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The HfP chat thread – Saturday 24th 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 (189)

  • Rob says:

    Does anyone know if Hilton has any executive lounges open in London at the moment?

    • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

      Conrad St James

      • Jill (Kinkell) says:

        I’m there at the moment. Exec lounge is being held in the downstairs Emmeline bar for drinks and canapés. A bit miffed that on arrival yesterday we were informed that the restaurant was booked by a private party ( at very short notice…Government booking) and no chance of dining or breakfasting there on Saturday or Sunday. Exec lounge Breakfast we were told would be in the Restsurant. On heading to restaurant yesterday evening (Friday) told we couldn’t use on Friday either!
        However,we could have the same menu served in the nearby bar.. who wants to dine slouched in a Lounge chair where the table barely reaches your knees? Eventually seated in restaurant after kicking up a fuss. Generally pissed off as if we had been informed, I’d have asked for our hotel booking to be at a later date. Having contacted the hotel by phone and messaged them the day before we arrived specifically enquiring about lounge and dining arrangements, just made me really cross. So much for valuing members and the residents actually staying here just now

        • Jill (Kinkell) says:

          …..and….. now in Emmeline bar for drinks and canapés. Canapés are 4 different tiny mouthfuls , and that’s it! Yesterday was 4 tiny mouthfuls plus a shared plate Of prosciutto and one of cheeses with biscuits. . Of all exec lounges I’ve been in over the years, this is quite the most meagre.

        • Lady London says:

          Having writtwn to the hotel the day before about this specifically @Jill I think I would make a fuss. In fact I would have cut short my stay and expected to rebook it for not much extra overall charge across this stay and next one.

          Can you negotiate something better? with not much open elsewhere currently and having checked and got the assurance right before your stay I really would have left the hotel after my first night…. using the late checkout to negotiate a cost for a replacement visit.

  • Cat says:

    Hi all, still having hell getting my money back for Garuda flights that were repeatedly cancelled and rebooked by Garuda, originally booked through Alternative Airlines (I highly recommend that you avoid them like the plague – they’re a bunch of crooks). Does anybody have a phone number for Garuda that is actually being answered at the moment? All the numbers I have tried tell me to email. Whenever I email with my booking reference, somebody emails back asking for my booking reference, which I keep replying to with the booking reference, then I get another reply saying they’d love to help me, but could I give them my booking reference…

    I feel like I’m going mad!

    • Harry T says:

      I don’t have a number but I would suggest asking around on flyertalk – the community is very resourceful!

    • David says:

      It may be that the booking ref you have is the AA one and not they GA one – try sticking it into Check my trip or something to see if it gives an alternative.

      • Cat says:

        Thanks for the reply David.

        I added the trip onto Check My Trip back in January sometime. It has disappeared from there, and doesn’t even appear in my past trips anymore. When I try to “Add trip” and search for the reservation number, I get the message “Oops. This trip cannot be found. Please contact your travel provider for more information.”.

        It’s the same booking number that Garuda used in their many flight modification emails, via Amadeus, so it is the airline’s number, not AA’s.

        I’m totally stumped, and deeply annoyed with both GA and AA!

    • ChrisBCN says:

      Have you considered issuing chargeback via your credit card yet? If you can show you have tried to get your money back from Alternative then they should pay up. Garuda don’t owe you the money, Alternative do.

      • Cat says:

        Sorry Chris – I have replied (at some length), but it’s “awaiting moderation”!

    • E says:

      Cat, try the Garuda online chat and keep screenshot of all discussions. I used that. We had flights cancelled in June on Garuda and just got the money paid back from them last week. Garuda made me cancel the booking via online chat then wouldn’t refund. I had got MBNA to do a chargeback.

      The chargeback was rejected by Garuda as they said the flights still went (they didn’t – I checked). Then when MBNA were about to try a different chargeback reason (MBNA were really helpful) the money from Garuda was coincidentally refunded to my card so we didn’t have to try chargeback again. Took over 4 months to resolve.

      • Cat says:

        Hi E, this is really helpful, thanks! How did you check whether the flights went?

        • Cat says:

          Update: I tried the chat function. They told me that my flights were cancelled on 22nd July (before I even managed to get through to Alt .Airlines to request a refund), they had no answers as to why they modified my itinerary so that I would be departing an airport that I wouldn’t arrive into for 61 hours, they couldn’t tell me who cancelled it, nor why I hadn’t been sent a cancellation email, nor could they explain why they had not attempted in any way to contact me to refund me, or to discuss my options. They weren’t able to explain why nobody has replied to my many, many emails with anything useful. They offered me a travel voucher or a rebooking (which I have not been offered at all in the time since 22nd July), but were unable to explain why they felt I was not entitled to a cash refund for an itinerary that was impossible within the limitations of the laws of Physics.

          Would AMEX be likely to expect me to accept the travel voucher, or would they agree I’d be entitled to a cash refund, in the circumstances?

          • E says:

            MBNA completely expected I should get a refund and not accept the voucher. I would think Amex would have the same view surely.

          • Cat says:

            Oh, and I should mention, after offering me the travel voucher or the rebooking, the agent appeared to mute me on the chat function, as all of my replies disappeared into the ether, didn’t appear in the chat thread, and a “Not found” box appeared at the bottom of the chat window over and over again, as the agent went through the motions of “Hello, are you still there?” “Are you still with us?” “As you are no longer responding, I’m going to have to end this chat”.

            Side note: avoid Garuda too

          • Cat says:

            You’d hope so, but I’m worried if I share these screenshots, they’ll tell me to accept the travel voucher.

            Also, the agent wasn’t able to send me any details of the changes to my flights, as the flights were cancelled and it was now an open booking (I was hoping for further evidence of the Tardis time hop I was expected to do in Makassar).

          • AJA says:

            Cat, sorry to read that you’re still having trouble with Garuda and Alternative Airlines. I’d try a chargeback via Amex even if you’ve been offered vouchers as the choice of a refund should be yours to make.

            As for proving the flights didn’t happen have you tried Googling the flight and original date and seeing what comes up? Or try searching for them on https://www.flightera.net. If they don’t exist then you will get a message along the lines of “We have no data on this flight. It might have been cancelled or was outside our coverage”

            Good luck getting your cash back.

          • Lady London says:

            Haha had that chat technique too. Cheating lying b*st*rds.

            Just get your money back from Amex. You have been very valiant but life’s too short.

            Please let us know the outcome.

            Lesson 1 never use an OTA without a very, very good reason and acknowledging that you may lose your money and/or your life trying to get it back

            Lesson 2 : Garuda? never. though when I was very young they did serve the best curry I ever had in an airplane.

          • Cat says:

            Hey AJA! I’m in the midst of a chargeback. AMEX initially closed it in Alt. Airlines’ favour. I phoned them up last week, quite cross, and convinced them to reopen my case. I thought I had provided enough evidence, but it appears that AA responded with what now appears to be completely fabricated evidence, claiming that my original flights still existed, I still had seats booked on them, I was a no-show due to COVID fears, and that my evidence was fabricated and fraudulent.
            AJA – thanks so very much, according to Flightera, it seems like not one of my flights went on the original day booked. One of them (the one into Indonesia) didn’t fly for the whole of August.
            It appears that Alternative Airlines are attempting to defraud me.

          • Cat says:

            Hey Lady London!

            I was under the impression that Garuda were supposed to be pretty good these days, certainly better than the other Indonesian carriers, and it was either Garuda, or Lion Air and Wings Abadi, so I went with Garuda where I could. Garuda have been rubbish, but Alt. Airlines appears to be fabricating evidence and lying through their teeth, in order to keep my money! I’m never using a travel agent again (except for Emyr – I trust him!).

            How have you been? X

          • Lady London says:

            Hi @Cat

            If Amex dont take account of your new evidence as it is so conclusive then if it was a credit card I’d seriously consider threatening them with an Ombudsman referral. However I suspect this was paid on Amex Plat so as a chargecard I dont think chargeback comes under FOS.

            I think I’d cc the travel agent as well and since you are sure their earlier incorrect response as now proved again by further evidence that the flights sold did not run, was an error rather than an attempt to defraud you you are proceeding with Amex chargeback claim immediately.

            Do you have any travel insurance you can claim on? I am not sure if Amex makes a practice of returning money due under chargeback if the payee has gone bust.

          • Cat says:

            It was on the Plat.

            I have my Plat travel insurance…..

            Lesson 3: Keep Plat for travel insurance and benefits, put everything on the BA PP

        • E says:

          Cat, I took screenshots of departures and arrivals on the dates the flights had been booked, and it was clear that our flights weren’t on either the departure or arrival airport schedules. I only thought to do that because I had started the chargeback process by then and I had a feeling Garuda would dispute it.

          • Cat says:

            I wish I had thought to do that. I am an overly trusting, gullible fool!

          • AJA says:

            Hi Cat, definitely sounds like Alt Airlines are being dishonest and quite frankly taking the piss. Glad I was able to help with the flightera website, it’s pretty good for finding obscure flight data. Go back to Amex with the evidence that no flights to Indonesia took place in Aug and ask Amex to get Alt Airlines to explain how you could have been a no show due to Covid fears and had confirmed seats when Garuda didn’t operate the flight for the whole month. I think Amex will just pay out with that evidence. Do keep us updated with how you get on!

          • Cat says:

            Will do! Thanks again AJA, I owe you one!

  • Chrism20 says:

    I’ve just had an LHR-EDI flight for two weeks today cancelled.

    • Lady London says:

      If it’s BA sounds like they are down to managing whether they cancel each flight based on flight loadings (cargo and pax).

      This would seem to make a lot of sense at this time of year and I think we are facing all airlines doing this for the winter season except for a blip around Christmas and posssibly another one at half-term (Feb). Other airlines seem to have got to clearing out flights quicker than BA.

      • ChrisM says:

        @LL yes it’s BA. This was the third time they have rescheduled it due to changes/cancellations, I had hoped that now it was down to two weeks that would be it. Would have preferred the alternative to be a little later but it won’t cause too many issues.

  • Stephen says:

    Has anyone used the 0.9p statement credit for American Express MR points or decided against it?

    I wasn’t keen initially but with promotions like 100% bonus Hilton points, it actually works out cheaper to purchase the points during these promotions than to turn down the 0.9p/MR point

    I already have a Virgin Atlantic card, so earning miles that way for the high-value ANA redemptions that are well over 1p/mile so don’t need to transfer across for these

    Keen to hear what others decided to do? Thanks

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Is that back on? Or is it the business platinum?

      I mean cash is king but if you need Hilton points then buying in a 100% promo isn’t a terrible use of £.

      • Stephen says:

        I think it’s still running on Business Gold & Platinum until mid-November. Got a decent amount of Hilton, AVIOS, and AMEX MR but cannot make my mind up on what to do.

        • Peter K says:

          I went for it. With cheap points available elsewhere it made sense to me to swap for 0.9p per £.
          I did swap some MR for Bonvoy points to round it up to a better amount for using in stays.

  • mutley says:

    I am Spire Ambassador and Hilton Diamond. Currently Platinum on 38 nights, any chance I could get Titanium on a status match?

  • Baji Nahid says:

    OT: I remember seeing selfridges selling iphones in the past on their website but now i cant see anything, in fact none apple products at all. I wonder why they’ve dropped apple all together?

  • Baji Nahid says:

    Also, Im thinking of getting the plantinum card, not sure if its the right time just now. Im wondering if i could negotiate with them to charge me monthly with the fee rather than having to pay it outright. hmm.

    • Mo says:

      Yes, this is an option they have allowed and recommended when I’ve called to get a retention bonus.
      Personally with all these offers I feel like just pre covid would have been a very good time to get one!

      I would make sure they’re still allowing the monthly fee though just before you apply.

  • DK says:

    What people experience of getting into Aspire Lounge via Amex Plat atm? Flying to ATH tomorrow early morning

    • meta says:

      Flying with BA? Why not use Plaza Premium at T5?

      • DK says:

        Plaza Premium opens at 6am and Aspire at 5am. This is a very early flight

        • Lady London says:

          I’d pay real cash at Gordon Ramsay’s or even Pret sooner than bother with Aspire T5 under any circumstances.

          • DK says:

            @Lady London Tbh I am more interested in being away from crowds and keeping my son from running around vs any particular service