Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

The new HFP chat thread – Sunday 19th April

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Sorry for the delay in getting the Sunday chat thread live!

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: 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 (129)

  • Amit says:

    HSBC Rewards Credit Card.
    Does anyone have this card? I am trying to find who the selected merchants are that ‘supercharge’ your points.

    Still struggling with finding a card to put my daily spend on.
    Cancelled AMEX platinum
    Currently using the Amex rewards credit card and M&S Credit card.
    However, I don’t feel I get enough from the M&S card which needs to go.

    • The Urbanite says:

      1 point is worth 1p. They are paid in a favourable manner – a few days after the qualifying transaction it goes into an account that the credit card draws from at your request. These bonus points are in addition to the base earning rate. At the moment the selection is as follows;

      Lego – 7 points per £1
      Sunday Times – 10 points per £1
      Groupon – 10 points per £1
      Aspinal of London – 10 points per £1
      Laithwaites Wine – 10 points per £1
      Carphone Warehouse – 3 points per £1
      Hackett – 10 points per £1
      Harvey Nichols – 10 points per £1

      Retailers come and go. Until early April, Waitrose and a few of the IHG chains were offering 5 points per £1, whilst Morrisons earned 10 points per £1. No telling if or when these will return.

      What’s funny about this card is it is has different paramaters to the HSBC Premier card. For example HSBC Rewards will not give you anything for spend at merchants with certain MCCs whereas HSBC Premier and most other reward earning cards will.

      Have had to write this several times as it seems to keep being automatically blocked!

      • Amit says:

        Thanks for providing that list – looks like none of those retailers listed will be an advantage for me.
        Waitrose would have been useful however based on the current list I think I will have to rule this card out.

        I keep thinking about the HSBC world elite but as we cant travel at the moment and I am put off by the fee plus having to pay the fee for my wife to have a joint card.

        • The Urbanite says:

          No problem. HSBC WE is a very good card if you spend or travel enough to make it worthwhile.

  • Duncan says:

    I had an Avios refund processed on Wednesday (Loyds 2:1voucher after BA cancelled my flight). The points have not yet been credited to my BA account. Has anyone else seen it take that long?

  • Craig says:

    What can I do with 5700 Virgin points, I already have a flight redemption in and am unlikely to use these for anything?

    • blenz101 says:

      Options are all on their website for spend partners

      Consensus seems to be Hitlon points or Wine as the best options, you take a 50% haircut in the value of your points but if you have no plans for them its a good a use as any.

      • blenz101 says:

        Just reading your post again, 5700 there is zero use unless you top up to 10k and you can then transfer out.

        Tesco or Amex MR rewards?

        • Genghis says:

          Personally I’d just leave them where they are. Run the numbers but transferring out Tesco / MR to then transfer out from Virgin and lose value (you’ll probably get c.0.5p / Virgin) is not a great idea.

  • Baji Nahid says:

    Hi there, I would love any assistance in this matter.

    I am currently stranded in Pakistan and have booked a charter flight to the UK. Due to Pakistani airspace closures no commercial flights are going and my flights back to the UK are cancelled.I have used the outbound portion of the ticket and the return was cancelled. Since then I have been trying to claim a refund on the partial unused ticket but I am getting a voucher which i do not want. Can I claim a refund through section 75? I bought my ticket through a credit card and travelled on Pakistan International Airlines (regretfully).

    I would sincerely appreciate any help thank you!

    • Blenz101 says:

      Have you registered yourself with the FCO website assuming you are a British national? They have special flights back next week for £527. You may even be able to get a loan from the consulate if you don’t have the cash to pay for this right now.

      Do you have travel insurance, that may be your best bet here. But, when did you travel, was it after the FCO advised against travel? That will likely wipe out any chance of an insurance claim for the cost of the above flight or your insurer giving you assistance/covering you with getting money back from PIA.

      Did you book direct with PIA – if you have booked via an agent you won’t be able to do a s.75 claim.
      In any event I suspect a s.75 claim will fail given PIA will argue you have already used to outbound ticket and they are offering you a suitable alternative i.e. voucher or rebooking for when flights resume. Will depend on your bank if they agree the voucher is a suitable alternative, PIA would have a strong argument to say that they are honouring your booking or offering a voucher and will get you home when flights resume. If you decide to be repatriated by another means then it is you who is abandoning your ticket hence travel insurance being your best bet.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        For a cancelled flight a voucher or rebooking at some future date isn’t a suitable alternative if you don’t want them. I do stress cancelled not just flights that are flying but you don’t want to be on it due to travel advice.

        Assuming it’s a uk credit card company and the flight was booked directly I would get onto your credit card company and file a s75 claim for reimbursement of the replacement return flight cost.

        If you used an agent I would say chances of a s75 claim are harder but not nil because if the agent has been contacted but offered no alternatives or completely stone walled you they haven’t kept their end of the sale contract. I would still try a s75 claim as what do you have to lose?

        • Blenz101 says:

          If no commercial flights are operating out of Pakistan then a rebooking at the earliest opportunity or voucher in lieu of rebooking is a suitable alternative. It doesn’t come down to just wanting cash instead of the only options available to get the passenger back.

          Of course there is no harm in putting in a claim, I was just cautioning that it will be robustly defended by the airline and unlikely in this instance to be successful.

          Travel insurance is the best option.

          • Baji Nahid says:

            Thank you so much for the help.

            I’ve paid for the charter and will initiate the section75 claim. I booked through my amex gold and Im sure I have some insurance protection but will need to read into this and see.

            Thanks for all the help @Blenz101 and @TGLoyalty.

          • Baji Nahid says:

            Blenz101 there are currently no flights going in and out of Pakistan. PIA are running charter flights and will not rebook on those and buying a new ticket is in excess of £700 which i cannot afford to pay. So i bought a UK GOV chartered flight instead and will claim a refund under PIA through section75 in this case. Surely since all flights are cancelled i would be eligible for a refund in this case no?

            I appreciate the help thank you!!

          • Lady London says:

            s.75 on credit card request cost of the UK gov repatriation. You can claim as PIA or the travel agent – doesn’t matter which – did not provide all that you paid for and you had to replace it paying money yourself. So this is a consequential loss of your contract (ticket) for travel that was purchased, failing to be provided.

            s.75 covers consequential losses and this is what this is. Doesn’t matter if what you had to pay is higher it’s still covered as that was the going rate and was the cheapest available to replace the flight home part of your ticket. You can also request any other consequential losses such as extra hotel and meals till your new flight date and any extra travel to where your new flight departs from.

          • Baji Nahid says:

            Thank you everyone for your help!

            @LadyLondon thank you so much for your help, I sincerely appreciate all the help in this!

    • Blemz101 says:

      The s75 against the UK gov charter should be fine as a consequential loss as
      Lady London suggests. It’s PIA defending the s75 I was warning about.

      Best of luck and safe travels back.

      • Baji Nahid says:

        I have one slight issue. Do I have to book my repatriation flight with the same card i booked my original ticket with? Just because of shortage of funds I have had to use another card in this case, I hope this wont be a problem! I appreciate any help!

  • AviosNewbie says:

    I just managed to bag 3 seats (2 adults + 1 child) to Maldives for March 2021 using the BA companion voucher.

    I will appreciate if anyone has suggestions to get the best deals for hotels. In terms of my cards/status, I have IHG Spire Ambassador, but reward nights availability for the Intercontinental Maldives seems non-existent.

    In terms of cards, I have Amex Plat and 100k MRs.

    Even if I have to book for cash, recommendations based on experience will be great.

    thanks in advance!

    • Martyn Ford says:

      Hi AviosNewbie,

      Whilst I have the same IHG status as you, I gave up looking for this sort of redemption with them some time ago. In my experience Hilton offers a much better deal in The Maldives. The Conrad is a splendid hotel. You already have Gold Status through your Amex Plat. which means free breakfast in either of two excellent restaurants plus a happy hour drinks event each day at 4.30pm.

      Even if you have no Hilton points you can build up the 380,000 that will buy you a 5 night stay in an overwater villa very easily at the moment by purchasing across 3 accounts and pooling the points. This will give you a first class stay for $1,900 using the 100% more points offer they are running until May 27, 2020, at 11:59pm. If you want to push the boat out further there is also a Waldorf @ Ithaafushi.

      You`ve done the hard bit by securing the flights. Have fun.

      • Secret Squirrel says:

        Over water villas not available at present at 95k a night in early 21 due to some remodernisations going on at the resort. I’m looking to change 5 x nights out of 10 to OWN so when I see them come back online I will post on here.

      • LST says:

        Hi. If paying cash, I would contact some of the UK based Maldives specialists – rates and promos offered are much better than booking direct. We have been twice in the last couple of years, staying at Outrigger Konotta and Ayada. Both islands are in the Gaafuu Dhaluu atoll so require a domestic flight, both it means you are in splendid isolation with the sea life being bigger and better and far less bleaching of coral. Outrigger had all a la carte dining to a high standard, with Ayada being a more beautiful island and better house reef.
        I would have a look at the Tripadvisor UK Maldives forum, you will see recommendations for travel companies there too, they are a friendly bunch and are very helpful.


    • Ali says:

      tips for getting Male companion voucher deals pls.
      I never seem to find and always looking.Am I looking at the wrong time? 🙁

      • Secret Squirrel says:

        Do you mean LHR – MLE route on BA using a 241?
        Keep checking BA Redemption Finder, set up alerts, check at 355 days out.

        • Rob says:

          Remember that this is a Winter season route, so nothing from late March to late October on BA.

          • Ali says:

            Thanks Rob and SS – will keep an eye for Oct (have put a wee reminder for self)

    • Secret Squirrel says:

      HH Points to use at the Conrad Rangali Island would be my recommendation.

    • Anna says:

      Did they release 3 in C?! Both ways?

  • Simon says:

    Hi All, considering booking an avoid redemption via iberia. What fees would I incur if I cancelled the booking closer to the time of travel. Also is the refund process strightforward. Or is it vouchers etc?

    • marcw says:

      25 EUR Blue and Business. Economy/Turista, free changes and cancellations. You can change flights up to departure time and cancel them 24h prior to departure. Changes and cancellations only over the phone.

  • Michael C says:

    Spoke to BA just now about a cancellation over 3 weeks ago (reocgnised, but no cash / Avios / 241 returned).
    Was told it was being processed manually, had gone to Delhi, and Delhi had closed.
    Should now be here in another 10 days.

    On other matter, just had a LHR-SIN cancelled, so said would return cash by end of next week.

    • Kathry says:

      Do you mind sharing how you managed to get through? Every time I phone I end up getting hte message that there’s too many people in the queue already and they put the phone down.

  • Harry T says:

    Looking to fly to South Africa in January and would appreciate some advice regarding airline choice. Looks like Jo’burg is cheaper to fly into, so would start there and use Avios on Comair to visit CPT.

    I live in Newcastle, so it’s easy to fly to Amsterdam. There are Swiss flights that take around 13 hours from Amsterdam to Johannesburg – they fly overnight with a quick connection to Zurich and then one long sector overnight with plenty of time for sleep. They run Saturday to Saturday (two week stay), which means I must only take ten days of leave. Cost around £1250 each in J on the A340 for the long sector.

    Alternatively, I could drive up to Edinburgh and fly to Oslo to get flights with Qatar. I would have to fly out on a Friday and then return on a Sunday/Monday , so would use an extra two days leave. The flight times are longer at 17-19.5 hours. Only one leg appears to be Q Suite, and on the outbound. I can fly to Jo’burg and back for around £1152 in J on their A350-900, or tweak it slightly and fly to Jo’burg and back from CPT for £1163-1200 each.

    Essentially I have a choice between an easier exEU (Amsterdam much easier to get to from Newcastle with multiple direct flights) with more convenient and faster overnight flight times, but possibly an inferior business class product (Swiss). Or I can choose a slightly more annoying exEU with a more inconvenient itinerary and flight times that are longer and possibly allow less time for sleep, but are arguably in a better business class product for about £50 to £100 less (Qatar).

    I would appreciate any insight from people with experience on these routes and carriers, as I’ve never visited South Africa and haven’t flown either Swiss or Qatar.

    • Harry T says:

      Should add that I don’t have status with either Star or OW. Qatar flights would earn around 18,000 Avios and 560 tier points, so BA silver in the bag.

      • Reeferman says:

        I booked for CPT (departure end-Jan) a couple of months ago – and found the best deals at that time were with Qatar from BRU. Things might have changed, but may be worth adding to the usual list of OSL/CPH/ARN to check for good deals – at least in this instance.

        • Harry T says:

          Thanks, Reeferman. Looks a little more expensive from Brussels this time (perhaps £200 each) but it’s a useful tip for me to bear in mind for future travels. I hope you enjoy your trip.

          • Reeferman says:

            You’re welcome. Am looking forward to it – the start of a cruise!
            We chose to go via BRU as it’s easier to take Eurostar for an o/night in Brussels before flying off to DOH/CPT the next day.
            Likewise, enjoy your trip too – it’s a great Country

          • LST says:

            Hi. I would be taking the flight via Amsterdam rather than going via Doha. As great as Qatar is, I would much rather spend more of my time in SA rather than in airports or worrying about ex EU departures. I imagine as a junior doctor you don’t have unlimited leave days (28+8?), so personally, I would use the them for the actual holiday. For the same reason, unless you are planning to spend time in Joburg, I would try to fly into CPT.


          • Harry T says:

            Thanks LST – good points!

    • Vit says:

      Why have you got to fly to Oslo for QR? QR do have flight to and from EDI.

      • Harry T says:

        Saves something like £1500 per person.

      • Aston100 says:

        Price my dear.
        It is more than double the price to fly EDI > DOH > JNB (return) than it is OSL > DOH > JNB (return)

    • Paul says:

      Personally I’d go for ease and time convenience. If you’ll actually get much value from BA silver then that can swing the decision but having been ‘playing’ this game for several years, I now nearly always default to price. Ducking for cover, business class is business class. Realistically all I care about is enough space to relax comfortably, being 6’6”. If the price and convenience are the same, then worry about differences in service levels, though having flown both Swiss and Qatari (although not q suites) I’d say the overall experience was similar. South Africa is fantastic, January weather normally excellent, so assuming they can get through this current crisis, you’ll have a great time either way.

      • Harry T says:

        Price is similar, Amsterdam is more convenient. Thanks, I appreciate your input.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          Going to Doha before CPT does seem like a big detour. AMS via BA sometimes has some great prices.

          • Harry T says:

            Sadly the good prices for BA are not in the peak months of December and January! But it’s a great point nonetheless.

          • TGLoyalty says:

            It’s worth keeping an eye on as it does happen.

            I personally love a QR trip as it is a great product but I think I’d just go for the more direct route. If it was LHR to CPT via Doha for £1.5k I’d probably bite but going to Oslo then Doha then CPT seems a bit too out of the way.

          • Harry T says:

            Thanks, I think I’ll keep an eye for now. A BA sale or random cheap fare might pop up, as they currently have some great deals from Oslo before Xmas.

            You’re right that Doha is a bit out of the way for this journey. Even the better connections amount to 50% more journey time than a decent exAmsterdam or London itinerary with a short initial hop in Europe.

    • Charlieface says:

      Check an open jaw, you may be able to get a decent price going back to AMS or even direct back Geordieland

      • Harry T says:

        Thanks, sadly no good options. I think I will wait and see what sales come up.

    • Colin MacKinnon says:

      We flew Swiss J back from JNB in January. We left Capetown and drove the Garden Route to Port Elizabeth and then took Comair to JNB, had early 5pm dinner on the terrace outside the Intercontinental at JNB airport and then departed.

      Now if you could fly direct back from Capetown on your long haul, that might be a preferred option. South Africa has many issues – such as power blackout at JNB for three hour when we arrived! So maybe some stress on non-connecting tickets.

      Swiss: Comfy bed, and a good amount of sleep.

      Food on departure no great shakes, and just had a continental breakfast before arrival and then used the lounges since in transit for UK return.

      Possibly might find an EU airline – even though UK will have left EU by 2021 ! – better for s75? I know Swiss has a bad record for that so far.

      Personally, I always go for the longest flight to maximise sleep.

      • Harry T says:

        Thanks a lot for your thoughts. Lufthansa/Swiss have been awful recently regarding refunds. I might leave it a bit and see how SA gets on with Covid. Hopefully a BA or Qatar sale will also pop up.

    • sayling says:

      Don’t fly with SAA – there will be nothing from 1st May