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The new HFP chat thread – Wednesday 12th 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/2020/08/12/the-new-hfp-chat-thread-wednesday-12th-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 (206)

  • Dev says:

    As its likely a number of additional countries will be added to the “quarantine list”, does anyone think its likely that the UK will introduce a test-on-arrival regime? Or perhaps a system like Jersey’s, where high risk countries (such as the US) must quarantine for 14 days, but medium risk countries (France) can stop quarantining if the traveller has a negative test on day 0 and on day 5?

    • Anna says:

      I doubt it, we haven’t even got Track & Trace working properly yet.

      • Lady London says:

        I only want there to be enough PPE of the right quality to be available to anyone who feels they need it for their work.

        My reasons are not entirely altruistic. I need to use DIY tools at home sand and cut wood and metal and it’s absolutely impossible to find a replacement face mask screen or goggles in any of the big DIY stores.

        The stores say it’s all gone to the NHS. Still? nearly 6 months since this thing started?

        So some NHS workers are having to grab protection intended for the DIY market so surely not protecting them enough, while I have nothing to protect me from the certainty of wood and metal fragments flying off what I need to cut.

        • Anna says:

          Amazon has got all sorts of stuff like that in stock – can’t remember if you use Amazon, I know there are various ethical issues with it! But you could maybe approach the supplier directly.

          • Lady London says:

            Yes I’m on Amazon but the issue there is quality. Kit that will provide the needed level of protection for diy at low or even moderate prices has disappeared.
            There are some of the really overpriced brands available but having checked their quality pre-Covid I dont want to pay £80-100 for a helmet and visor combo that I usually buy readily for £20 (lowest ever was £12 for the identical article).

            It’s annoying as I’m sure the DIY level of protection isn’t enough to protect health sector staff and yet it’s all been grabbed somewhere in the chain.

          • Travel Strong says:

            @Lady London. Instead of goggles or face shields, i’ve always used a cheap welding mask – covers all areas of the face from flying debris, just flip up the dark glass when not welding. One off purchase that never needs replacing.

            Would only recommend for grinding / sanding though – not for a trip to M&S or A&E!

          • Lady London says:

            @Travel Strong is there always a clear panel under the dark one then that is strong enough to stop flying metal and wood?

            Good idea if the Darth Vader look of welding helmets has stopped healthcare staff grabbing them.

          • Travel Strong says:

            There is in mine, can’t speak for all of them as i’ve only ever needed the one!

    • Yuff says:

      You would have thought that would be sensible and other countries are able to do it.
      WHO praised the UK this week in respect of getting cases under control.
      The quarantine situation for places, with lower cases than the uk, but having to quarantine on arrival back in the UK is frustrating, as I post this from Mallorca 🤦🏻‍♂️

      • Anna says:

        There’s no proper organisation. Where I live, the local council was so annoyed with the government’s efforts at T & T it’s implemented its own system. There are testing sites where anyone can turn up and have a test, which would suit the kind of arrangement the OP was asking about. BUT we have no system for tracking people coming into the country who would need to test on arrival and on day 5. Most countries which are implementing this kind of system are charging travellers for it, again that would take a level of administration that the UK doesn’t seem capable of! Not to mention the backlash there would be here (see responses to the comment yesterday about BA possibly bringing in pre-flight testing).

      • Dev says:

        I think many people would be happy to pay for private tests to knock a week off of the quarantine, and would likely be just as effective in prevention.

        • Lady London says:

          Not everyone has the means to cough up £150 or whatever each way even if they do need to travel @Dev

          • Dev says:

            Of course not, but then again there will be some that need to travel, that cannot afford to give up two weeks of work (which is why I said *many* and not *everyone*). A

            I’m just ranting because I need to go see family in a medium-risk country. I’ll be more or less isolating while there in a private house, then flying back. Logically this is less risky than friends I see posting pics of partying in Nice, or even some of the packed beaches here.

    • Harry T says:

      The UK should consider testing returning travellers for free, given the potential economic damage of another national lockdown in the face of a sustained second wave would make the expenditure on tests look like chicken shit. Although, inevitably some cases would be missed.

  • Rossy says:

    Does anyone have any idea if/when it will be possible to book Mr & Mrs Smith hotels using IHG points?

    • Lady London says:

      No. Apparently not even IHG knows.

      • Anna says:

        Why do they have them cluttering up their website – if you do a search in the Cumbria area all you get is a long list of Mr & Mrs Smith hotels which aren’t available?!

        • Secret Squirrel says:

          I suspect they got loaded awaiting a big advertising campaign then covid hit. I’m sure someone asked ihg when & the answer was soon but things a little slow at the moment.

  • Loser Shopper says:

    What are my other options, if any, akin to BA holidays that will let me book flights plus car/hotel for 2021 and only pay a deposit?

    I’m not looking for a package holiday, just a way to secure flights now and add a small extra to pay in instalments rather than pay the entire amount. I’m looking into travel to the US or Canada.

    • Anna says:

      But that’s what a package holiday is! BA (to give them credit) do seem to offer the best in terms of flexibility (e.g. you can book car and hotel, without flights, as a package). It might be worth contacting a couple of the better travel agents (Trail Finders are supposed to be very good) and asking if they offer this on any of their bookings.

    • Harry T says:

      Trailfinders or BA Holidays.

  • yogi says:

    Hi need to pay a large mbna bill any point earning tips much appreciated. Y

  • S879 says:

    Looking to book a last minute holiday to Turkey for 2 adults and 2 children. I’m looking at BA Holidays. Is there anything I need to bear in mind re booking or any tips. I will see if I can get something via Avios store and pay via BAPP. Any other tips re discounts as it seems quite pricey but I want a direct flight. If I stay at a Hilton or Marriott do I get loyalty points of using BA holidays?

    • Lady London says:

      no loyalty pts unless booking direct. why would the hotel give a discounted rate to the holiday company and then pay you in rewards or points as well.

    • Anna says:

      You also won’t get double avios for using BAPP on the e store. If that’s your priority, just book a BA holiday, you’ll get bonus avios plus the ones for the BAPP. Hilton sometimes gives free breakfast on a BA holiday booking if you’re gold or diamond but not points, like LL says.

      • S879 says:

        Thanks LL and Anna.
        Re medical insurance, I believe Amex Platinum cover doesn’t cover COVID. Are people purchasing any extra insurance?

  • Naveen says:

    Hi all, I have a BAPP. What’s the best/logical strategy for my next card? Platinum?

    • Rob says:

      Platinum is your only option I’m afraid. You are blocked from all other personal cards.

      If you have a business, Gold Business, Plat Business or BA Accelerating Business are also options.

      • Peter K says:

        Not technically accurate. Platinum is the only one you will get a bonus on if you apply. You can get the other cards but no sign-up bonus.

  • Lorraine Brady says:

    Lounges at Heathrow T5?
    After having to cancel 2 other plans me and my husband have made the decision to spend our (very belated) honeymoon road tripping in Scotland. Because of how short the journey is I didn’t think it was really worth getting anything other than economy. But now I was thinking it might be nice to have lounge access in the morning of the flight, get some breakfast and have a glass of bubbly! I’ve never used a lounge in T5 Heathrow, are any of them worth the monry? Are they even open?
    Thanks!

    • Sukes says:

      Largely depends when you’re travelling as lounges are (Very) slowly In the process of opening. Have a look at Rob’s article y’day for useful links to keep an eye on https://www.headforpoints.com/2020/08/11/virgin-atlantic-using-plaza-premium-lounge-heathrow-terminal-2/. I usually use Plaza Premium at T5 (access via holding Amex Plat) but it is closed. It is very gd, especially good food selection. Aspire is open but I’ve not used – will try to get in next wk on Priority Pass. If it’s important to you, generally you don’t get champagne or Prosecco included in the lounge price and would have to buy ontop of your lounge entry (off top of my head from £8 a glass but I stand to be corrected). Personally on the assumption that T5 is less crowded than normal I would have a look at food offerings open in T5 and put the money toward decent food/drink at the restaurants than pay up to £40 a head at a lounge. And if you happen to be travelling on a mon to wed in Aug you can make use of ‘rishi’s dishis’ and get up to £10 per head discount at registered outlets! Btw congratulations and hope you have a wonderful honeymoon.

      • Lady London says:

        Defo not Aspire at T5 it’s so low quality even empty would make no difference.

        I would tske a serious look at the Fortnum’s little bar thing or the Caviar bar (I forget the name but it’s popular). If those not open I’d do Gordon Ramsey, they have a champagne option.

        I’d even do Pret in T5 sooner than that Aspire.

        If you have time I suspect you could get a very nice drink at the Sofitel that is practically joined to T5 but it would be pricey.

      • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

        Agree with this. Also worth enquiring about an upgrade to club at the airport if queues aren’t too bad. £50-75pp one way might work out depending on how much you’re planning to drink and how much you’d value the extra onboard room/catering/avios/tp.

    • Chris Heyes says:

      [email protected] As it’s your Honeymoon Why not put the boat out stay in the Sofitel overnight
      (we always stay there overnight my partner says it’s part of the start of her hols)
      You can normally book it through “Secret Escapes”
      Drop the hint Honeymoon almost certainly “upgrade to a suite” Lounge access
      We always get free upgrade to suite & Lounge access (only gold, but son uses it regularly same name & my card) works a treat)

      • Lorraine Brady says:

        Id never thought of that, we’re only 30 mins from Heathrow so I never considered staying over night, but it is meant to be our honeymoon, and seeing as there isnt going to be many Luxuries while doing moutain walks IN Scotland I may as well get them in while I can! Thanks for the tip Ill check out secret escapes!!

  • Kathryn Daniels says:

    BA flights for a long weekend in Sofia at the end October/Beginning November cancelled this afternoon. From a look at the schedule they appear to have cancelled the weekend flights but still have midweek ones going. Gutted as this was my back up for getting my silver extended before TP year ends after my flights to US were cancelled 🙁

    • Anna says:

      If you just want the tier points, can you swap to another destination?

      • Lady London says:

        use your rerouting rights to do what @Anna suggests

        • Neilg says:

          I take it you need to ring for this – any limits on destination changes available to you through your re-routing rights?
          Eg: could you get away with Romania instead of Bulgaria or something to that effect?

          • Lady London says:

            same zone. but they can prob cycle your ticket through a voucher and you pay the difference all on same call if you get the right agent, if there is any difference to pay.

            Isnt there a rather nice hotel in Rome that’s become an InterContinental? should not be expensive at that time.

          • Anna says:

            I think it’s a case of negotiating with BA. A destination change isn’t an automatic right, but I am guessing BA would rather keep your money and send you somewhere else than refund you, which would be your right under EU261.

    • Neilg says:

      Same boat. Flight cancelled to Sofia end of Nov.

      Wouldn’t your status have been extended for next year already though?

      • meta says:

        They’ve cancelled Mon,Tue and Fri flights. I’ve been monitoring the route as I intend to stay at Intercontinental for renewal offer of IHG Ambassador status. I will just do Thu-Sun instead although the flight times on Sun are not ideal.

        Similar thing with Porto, they are flying Thu-Sun, but no Mon-Wed.

        • Neilg says:

          Where did you see the remaining flight times? I’m not getting any availability in September when I look to change the flights but doing a booking from scratch I can…