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The HfP chat thread – Thursday 15th 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 (246)

  • Cat says:

    Hey all, having a bit of a mare with flight refunds.

    Basically I was supposed to be island hopping in Indonesia over the summer holidays. I had return flights from Singapore to Jakarta and flights from Bali to Makassar, then on to Ambon booked with Garuda, through Alternative Airlines (I really wish I’d not fallen for that £20 cashback on my AMEX), all on one booking.

    Over the course of June and July I received several flight modifications to all of the flights on my itinerary from Garuda, ranging from 3 hours to 2 days, including changing my flight from Bali to Makassar to 19th Aug, and my flight out of Makassar to 17th August – 2 days before I was now due to fly in to Makassar, and a flight out of Singapore that I would have struggled to make, given that I had to collect bags and check back in.

    I phoned Alternative Airlines and asked them to apply for a refund (as I couldn’t do it via the Garuda website, having booked through an agent), given that this itinerary was impossible. They assured me that they would do this, so I went off hiking around the UK, and put my failed summer plans out of my mind. When I had heard nothing from Alternative Airlines a month later, I tried to phone again, but kept getting cut off, so I disputed the charge with AMEX at this stage. It has just been declined, as Alternative Airlines have sent in documentation saying that I voluntarily missed my flights due to COVID fears, and providing Amadeus screenshots apparently showing that *my original flights were still operating on 2nd August*.

    I’m asking AMEX to reopen the dispute, but I would appreciate any advice here. Does anyone know how I could still be booked onto the original flights that Garuda have sent me flight modification notifications to? Is there any way I can get to this information myself on Amadeus, or any other system, to verify it? What would be the best next steps?

    Thanks in advance.

    • meta says:

      Did you confirm any flight changes with Garuda? I presume you sent Amex documents confirming your original flights were changed. If not, you could try getting information on Flightradar24 as they have historical flight information via their Gold membership.

      If you get the information, I would argue with Amex that Alternative Airlines sold you invalid ticket due to changes/cancellations. This way you bypass the third party rule. By arguing this, I successfully got refund from Amex for a cancelled flight bought via Expedia.

      • Cat says:

        Hey Meta,

        Garuda were the ones who sent me the flight changes. I sent screenshots of their emails, but Alt Airlines appear to have screenshots showing me still booked onto my original flights that I had been told told had been changed. I know nothing about Amadeus, so I’m not sure how they have these screenshots, that flat out contradict everything that Garuda told me.

        I’m trying not to spend more money than I have to – my OH’s company are launching into redundancies. Is there a kind person out there with a Gold Flightradar24 membership who wouldn’t mind looking four flights up for me?

        • Cat says:

          Looking again, the flight notifications came from Garuda through the Amadeus system…

          • meta says:

            Then I’d write to Amex that Alternative Airliney have perhaps forged Amadeus reports (I wouldn’t be surprised) and point out that Garuda has actually sent you information from Amadeus. I’d also say if not refunded within X days, you will be going after them in small claims or report them to Ombudsman. I’d actually send something in writing to Amex rather than on the phone. You need to have paper trail. If you need to go via small claims both Amex and Alternative Airlines should be put on the claim.

          • Cat says:

            Thanks Meta, I’ve put something to that effect together.

    • Nick Burch says:

      I’d suggest ringing Amex, and asking them what documents they will need to reconsider the dispute.

      It is possible that Garuda cancelled your flights, pushed you onto other ones, then later re-instated some of the original ones

      While Amex won’t be able to do anything on the phone (I believe it’s a specialist backoffice team who review disputes), the normal agents generally know enough that they ought to be able to guide you on what sort of things the team would like to see. When I last had a complex chargeback, the phone team were really helpful with advising me on what documents to attach

      • Cat says:

        Hey Nick,

        I spoke to the AMEX Plat dispute team already. They asked me to send a document explaining that the changes to my flights had me flying out of Makassar before I arrived there. I’ve put that together, but my concern is that the screenshot provided to AMEX by Alternative Airlines has my original flights on it, with no mention of the changes to my flights. They’re clearly trying to make out that there were no flight changes and that I just didn’t turn up for my flights. I don’t understand how or why Garuda changed my flights back without informing me.

        It is absolutely infuriating!

        • meta says:

          Airlines have been known to cancel the flights and all tickets and then reinstating flights later. But this would involve re-issuing tickets. Obviously you weren’t on the flight manifest either in that case.

          Hm, did Alternative Airlines only provide screenshot of the flight going ahead or also you not showing? I’d ask Alternative Airlines via Amex to provide flight manifest details stating that you no-showed for the flight. It’s Alternative Airlines here who are being disingenuous!

          • Cat says:

            Honestly Meta, I’m not entirely sure what it shows! I’m not familiar with Amadeus at all. I wish I could upload a photo here!

  • Crafty says:

    Anyone stayed in the entry level “cosy room” at the University Arms, Cambridge? 18m squared sounds a bit grim and I don’t want to have to bank on getting an upgrade.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      No but a good chance you’ll be upgraded even as Gold.

    • Nick_C says:

      18 m squared sounds palatial, but I guess you mean 18 square metres.

    • Harry T says:

      No, I have stayed in the classic (park view) and superior rooms. Upgraded both times from a classic room. You can probably wrangle a classic room as Gold. The classic and superior rooms aren’t that big.

      • Crafty says:

        Thanks all. This will be a (very) rare single night escape from our now two children, so I’ll give this some thought, as I don’t want to let my wife down!

        • Harry T says:

          Message them in the app before your stay to politely ask for an upgrade. This has worked for me every time recently.

  • Jimbob says:

    Can’t login to the Creation app, anyone else with the same?

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