Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

The HfP chat thread – Wednesday 16th September

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We have decided to run this daily chat thread on Head for Points during the coronavirus outbreak.

Historically, the daily ‘Bits’ articles were the de facto repository for random comments and questions.  With the news flow being lighter, we are running fewer ‘Bits’ articles.

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 at home, we want the HfP community to have a place to chat.


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Comments (142)

  • Secret Squirrel says:

    Has anyone on here had strange charges and refunds in the last few days on their Virgin cards?
    A few days ago an extra balance then today deducted by £100.
    I’m on then free version also so not refund of paid card fees.

  • Michael C says:

    Any Finnair experts out there?!
    I’m due (ha!) to do LHR-HEL in Dec. on an A350 (AY1332).
    The MMB says “No Internet available for purchase” (even though there is on my domestic connection). Is this because there simply isn’t (NB for economy), or is it purchasable on board?
    Or free from Santa? ;o)

    • AJA says:

      That’s strange. The Finnair A350 definitely has WiFi on board, they give biz class pax 1 hour free as i used it when I flew the same route and flight in Feb 2019. You could pay extra for more time but the free time was more than enough for me.

  • BJ says:

    Eat out to Help Out has apparently reduced August inflation to 0.2% from 1% in July. As many restaurants seem to be continuing the promotion it could potentially hit future wages, pensions and benefits quite hard.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Wondering how EOHO reduced inflation?

      Didn’t think restaurant food was one of the basket of goods that were used a part of the calculation but also the restaurants charged their usual prices the £10 was just deducted at the end of the bill.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Having found the ONS page.

        Restaurants and hotels are included in the CiPH and EOHO + VAT reduction lead to a -0.44% fall in the sector. Looks like everything was down (which is to be expected)

        I think worrying about future wage increases is probably wishful thinking as I’m sure most wages will be frozen for a while.

      • BJ says:

        Story now on BBC, it was just a breaking news banner when I posted.

      • ChrisC says:

        Yes restaurants are included in the basket of goods – there is a group called ‘restaurants and hotels’ that makes up around 10% of the basket.but as you say the price of the meals didn’t change it was how they were paid for that did.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          I guess vat reduction plus restaurants putting on £20 special set menus etc so you can have a truly half price meal may have affected it.

  • Grimz says:

    I am about to downgrade my BA PP to the blue Amex with 5 supplementary cards. Will the supplementary cards automatically move over or will I have to apply for these again. The reason I am retaining the card is for shop small at Xmas.

    • BJ says:

      The supps will all be reissued as Blue.

    • Nick_C says:

      I wonder if we will get Shop Small at Xmas this year? The summer promotion went on for ever, and must have cost Amex a fortune.

      But well done Amex for their part in trying to get the economy going again and helping small businesses.

      • Jonathan says:

        Not sure it’s cost them a fortune. Increasingly hit & miss in my experience & not worth the hassle of chasing anymore as invariably computer says no response from customer service.

        • Andrew says:

          +1 Complete waste of time

        • Polly says:

          Opposite experience here, did a chat for 4 different places that didn’t post the refund, all credited within a 5 min chat.
          But yes, did well out of SS combined with EOTHO. Got some restaurant gift vouchers for local eats to continue eating out at half price in Oct/Nov. Those places that normally don’t do offers, that is.
          Been great eating outside too, deliberately chosen. Made up fro missing out on France this September too. Weather really helped too!

          • JohnT says:

            Best use of SS for us this time with 4 cards and a couple combined with EOHO. Early queries sorted immediately but for latest one keep getting told to wait 90 days? Perhaps Amex having cash flow issues?? Ha. Now trying not to trigger BA 241 till just before end of month.

          • Paul74 says:

            I picked up £40 worth of Shop Small discounts in my mid August to mid September statement period. I didn’t go looking for them, except that the promo nudged me to present my AMEX Gold in places where I wouldn’t have even bothered to look beyond my IHG Mastercard. I guess that’s the idea, customers use AMEX at the restaurant/pub/shop and they’re more likely to keep accepting it.
            Anyway, regardless of the macro factors, this punter is happy!

          • Liz says:

            I managed to complete our 70 transactions again. Wine, cheese, vouchers for whisky, butchers, fish, berry picking farm, beer etc. All credited with no hassles.

        • Nick_C says:

          I’ve had £70 back, without going any further than the next village! (Farm shop, Diesel, and firewood from the Garden Centre). Early transactions took about a month for the refunds to come through, but I didn’t chase Amex and just waited patiently.

          • Rob says:

            As far I was concerned, it ran for so long that I had no trouble running up a decent amount of credit via my normal spending without going to any special effort.

            I did laugh when we charged a £3,000 hotel bill to my wife’s Gold and £5 cashback appeared.

          • Navara says:

            Did she 😂

          • Harry T says:

            I noticed quite a few hotels were on Shop Small. It can work out quite well if the hotel has a decent bar and restaurant, as you can pay at the time rather than charge to the room and pay at checkout, and cycle through various Amex cards and supplementaries.

            I was more pleased to get £5 off the AC Belfast when I was paying £59 a night than I imagine you were when paying three grand!

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Got my Gold Credit and Bonvoy fees back plus more.

        • Harry T says:

          You’re paying the full £140 a year for Gold rather than cancelling and applying again after the free year is over?

          • TGLoyalty says:

            Year 1 was free now 2 months into year 2 They gave me 10k to stay last time I called to cancel.

            I had/have some offers to use like small shop and Marriott then I’ll dump it.

          • Harry T says:

            10k is good – did you just ask for a retention offer? My free first year is coming up.

          • Harry T says:

            Coming to an end*

          • TGLoyalty says:

            Well I actually just wanted to cancel. I got past two “offers” and was offered the 10k and thought it was rude not to.

  • Berneslai says:

    Does anyone know how to determine if/when Hilton Hotel dates are released without checking every day? I’m used to accommodation being bookable 365 days from today but there are still loads of hotels without dates released for August 2021.

    • BJ says:

      Yes, it’s all very frustrating, and complicated further by individual hotels appearing ‘sold out’ 9-12 months in advance and prices simply being fixed. Hilton Tokyo next summer for example has been 32,010 Yen every day for months, and Conrad has only just become available to book in past two weeks.

  • QwertyKnowsBest says:

    I have a BA LHR MIA booking in October. Is it safe to assume if BA are to cancel the flight it will be outside the 14 day compensation window? If they don’t cancel the flight then I need to cancel my tickets, but if possible want to avoid cancellation charges.

    Thanks for any confirmation.

    • Andrew says:

      I think all the compensation laws have been suspended due to Covid.

      • Mike Lo says:

        Technically that is not true. The same laws on cancellation still apply. However, good luck getting any sort of compensation.

      • Lady London says:

        no – law is not suspended it continues to apply. just no compensation gettable currently due to an exemption clause *within* the “still operating* law that allows a getout for compensation in exceptional circs which covid counts as.

    • planeconcorde says:

      Will depend of which BA LHR MIA flights you are actually booked on. Currently BA are operating one return flight a day. Plus there is the code share on the AA flight also operating. Just take a look at flight status for the route to is what is happening now. This would give an indication of what could happen in October.

  • Dave says:

    Quick question on upgrading from WTP to business using avios. Is there a way to do it online for open jaw tickets? Or is it one where you need to ring up?

  • Fred S says:

    Gibraltar appears to be exempt both ways. Any insight on a weekend away in the next couple of weeks?

    • QwertKnowsBest says:

      We all like different places/experiences, but for me Gib is dire!

    • GeorgeJ says:

      Gibraltar is actually off the Wales exempt list and even Germany has it on their red list.
      It has a current seven day case rate of @44, so well above the 20 threshold to permit continued exemption. Clearly a political decision to keep travel open but that may not last forever.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        What use is a 20 limit when the UK at above 30?

        • GeorgeJ says:

          And your solution is?

          • TGLoyalty says:

            My solution is to be more agile and assess a level at which it is actually a problem (who has come up with 20 and on what basis?) and have proper RAG status where you have no quarantine (Green), Amber (testing at day 5 to be allowed out if you want) and red (where you test at day 10 if you want to be allowed out).

            Testing to be paid for by the traveller ofcourse.

            You would catch the vast majority of positive cases without completely killing the tourist industry.

          • GeorgeJ says:

            OK TG, in an ideal world, maybe, but we live in a world with constraints. There isn’t unlimited testing capacity and tourism is a nice to have (compared to operating industry, schools or a health service). Its clear that it isnt getting any priority at present (and not just in the UK).
            If the average family has to pay for tests, even if at GBP100 per head then that is enough to finish the mass tourist industry.
            Nobody says that 20 is a magic number, but the the one thing it is, is safer, it means @ one in 5000 with communicable infection coming through the borders without restriction (if travellers have the underlying national rate), that seems acceptable and is currently much less than the domestic instance.
            Incidentally, I am one of the few travellers on this site who is actually travelling at present so I am seeing the rules first hand elsewhere and they are just as big a muddle, not least because its all very difficult and there is no right answer.

          • TGLoyalty says:

            NHS testing capacity is creaking right now but private tests are available
            Which are processed in non NHS labs. I have no idea if the NHS is tapping into private capacity right now (Lighthouse etc) but it’s there.

            While a £120 test might stop people travelling atleast it’s an option, which is better than none. Id imagine if there was significant private demand it may reduce the price slightly, especially if it was backed by the airlines/airports.

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