Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

The HfP chat thread – Thursday 8th October

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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 (201)

  • Si says:

    Morning all, I’m about to qualify for IHG Spire Elite through credit card spend (and 1 reasonably cheap bonus points package stay at a local hotel last Sunday), which I assume will expire end of 2021.

    Out of curiosity, when expires, do I drop down to platinum for 2022 or straight back to bottom of pile (without factoring in any potential stays or if I retain the credit card)?

    • Andrew says:

      Back to zero. No soft landing.

    • DJ says:

      There isn’t much difference between Platinum and Spire anyway based on my staying experience.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      If you have the black credit card you have platinum anyway?

      Thought the free gives you Gold ?

    • John says:

      Buying Ambassador may extend your Spire, possibly for as long as you hold Amb. This is not a published benefit nor is it guaranteed.

      Qualified for spire once in 2016, bought amb in 2017 and spire was extended to 2018, didn’t renew Amb but Spire was extended for 2019. Dropped to plat in 2020 despite not having the CC. Average 10 IHG stays a year.

      • martyn ford says:

        I`m spire ambassador and only find IHG status to be of minimal worth.

    • Mutley says:

      Join ambassador and get platinum (40000 points)

  • Craig says:

    Some advice please, unsurprisingly New Year in New York has been curtailed somewhat. The Crowne Plaza Times Square is closing for the period meaning I can get the points back for the 2 nights I had there.

    The other parts are reward flights with Virgin to New York using a 241 voucher. I know I can cancel for £30 each and I get everything back or wait until nearer the time to see if they cancel. Flights were booked on the 26th Feb. Are there any better options?

    Secondly, flights to the Dominican Republic with American booked though BA using Avios. This was booked on the 2nd May and again I know I can cancel for £35 each.

    Basically, for the above 2 what are the sweet spots regarding cancellation, vouchers etc?

    Ta.

    • Andrew says:

      You wouldn’t need the hotel to be closing to get the points back – IHG rewards bookings are cancellable at any time anyway.

      • Craig says:

        Unfortunately not correct because of when the bookings were made:

        FOR BOOKINGS MADE PRIOR TO 6 APRIL 2020:

        Any non-refundable/pre-paid bookings for all future arrivals can be cancelled without penalty (up to 24 hours before arrival) up until 30 September 2020*.
        From 1 October 2020, all non-refundable/pre-paid bookings will be subject to the terms and conditions of the rate booked.

        • Andrew says:

          But you said you would get the points back so I assumed it was a points booking? Which are always fully cancellable at any time.

          • Craig says:

            The majority are Andrew but not all, things like NYE in New York or the F1 in Singapore are usually non-refundable points bookings.

        • Pid says:

          Yes I nearly got caught out by that a few years ago during the Great North Run in Newcastle. Booked a room for a friend who then cancelled and had not noticed they were non-refundable for during that weekend. Luckily the hotel agreed to refund as a goodwill gesture.

          • Optimus Prime says:

            My points booking for NYE 2019 at IC Times Square was refundable – 72 hours before check-in instead of the usual 24.

  • Adam says:

    Morning folks. Have any Virgin Reward+ CC holders out there spent £500 yet to bag the bonus 241 voucher? I never even received a promo email and can’t find much info online.

    • dezbez says:

      We booked rewards flights for next summer about three weeks ago (taxes & surcharges easily over £500) and the upgrade voucher (I don’t think it’s 2-4-1 as well) landed in the flying club account today. Likewise, no email received. Now just waiting for the credit card to cycle in next few days to see if we’ve got the 6x miles as well….

  • Stu N says:

    Coverage of the final BA 747 flights out of Heathrow live on BigJetTV now
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3tUvvV4KiuY

    Not a huge amount happening at the moment but I guess they will get rolling soon.

    • Andrew says:

      Also on BBC Breakfast. They covered the pushback at 7:47 and will be back about 8:30 for the takeoff and fly past.

  • Andrew says:

    Dual takeoff is off due to the weather 🙁

  • Martin says:

    Morning…I’ve got flights to Iceland coming up but don’t want to go due to 5 days quarantine over there and 14 on return. 1 way in Avios, the other cash. They have just changed the timings albeit by only 90 minutes or so. Can I say I don’t want to go and get a cash refund due to then changing the timings does anyone know as technically the contract is broken? If not, I’ll hang on as late as possible in the hope it’s cancelled and just have to accept a voucher but I’d prefer a refund ideally. Thank you

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Usually BA only do it for 2 hours or more

      If it’s earlier rather than later you have more chance.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        I meant to say only way is to phone and see what they say. Phoning earlier gives you more chance of speaking to someone than not.

        Can always claim you have a meeting and this no longer works.

        But suspect you have 2 separate bookings so can’t see it working on both in the same call.

        • Martin says:

          And also yes it’s 2 bookings as I couldn’t get Avios both ways. I’m happy to cancel the Avios 1 as I’ll re use that but the cash 1 is more problematic to re use.. worse case I’ll take the voucher and try to re use before 2022 somehow but I’d rather have a cash refund ldeally and start again

    • Sukes says:

      Assuming there is no flight number change then this is a ‘schedule change’ and EU261 does not provide right to reimbursement. BA conditions of carriage do enable action for you if the schedule change is ‘significant’ but BA (unlike some airlines) do not quantify a time threshold for this in their terms. For your current schedule change don’t expect any action from BA unless you could prove that the schedule change had significant impact on your individual plans – no harm in asking if you want to try. Flight times are never guaranteed in your contract with an airline.

      • ChrisC says:

        For BA the schedule change has to be 2 hours or more to allow you to cancel.

        This is not an EU 261 issue (would be if the flights were cancelled).

        Therefore the best and cheapest option would be to take a voucher for both the flights.

    • Anna says:

      If you still want to go somewhere dark and cold someone just posted that Finland now has less strict entry requirements!

      • Martin says:

        Thank you everyone. Appreciate the replies. I’ll ring them and give it a try. Can’t do Finland as the wife whose birthday it is really fancied Iceland. I’ll put it back a year ideally..

  • martyn ford says:

    Good morning.
    A long-awaited QR refund has arrived this morning in the form of Curve Cash rather than being credited to my underlying IHG card. Is there a process I need to go through to use that money in a way that earns me points? Thanks.

    • Anna says:

      I got caught out with this recently (fortunately only £70), I asked on here and was told you just have to spend it, can’t even withdraw it at an ATM! There may be a more convoluted process for larger amounts though, if you’re prepared to go through it.

    • Rob says:

      Can’t you send the Curve Cash to your debit card, so back into your bank account? This de facto earns points because you can use a credit card for the equivalent amount of other spend.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Send it to NS&I or top up Revolut of HL account?

    • memesweeper says:

      pay off another card with it? works for just about everyone except Barclaycard

  • Andrew says:

    So, I’ve had my “final response” from BA concerning my BA OptionTown carnet that I bought in February this year and been referred to CEDR, but with an open threat if I do.

    Essentially I bought a carnet of 9 return flights between LHR & EDI, securing a fixed price for each flight if bought 30 days in advance. They are valid for a year.

    The first flight was cancelled in April by BA and they issued a FTV rather than return the two single carnet vouchers to the pool.

    This complicates things as, as far as OptionTown are concerned I’ve started using the Carnet. It is further confusing as BA refuse to disclose the value of the FTV that they issued. It could be anything between the circa 2/18ths at £130ish, the cost of the lowest Economy ticket at the point I used the options at £350ish, it might even be linked to the full value of the carnet at £1200ish – although that does have a different ticket number. Nobody seems to know. The FTV can’t be used online to test the value.

    Alongside this I’ve got OptionTown, with their anti-consumer T&Cs, telling me they can’t offer a refund because BA won’t allow them to. And BA responding saying it’s nothing to do with them as it’s an OptionTown product. BA collected the Amex payment.

    Travel has been heavily disrupted this year, with both Governments discouraging the use of public transport at various stages. For the next 16 days, for the central belt (GLA, EDI & PIK are in this zone) the Scottish Government has stated “public transport use should be minimised as much as possible, such as for education and work, where it cannot be done from home.”

    This has made the domestic carnet near impossible to use. There will be those clutching their pearls claiming that a domestic flight isn’t “public transport” but the plain fact is that in normal times I can go to Heathrow, Stansted, Gatwick or Luton hand over cash and be sitting on the next available scheduled flight to Edinburgh no differently than going to Kings Cross and buying a rail ticket.

    Oh and the threat?

    As I understand it, I’ll forfeit the FTV (that BA refuse to disclose the value of) if I dare to involve CEDR.

    It’s an absolute farce.

    • Rob says:

      I’d go straight to Money Claim Online then.

    • cinereus says:

      Have you sent your LBA already?

      • Andrew says:

        Leeds Braford Airport?

        • ChrisC says:

          Letter Before Action. It’s a requirement before you go to MCOL giving BA 14 days notice to resolve this or you take them to court.

          Details on the MCOL website.

          • ChrisC says:

            You would need to cite both BA and Option town as the defendants.

        • Alex M says:

          No – it’s Lettuce, Bacon, Asparagus.

    • Lady London says:

      I’m sorry for the way you’ve been treated.

      If it’s any consolation, even though I do regularly bash BA for doing unfair things, I don’t think BA and Option Town are doing this to you on purpose. It’s just that whatever admin they’ve got set up between them just isn’t working to find you a fair solution.

      As @:ChrisC says you must put both Option Town and British Airways as defendants on the MCOL and let the court sort out who’s liable for what.

      If you haven’t been able to use any part of the carnet, regardless of Option Town’s admin making it look to BA’s admin like you have, then to me this is the key point of the court – you don’t care which of them is liable but between them you haven;t had any benefit from the carnet. So should be able to do whatever you would be able to do with a normal ticket you haven;t been able to use any of.

      I think the worst you will come away with is an FTV for the value you paid originally. And as it seems government edicts have frustrated the full availability and choice of flights you deliberately purchased with the carnet, maybe an expert would argue the contract has been frustrated and thus should be cancelled with you getting your money back.

      It would be easy to work out the value BA has put on the FTV by simply finding a very expensive flight and ringing to book it using the FTV. The difference you’re asked for will tell you the approximate value of the FTV. You can check with the agent what is the full price they’re seeing, as well, in case the phone in price is for some reason differing on that day from what you see on the internet. Working out the value of the FTV they’ve offered might give you a clue as to how BA is viewing the carnet overall and maybe how the processing works on this so I’d definitely find out the value that way.

      Given what BA’s put you through, if they do offer to settle I hope it’s for more than the ticket cost you paid given what they and Option Town have together put you through.

      Send your LBA and please let us know what happens! I think when a BA lawyer takes a look at it (which will be prompted by the nearing of the MCOL judgment) they will offer some sort of settlement.

    • Callum says:

      How can the value possibly be secret? If they can’t/won’t tell you for some weird reason, begin to make a fake booking using the FTV and see how much they take off.

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