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The new HFP chat thread – Saturday 25th July

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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 de facto 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.

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Comments (185)

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

  • BJ says:

    Rob/Rhys, can you please share your thoughts or provide an article on the SVC/IHG situation and any implications? An isolated issue or a wider problem with IHG, even the wider hotel management industry including Hilton, Marriott etc? Personally, I never buy or convert into hotel points unless I have an immediate need for them, and although I favour earning and burning over hoarding points, I currently carry large Hilton and IHG balances. Clearly there does not seem to be serious cause for concern at this time but is this SVC issue an alarm bell, and are there others? We are certainly hearing stuff about IHG, this SVC issue being just the latest. Is it all ‘just in a days work’ or possibly something more?

    • Secret Squirrel says:

      SVC?

    • Rob says:

      Sum involved is so trivial I doubt it is liquidity related.

      • Chrisasaurus says:

        They also appear to be keen on the chance of a rebrand and own 34% of the brand they threaten to reflect as. It’s not hard to imagine it was their intent regardless

    • Lady London says:

      Looks like SVC is hurting more than IHG.

      IHG seem very smart and not in need of money. They’ve done intelligent stuff with their pension scheme recently (though less good potentially for their employees of course). They also stepped up quickly to grab UK covid business money at favorably low rates subsidised by thr British taxpayer when it’s not clear why IHG needed it.

      BAU – IHG taking advantage of the situation to informally delay payments and SVC has called them on it.

  • Michael C says:

    For anyone who rushed to take up the Park Plaza Westminster “flash sale” offer a month or so ago (or wished they had and didn’t!)…the prices for Aug. are still exactly the same now!

    • Andrew says:

      And Holiday Inn Kensington Forum (walking distance from Harrods) is £53 a night in August. There’s some crazy cheap prices in London at the moment, as you would expect.

      • Rob says:

        Dump though 🙂

        Hilton Bankside was £99 next Friday – now a little higher – which is real value if you have Diamond status.

        • Andrew says:

          Not a nice area of town. I would prefer to pay half the price and stay in Kensington and have a less nice room. Stayed there plenty of times with work and whilst it certainly isn’t a great hotel, £53 still seems excellent value.

          • Lady London says:

            Is that the one almost opposite Sainsbury’s on the site of the old West London Air Terminal? it used to be a Penta that was heavily used by air crew.

            They gave a firm I used to work for a show-round after they’d spent millions refurbishing it. I felt very claustrophobic in the rooms as they had very low ceilings, only gave them business when London was full.

          • Rob says:

            That’s the one.

          • RussellH says:

            Had a job interview there in 1978. Rooms apparently cost around £20 at the time, which sounded like a huige sum, so that was what I was offered in expenses. Since my parents lived about 20 mins away on the underground, it seemed an excellent deal.

            [I took the job; was offered CHF33 000 / annum (= £11 000 at the time), which also sounded excellent. But they never paid me that, only CHF30K].

        • KBuffett says:

          Are there any good deals on top end properties?
          Need a break

          • KBuffett says:

            Does anyone know what Marriott a County Hall is like? I’m Bonvoy Platinum…
            Good for a night or two?

          • Rob says:

            My brother is in London next Friday so I was digging around options. Didn’t see anything great via Marriott although the Residence Inns are £100 – that’s basically an apartment and so amazing value if you want to self cater. Lots of hotels around the £99 mark eg Hilton Tower Bridge, Bankside. I’d focus on where you have status if it would get you free breakfast and/or lounge access (Bankside has a lounge which is why I mentioned it).

          • Rob says:

            A lot of the top London hotels remain closed.

            I saw some excellent deals at Trump Turnberry if you fancy a Scottish trip – £249 per night I think inc hotel credit. You’d be paying £500+ in August normally.

          • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

            Lounges are closed at London Hiltons.

          • Lady London says:

            Staybridges are excellently priced and deservedly highly rated. Was checking for my stay last week. All of Victoria/Vauxhall, Stratford (excellently located for Westfield and transport as it’s on Central and Jubilee lines amongst other options), LHR (poor transport) were priced to get occupancy.

            I nearly even went for a stay in a couple of the better Premier Inns also very decently priced and needing the support.

            But HfP common sense and my wish to get out of Accor prevailed. So I spent some of my small stash of Accor points and got a rate about 75% or less of the rate I would pay in the cheapesr pricing period for the hotel I chose.

            Apart from wanting to avoid staying in Accor hotels because if their customer service’s inability to resolve problems and Accor’s repeated failure to honour promotions they target me for “it was a mistake we targeted you so we’re not paying the 2,000points we promised you”, Accor points are the only ones absolutely strictly paid to and from you on the basis of the cash rate for each night so now is the time to spend them.

            Other hotel groups do now relate points to cash prices but much more loosely than Accor so those of are worth holding on to for longer than Accor points.

          • Lady London says:

            Got a feeling Novotel Blackfriars came up open on one of my searches. you’d have to check if pool is open. Rob did a nice review.

          • Harry T says:

            @Rob
            Turnberry is also a steal for points at 35k a night!

          • Colin says:

            London?

            Don’t bother. The suburbs etc are busy but there’s not much going on in the areas where tourists go.

          • Colin says:

            * my response was to Kbuffet

          • KBuffett says:

            Trump Scotland seems like a nice experience, thanks Rob

          • Rob says:

            Anika reviewed it a couple of years ago if you search.

      • old bob says:

        Kensington Forum/Penta was a well known house of ill repute in my day 70s/80s. Spent some great times there.

  • Mr(s) Entitled says:

    Something a little different for the weekend….

    Yesterday on HfP alongside the articles there was an advert for warbirds and the option to fly in a Spitfire. I’ve never searched for such but the clever people at Google ads have got me with this one. I’m wondering if any of the readership have ever tried it, and if so, does it come recommended?

    A quick search also shows Boultbee provided a similar offering and then there are intermediaries such as Virgin Experiences selling packages.

    At £2,750 it’s not cheap but for a unique experience it actually struck me as reasonable. Price is what you pay, value is what you get.

    • Blindman says:

      I think you need to ask yourself what you are expecting for that price.

      A “seat of the pants” flying experience can be bought for £100 for 30 minutes as part of a lesson in a two seater Cesna.

      Or at £125 an aerobatics lesson (30 mins) where you do the stall turns, inverted flight and loops etc.
      Not exactly the sounds\smells of a spitfire but most of the experience for a lot less money.

      • Mr(s) Entitled says:

        It’s the spitfire that swings it and the Merlin engine. Can’t replicate that but I don’t dispute the cost is elevated.

        • Secret Squirrel says:

          Agree the plane used is a one off experience but that price is way off the chart IMO.

        • Blindman says:

          The cheaper flying lesson also gives you an idea if you actually like that kind of flying.

          I’d hate to spend £2k and be sick all the time!

    • mutley says:

      There are plenty of flight experiences for far less. 5 years ago I flew in a Lightning at Thunder city in Cape Town for a third of that, unfortunately now closed due to crash!!, or perhaps try a Mig29 experience in Russia.

    • Dave says:

      Hi – a few places offer flights in an historic Harvard… Which is from the same period and was used as a trainer during the 1940’s.
      Anglian Warbirds does these (along with flights in a Russian Yak52).
      Also classic wings at Duxford do a wings to wings flight, where you actually fly in something alongside the spitfire. I am a member of the Tiger Club in North London, and there you can fly in Tiger Moths… And due to the open cockpit flying can be done right now..

      • Mr(s) Entitled says:

        Flying alongside a spitfire comes in about £500-700 which I don’t think offers me the same value.

        I hadn’t considered the option of undertaking such an adventure overseas so I will look into that. Not sure if there will be many twin cockpit Spitfires kicking about though.

        • Dave says:

          Yes agreed it would be a different experience.
          The spitfire flights would definitely be some thing else!

          Dave

  • Elaine J. says:

    I am flying to a country that requires a negative COVID test to be done 72 hours before arriving. I then have to produce a certificate from an accredited lad (e.g. UKAS). How do I go about this?

    • Anna says:

      Which country? I would suggest contacting your GP for advice as he/she might be best placed to confirm that a particular provider is accredited, unless you live in an area where anyone can go to a “drive through” testing facility. Otherwise I would think you will need to pay for a private test unless you have symptoms.

      • ChrisC says:

        It’s very unlikely that GPs will have any idea whether a test from a private provider is accredited or not.

        Please don’t call GPs for what are basically not medical issues

        The Dept for Health or the MHRA May have a listing though.

        • Anna says:

          I disagree, if you’re prepared to pay for a private service instead of trying to get it through the NHS I don’t think it’s unreasonable to spend a few minutes on the phone to the surgery’s receptionist to find out if they can answer a question you have. GPs can and do refer patients for private treatment in any case.

          • Colin says:

            A test to allow someone to go on holiday isn’t “treatment”.

          • Anna says:

            What do you do if you need a Yellow Fever jab or malaria tablets before you go on holiday? COVID testing may well be the future of travel – are you prepared to give up travelling because you don’t want to bother your GP?

          • Nick_C says:

            @Anna. “What do you do if you need a Yellow Fever jab or malaria tablets before you go on holiday?”

            I go to Trailfinders on Kensington High Street. I wouldn’t dream of getting immunisation for a holiday on the NHS. If you can afford to holiday in exotic places, you should pay for the immumisation. If you travelling on business, the business should pay.

            I also pay for my winter flu jab.

          • Anna says:

            Nick C, you’re pretty presumptuous. We don’t have anything like that where I live – you go to your GP, ask for the immunisation or whatever and pay them for the service, which they are more than happy to supply. I wouldn’t want it from anyone who wasn’t familiar with my medical history.

          • Anna says:

            Though when I say “GP”, the receptionists and nurses do most of this stuff without the need to see the actual doctor. Up here we call it “going to the doctor’s” for any kind of contact with the local surgery.

          • Colin says:

            “ are you prepared to give up travelling because you don’t want to bother your GP?”

            No. I’ll just go to boots like I always do

    • Paul says:

      No one knows.
      I cancelled my trip as a result of this.
      Not only does no one here know, or guarantee the results within your time frame, let alone certification, but most countries And by extension airlines, can’t say if the NHS email or text is acceptable.
      It’s a mess and much to much of a risk of being Denied boarding by the carrier.

    • Jonathan says:

      The NHS drive through/home test send you an e-mail with the result but it’s not in a format I would be confident of being accepted by an overseas border agent. There’s nothing more than your name/D.O.B & positive/negative. No mention of lab accreditation or date test was performed.

      • Jonathan says:

        I’ve used “The Doctors Laboratory” in London before & found them reliable & prompt. They do most of the lab services for outpatient private healthcare providers in London. They should provide you with results in a format that would be acceptable. You’d have to call to ask about the process & price (their website states they offer COVID PCR & Antibody tests).

        tdlpathology . com

        • Tom H says:

          If you’re in London, there are lots of private GP practices offering this service, eg Basil Street, Sloan Street, Courtfield Private Practice etc, most run the samples through TDL

    • Vit says:

      Elaine, I’m not sure where about you love but last Sunday I’ve got private covid-19 test in ABZ and the result came back within 24 hours. Everything was arranged by my employer but if you do need the arrangement info, worth searching for TAC healthcare group and aker solution covid test centre.

  • The Original Nick says:

    Morning all. I referred my friend for the Amex Gold CC. He has hit the spend target and received his bonus. He’ll be spending quite a lot in the next coming months. Can anyone advise on the best option for his next card please? Amex Platinum is out of the question as he won’t have time to travel in the next 6 months. Thanks.

    • Anna says:

      He wouldn’t be eligible for a Platinum sign up bonus so soon after holding gold, but would be for the BA cards unless he’s already had one in the past 2 years.

      • The Original Nick says:

        Thanks Anna. Is that either the BA Blue Amex CC or the BAPP?

    • Waddle says:

      As Anna said above, BA card would be his best bet. Probably a BAPP so he can get a 241 vouhcer at £10k. If he is going to spend close to 25k in a year, he could keep his Gold and get the BAPP, put 10k on BAPP to get the voucher (plus bonus if eligible) and 15k on his Gold and he’ll get a 10k MR points bonus when his Gold renews

  • Elaine J. says:

    Tried my GP. They couldn’t tell me where I could have it done. Have also tried several private hospitals/clinics. We have a local drive through testing centre, but as it is NHS, I don’t think they will issue the relevant certification.

    • Rob says:

      NHS just sends you a short email I believe. May not be accepted.

      Are you sure there is no private testing in your area? Even our local chemist is doing it.

    • Amit says:

      This is definitely a private service. In our area a few of the travel clinics are offering this service. Where are you based Elaine J?

    • Navara says:

      BUPA or doctorcall advertise the service

      • Lady London says:

        I would try Trailfinders as they havea longstanding travel clinic that has been able to deal with many exotic things in the past. Is MASTA still around?

        • Nick_C says:

          According to their website, Trailfinders are only offering antibody tests (£95)

    • Spursdebs says:

      If you have any “ symptoms” like a cough you and your family can just go to a testing station. Read between the lines that was the advice on this site last time this question was asked.

      • Lady London says:

        cough! cough!

      • Colin says:

        No guarantees that they’ll get the results in time though. The % of results returned within the one day target, for example, are dropping rather than increasing.

        Shambolic stuff really.

        • Darren says:

          A colleague had the results the following morning after a 6pm test last week.

        • Nick_C says:

          Nephew tested in London last Friday. Results by text the next day. Not that a text would be any good as proof. (And it was a positive result).

    • KBuffett says:

      Call TDL, the doctors laboratory
      Or County Pathology, Guildford. Bill is the main man there and will do it for you

  • Elaine J. says:

    Thank you for all your replies. I am based in West Wales, and am travelling to Barbados. Have managed to find one clinic in Cardiff, but they will not guarantee to get the result back in time. Looks like I will have to travel to London!

    • Anna says:

      As mentioned above, I would make 100% sure your result will be accepted by Barbados immigration!

  • tony says:

    Am driving to LCY and want to try and find somewhere for lunch in the vicinity, on the basis that I believe the restaurants in the airport are closed.

    Will be heading down the M11/A406, so don’t really want to head over to Canary Wharf. According to goole maps it looks like a bit of a culinary wasteland. Ideal would be a nice pub with outdoor seating and somewhere to park.

    Thanks

    • Bazza says:

      There is a Chinese opposite.

    • Hugh Jardon says:

      There used to be a great café in Gants HIll called the Dinner Gong, jimmy greaves used to eat there before games, and took a young Terry Venables there when they played together. Its probably closed now.

    • Mark M says:

      If you go via M25, The Nags Head at brentwood, just off the A12 lunction, is a good foodie pub with gardens and restaurant.

      • tony says:

        Thanks – that’s a bit out of the way for us as we’re coming from North West of London and still means a decent drive down to the airport.

        There’s a place called the Fox at Connaught, which is next to the Doubletree. Seems to tick all the boxes – any thoughts?

    • sunguy says:

      THere is a BK in Gants Hill and a couple of decent Indians…..the place where Jimmy Greaves used to eat is now a Halal dinner – its not bad but usually filled with kids drinking milkshakes…

      There was a decent version of a Miller and Carter at Newbury Park ….

      Not sure what they are all like now, but there used to be some decent eating places in the Excel centre / Western gateway – such as the resturant at the crown plaza…..but who knows what thats like these days.

      The [email protected] pubs were okay too!

      • tony says:

        Brilliant thanks. I’ll go with the Fox. Parking outside the front door and google tells me it’s less than 10 mins via a circuitous drive over to the airport.

        A lot of the chain restaurants (Whitbread type) are still in a phased reopening by the look of things, so there was one I saw nearby but not open until well into August.

    • Louie says:

      Shame Yi-Ban is closed, I’ve had some excellent dim sum meals there.

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