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The new HFP chat thread – Thursday 6th 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.

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Comments (269)

  • Jody says:

    A little update to my long ongoing saga, and possibly some Barclaycard info too.

    Condensed story – bought a 25 night package holiday including flights, hotel before and after cruise and 15 night cruise. Had arrived in starting country and spent one night in hotel when cruise operations worldwide were stopped. We were due to get on a cruise the following day. Repatriated home (with much drama that I won’t go into). This was back in mid-march, travel company have essentially ignored us ever since other than to say they would apply for a refund for the cruise, but for everything else it was tough luck. No cruise refund received to date, I suspect they messed up the application to NCL as there was only limited time to do it and we weren’t allowed (TA had to do it as they were the ones that booked it, NCL wouldn’t even discuss it with me). The future cruise credit (applied automatically to everyone and removed when people were refunded) is still sat in my account, hence why I think the TA messed it up.

    Anyway, filled out dispute paperwork with Barclaycard on 1st April and posted it off. Radio silence from them, usual “we’re very busy” messages when using their secure message system. Calling them was a nightmare, shortest amount of time I spent on hold was 1 hour and 10 minutes, longest was 3 hours and 45 minutes.

    Twice in June I had a temporary credit applied to my account, only for it to be reversed the next day. Finally at the end of June I had a letter saying a permanent credit would be applied, which was done on 6th July. Told me travel company had 30 days to dispute it. That was up yesterday, so today I have requested the credit be refunded back to my bank account.

    4 months for Barclaycard to sort it out, but they got there in the end. I am very grateful to have the protection from paying by credit card.

    We did approach travel insurance early on, but they basically said that package holidays weren’t covered (thereby making the insurance a little bit useless!) as legislation stated that it was down to the travel agent to refund.

    I gave up contacting the travel agent in mid June, as they weren’t responding to anything I sent them, and each time I called I was just told the same incorrect information and promised a callback by the person dealing with our refund (we never did get to speak to her as no callback).

    Anyway, I know a few people have put disputes in with Barclaycard, so hope this gives a bit of a timeframe.

    Question for anyone in banking/finance who might know – can one company put in a dispute or Section 75 claim against another? I’m just wondering what the deal is with the cruise refund that the travel agent appears to have not done. I think all refunds have been issued now by NCL for that period (certainly lots of posts on the forum I was on for that cruise from people saying they had been refunded). If the TA hasn’t been refunded for whatever reason are they screwed, or can they do a chargeback themselves? Obviously it isn’t them who haven’t received the goods, they’re like a middleman, so I just wondered how it worked .

    I have posted about this situation a lot, although not for a while, but thank you to anyone who has given me advice. It’s been very stressful wondering if we were going to get our money back, but hopefully that’s the end of it now, and we can erase the long weekend we had in Santiago from our memories!!

    • Paul74 says:

      Thanks for this Jody and you must be relieved to have got to this point.
      Who are the travel agent and insurance company involved in this case?

    • AJA says:

      S75 consumer credit protection applies to personal credit cards so a company cannot use it against another and it does not apply to purchases on company / business credit cards although I believe they have a parallel system that closely mimics s75. It does not apply to debit cards or charge cards either.

      Also don’t understand your comment that travel insurance doesn’t cover package holidays. That’s wrong. It definitely does cover package holidays. I think you were just fobbed off by the insurance company. Maybe they said you have to exhaust all other avenues ie airlines or hotels or cruise company before they will step in. Still very unhelpful.

      • Nick_C says:

        Insurance is normally a last resort. If a tour operator / airline / cruise line / hotel is liable, your insurer would expect you to claim against them.

      • Lady London says:

        I agree about your insurer lying. There might have been a clause saying you had to have recourse to ATOL and any other recovery route first. But basically insurance is purchased to ensure this sort of thing is finally covered.

        Is anyone else thinking it’s really unfair of insurance companies to walk away from claims on things your insurance does cover you for and tell you to get the money off your credit card under Section 75 first? I just dont think that’s fair. Noting that a credit card is still liable under s75 even if the place you bought from has gone bust.

        I wouldnt like Section 75 to be removed because of abuse by insurance companies. Its useful for many other situations than travel. I think the credit card s75 should be last resort if unsurance fails to pay up or if there is no insurance coverage – not the other way round. Has anyone seen this peoblem brought up anywhere else? what do people think?

        • Jody says:

          This is the response we got from insurance company:

          Thank you for contacting us about your recent travel insurance claim.

          Please note, we will not be able to consider any claims of a package holiday as the Travel Agent / Tour Operator legally holds sole liability for reimbursing you these costs.

          Please see the link below for obtaining a refund:

          https://www.abta.com/tips-and-advice/is-my-holiday-protected/new-package-travel-regulations

          However, we will be able to consider any prepaid costs that were booked individually and not as part of the package holiday.

          This section is under ‘Travel Disruption Cover – What is not covered’ on page 36.

      • Jody says:

        It does say it in the small print unfortunately. Had no idea when we bought the policy, and even paid a bit extra for trip disruption to ensure that we were covered for any Covid related issues. However, it turns out that with this insurance company (Cedar Tree) that it is specifically put in that for trip disruption, package holidays are excluded. If we’d bought everything separately we would have been fine.

        I was NOT happy, but luckily was covered by buying on a credit card.

        The travel agent was Cruise Nation.

  • BS says:

    Just to check hive mind:

    Am I right in thinking if BA downgrades me from F -> J on a flight in to the EU, they should refund me 75% of the value of that sector? I am planning a flight from JNB – LHR, and F is only a little more than J. However if I get 75% back from them not flying an A380, it might be a good investment!

    • Rob says:

      Good luck getting that paid out.

      • BS says:

        MCOL or a S75 claim off the credit card. There are no ‘extrodinary circumstances’ exemptions on that part of EC261.
        My question is is my understanding of the law behind it valid?

        • Dave says:

          For a downgrade it is 75% of the sector cost (excluding taxes and airline charges) as I understand it.

          • Lady London says:

            for longhaul. @TGLoyalty gave an excellent summary of the %s claimable on this equivalent thread yesterday.

            But as Rob says, while you should ask nicely and we’ve also had confirmef you have to actually fly in the lower class than booked in order for your claim to be payable, Rob is right and it’s likely you could haveto push this as far as a moneyclaim dot gov dot uk.

            However with BA’s reputation here for not paying out on EU261 and apparently doing everything possible to deny and delay passengers receiving their EC261 rights routinely even in cases where they are clearly liable, having to push it to moneyclaim is sadly also quite routine. Whereupon in a surprising number of cases BA has anecdotally paid up immediately. Flyertalk has loads.

        • BS says:

          Many thanks Dave.
          I have looked on FT and seen something called the Mennens formula, which is basically what you just said. 75% back off the sector cost less the govt taxes/fees (but not the airline surcharge). So this equates to about 60% back.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Cant see why not as long as the flight is actually flying

    • Chris Heyes says:

      [email protected] Myself and partner got down graded (well thrown out actually) from a Cabin a few years ago
      not long after we’d booked it by a party of golds
      Reported it on here, but Rob said it couldn’t happen (but it did)
      There was at the time 4 people booked into the cabin according to seat plan
      Apparently a large group wanted the cabin to themselves and was prepared to pay for it
      Maybe the other two passengers are on here ?
      Although we was bumped off the cabin (we complained that’s how we knew they was gold)
      We received very good compensation “All” our Avios back and a free flight to Europe club for two to be used within 12 months
      now i have no idea who the party was, BA wouldn’t say my guess is politicians or celebs
      But the cabin wasn’t full (i peaked)

  • Dan L says:

    Hi folks,
    I’m trying to book flights to South Africa next July using Avios. When I search though, outbound flights are only showing up to 15th July, yet the return flights are showing right through to 26 July. Seems like a system glitch but can’t get through to BA to discuss. Anyone seen this before / have any ideas on what’s going on?
    Thanks,
    Dan

    • Anna says:

      Which platform are you searching on? (e.g, BA, RFF). The outbound legs might be getting snapped up at T-355, are you checking at 1am?
      But think there are glitches in various systems at the moment, I can’t see RFS for July from MAN on any site!

      • Dan L says:

        Hi Anna,

        I’ve used a few platforms and looked for cash fares as well as Avios availability too. Nothing cash based after 15 July LHR to JNB/CPT/DUR but JNB/CPT/DUR to LHR is available up to 26th!

  • Blue Mountains says:

    Just noticed this on my Amex PRG today:
    Points towards Purchases 50% offer, 1000 Points = £6.75
    Not a great deal but available if anyone is interested.

    • BS says:

      Now that is interesting. I am a seller at this rate, as with all the worsening fees etc. that is what I value an avios at. And cash is far more usable than avios!

  • Brian says:

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-53665394

    Holiday shock: ‘We were stopped from boarding our Greece flight’

    • Harry T says:

      If I was as poorly organised as this woman, I probably wouldn’t share it with the national press. EasyJet even proactively email customers about these forms and send notifications in the app. EasyJet are not to blame for her being denied boarding, as she failed to prepare adequately. They were just doing their job properly.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Though at least her experience can be used to educate others

        • Brian says:

          Yes. Especially as many people now seem to be booking trips with just a few days notice (based on people I work with).

          Obviously they should be more prepared but it doesn’t hurt for people to be warned

    • ChrisC says:

      The ‘angry people in local newspapers” Facebook page is a regular haunt for reports like this one.

      Usually they don’t come off as very sympathetic because all the issues are generally down to the person themselves,!

  • Seen8 says:

    Seen this question asked around a bit but am not 100% clear on the answer.

    I’m travelling to Spain this weekend for 3 weeks, and from an insurance point of view I’m unsure of whether it makes sense at all to take additional coverage for the trip. I have:
    * Amex Platinum
    * EHIC

    1 – Am I right in considering that any PRIVATE treatment which is covid-related won’t be covered by the Amex Plat, or any other insurance for that matter?

    2 – Does the above matter at all if I have an EHIC and get treated at a public hospital? Would that cover all fees? Has anyone had experience with this?

    3 – Am I also right in considering that any delays/cancellations/additional days required in a hotel due to Covid would not be covered by Amex Plat / any insurance, but anything unrelated to Covid still would? e.g. theft, misplaced passport, etc.?

    4 – Is the Amex Plat Car Hire insurance still valid during this period?

    5 – As an unrelated side note, given the FCO website advises ‘against all but essential travel’ for most EU countries on their website (only difference is that returning from Spain gets you in quarantine), most people travelling to EU right now will be facing the exact same dilemma?

    My ingoing hypothesis is that any covid-related issue will not be covered by any insurance no matter what I source right now, and that all other things would still be covered by Amex Plat, therefore meaning it is unnecessary to procure extra coverage.

    Any input appreciated!

    S

    • Dave says:

      Covid related cover would depend when you booked. Was the fco advising against travel at the time of booking or when you took out insurance? Best to check your insurer’s policy as all will be different.

      • Seen8 says:

        Sorry should’ve clarified – booked yesterday, when guidance was already in place.

        • Sukes says:

          Amex travel insurance doc available online published 20 mar 2020 stated the insurance is invalidated if you travel against the fco advice. I wouldn’t expect any cover (Medical, non medical, car hire) from the Amex plat card either before or during the trip given you booked in full knowledge of the advice against non essential travel.

    • BS says:

      Amex will now not cover any medical expenses if you haven’t started your trip, as it is against government advice to go. Although the terms don’t specifically mention it, because Amex are members of ABTI, they will cover cancellation costs due to the advice changing between you booking and when you were supposed to travel.

      EHIC will give you the same rights (up to 31st Dec) to treatment as local Spaniards under their public system. Although this will cover some of the cost in the public system, it will not be free.

      Quarantine not covered

      I am unsure about car hire – it seems to be a separate section rather than the medical expenses, so the FCO exclusion may not be relevant.

      Yes: most people facing the same dilemma. If you are concerned you can get specialist insurance, like battlefront, which will cover you if you are <60y and travelling against FCO advice. It is £100-200 per week per person.

    • ChrisC says:

      Check the Spain pages on the EHIC website.

      It will cover most things other than the contribution you will have to make to cover prescriptions (unlike here where it is a standard fee no matter the cost of the drugs in Spain you pay up to 50%) and your insurance may cover that so keep the receipts and make sure it has the full cost of the drugs on it.

      Many insurance policies will expect you to have and use an EHIC and will refuse to pay out any costs that the card would otherwise cover (even if you don’t have an EHIC) so check what you’re says specifically about EHIC

  • Nick_C says:

    Travel Trivia:-

    What do the following European countries have in common?

    Malta
    Belgium
    Iceland
    Netherlands
    France
    Czech Republic
    Switzerland
    Monaco

    • S says:

      About to be classed by FCO as bad guys?

    • Lady London says:

      except France, all can be used as tax havens for some purposes.

    • BJ says:

      Prostitutes…and as @Lady London kindly pointed out, I’m always right.

      • Anna says:

        I think other countries also have them, BJ. Are they all selling citizenship to HNW individuals?

    • TGLoyalty says:

      They all dislike the british?

      • John says:

        Malta has a high rate because about 20 people a day are getting infected. If Monaco had 20 new cases a day it would be worse than the US.

        Iceland is testing all tourists.

        People in CZ are getting complacent as they thought they “defeated” the virus by locking down early.

        Just been to Switzerland and apart from stickers on the floor of some buildings, and hand sanitiser at supermarket entrances you would not know there is a pandemic going on. People religiously don masks at the door of public transport, and instantly remove them the moment they step off. The masks go straight into their handbags or pockets.

        • Nick_C says:

          36 new cases in Malta yesterday.

          Two weeks ago they were finding less than one new case a day. A week ago it was 6 new cases a day. Now its 30. (7 day averages.)

          I think rates per capita are more relevant than absolute numbers. But perhaps they are unrepresentative because the permanent population (used to work out capitation rates) swells significantly because of tourism.

          • D says:

            Wouldn’t it be better to use a metric of positive test results as % of total tests, therefore discounting whether a country is doing lot/little testing?

          • Mr(s) Entitled says:

            D – No.

            Because if a country tested lots of people as a precaution it would have a low percentage of positive tests. If a country only tested those with symptoms sufficient for hospital admission it would have a high percentage.

      • J says:

        The “safe” list is based on the whims of Dominic Cummings. If the govt published a criteria for classifying a country as “safe”, i.e. based on infection rate (like Finland) they’d have some credibility. But then the British govt are now saying masks are a good idea even though just a few months ago they repeatedly dismissed them as ineffective (ignoring evidence from Germany, South Korea etc).

        • Nick_C says:

          The World Health Organisation are now saying masks are a good idea even though just a few months ago they repeatedly dismissed them as ineffective.

      • Brian says:

        It’s the sort of “logic” that is to be expected from this government.

      • Charlieface says:

        Any country testing vast numbers of asymtomatic people is going to see lots of false positives.
        To wit, had you tested people a year ago in 2019 when there was no Covid, there would still be positives because of the false positive rate

  • Billy Nicholson says:

    Can I book ANY One World flight on BA.com?
    There is a Qantas flight from BNE to HKG and I would like to part pay with Avios….It does not appear when searching on BA.com. What is the best/only way to do this please?

    • Rhys says:

      No, you can’t. Slightly different for redemptions, but cash fares tend to be siloed by the individual airlines. Only exception is on codeshare routes etc

      • Michael C says:

        Tallin always appears in “our destinations”, but attempted booking says “OW don’t fly here”!

    • Lady London says:

      if award seats available on QF (think you have to get yourself a login to see them?) then if logging in on BA does not show them then just call BA reservations and ask if its available to book as an award seat with avios. Using QF lets you check availability and date first but you could just call BA too.

      If I get a ‘no’ or ‘cant find that route/seats’ I’d HUACA as this one may not be something every agent would be readily familiar with.

      Historically I often found agents I got very late at night to be superbly knowledgeable with long experience (Newcastle, even if I had reached them by dialling another country’s BA number outside of UK hours).

      • Lady London says:

        @Rhys is right. Above is for award seats ie 100% avios if that’s what you’re looking for.

      • Billy Nicholson says:

        Ok got it…has to be code share for cash, or best bet is to call BA Exec to see if there is a reward seat available. Interestingly I noticed connecting flights with 2 or more legs will show up on BA….

        • Billy Nicholson says:

          PS thank you both

        • Lady London says:

          Yes. By no means all of any airline’s flightss would be availableto other airlines’ elites to book with points/avios. Quite a lit of routes/seats/higher travel classes arent available for points, or only available to that airline’s own members, or only their own members of a certain status, etc.

      • Harry T says:

        You have to ring for some Qantas redemptions with Avios, usually the QantasLink flights. You can find the availability on QF, as LL correctly asserts, or probably on the AA website (you don’t need to make a FF account to search AA).

        • Lady London says:

          Thanks @Harry T, had forgotten about AA. Noting only the Saver-type seats in each class are available to other OneWorld members to book through their programmes.