Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

The new HFP chat thread – Saturday 2nd May

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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/2020/05/02/the-new-hfp-chat-thread-saturday-2nd-may/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.  Let’s see how it goes.  Take care!

Comments (173)

  • Sarah says:

    Pangolin and bat.

  • BJ says:

    Amex Travel and BA hotel only bookings: What are readers experiences when attempting to cancel or change nonrefundable hotel reservations? Specifically at chains with Covid-19 policies that now allow changes or cancellations had the reservations been made via their own website as opposed to third party sites? I had made one reservation each at Accor and IHG to take advantage of the £50 amex offer. I have a similar issue with one reservation for a hotel only at BA. The reservations were all cash only, no membership reward points or avios were involved. Thanks.

    • Rob says:

      My understanding from IHG (not sure about Accor) is that rooms are refundable however they were booked, but don’t quote me on that.

      If the hotel is closed, of course, you are due a refund anyway.

      • BJ says:

        Thanks Rob, my understanding too. Was just wondering if amex and BA were handling these refunds smoothly m, I’ve been holding off contacting them until two weeks prior to arrival. Policies on Accor look like a dogs breakfast.

        • Jody says:

          I was due to stay at a Marriott hotel in Seattle in the middle of May. Booked through Amex travel on a non refundable rate.

          I was called by Amex travel last week telling me they could cancel it and I would get a full refund. Was told it could take up to 8 weeks, but the refund hit my account yesterday. Very impressed with how it was handled.

      • r* says:

        Holiday inn express milan was closed and both ihg and the hotel absolutely refused to give a refund and would only give a voucher, ive had to try a chargeback. Was very disappointed with them.

      • WZ says:

        Hey Rob, Is this the same for all hotels or just the chains mentioned above?

        I booked a Marriott hotel through OTA and got confirmation from the hotel that they are closed but OTA will only issue a voucher. If the hotel has confirmed they are closed do you think that would be helpful when claiming on S75.

        • Rob says:

          If the hotel is closed you have a clear chargeback claim (perhaps not Section 75 as its an agent, but a chargeback). Not an issue.

          Not sure what the Marriott refund rule is off the top of my head but if you check their website it will tell you. The OTA is just sitting on your cash – it has either been refunded or was never paid in the first place.

    • mark says:

      had several rooms booked in Krakow for this weekend at Accor brand hotels booked through Hotels.com. All cancelled and awaiting refund however it was a marathon to get there – Spoke to Hotels.com gold line several times and demanded they get my money back from Accor – quoted Accor policy on their web site and eventually got there – just waiting for my money as they say it could take 30 days.

    • BJ says:

      Thanks everybody for the helpful feedback. I’ll sit on this until two weeks prior to arrival dates unless they contact me before then. I’ll obviously request refunds but could live with vouchers for the hotels in question if it comes to that.

      • Paul says:

        I had two non-refundable IHG reservations for NYC at the end of May and was waiting until 2 weeks before to contact Amex Travel. On Thursday I had an email from them inviting me to call to re-strange or cancel. Got through to a lovely agent in less than a minute and full refund offered. Call only lasted a couple of minutes and the cancellation emails folllowed within a couple of minutes. Very impressed.

        • Paul says:

          Also used the £50 Amex offer which I’m expecting to be clawed back once the refund posts

          • Flyoff says:

            All 4 of my £50 rebates were all clawed back after accommodation and events were cancelled by the hotel/operator. I can’t complain but thought Amex processes may let some slip through the net. Overall Amex travel were brilliant at managing the cancellations and refunds.

        • BJ says:

          Thanks Paul, sounds like they are organised at amex given that they are proactively contacting customers.

  • Robbie says:

    250,000 Virgin Points.

    If I use them as part payment on a virginholidays and they go bust what refund would I be due?

    • Peter K says:

      I don’t think anyone really knows.

    • Dezbez says:

      It’s difficult to find a definitive answer. This is an approach I’ve taken – I’ve booked a hotel through Virgin Holidays (already had BA flights booked), then paid £102 deposit on my card, & used a portion of my VFC airmiles to pay off some of the balance. You get 0.55p/mile so not great, but better than some other options. In terms of protection, I’m hoping (/gambling!) that S75 would cover everything paid so far, not just the card deposit, although i don’t think this has been tested/proven. Where the holiday includes flights, you would also get ABTA/ATOL protection – not sure what this would cover, though. Hopefully none of this will be needed!

    • BJ says:

      I don’t think Virgin is going bust, they have three big things in their favour: brand, LHR slots and a route to undermine BA if a competitor wants to do so. If you want to be cautious sink the miles in flights only and book fully flexible hotels via the hotels own website. Haven’t seen it mentioned here but I’m wondering if as a last resort we could claim back APD from HMRC?

      • Marcw says:

        Virgin is going bust, sooner rather than later.

        • Marcw says:

          Why? The commercial aviation future is in jeopardy. Very challenging times ahead for the whole industry. Smaller players will suffer, and many will collapse. Virgin Atlantic is a good candidate going bust.

          • Secret Squirrel says:

            Looks like things could be on the move flight wise, recent statement from AA stating from May 11th all passengers must wear masks, anti bac gels & wipes, deep cleaning of cabins to start flying again.

          • marcw says:

            @SecretSquirrel that doesn´t solve the problem of reduced demand.

        • BJ says:

          I know but I just got a feeling (hope?) something will see Virgin through at the last minute.

        • james says:

          OMG aren’t we over these idiots already?

          • marcw says:

            I´m sorry. But I´ve never insulted anyone. You may agree or disagree with me, completely understandable if you don´t, but first and foremost, be respectful.

        • marcw says:

          J, I don´t want Virgin Atlantic fail. But like many other business, they won´t survive this tornado; no matter how much taxpayers cash they receive, they won´t make it. They are a purely long haul airline… and long haul flight will be the last one restarting. And I haven´t considered profitability; I suspect airlines won´t post profits in the next 3 years (at least!).

          They key question is whether taxpayer should sustain failing business. I don´t think so. You can agree or disagree with me in that matter, but the 1st paragraph remains valid.

        • David says:

          Please bore off marcw. Every day banging the same boring drum.

      • Doug M says:

        @BJ – Virgin have had those 3 things for the last 20 years, when problems begin they had about 5 minutes worth of cash reserves. If they don’t go bust it’ll because the gov (that’s us the UK tax payer) is bailing them out, not because they have brand, slots or route.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          A guaranteed loan ISNT a bailout

          • Doug M says:

            A loan they’ll only get if the gov underwrite the risk. Why won’t a commercial lender take the risk? If it happens it’ll be a bailout that may be paid back.

          • TGLoyalty says:

            Right now? Because the bank will see they aren’t operating many flights, no idea when they will restart and they operate with leased aircraft so not much to secure it against.

        • BJ says:

          And they have struggled along and hopefully can do so for a while longer. Only Virgin flights I ever took were Little Red and they are of little use to me personally. However, for the sake of their staff, customers, and competition I hope they live to fight another day.

          • Doug M says:

            Me too, I always feel for the staff. Just suggesting that Virgin’s business model was never great to begin with.

      • ChrisC says:

        ” if as a last resort we could claim back APD from HMRC?”

        No. APD is the liability of the airline not the passenger.

        • BJ says:

          Interesting, I thought the pax were liable and the airlines just collected it and paid it on our behalf? If not, then why can we claim APD refunds in some cases, or am I misunderstanding that too?

          • marcw says:

            Mmmmhhh… it´s charged to the airline for each passenger they transport. If the airline is an IATA member, then the price is fragmented (fare, taxes, duties, surcharge), so you can see what goes where. So it´s difficult for IATA airlines to offer pricse below the required taxes. Other airlines, like Ryanair – which are not members of the IATA – do whatever they like, they can charge GBP1/10/0.01 whatever, This is just a general rule.

            But APD is charged to the airline for each transported passenger.

          • ChrisC says:

            If you don’t fly then it’s not paid to HMRC

            Because the airline has listed it in it’s separate list of fees etc then it refunds you – just like airport fees

            If it includes it in the base fare then it’s not under any obligation to refund (unless a base fare refund is part of the T&Cs)

            In anycase it’s only paid to HMRC once you have flown and HMRC have no idea of the names of any passengers on flights. So trying to claim from them would be a waste of time.

            There is no obligation for an airline to charge a passenger fees and taxes in cash as long as it pays them to the approriate body of course – hence BA offers part pay with avios where the cash element can be lower than the fees and taxes

          • BJ says:

            Thanks Marc and Chris, appreciate the explanations. Always good to turn vague ideas into more concrete understanding.

    • Rob says:

      It was 0.6p https://headforpoints.com/2019/03/02/redeem-virgin-flying-club-miles-on-virgin-holidays/ but has now dropped to 0.55p last time I checked. That would mean just under £1,400.

      Upside is that you are guaranteed a refund or a holiday if Virgin goes bust due to the ATOL protection.

  • Green Plastic says:

    Morning all. Subscribed to the Economist a few weeks ago and got the 15,000 avios on the promotion. Now received an email saying the magazine will be delayed in the post for the foreseeable as Royal Mail stopping Saturday deliveries. This is annoying as I liked reading it on a Saturday and I don’t get as much free time during the week to enjoy it. If I cancel the subscription am I likely to lose the avios?

    • BJ says:

      Yes, so best just keep it and read the following weekend. Did you get you avios already? A reader was asking a few days ago how long they were taking to post.

      • MD says:

        As a data point, I took out a digital only subscription on 01/04/20 and the avios posted on 26/04/20.

      • Green Plastic says:

        Yes I received the avios this week, took about 3 weeks to post

    • TGLoyalty says:

      You could cancel but I believe the rules say they can claw the Avios back if it is.

    • Harry T says:

      I appreciate the value of a physical copy but the app is actually rather good.

  • BJ says:

    Good stuff Crafty. I only recently discovered the ability to send an online card from Card Factory with a personalised greeting to somebody via the post. A great service, particularly at this time. Happy to support you and your colleagues in this initiative to help the NHS.

    • Anna says:

      +1 and I did not know that about Card Factory!

    • Crafty says:

      Thanks BJ. We aren’t the only ones to offer personalised cards (Moonpig have the highest share of that particular market), but we do have lower prices.

      • Crafty says:

        Interesting business model, though. I don’t think e-cards will ever take over from real cards, that ship sailed decades ago, but Jacquie Lawson is popular for a (very) small minority and makes an enormous profit margin.

        It’s owned by American Greetings, which is one of the two behemoth publishers that have an oligopoly in the US market.

  • Dave says:

    Amex platinum insurance question…my card year runs until October. I was thinking of cancelling the card as being stuck at home means I can’t use the benefits but as I have a couple of holidays booked I guess it’s worth keeping for the insurance. Some insurers seem to be excluding Covid 19 related stuff from new policies. When my card renews in October does that count as anew policy or a continuation of the existing one?

    • Travel Strong says:

      What elements of the insurance are you worried about keeping for future travel? For example…

      If its medical cost cover – a new policy will often still cover you so long as FCO are not advising against travel still when you go.

      If its cancellation/curtailment cover – how are your future bookings set up? Flights booked on a credit card are covered already. And flexible hotel/car hire/airport parking etc is easily cancelled without insurance.

      I am in the same position and will be cancelling platinum even though I have 6 bookings over the next 12 months (6 sets of flights, non paid in advance flex car rentals, non paid in advance flex hotel reservations or airbnb reservations, and airport parking that is cancellable/refundable).

    • Travel Strong says:

      (Also interested to hear is there are risks I have not considered in the above! Before I cancel mine 🙂 )

  • Anna says:

    Just remind me about credit card protection! We’ve got some fitted wardrobes on order from a local company to hopefully be installed in the next few months. They don’t take Amex so I intend to pay the bulk of it through Billhop as we’d like to take my nephew on his first long haul holiday with us next year and need an extra 2 4 1. If I pay the £500 deposit on MasterCard, would I then be covered for the whole £4k if the firm were to go bust (hoping they don’t, of course)?

    • Gavin says:

      Yes, you should be covered by S75 as long as your put any part of the payment on a credit card.

      • Anna says:

        👍

      • Anna says:

        Thanks, no it’ll being going directly on to my IHG card!

      • Stuart says:

        Would S75 come into effect if I needed it if I paid for holiday accommodation on a Curve card linked to a MasterCard? Not sure if this counts as a debit or credit card transaction

        • Optimus Prime says:

          You would depend on Curve Purchase Protection – no S75 from the underlying credit card.

  • N says:

    Fraud on my Curve two days ago (£350ish at Game.co.uk), card cancelled, transaction refunded. Card still in my possession.

    A friend who I introduced to Curve had exactly the same yesterday.

    Anyone else?