Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

The new HFP chat thread – Sunday 26th 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.

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Comments (107)

  • Simon Schus says:

    Hi all,

    Does anybody know of any good opportunities for redeeming Avios or Membership Rewards on airport transfers? Looking to go from Heathrow to Winchester and back. I see the REAL Transfers for non-redemption opportunities.

    Might be unlucky on this one I guess!

  • Rich says:

    Morning all,
    Does anyone know how BA handle compulsory downgrades on an avios and Amex 2-4-1 booking (the only cash element was the usual taxes and charges). With the early retirement of the 747 it seems that some replacement aircraft don’t have First and whilst my flight to Denver isn’t for some time and therefore things are likely to change just wondered if anyone has any experience if the booked class cannot be flown? I’d read somewhere that there’s a set percentage refund for cash tickets but not sure how this works when the second ticket cost ‘0’ but only because of the voucher which clearly can’t be partially refunded:

  • Andrew says:

    Bit of an odd one, but checking my BA Amex offers on the App this morning and the background card image has changed from a BA blue card to a silver-Grey card without the BA branding.

    • Waddle says:

      Sometimes this happens as a caching issue on the app or website. It just means the right image hasn’t been loaded on this login so the app or website has defaulted to a generic design. Also happens on the US version of the app.

  • Anna says:

    Dilemma, dilemma! Next week I am going to be jumping on CW Avios seats at T-355. For the first time ever, BA has been releasing 4 or even 6 award seats on this route. 4 of us will be travelling. Do I blow most of my stash of Avios using 2 companion vouchers for 4 of us, or book 2 on Avios and 2 of us on an (expensive) BA holiday (flights plus car)? The former would save us £3k but the latter would earn a lot of Avios and tier points and likely get the 2 of us to Silver next year. I don’t want to use Avios for 3 of us when I could use a 241 and save 150k Avios on the 4th seat, if that makes sense!

    • Spursdebs says:

      Well in this day and age of travel having the flexibility of an avois booking would be more important than an earning opportunity. Worse case scenario you lose £35pp if you cancel and more of less instant return of points and fees/taxes.
      As we see today how quickly travel plans can change if me I would choose paying by points.

      • Anna says:

        Hi Debs, good point though hopefully the only instances in which we’d be cancelling a BA holiday would be covered by travel insurance or ABTA.

    • Andrew says:

      A third option is reduce with Avios a cash ticket which will earn your Avios and tier points and you don’t need to jump now, can book a few months prior or when there is the next sale.

      • Anna says:

        That never seems a good use of Avios to me!

        • meta says:

          I would do Avios bookings for now. Sales are likely in autumn/winter, so I would then cancel Avios and book cash at that point.

          • memesweeper says:

            +1 do Avios now, bank the seats and the flexibility, switch to cash later if there’s a deal

        • Andrew says:

          Always seems the best use of Avios to me. No availability restrictions, combine with sale fares and earn back Avios and tier points.

        • Secret Squirrel says:

          Agree, the calculations using avios to reduce can be a con. Usually the first option comes out a penny a point then loses value upward scale.

          • Lady London says:

            Could it work to book cash tix then upgrade with avios? do cash tix work with 241’s?

          • Lady London says:

            plus get a separate car option banked as a backup as soon as the right price appears

          • Anna says:

            There’s no guarantee Avios seats will be available to upgrade to, they tend to go at T-355 or not long afterwards. You can’t use the 241 for that.

    • Chris Heyes says:

      [email protected] only you know your situation But i always use my 241s Long Haul Club, or Avios,Doesn’t matter to us.
      One year might be using 3 lots of Avios for 3 Europe trips specially if long haul the year after
      But we plan our Hols 3 years in advance, unless something like this happens Gr
      So very easy for us to know how many Avios and or 241s we will need.
      example (now next year) Boulder (Colorado) we count as one hols then from Boulder fly
      Denver to Phoenix to Sedona (Arizona) 2nd hols maybe off to Lake Powell
      Whereby most would class it as one Hols we would class it as 2/3 hols
      But we would be away for 3/4 weeks sometimes 5 weeks
      (we once did 10 weeks without setting foot in blighty lol) younger days lol
      I like to “DO” more than one place when on hols
      Partner has put her foot down now (in her twilight years lol) saying we must be in one place for at least 4 days before next place so i now plan at least a week or more at each place
      (i agree with her but can’t tell her i agree can i lol)
      i researcher and plan our itinerary myself, never come unstuck “YET” lol
      Even with Covid all Hotels refunded & flights (Avios)
      Her Brother usually comes with us as well nowadays he likes my planning
      No plans for this year now so cash & Avios rich & two 241s for next year & year after lol
      My philosophy is why fly back to UK if we don’t need then fly back out again to us that’s a tremendous amount of Money (or Avios) wasted unnecessary

      • Anna says:

        Which is exactly what we’ll be aiming to do when we’re not tied to work and school holidays any more!

    • Spk says:

      If it’s a competitive route like NY, have you had a look at WTP fares? These can be upgraded to CW, with less Avios and also earns TP and Avios on its own for the WTP fare.

      • Anna says:

        No it’s a very expensive route with absolutely no competition!

    • Chris Heyes says:

      [email protected] Think why do you need “Silver” is it worth it (maybe to you!)
      I’m Blue bottom of pile lol still travel 1st or Business,Club, never pay for flights “Ever”
      considered a pleb lol Only once traveled in Economy 5 years ago NEVER again lol since 1970/80
      Was good in 70/80s not any more
      Why would i want to attain Silver what advantage would it gave me if i started paying instead of Avios
      Them are the questions need answers for

      • The Original Nick says:

        That depends how often you travel short haul. Free seat selection (exit row everytime), lounge access, fast track and extra avios on paid flights. And a handy customer service.

        • Secret Squirrel says:

          Silver is good if you earned it organically and fly a certain amount in J / PE / E due to free seat selection at time of booking. Extra avios on cash paid bookings a bonus & the extras if you decide to fly in E or PE.

        • Chris Heyes says:

          The Original [email protected] short Haul Europe 3 times a year fly Club have fast track also no need book seats have a slight disability (any even slight disability) qualifies for duty of care which means Airline “must” place you next to Partner (travel companion) by law
          Only once have BA refused (passenger next to window wouldn’t move) small claims court threat BA paid out treble i asked.
          I only showed them my disabled Bus pass at check in (should have informed them earlier i know but didn’t) by law didn’t have to, they asked me what my disability was they have no right to know
          that’s why i was taking them to court. Was certain i would win BA apologized and paid out with confidentiality clause regards amount (helps my cousin is a solicitor lol)
          I’m always placed next to Partner now

          • Jonathan says:

            If you don’t need to be sat next to your partner to manage whatever your “minor disability” is then frankly it’s not on to insist on it for free let alone threaten legal action over it. Classic boomer behaviour IMHO.

          • Chris Heyes says:

            [email protected] O Jonathan it’s my right to sit next to my Partner (simply because i can)
            just as you would wish to sit next to your Children my slight disability says i can,
            whether you agree i should or not is irreverent (no insult intended)
            Duty of care says i can and Airlines “MUST” insure it happens even if somebody has to be moved to accommodate (sorry about the person who has booked their seat but that’s how it is
            Notice BA could have challenged it in court but choose not to

          • Doug M says:

            I thought BA considered immediately in front or behind, as well as across the aisle as ‘next to’, maybe that’s children and disability reasons are different.
            Whatever your rights not giving advance notice just complicates things, particularly in smaller cabins like WT+.

      • Secret Squirrel says:

        “Never pay for flights”? You got a special account where taxes are not applicable?

        • Chris Heyes says:

          Secret Squirrel @ lol I’m sure your not thick cheeky you know free plus Taxes lol
          But i’m 72 and was Free maybe your to young to remember the olden days think it was BOAC
          way back then, only recently dam taxes came to haunt us

          • Secret Squirrel says:

            Good on you Chris but there are certain blogs out there still banding about get free flights using avios which nowadays is untrue, in the past maybe!
            A lot of new readers come to HFP via the web etc, don’t want anyone learning to think avios redemption flights are completely free.
            Yep, too young to remember BOAC. 😉

    • Harry T says:

      Use Avios for all – flexibility and cash are king, and there’s no point giving BA a cash loan. You can cancel and rebook later for two or all members if a great cash deal pops up.

      Plus Silver is fairly worthless unless you live near LHR, IMO, or do a lot of travel on OneWorld partners through airports with decent lounge access. From the regions, I don’t see value in acquiring even Silver status tbh. I’d rather get a direct flights to a European destination, even pre covid, and that means EasyJet, Ryanair, Wizz, Austrian, LH, Swiss etc.

    • AJA says:

      Anna I am an earn and burn person. I’d book with Avios if you have enough as it gives you flexibility if you need to cancel. If travelling CW Silver status really only gives more Avios and the ability to choose seats on booking. £3k saved and flexibility of Avios booking swings it toward using the 2-4-1s for me.

      • Anna says:

        I’m leaning towards this as long as enough CW seats are released, we need to use the extra 241s we’ve not been able to redeem this year really.

    • Lyn says:

      Anna, it seems to me that the combination of 4 seats likely to be available, having 2 vouchers and enough avios, and an otherwise expensive cash route is an ideal opportunity for an award booking. Not to mention flexibility under current circumstances.

  • KBuffett says:

    Does anyone have recommendations for a property for a luxury summer alpine break? Not a £50k a week exclusive chalet, but perhaps a shared one or a chalet hotel? Cable cars, mountain views and great food.

    • C F Frost says:

      Worthwhile looking at the Hotel Bismarck in Bad Hofgastein.

    • Spursdebs says:

      I fancy going here
      I love a good Spa.

      • KBuffett says:

        This looks fab. If you like a good spa, I highly recommend Bürgenstock. It’s truly special, but very pricey.

    • Harry T says:

      W Verbier has some good reviews and you can burn Bonvoy points there. Haven’t personally visited.

      • KBuffett says:

        The location is good, although the decor does look a bit wild. I think I may book it, I need 10 Marriott nights to attain 50 and then get five suite awards…I think!

        Does anyone know if W Verbier have limited facilities at the moment?

        • Harry T says:

          I’m pushing for Platinum too! It’s a classic W where they enjoy bold styling basically for the sake of it, with mixed results 😂.

          • OP says:

            It’s a fantastic hotel (for skiing – not so sure about summer) and the spa area is really nice. I have to say that it felt like one of the properties where points bookings were treated ‘below’ paying guests however

    • John says:

      You could take a look at Das Graseck in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. You have to take the hotel’s cable car to get there, the views are stunning and the food’s great (though the main thing I remember about eating there – we went half board – was how relaxing it was not having to think about where to go!).

    • Lady London says: has a holidays section which can come up with sime amazing deals for just this type of stay. from the UK you’d have to arrange your own flights separately and would need a car for most. But some very good deals, look under Wellness for places with spas.

  • Save East Coast Rewards says:

    I know Rob generally says good things about the Hilton in Bournemouth so I wonder if any of the readers here have stayed there since reopening?

    I had planned to visit next week but I’ve cancelled as I’m working in Italy at the moment and I’m worried if the spike in cases hits Italy and I either have to quarantine when I arrive in the UK or are unable to get back to Italy.

    I’ve stayed there quite a few times in the past so as I wondering how the hotel is managing with the new restrictions now I can’t experience it for myself.

    • Drennan Duplooy says:

      Pool and bar both closed. Restaurant has very lumited menu.

      • Save East Coast Rewards says:

        Both bars closed or just the 8th floor one?

  • SG says:

    Morning all
    Can please anyone confirm that VA CC is still not charging foreign exchange fees for spending in Euros,Swedish cronas and Romanian leu?It used to be clearly written somewhere on the statements but can’t see it anymore
    Just need to know if to look an alternative if they stoped it!

    • Peter K says:

      I may be wrong but from what I’ve read here they weighed the exchange rate to make to up for the 3% fee they could no longer charge.

    • WaynedP says:

      I put through a gîte deposit on Friday (24th) on a French website that would have charged a Euro rate.
      The transaction is still showing on my Virgin Atlantic Rewards+ ccard as pending today, but no sign of any forex fee charge, which i’m not expecting to be levied.
      Will advise here if that changes in the next day or two.

    • WaynedP says:

      Euro payment on VA Rewards+ CC (not the free CC) gone through w/o any forex fee levied, as I expected.

      I received email from Virgin Money on Mon 20 July re update on card t&cs, stating:
      You no longer have to pay the 2.99% fee on transactions within the EEA. If you make a purchase in any of the countries in the EEA, you won’t be charged a fee if you’re paying in Sterling, Euros, Swedish Kronor or Romanian Lei. If your card doesn’t currently charge a fee for non-sterling transactions made elsewhere, that’s not changing.

  • Karl says:

    Thinking of a weekend break in August. Before I start emailing individual hotels, does anyone known if Crown Plaza club lounges in the UK are open at the moment?

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