediately to Virgin Money at about 1700 a couple of days ago.
      Their website has a coronavirus help page and I used one of the links there to find a contact number (sorry can’t remember which number) which after a few presses got through to an agent.
      As VS have agreed to a cash refund but haven’t yet paid it they won’t start a s75 claim until the agreed 30 days is up, however you may get further if LATAM are uncontactable. Any written email/text evidence will be helpful to back up your s75 claim. HTH

  • Lynn says:

    Is it my imagination or have the points for Hilton hotels increased considerably?

    • Henry says:

      I agree it seems they have gone up nearly double in most searches that I am very familiar with.

      • Lynn says:

        A later comment says if you click through to the rooms the normal point requirement is there, this seems to be the case. Strange

        • Lady London says:

          Headline rate can often be less when you click through. I can only say this for lower end brands though as I don’t look at top end

    • TGLoyalty says:

      2 things I’ve observed.

      Summary of all available hotels is showing higher rates than the actual hotel rooms summary.

      Some Hotels have removed base room availability / they are already booked with people having moved booking for free to later dates. So all you are left with is premium rooms.

  • Youllnever says:

    Does anyone know if I’ll be charged interest/fees on payments (6012) with IHG? Do I need to pay it off immediately?

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