The new HFP chat thread – Thursday 4th June

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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:  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!

'My Favourite Hotel' review - Sea Blue Hotel (previously ‘Hotel California’), Santa Monica
London City Airport will re-open for flights in "late June"

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  1. davvero says:

    The major shopping mall chains Intu and Westfield have announced their plans for reopening my favourite shopping mall, Heathrow, is yet to do so.

    Presumably shops at LHR can also reopen on 15 June, but nothing has yet been said. I received an email from BA yesterday and it seems we can look forward to cut back catering on-board so it would be handy to have something better than Boots open to get some food for the plane. Even Pret or Itsu would be most welcome right now, not to mention M&S in arrivals.

    • Hence my reply yesterday, didn’t really expect anything good coming from BA, not even the return of full catering.

      • I usually find myself at least 10m away from any potential customer in most of the T5 boutques so I’m not expecting any distancing issues!

  2. IAG really pushing it. 70% “temporary ” pay cuts – surely designed to provoke resignations.

    • I really don’t feel like flying BA anymore and probably wouldn’t were it not for the ability to redeem my avios exINV in conjunction with a 241.

      • Erico1875 says:

        I’m thinking of using what Avios i have and then binning them. It’s disgusting the way they are treating their staff

        • ChrisC says:

          I’m certainly looking at other airlines now when pricing up trips more than I did before.

          If I’m looking at an ex-EU anyway maybe I should try the likes of TAP, KLM or LH for example and see what they are offering. Some of their ex- LHR fares can be competitive as well. I did a TAP trip to BOS ex LHR and back to LGW last year and they were actually really quite good.

          Of course many airlines are also making staff cuts but don’t appear to be as mercenary and inhuman as BA in how they are dealing with it.

          • Nick_C says:

            So how much do you think TAP are paying their cabin crew?

            Do you realise minimum wage in Portugal is €700 a month?

          • ChrisC says:

            Well €740 in 2020 on the 12 payments a year calculation (8880 per annum) but other EU nations have a lower rate or no minimum at all.

            And how does that relate to the cost of living in Portugal?

            Context matters rather than just tossing figures about.

            Though my point in mentioning TAP is that there are other airlines out there offering just as good if not better seats and services than BA.

        • Yes, all over the UK thousands are losing jobs at companies big and small and the pain the vast majority of these companies feel has been palpable in their announcements, media reports etc. And then there is BA who give the impression of gleefully exploiting the crisis to realise their long-held ambitions.

          • Andrew says:

            Totally agree. The World’s Least Favourite Airline has sunk to new levels during this crisis. I will use up my Avios on CX (surcharges a fraction of BA’s even ex-LHR) as I really don’t want to fly BA if I can possibly avoid it. And then I will let my Gold card lapse (with no extension from them coming obviously) and move my loyalty elsewhere. I think we will all be flying a fraction of what we did for the next few years so top tier status isn’t easily achievable or required.

        • BA are using the virus to cut costs on service and force out long serving staff but they’ll get away with it. With the majority of slots at Heathrow they’re always going to be the best option enough of the time. People quickly forget.

        • Genghis says:

          I wonder what proportion of those that say “I’m never flying BA again” actually fly BA again?

          My guess is 95%+.

          • Doug M says:

            100% I’d guess. Comments like I’m using all my Avios then dumping BA say it all. I’ll do something that causes me no pain at all, but allows me to pretend there’s some sort of gesture.
            Given the main thrust of those commenting on this site is earning from not flying, I don’t think BA care much.

          • Well, I didn’t say I wouldn’t, just that I’d not feel happy about it. Actually, it is years since I flew with BA except on an avios redemption. Living in Edinburgh though, they are easy to avoid. If I still stayed in London then the temptation of direct flights would likely be too much as I like to keep my travel time as short as possible.

          • The other issue with all these “I’ll never fly again” statements is that it doesn’t help BA employees. They need us to be passengers and booking flights. If we all stop flying then it will result in even more redundancies.

            Having last flown on 4 Feb unless my flight to Tenerife in September is also cancelled it will be 7 months of no flying at all, let alone with BA. That is the longest I’ve been grounded in the last 20 years! I suspect I’m not the only one.

            So in the circumstances BA is doing what is necessary to survive, better that there is “only” 12,000 redundanccies and reduced service on some flights than none at all. I also hope the reduced service, no lounges etc are temporary measures but the longer this continues the longer the return to “normal” service levels.

            As for flying other airlines I’ve always compared prices and rarely do I take the longer route versus direct with BA or another airline but if the price difference is more than £400 on LH then the indirect routing wins. SH I stick with BA because of Silver status and I am not a fan of Ryanair or Easyjet given that LHR is only 20 mins away and neither fly from there. Any saving in fare is outweighed by increased taxi fare and longer commute.

          • ChrisC says:

            Well some of us have merely said that we will expand our horizons and look to other airlines not that we would boycott BA for ever.

            If I am say flying to JFK and BA is cheapest by a mile I would still fly them but if someone else was pricing close enough then I would look at the alternative and then judge mased on seat and service.

            Also shed loads of us have vouchers to use for various amounts from relativly small to relativly large so no escape from them yet!

            And for goodness sake when will BA allow vouchers to be used online. Would save numerous calls.

          • Lady London says:

            99% agree with you 🙂
            always had the impression EI is managed very separately from the others as well.

            Though I could see IB and BA workforces being merged and Vueling and the other subsidiary in Spain being brought in as well

          • Lady London says:

            @ChrisC BA wont ever be able to let you use a voucher online. Because there’s no such thing. What BA is calling a voucher is just your ticket alongside any other miles, vouchers and extra fees added into it, frozen.

            Because every ticket will have some combination of the above, for you to use your ‘voucher’ BA will always require someone to click on your ticket manually to see what’s in there. Then use agent authorisations to change, re-issue etc according to rules they’ve been given.

            Letting you amend your own booking in MMB would mean taking all sorts of controls off thar they wouldn’t really want to.

            It was a quick and dirty solution to an avalanche of tickets on flights they cancelled. Basically it lets BA keep your money. Sorting out what they give you instead has to be manual as they did no processing to make a ‘voucher’ they just left your ticket bundle in the system.

    • Lady London says:

      how bad is EI’s situation then?

      I presume the employees already have such bad contracts it’s possible for the airline to do this?

      Superficially it looks like the airline is trying not to sack people, and trying to retain them until the situation improves.

      I’d take 30 if it was that bad. Whilst trying to look for something else. Presumably it’s better than unemployment. Especially if currently there are no other jobs around.

      Of course the union had to say what it said, but behind the scenes there may be an understanding that this is currently the best either side can do.

  3. Jonathan says:

    I have a flight (now cancelled) with BA next week and can rebook any date supposedly through MMB. How long does this option last for? If I haven’t rebooked by then, what will BA do next?

    Basically the new flights I want are at the end of June next year but don’t know if I can just sit it out or what?

    • Andrew says:

      My understanding it’s a year from when you booked the original flight – the ticket validity. So if you booked a year in advance then this isn’t an option as an example, so you would need to take a voucher.

      • Andrew is correct. I ran into the ticket validity issue with my cancellation yesterday, I booked last Nov (Avios 2-4-1 booking) for this Jul so the only options were take e-voucher or full refund. I took refund as taxes and fees were £676 (For 2 tickets) and as I have no idea when or if I will fly again I’d rather have the cash back.

        • Charlieface says:

          Ticket validity is something made up by the airline. Under EC261 you could ask for any date even outside the validity, then they would need to issue a fresh ticket. Not your problem

  4. AviosNewbie says:

    Paying council tax with billhop: I just registered for Billhop and understand that I can pay the council tax in advance for the year with my Amex. For those who’ve done this: do I then need to contact the council to cancel the existing direct debit? And when the year is up, do I contact them again to set a new direct debit? Or will the council not take money from the direct debit because there’ll be a credit balance? thanks for thoughts!

    • Andrew says:

      There’s about 400 local authorities in the UK, each with their own processes.

      Generally speaking, no business or organisation will take payments for settled accounts.

    • My council accepts Amex; I cancelled my direct debit through my bank. There should be no problem setting up a new direct debit if you choose not to pay via Billhop next year, your council tax bill should have instructions on how to do this.

      Re Billhop, they can be a bit funny about who you pay with Amex, unless your council is a registered company (there is a search facility so you can input company details when you make a payment), they may ask you to upload your council tax bill as proof of your payment fitting Amex criteria. And don’t forget to factor in the 2.95% charge!

    • Wally1976 says:

      I don’t know what payment options your council has but lots of us use PayPoint to pay our council tax using Amex at Co-op shops with no charge. Personally I’ve stopped doing this in the current situation (paid online with Mastercard instead) but will be back on it for July payment.

      • Coucou says:

        My council has the following clarifications: Post Office (cash, cheque or debit card)
        PayPoint (cash only). Is it a way to discourage people using credit cards?

        • Secret Squirrel says:

          Pay point at co-op will accept your Amex, council PP method always states cash only.

          • Coucou says:

            Thank you. Is it the same for the post office?

          • Wally1976 says:

            My council says cash only for PayPoint and when I tried to use a Co-op in the area they did enforce that. However, I’ve used lots of Co-ops in other areas (some very nearby but outside the borough) with no problem.

  5. TokyoFan says:

    Hello hfp’ers. Some advice if you don’t mind.

    I have booked a little Italy trip for the very end of Aug/start of Sept for my father’s 70th (4 of us in total). Parents now not keen on going so looking to cancel. Flights are a mix of avios redemptions and cash fares, hoping for canx/schedule changes to enable full refunds closer to the date.

    Accommodation is my issue – I booked a non-refundable rate (directly with the independent hotel), BUT they haven’t yet taken payment (reservation was made 16th Feb – just before this all kicked off properly). On the reservation it states: “The total price of the reservation will be charged on the day of booking” BUT – it wasn’t. It also says, “Please note, if cancelled or modified, the total price of the reservation will be charged. In case of no-show, the total price of the reservation will be charged.”

    So I have a dilemma. I could beg for a cancellation given world events and hope they take pity (the honest approach).
    OR – do I ‘lose’ my card and get a new one with a new number (the dishonest approach – can they still charge me?).

    Are there any other options?
    Thoughts welcome!

    • Tim M says:

      Ask the hotel if you can cancel without charge. See what they say. They offer a date change instead. Would that be of any use? The fact is even if you lose your card you are contractually obliged to pay them. Do you really want a judgement against you in an Italian court? The chances are the hotel will be reasonable. Given the notice you are providing they will be able to resell the rooms in peak season very easily.

      • TokyoFan says:

        I’m still awaiting my 3-yr old speeding fine From the Italian authorities (the shame)!

        That was my plan. I didn’t know if the lost card idea would work! A date change for 2021 would work for me!

        • A speeding fine from the Italian authorities…I’ve seen the driving there – you must have had your foot to the floor!

    • Spursdebs says:

      Have you been in contact with the hotel and asked them ? Just email or phone them and say you want to cancel or re arrange your trip see what they say. If you don’t ask you won’t know! If it’s a flat out no you could use your back up plan.

    • My interpretation; The hotel has breached it’s own T&C’s by not charging you on the day of booking, so therefore not a valid booking.

  6. where can I use up 30k avios points. I dont want to fly BA!!

  7. Tim M says:

    The combination of inverted quarantine rules (coming from a relatively safe country to the relatively unsafe UK) and blanket UK FCO advice against all non-essential travel invalidating travel insurance, appears to indicate that the Government is very keen for UK residents not to travel. Why? What are the real reasons? To boost UK domestic tourism and hospitality? As bargaining chips in trade negotiations? The moves appear to be straight out of The Cummings Cookbook.

    I should be at my house in Greece. Greece is now removing restrictions for UK visitors in line with EU-wide advice (a change to their previous position). I will be there as soon as flights restart, notwithstanding FCO advice, travel insurance, inverse quarantine and bizarre UK politics.

    • It seems purely political and another policy from Cummings to put the UK out of sync with the rest of Europe. Perhaps they’ll also introduce exit visas?!

    • Am convinced they are seeking a way to save face and justify a request to EU to extend the transition period. Brexit would always have been damaging Economically, no deal more so. Now the combination of covid 19 and Brexit will cause an economic catastrophe. So you ignore the science, lift lockdown, let infections rise, more die and you have the perfectly safe backdrop to extend in the “national interest” and benefit of “British People”
      Then again that would require foresight, intelligence and some work, Johnson Had none and clearly doesn’t do anybwork

      • ChrisBCN says:

        Hey Paul, if you’ve ever read the history of most of the cabinet and their past papers/books, then you will know that their ideology will not allow them to let go of brexit, regardless of what events happen in the interim. I currently rate the chances of no deal at 95%, deal 5%, delay 0%

        Don’t forget that as you consider that we need to delay to protect the economy, others see leaving as fast as we can as the best way of protecting the economy.

        (I’ve written this as balanced as I could to avoid a Brexit bad/good debate 😀)

        • Agreed – Cummings wants Brexit no matter what (and it seems like he’s really in charge) and for most Tory MPs, adherence to brexit is now a religion (the moderate Tories opposed to Brexit were all expelled before the last election).

          • Aston100 says:

            And there is still a large hardcore that support this bunch no matter what.

    • Chris Heyes says:

      Tim [email protected] WHY ? What does it matter why, the what or why for doesn’t matter
      If the restrictions are there they are there just accept them because you haven’t any other option.
      You or anyone else can say “WHY”
      the reality is because somebody decided it will happan

      • @Chris Heyes, because if we had the real reasons we would be in a better position to determine how to behave. FCO advice is only advice and UK quarantine barely affects those that work at home. I do have a distaste of politicians telling bare lies, misdirecting the public and using ‘the science’ as a smokescreen. It insults the inteligence and especially scientists everywhere.

        1) From the FT’s excellent Covid-19 tracker, we can see that the UK Covid-19 death rate per capita (the most reliable comparison) is the second highest in the World after Sweeden.
        2) Assume that approximately the same number of people leave the UK as arrive by all modes.
        1),2) -> The more international travel there is, the lower theUK Covid rates. This is a combination of UK residents spending time in less-infected countries and less infected foreigners visiting.

        • memesweeper says:

          To be fair, we have *one* of the worst rates in the world, perhaps the worst. Few countries have been as assiduous as we have in assigning deaths to Covid-19 (notable exception: Belgium) and many have downright lied.

          None the less international travel from the UK perspective isn’t going to make things materially worse until the disease is effectively controlled or eradicated from the UK.

        • Chris Heyes says:

          [email protected] In that case i feel very sorry for you !
          Every politicians are never going to tell the truth, even when they attempt at the truth.
          they will only give their version of the truth, missing out the bits they don’t like/ want you to know ect
          Ask a politician anything they will give you a answer but not answer lol
          What amazes me is that you expect an answer & think you will get one lol
          Just as many CEO’s will say for the “Foreseeable Future”
          Which of-course means “Nothing” as nobody can see into the Future
          Except a “Politician”

    • I’ve been asking myself the same questions – even the scientific advisor in yesterday’s briefing was at pains to emphasize that the quarantine decision is “political”. I would be far more likely to accept that it’s necessary if it had been implemented from the start, or at least if it was applied depending on the infection rate of the country people are coming in from. Michael O’Leary, who I normally don’t have a lot of time for, was being quite amusing on the news this morning telling people how they can get round the rules, presumably in the hope that it will translate into sales for Ryanair!

  8. There was an article on Emirate Rewards the other day and the benefit of using Amex MR. I don’t have emirates membership and don’t really want to sign up (in case the offer more generous status match) but is there a table of chart showing miles and costs ex DXB. Transiting DXB looked expensive but I wondered if single sectors such as DXB SYD had similar value

  9. KBuffett says:

    Does anyone know if Heathrow Rewards will extend Premium membership in light of not being able to use it during Covid?

    • Sundar says:

      Why not email and ask them? I have found their customer service team very helpful

  10. Colin MacKinnon says:

    A random thought this morning:

    Do BA and other airlines have to pay airports for the slots they aren’t using?

    I am thinking that if you rent a flat, or an office, you have to give the landlord notice. Or in the case of commercial premises, may have a lease for – say – 20 years!.

    So does BA have to pay Gatwick Airport for the lounges, landing fees etc even though it is not using them.

    And will it have to pay London City once it re-opens?

    Just curious!

    • Charlieface says:

      Don’t think so but they normally need to fly 80% of the flights otherwise they lose the slot

  11. memesweeper says:

    Help! trying to call 020 3250 0145 for BA to rebook a cancelled Avios flight… I cannot get into a queue as BA are ‘unable to take your call right now’ and hang up. It’s not a F booking so no option to ring You First. Any tips from the HfP readers on a number that might get answered?

    • stevenhp1987 says:

      I’ve had problems with the UK number, but zero problems when ringing the US number! Got through to someone in the UK via the US number in a matter of minutes a couple of months ago.

      You can use Google Hangouts to ring US numbers for free as well!

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