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The new HFP chat thread – Sunday 17th 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/2020/05/17/the-new-hfp-chat-thread-sunday-17th-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 (153)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Wally1976 says:

    I realise there’s been lots of posts like this and no one really knows so feel free to ignore.

    We have a family holiday booked to Turkey end of August flying BA to DLM from LGW. What do people think are the chances of this going ahead?

    I think BA aren’t going to be operating from LGW by then, so is the flight likely to be moved to LHR or just cancelled? Also, what are travel restrictions likely to be (at both ends). I accept this is “finger on the air” stuff but appreciate any opinions. Thanks

    • Genghis says:

      No one knows! Lol. As you know. I’ll tell you what I’m doing: we have a holiday for Portugal booked for Aug flying from LGW. Do I think we’ll end up going? Probably not. I’m spending today finding some England places in the country / seaside I might be able to use my hotels.com vouchers on a refundable booking. If Portugal falls through I’ve got another booking for the Spring so can swap out the IHG vouchers and use the 241 (potential waste I know using it on Portugal but it’s better than losing it completely and it’s somewhere we wanted to go).

      • Wally1976 says:

        Thanks Genghis. We have also booked a ‘backup’ holiday in the UK (with a small deposit we are willing to lose) for the same time as our Turkey trip.

        I was wondering if anyone knows anything about Turkey’s policies towards visitors in the current times. I know their Covid rate has been pretty low and is dropping so would they want us coming from country with a higher rate?

        Incidentally we got travel insurance well before all this happened so we’re at least covered in that respect.

        • Aston100 says:

          “Incidentally we got travel insurance well before all this happened so we’re at least covered in that respect.”
          I read that almost half the travel insurance policies sold prior to covid19 didn’t cover pandemic root causes.

          • Wally1976 says:

            As far as I can tell from reading our policy there is no pandemic exclusion.

    • Peter K says:

      I’m in exactly the same situation but the middle of September. Turkey does not seem to have done well with coronavirus which concerns me. Social distancing on a 4 1/2 hr flight all also concerns me. Potential quarantine on arrival in the UK concerns me (cannot work from home).

      It’s almost certainly LHR not LGW (thankfully cancellable parking booked) but am I happy to go? I don’t know. Too many unknowns to be sure about.
      It also makes me wonder if I should refuse room service and just clean the room at the hotel on arrival myself which then minimises contact from others in the room. But if I felt it was that unsafe why go at all?
      If I have had the virus already (likely but could not get tested) I’ll have immunity…or will I?

      There are too many unknowns to say but I really hope I can go and things will be clearer by then!

      • Aston100 says:

        Levels of hygiene in Turkey are (and have always been) better than the UK. Just look at all the people who don’t wash their hands at UK service stations, football grounds, restaurants and anywhere else with public toilets.
        I wouldn’t worry about hotel rooms over in Turkey. I reckon you are less at risk over there than here.

    • Spursdebs says:

      I’ve got Dubai trips booked late September and November this year I expect one or possibly both will be cancelled wether that’s by myself or restrictions/BA that’s yet to be decided. Also have January 2021 booked I’m really hoping that one goes ahead. I’ve mentally written of this year but hoping to get one break.

      • Billy P says:

        What about travel insurance ?

        What will it cover ?

        How much will it cost ?

        • Rob says:

          Dubai is opening from July. They have one of the most aggressive testing regimes in the world. I wouldn’t be too worried about that.

          • Spursdebs says:

            Thanks Rob, I’ve been keeping track of it it all. I booked trips on points so apart from losing £35 if I cancel I can live with that. I took my insurance out before virus and I’m covered for that. I’m not worried about 14 days self isolation as I can do that, now if we have to do that away from home that would be an issue as paying for respite care for 3 weeks, 1 week trip 2 weeks isolating would be unaffordable for me.

          • Rob says:

            We need to be realistic. From mid June the EU will effectively be open to travellers from the UK and other EU countries, with some exceptions. How long do you seriously expect a UK quarantine rule to survive in those circumstances?

            In London the Met Police has already said that they will have nothing to do with enforcing it, so no Londoners need to bother.

          • Spursdebs says:

            I don’t think it will wash at all people are getting very restless. I’m used to being stuck indoors all day long so it’s been easier for me but I can imagine if you are a sociable out and about person it must be harder. if I can go I’m going, I’ll work out solutions to any problems as I go along just like always.
            Telling us to self isolate after a trip rather feels like shutting the stable door after the horse has well and truly bolted.

          • Anna says:

            I said at the start quarantine would be impossible to enforce as the country simply doesn’t have the resources. Maybe they will recruit quarantine enforcers like they are doing with contact tracers (who will be earning less money than the fabled fruit pickers!)

          • Rebecca says:

            Where have You read/heard that Rob we are waiting to get back and we have residency over there.

          • Rob says:

            https://www.businesstraveller.com/business-travel/2020/04/28/dubai-aims-to-reopen-tourism-by-july/

            My sister in law is in a beach resort in Ras this weekend so things are returning to normal.

      • Andrew says:

        I think as sad as it is, we all need to mentally or actually cancel our travel plans for the remainder of 2020, we really are not leaving the UK this year. I’m looking at a March trip to Asia as being the earliest opportunity, and even that only give it a 50/50 chance.

        • Spursdebs says:

          I’ve booked a cruise to Argentina and Antarctica for January 2022 … I like to plan 😂

          • roberto says:

            pack your thermals……. brrrrrr

          • Spursdebs says:

            @roberto already got them! I’m really looking forward to the trip something very different and includes the Falkland Islands as well.

        • Andrew says:

          And even sitting by the pool will have its restrictions – and probably so much chlorine in the water your eyes will be stinging. I total agree with you – there will be no pleasure in holidays or the joy of travel and lounges etc for a while yet.

        • Jessiefan says:

          This is the same mentality that predicted 500k deaths in UK, I suspect most of the world will be open by Sept/Oct this year. We’ve seen most countries that have exited lockdown experience little or no increase in infection, including USA where a majority of states have lifted lockdown way too soon but still no evidence of rise in infection in vast majority, inc Georgia.

          Any deeper restrictions will just push economies over the edge and result in far more deaths and discomfort than from a virus.

          • Anna says:

            This simply isn’t true. There have been new spikes in infection in several states, especially in areas where there are heavy concentrations of factories and processing plants where large numbers of workers operate.

          • Lady London says:

            And we could still get 500,000 – and more -if there is a more severe return.

          • Rob says:

            No you won’t. The Swedish model is what you want to focus on. In Sweden people have been told to take care but it was left up to them. Everything remains open. However, shopper numbers etc have dropped a lot and that’s why the rate is still no worse than ours.

            Do you think people are going to rush back to the shops on 1st June and restaurants on 4th July? No. (Except for us, probably, because as soon as Harrods starts its ‘80% off all designer clothing’ sale you can be sure my wife will be down there). There was no queue, at all, outside our garden centre this morning when I went past. This is bad news for the economy but good news if you want to be able to go about your normal life, Swedish style. People will naturally remain cautious and that should do the job of keeping numbers down.

            What this means for football matches etc is a different question.

          • J says:

            “Nothing to do with population density then?” Stockholm and Manchester have pretty much the same population density. Stockholm has twice the population, but also twice the area. It also has double the deaths. The death rate is the same.

          • Michael says:

            The simple truth is that all has been done to protect the boomers at the sacrifice to the pockets of those U40. The deaths of those U40 is absolutely puny. Far more young men will commit suicide than will die from Corona virus and that rate is going to increase immensely, just like it did post-2008.

            Rejecting lockdown is legitimate.

          • J says:

            @Michael – But the media told me I meant to be thrilled at the sight of septuagenarian golfers out with their friends hitting balls with sticks, whilst my kids haven’t been allowed to see another kid for two months, let alone visit a playground… Boomers out playing, kids locked up. No doubt we’re still reported as the spoilt, entitled generation snowflake.

        • Anna says:

          They’ll be charging 50 euros for a sunbed and umbrella on the Med beaches. Though in theory that should guarantee you a few square metres of private beach!

  • Martyn Ford says:

    Good morning. I have a decent pot of IHG points but can never find reward availability at their most aspirational hotels. If anyone has any insight into how I might improve this situation I would be most grateful.

    • Anna says:

      Where and when do you want to go? This surprises me, TBH, as I seem to find excellent availability for IHG hotels when I look. Also, how many people are you looking for? Quite often reward availability is only for standard rooms which sleep 2 people so if you’re searching for 2 adults plus children this might be why you don’t find anything.

      • Andrew says:

        I agree, I’ve literally never seen an IHG hotel without reward availability. Maybe this is the Maldives, I can imagine that would be hard to find.

        • Martyn Ford says:

          Thank you for your replies. I`ve been looking for two adults @ Bora Bora, Koh Samui, Pattaya and Hayman Island. I take Anna`s point about timing as we are only free to travel at peak times.

          • Andrew says:

            I can recommend IC Pattaya – it’s a beautiful hotel. And at Thailand prices you’re probably better booking a cash stay and saving your points. Also worth paying for Ambassador if you’re planning a long stay at an IC for an upgrade and a late checkout, plus the free weekend night.

          • Secret Squirrel says:

            @Martyn:
            Bora Bora are notorious for finding availability, Thalasso being the hardest I believe. You need to check everyday I think at 10am 120 x days out from start date. I’m also looking so if you do find availability let us know. I did find availability next Mar in Tahiti for 50k a night basic suites.

        • Martyn Ford says:

          Excellent advice Andrew, thank you. I am Spire Ambassador so that part is already in place; I will certainly look into, and appreciate, your suggestion.

          • Martyn Ford says:

            @ Secret Squirrel, many thanks – this is a great help and I shall keep you informed of my progress. I think you might have mentioned a stay at Conrad Maldives in February next year at some point. I have a reservation then too – we are clearly going for the same redemptions!

          • Secret Squirrel says:

            @Martyn:
            Did you manage to bag Water Villas on 95k a night points? We are booked 10 x nights but only so far have got Beach Villa. I heard WV’s popped back in the system last week for next March but None for Feb.
            If you see Feb come up, can you post here please.
            Out of interest, Bora Bora – what are you flight plans to get there?

          • Secret Squirrel says:

            Ambassador – remember the free weekend night will require you to pay for one night flexi rate in cash. At Bora Bora this could be very expensive plus add on £200 for ambassador fee.

          • Martyn Ford says:

            @ Secret Squirrel yes, I`m in an OWV. It might be worth contacting the reservations manager directly as I have found her to be extremely helpful in the past: [email protected]

  • John says:

    I can’t be bothered to look up flights, but is it just me or are there lots more flights coming into Heathrow this morning than the previous week(s)? I live near the approach path

  • Jenny says:

    Advice? I have reached the £20k Amex Gold target for 10k bonus points.
    Should I still use it or move on to another Amex card (primarily for MR points – don’t want avios so will rule out BA cards)

    • TGLoyalty says:

      £15k target?

      Unless you apply for Green and then upgrade to platinum £4K spend gives you 20k

    • Genghis says:

      So many variables. Here’s some thoughts:
      – if you’re in the first year so the card is free, keep the card until you get your 10k bonus (c.30 days after anniversary). If you want MRs, continue spending on the card. Or if you have a partner, refer them (you’ll get 9k MRs even if they’re not eligible for a sign up).
      – if you’re paying for the card, ie not in first year, how much do you have left until you get your sign up bonus? Is 10k MRs = £100 more than the prorata refund etc?

      • Jenny says:

        Hi Genghis, currently in the first year, so I can continue using the Gold Card (until Sept)
        Due to Covid-19 travel benefits are limited, but I might go for Green > Platinum if the upgrade bonus is still there.
        Will Amex offer me 2 MR for every £1 if I call up (cant ask to leave or i will lose the anniversary bonus)

        • Rob says:

          It’s a 10 minute call and they are always polite ….

          • smeowrend says:

            Sorry for ignorance here – I’ve had gold for a couple of years now – due my annual bonus soon (and thus the annual fee) – what is the Green > Platinum option (and can it be done without having to ‘spend’ my MR balance can I keep the balance open?).

          • Rob says:

            See https://www.americanexpress.com/uk/benefits/upgrade/platinum-charge/

            You can do this from Gold CHARGE but not Gold CREDIT. If you have Gold credit you need to swap to Green and then upgrade.

            Yes, your MR points are safe.

  • Y says:

    Any workarounds for booking outbound economy, inbound first on avios using BA site? Even for cash, can’t get the BA site to provide this option

    • Andrew says:

      Book 2 one ways.

      • Y says:

        Looking to use 2-1 voucher & minimise cancellation cost. Could ring up but an online solution would be ideal

        • Anna says:

          If you do book 2 one-ways and your return is in F, you can call the You First line to refund the extra avios, though I still think you would get stung on the “fees”. Is there availability in PE for your outbound? I think the issue is that BA IT will only let you see 3 classes when booking flights, so PE out and F back should be a possibility.

    • Genghis says:

      Call up to book, noting it can’t be done online if they try to charge the service fee.

      • Callum says:

        While remembering that the policy is not “anything you can’t do online gets the phone fee waived”, so they’re completely in the right if they refuse to do so. So don’t argue, just hang up and try again.

        • BrightonReader says:

          Yes isn’t the policy that the fee should only waived if the online functionality isn’t working not because it’s not there in the first place.

          • Genghis says:

            Regardless of policy, I’ve never had to pay the service fee.

          • Y says:

            Thanks – good reminder about waiving the service fees

          • memesweeper says:

            I’ve booked open jaw and mixed classes on the phone more than once and never been charged the telephone fee. You should definitely insist on a fee waiver as the website does not work when you try and do this online.

  • Optimus Prime says:

    Are hotels and restaurants supposed to implement social distancing measures? If so, won’t there be long queues at restaurantes, breakfast buffets, etc?

    I read somewhere that buffets may not be allowed and I can’t imagine those big resorts like Ikos in Greece having the capacity to deliver breakfast a la carte… Will hotels simply stop F&B services?

    On the other hand booking your own private villa sounds like the best option.

    • Anna says:

      Yes and villa owners are well aware of this and have adjusted their prices accordingly!

      • J says:

        I read in the German news that caravan sales are up! I’m sure it’s true in the UK too. Always quite fancied a VW camper van myself 🙂

        • memesweeper says:

          Everyone who has never owned a VW camper van fancies a VW camper van. 😉

        • Ken says:

          The two happiest days in a caravaners life: the day you buy it, and the day you sell it.

          See also boats.

    • Mike White says:

      I strongly suspect this was all have fizzled out by September. The virus will be non-existent and everyone will be back-pedalling! They already are in European countries. Then we have to work out what we do when an H3 flu virus comes along and kills more than COVID did, as has happened in 2 out of the last 10 years….

  • Berry Good Spending says:

    OT: I’ve overpaid my IHG Rewards card due to some creative spending (and unfortunate refunds) I was warned that any spending that looked like business will likely have my account shut down (large ‘purchases’) I’m continuing to make use of my mate at CoOp / One Stop

    My question is, is it worth getting a refund back to clear the credit balance or will it raise some red flags for them?

    • memesweeper says:

      You may find you can’t spend if you have a sufficiently large credit balance with Creation! If you can spend through the credit, I would. If you can’t clearly you have no choice but call up and get the balance transferred out.

    • Sam says:

      If you have a curve, buy PB via the ihg

      • Berry Good Accountancy says:

        Was hoping someone would have experience in getting refunds before…?

        Long turn around time for Ernie, credit balance refund would take a couple days

        Tempted to get a refund, need cashflow to fund other avenues for points

  • Qwertyknowsbest says:

    A thought. As we focus on countries opening up without quarantine requirements and airline restarting schedules, surely medical insurance cover is an equal consideration. Reading policies for Amex, AXA etc (first to admit that I am not an expert) it appears to me that cover will not be in place.

    Any reader/expert thoughts?

    • Blindman says:

      My annual policy (Nationwide) stated that so long as I had booked before the 18th March (IIRC) I would be cover for any Covid claims.
      So maybe a lot of peeps on here have done just that.

      Any new trips would not be covered at present by I assume 99% insurance, so it’s anyones guess.

    • Lady London says:

      will it be like the ash cloud in that coverage will quietly disappear by change of policy wording. then only some policies will offer it as an optional paid extra?

      personally i think insurers can afford to include it going forward at same rates. actual likelihood of needing medicsl treatment is low overall.

      Due to huge reduction in activity insurers are having a bumper year. Admiral has even refunded policyholders this year £20 I think i sW reported. if my motor policy does not seriously reduce its cost when it renews in August then I will be doing some serious shopping around.

      • Qwertyknowsbest says:

        Thanks, so really unless a trip booked prior to outbreak then unlikely insured. Surely this kills the majority of overseas pleasure travel regardless of routes/countries openings up? Who would travel abroad without cover in place for Covid.

        Re other insurances, indeed, asked Aviva motor for a reduction and they gave me the run around. The big one for me (£3k plus annual premium) is medical insurance. With private hospitals/consultants by and large operating at reduced capacity if at all, insurers cannot provide the benefits contracted for. My insurer offered a 10% premium reduction and a ‘cleverly’ worded statement that they would not profit from circumstances, so formal complaint lodged.

      • AJA says:

        You should always get new quotes when renewing insurance. Never automatically accept your existing insurers quote.

    • AJA says:

      This insurance issue is a real problem especially for places like the USA where medical costs are prohibitive. I specifically asked AXA about this when my annual policy renewed in mid March and they said I was fully covered for Covid-19 as a renewing customer. Then shortly after renewing I got the email about trips booked prior to 17 March still being covered, I queried this change but they then pointed me to the “known event” clause. Effectively they are saying that as Covid-19 is now a known event AXA won’t cover for related claims. I’ve kept the insurance as it was a good price and I still have two trips booked before 17 March so may have to make a claim. Any new policy will not cover me as the trips were booked too far before taking out a policy.

      • GeorgeJ says:

        I think that you are confusing two different things here, medical and cancellation/curtailment.
        Like you I have Axa annual policies and they have been pretty proactive in letting me know how I am affected, less so in getting claims sorted.
        For travel booked subsequent to 17 March you will be covered for medical in respect of Covid 19 provided that you do not travel against medical or FCO advice (ie any travel at the current time, though it is FCO advice in place at the date of travel which is relevant, not when booked). If you are making a booking for some time when in the future when you hope that FCO advice will have changed you will have medical cover subject to any other exclusions in the policy).
        You will not have cancellation and curtailment cover for Covid 19 for any travel booked after March 17, this is where the known event aspect cuts in. Accordingly you should make any booking on a cancellable or refundable basis unless you want to take the risk and self insure.
        As ever, read the policy guidance or call them and log the conversation to be sure of what you have

        • happeemonkee says:

          Staysure told me they will not even cover Covid-19 medical costs, even if the FCO advice changes. Will not be renewing with them

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