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The new HFP chat thread – Tuesday 4th August

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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.

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/2020/08/04/the-new-hfp-chat-thread-tuesday-4th-august/comment-page-1.  The page will refresh with this article but the comments will now show the first page and not the last page.

Old chat threads are hidden from the HFP home page.  If you want to look for something in an old thread, click here.  This brings up all the articles in our ‘General’ category which includes the chat threads.

Comments (222)

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  • David says:

    Just had a downgrade email from F to CW for an Austin flight for November. Quite happy as it means I can cancel now without £35/person penalty and avoid any last minute brinksmanship.

    Looks like they are planning a bit further ahead, which is interesting. Notable that they are still planning to fly, presumably with a different aircraft type.

    • David says:

      Yes, it’s an A350-1000 being substituted for a -800, which means I was being downgraded into Club Suite. Shame it will be cancelled, but all for the best I suppose.

      Any advice if I can get back the change fees from previous? Originally I was booked CW and then I upgraded to F. Presumably the downgrade will trigger that to be refunded as well as the rest?

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Do you mean its a 787-10 (all 4 class atm) being changed for a A350-1000(all 3 class atm)?

        • David says:

          You could be right – I‘m not as clued up on planes as I was.

    • Anna says:

      Can you do this for a change of cabin?

      • David says:

        I hope so. Will find out when I call them. There’s a slight time change as well, but not enough to misconnect or anything, so that’s probably not relevant.

      • Andrew says:

        Yes, it’s not the service you entered into a contract for – I for one would not consider flying in business class with BA, so would only book First, should that not be available it’s just the same as if they tried to move you from business to economy, you would be entitled to cancel without penalty.

        • Josh says:

          I wish i was married to someone for whom only First Class would do 😂

          • Andrew says:

            Eligible future husbands always welcome to apply Josh! Well I did say *BA* business class – some other airlines like Qatar Airways are very pleasant in business class, but BA is too substandard for me and I would certainly be looking to cancel if downgraded.

        • J says:

          Is Prince Andrew posting on hfp? 😉

        • David says:

          That’s what I’ve done. It’s a good excuse to cancel, but tends to be the cabin of choice for our very infrequent breaks. They cash component isn’t materially different, we have plenty Avios, I like to know what seat I’ll be in.

          • pauldb says:

            You can’t do both – BA won’t start to consider the 75% until after you actually take the flight.

            Cancellation isn’t an absolute right after a downgrade within EU261, though you may have a case under consumer law. There are reports BA have refused refunds recently, having been happy to see you cancel in the past – cash preservation? But if your email inaccurately says the original flight was cancelled you may have the circumstances required to push for a refund.

          • pauldb says:

            Sorry – meant to be a reply to @rk below

        • Secret Squirrel says:

          Not even in Club Suites?

          • David says:

            Maybe tempted to try in the future, but not this trip. No desire to travel until things calm down a bit more.

          • rk says:

            Would it not be better to take the 75% compensation in difference in class from F to J. And then closer the time if the flight is not cancelled pay the £35/person fee to cancel, do the maths, but I think you would have a net gain.

  • Wally1976 says:

    Booking a super cheap one-way BA flight GIB to LHR it won’t accept payment by Amex! Anyone else seen this? Is it because it’s so cheap? Thanks.

    • Wally1976 says:

      PS I’ve tried changing the Billing Country/Region to no avail.

      • BJ says:

        Some have been reporting issues with the site for a few days already.

    • David says:

      This is a long-standing issue – goes back to the very first online sales of tickets exGIB.

      Just use a non-Amex or book elsewhere. Won’t be fixed any time soon.

      Long answer:

      Two reasons have been given to me many years ago by ‘informed people’ – my understanding is the truth is both combined.

      1) Back in the day, GB airways was responsible for all exGIB sales – as they would be first carrier in the ticket – and they didn’t want to have people paying Amex with the higher costs attached.
      This was not the main cause but it meant there was no desire to solve the other issue below, and there is still bits of old code in BA website.

      2) the GIP issue. This is complex to explain. But here goes. (And I do know – in a professional context – this is a real issue generally, not just BA and I’ve further been told by people BA side it is part of the problem):

      If you look in the ISO list of currency codes you will see “GIP” listed with name “Gibraltar pound”.
      Nobody disputes this is in the ISO list of codes.
      The problem is that it doesn’t actually exist. (Pay no attention to Wikipedia on this point it is completely wrong – but some powerful editors control the page. I’ve had plenty of interactions with Gibraltar Gov, UK Gov etc to confirm what I say below):
      GIP does not exist in practice. Either in physical or electronic form.
      Although the government of Gibraltar do issue notes and coins these are all denominated in GBP.
      And to be clear this is not GIP being “pegged” 1:1 with GBP or anything like that – the notes and coins are NOT GIP. GIP does not exist – other than on an ISO list.
      The gib govt notes and coins have face values in GBP – they are not a different currency, just a different issuer – in some respects similar to notes issues by Scottish and Northern Irish banks.
      Yes they are only legal tender (ie obliged to accept them) in Gibraltar – bUt that doesn’t mean you can’t accept elsewhere (although rare). Indeed Scottish notes are not legal tender anywhere – which is an important point to understand the term.

      Anyway, BA are filing fares in GIP – but Amex don’t support it.
      (That is a simplification, but part of it too)

      The GIP issue causes confusion, with people sometimes seeing exchange rate differences – even though it does not exist. The differences are often either due to timing of feed updates or double conversions via another currency in the code. But again, it doesn’t actually exist.

      You might ask If it doesn’t exist, why doesn’t the Gibraltar govt write to ISO about this – it would certainly remove a lot of problems in the banking world.
      This is not official, but … I think there is a perception that having it there is rather useful thing to have – in case it should ever be required in the future. Rather than need to get it added – to the challenges of a perhaps hostile northern neighbour who wants to consume you. (And doesn’t like you having the 2char ISO country code GI – despite it being entirely correctly assigned as Gibraltar is not part of the UK (unless we are talking purely in terms of EU membership where Gibraltar and the U.K. were one member state together – and the only British territories that were part of the U.K.)

      • Wally1976 says:

        Thanks David, very interesting. I didn’t realise this was a GIB-only issue but, not having been to Gibraltar before, I had been reading a little today regarding their currency. I read that, although the currency is pounds sterling, you can often be charged a foreign currency fee when using a UK credit card there.

        • Wally1976 says:

          PS it was only 40 quid for the 2 of us so I just used another credit card and didn’t worry too much about not being able to use Amex.

        • Anna says:

          Their pound coins have interesting designs like the famous Neanderthal skull found there, makes a quirky souvenir (not much to buy there really apart from tax free booze and other items!

  • MadeUpName says:

    Hi, are the Japan and US office still open for 1am calls to book t-355 flights? And do you think they could book using a FTV?

  • Anna says:

    I’m supposed to be flying to Carcassonne with Ryanair in October but it’s getting a bit close now and I’m not sure I want to go. Also the hotel I’ve booked (the Doubletree) wasn’t indicating when it would be open again last time I looked!
    Does anyone know what the Ryanair policy is for flights booked well before the pandemic started? It’s £200 at the end of the day but would obviously rather have it refunded than not!

    • Anna says:

      Looking at the Ryanair Refund page it does say date and route can be changed, which would be a good option.

    • Harry T says:

      They charge change fees if you booked a long time before covid. Free changes with only fare difference paid are a recent change in policy. Worth checking anyway. They don’t seem to be cancelling flights – even to Spain – but worth waiting anyway.

    • Annabel says:

      I have flights to Lanzarote booked well before Covid for travel in couple weeks. No refund possible but can change flights for a fee each person. For family of four change fees were well over £550 😱 plus difference in fare – not risking it and will claim on travel insurance!

      • Anna says:

        What grounds have you got to claim on insurance? I’m not keen on flying so soon and am concerned that if quarantined is imposed on returning visitors from France my son would have to miss 2 weeks of school. But I thought all that would be classed as disinclination to travel and not covered.

        • Annabel says:

          Claiming as FCO have advised against all but essential travel to Spain ( Canary Islands included )

  • Connor says:

    Just had my Curve limit upped from £100k a year to £300k. Just had to provide some ID and a selfie and it was upped no problem, no questions asked about the £20k Business Serviced spend from last month – happy days!

    • Andrew M says:

      Welcome to the 300K club!

    • Martha says:

      How long do you have to wait to get this? Thanks

      • Connor says:

        Had my card since December. Had hit my 30 day limit and was 75k/100k. Don’t believe there’s a specific time scale, just when you’re near/hit limits.

      • Bazza says:

        I had mine a couple of years. No atm withdrawals. Mixed spending and MS. I don’t have Isa, investments, hmrc to pay or Amex but they refused to increase from 50’000. Saying to much business spend. So, think its pretty random on the increases. So, rarely use it now and definitely no point in any of the paid versions.

  • Blue Mountains says:

    Just a note of caution to people travelling to Greece. Cases have gone from 35 last Monday to 121 today. It is obviously only the cases that are rising atm (not deaths) and still low compared to many countries but it is increasing exponentially. Australia followed a similar trajectory and they are currently struggling. Also, friends who work as doctors in Covid hospitals in Athens have told us that the figures are fudged by the government. The official number released by the government of people in ICU is 12, however they (doctors) are telling us there are no ICU beds left at all (the total capacity should be around 500-600). Obviously don’t just take my word for it and make sure you do your own research but I know who I believe more…

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Does this include people being tested at borders and then being told to self isolate ?

      Unfortunately, as we all go out and about more cases are a fact of life. What’s important is that more cases should be found earlier as access to testing is better and more widespread.

      We really have to worry when hospital admissions return to the levels they were in early April.

      • Blue Mountains says:

        Only 12 of the 121 cases were imported/caught at the borders. That damage (from tourists) has already happened in May, June and early July (can’t blame Brits) when Greece opened up in a race to beat other tourist countries like Spain and Italy.
        Indeed more testing should find more cases but again the testing capacity is very limited. It’s less than 10,000 per day…
        It probably didn’t help that they allowed weddings/baptisms/funerals to take place with no cap on the numbers. About 4-5 weddings (hosting up to 300 guests each!) have become known Covid clusters. They have now put a limit on guests with only 100 (!) allowed to attend.
        The R number, previously at 0.3 or less, was today reported by the CMO as 1.0. Now, that is worrying…

    • J says:

      In Greece it might be a case of more testing = more cases? But as the virus hasn’t gone away more tourists/travel obviously carries a risk.

  • Harry T says:

    Mostly due to optimising the 4x promotion and spending too much at the Amstel, I’m only 16,000 or so points away from Spire this year. Is it worth trying for Spire? I’m already Platinum Ambassador.

    • Secret Squirrel says:

      @HarryT:
      Don’t expect too much from Spire, you do get 25k pts as a bonus!

    • ChrisC says:

      100% points bonus helps.

      More chance of an on arrival upgrades Was having a good run of those until COVID happened.

    • Anna says:

      Have you got the IHG black card? OH and I will both make Spire this year (he has already) just from spending on that.

      • Harry T says:

        Sadly just got the white card – eligibility checker for Black didn’t like me!

  • Vit says:

    Hello, can you actually move your amex MR points across from one or two accounts to another (both under your name) to keep the MR point alive and cancel the rest? or you have to transfer them out to airline / hotel as the only choice and close the account down.

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