Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

The HfP chat thread – Wednesday 28th October

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

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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 (182)

  • Kumar says:

    I live in London and if I do hire the Europcar 1GBP from Greater London and return at Heathrow next day .Does the Amex platinum cover the excess as there is no overnight stay or a holiday?

    • KS says:

      The relevant text is:
      “ “Trip” means a journey outside Your Country of Residence which must commence and end in Your Country of Residence, or a journey within Your Country of Residence which must include a flight, or at least one night of pre-booked accommodation away from home. Trip is extended to include any journey within Your Country of Residence for Car Rental Benefits (Section 1.5) only.”

      I would say yes, it should be covered as it says any journey.

  • Barry says:

    Does anyone know if the Melia Amex offer (spend £300, get £75) works if you buy points via the Melia website?

    • Stu N says:

      Almost certainly won’t work. A lot of points purchases handled by third parties and the promos are restricted to spend going through certain hotels.

    • Rob says:

      I think it goes via points.com so no.

    • Phil says:

      So I bought a bunch of Melia Reward points to book a hotel for Oktoberfest 2020, and the transaction came through as “Melia Rewards”. My assumption is that the way the offer was constructed, that it would need to be payments taken by the participating hotel merchant codes that would trigger the Amex Offer. I therefore put the transaction through my Curve Card to save the Fx.

  • jc says:

    What are people doing about booking trips for next year, for example in the BA sale: specifically with respect to travel insurance? I have Amex Platinum but its travel insurance is totally void where the government advises against travel on the date you BOOK, so all travel insurance would be void for e.g. USA even if things have cleared up by the date of travel. What’s the best way to book now and still have valid travel insurance?

    • meta says:

      Depends. The best insurance at the moment in regards to pre-departure cancellations/country closures is to book everything refundable. In respect to medical insurance, for EU travel, I would be covered through still valid EHIC as dual national (still waiting for the official confirmation, but I am pretty certain that is the case). For other long-haul trips, I will be taking out a single trip medical insurance. There is no comprehensive one covering both cancelation and medical, but some do cover medical both covid/non-covid related.

      • Anna says:

        +1 on booking refundable options! I need to go through our work travel insurance and see what it covers in respect of covid but I imagine it would cover us as OH is part of a large organisation which necessitates blanket cover for everything apart from travel against FCO advice.
        If not covered though, it’s going to be a huge problem because I can’t see insurers accepting that vaccination will fully protect anyone for a very long time, even when vaccines become widely available.
        Meta – I was discussing the EHIC situation with someone recently and he was adamant that only EU nationals who qualify for S1 (which is to do with retirement apparently) will be able to use EHIC from next year. I showed him the website where it does seem to say that any EU national resident in the UK before 31/12 will be eligible for EHIC cover, but he wasn’t having any of it. Also I’m sure someone else on here (Sukes?) said dual UK nationals aren’t eligible, which rules me out!

        • Nick_C says:

          I’ve not read the legislation itself (I find EU legislation difficult to read) but EU guidance says “As an EU citizen, if you unexpectedly fall ill during a temporary stay in another EU country – whether on holiday, a business trip or studying abroad – you are entitled to any medical treatment that can’t wait until you get home. You have the same rights to health care as people insured in the country you are in.”

          So presumably a Brit/Irish dual national normally living in the UK will still be covered by an EHIC if they fall ill on holiday in Spain, because they are an EU Citizen.

          https://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/health/unplanned-healthcare/temporary-stays/index_en.htm

          • Colin MacKinnon says:

            And there is a legal can of worms: what is an EU citizen? After all, the EU is not a country!
            There is a legal school of thought that once citizenship is granted, it is hard to take it away – hence all the issues with “dual nationals” accused of terrorism.
            So Brexit may have removed the UK from the EU, but has it stripped UK citizens born before B-Day of their EU citizenship?
            ps. In 1979 I got a C in Constitutional Law at Old College in Edinburgh because I told the professor, who had written the standard text, that the UK parliament must be supreme because it could always legislate to leave the EEC. Don’t be stupid – unrealistic, was the comment.

      • George K says:

        Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but unless there’s another change (which is always possible), UK-issued EHIC cards won’t be valid come next year (there are some exceptions, in regards to pensioners abroad etc).

        Your nationality (dual or otherwise) does not matter. If you can get an EHIC card from another EU country, then by all means do so.

        • Jonathan says:

          Exactly, it’s based on residency not just dual nationality.

        • Anna says:

          That’s not correct. There are some cases where people will be able to still use EHIC, or renew it, through the UK system even if they live in the UK. It’s just not clear who this applies to (e.g. individuals who are nationals of an EU country but live in the UK, or anyone with an EU passport regardless of whether they are a dual UK national).

        • Nick_C says:

          @ George K

          “UK-issued EHIC cards won’t be valid come next year”

          Could you provide a link to back up that assertion?

          https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/healthcare-abroad/apply-for-a-free-ehic-european-health-insurance-card/ states;

          “You’ll still be able to access healthcare through EHIC for visits that begin after 1 January 2021 if you’re … an EU national living in the UK before 31 December 2020”

          My reading of this is that nationality does matter. An EU citizen living in the UK will continue to be able to use a UK-issued EHIC card when travelling to the EU.

          • George K says:

            @Nick_C

            Sure – best place to see it in black and white is the actual government website here

            https://www.gov.uk/visit-europe-1-january-2021

            It reads: Your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will be valid up to 31 December 2020.

            The bit you’re referring to has to do with EU citizens who are not British. British nationality law (as I understand it) means that as soon as you become British via naturalisation, your separate EU nationality does not count for anything in regards to status while in the UK. Put simply, once British, you are no longer an EU citizen. (So, you are not an EU national living in the UK. You are a British national, living in the UK. )

            @ Anna

            The current exemptions are for (brackets are my observations)

            • a UK state pensioner living in the EU before 31 December 2020 (EHIC would expire if you were to move back to UK)
            • a UK student studying in the EU before 31 December 2020 (EHIC would expire at end of course)
            • a ‘frontier worker’ (someone who works in one state and lives in another) before 31 December 2020, for as long as you continue to be a frontier worker in the host state (EHIC would expire if you were to move back to UK)
            • an EU national living in the UK before 31 December 2020 (EHIC would expire if EU national were to acquire British citizenship)

    • Reeferman says:

      I don’t have this insurance – but as an observation, such a clause is crazy IF that is really what is meant.
      I can understand the exclusion for events leading up to the trip (illness etc) but if the trip takes place AFTER the FCO has approved travel to that destination, then surely you would be covered regardless when you booked the trip. If not, then you would simply take out cover for the trip itself with another company before departing – again, assuming the FCO has approved travel to that destination at that time.
      Interested to hear from others – particularly if similar wording is commonplace in other policies too

    • Harry T says:

      I book everything BA related as a BA Holiday. Usually prices out the same if you add car hire or one night in a hotel. But you only pay a small deposit and can settle the balance three weeks before or take a voucher for the deposit.

      • Anna says:

        Not normally refundable though – you would lose your deposit if BA withdrew the Book with Confidence policy and you decided to cancel.

        • Harry T says:

          Not if you’ve booked when BWC terms and conditions applied – BA wouldn’t be able to break their contract with you.

        • ChrisC says:

          Better to only the deposit though that the cost of a flight,

          That’s the way I’ve been looking at it anyway.

    • Stu N says:

      We are managing it by only booking travel and accommodation that is pay-on-checkout or refundable at the moment. If that’s not cost-effective, it can at least be swapped for a voucher I’d be certain of using.Also using credit cards for s.75 protection.

      If we actually get to go it’ll be a case of looking very carefully at existing insurance and if that’s not adequate, taking out specialist cover.

  • Anna says:

    Meta’s comment just made me remember something I’ve been meaning to ask about – will UK nationals living in the UK but holding a second, EU passport need ETIAS before travelling from 2021? I cannot find an answer to this anywhere on line. It’s also far from clear where EU nationals living here will need one – which would seem really odd as they would effectively need a visa waiver to travel to their home countries!

    • John says:

      I can’t think of any reason why they’d need ETIAS – an EU passport gets you into any EU country, regardless of where you’re travelling from. Dual nationals would just need to show their EU passport when heading to Europe and their UK one when coming back

    • Nick_C says:

      A UK national living in the UK but holding a second, EU passport is an EU Citizen. Their EU Citizenship gives them the legal right to enter and travel within the EU. So although the EU website doesn’t seem to explicitly say so, I’m sure they will not need ETIAS authorisation. They should use their UK passport to enter the UK, and their EU Passport or ID card to enter the EU.

    • Pete says:

      I can’t see why we would – as long as we travel to the EU on an EU passport.

    • callum says:

      Does any country (that recognises it) make their dual citizens go through immigration as if they weren’t a citizen? I’ve never encountered that before so I don’t know why you’re thinking they would?

      • Charlieface says:

        Yes, British Overseas Territories for UK passports. Also BOT passports in the UK need a visa for more than 6 month stay

        • The real John says:

          That is not a valid answer to the question posed. The question was would France force a British/French citizen to enter France using their British passport and therefore need an ETIAS.

          Firstly, holding British citizenship and British Overseas Territories citizenship is not “dual citizenship”.

          Even if you consider that it is “dual citizenship”, BOTCs are not forced to use their BC passports to enter their territory of belonging; and the UK does not force them to use their BOTC passport to enter the UK.

          All BOTCs except those belonging to the bases in Cyprus are also BCs.

    • The real John says:

      There’s actually no obligation for British citizens to enter the UK with a British passport. If the non-British passport works at the e-gates you won’t even need to argue with someone about it, but it could cause problems on future entries if no corresponding exit is recorded within the usual visitor timeframe for that nationality.

    • The real John says:

      Also, it’s likely that EU citizens would be rejected automatically if they tried to apply for an ETIAS.

      If the Australian government knows about your other citizenship it will reject the ETA/evisitor, and I believe the ESTA form asks if you are a US citizen?

  • Sunguy says:

    I know this is not quite the right forum – but forgive me ….

    If anyone is looking for a single on the HEX from PAD -> LHR **THIS FRIDAY** email me to gmail (email address is the same as my name here) with an offer / donation to charity.

    Its single/express class…..

  • Ralph says:

    Travelling Club Europe – is it actually worth it at the moment, as opposed to Economy/Traveller?

    There’s limited food (no speciality meals), no seat reservation (ok that’s separate to CE), very limited lounge access (Only Gallieries South at T5 which I’m guessing will be packed and limited; and then sometimes absolutely nothing open the other end).

    • Jonathan says:

      Guaranteed empty seat next to you, extra Tier Points & Avios are the only reason I would book it at the moment.

    • Pete says:

      Not worth it at all currently in my opinion – I only do it when there is no Avios availability in Y currently.

    • Gin and Tonic Please says:

      We flew CE to Greece in Sep, and felt it was totally worthwhile. Mind you, it was a 4h flight.

      • Rob says:

        How many are you? A couple may be sitting with a stranger for a few hours. More risk that you are sitting within 2 rows of an infected person, which is the usual cut off for quarantining others on the same flight. Far further back in the queue if everyone is tested or has to present results on arrival.

        • Gin and Tonic Please says:

          I assume that was meant for Ralph, not me…? Agree with your practical points. I’d add that for a long CE flight like ours, the drinks service was also most welcome, not least because we then had a reason to remove our masks for a few minutes each time.

    • John W says:

      Yes ! Space next to you , drinks throughout flight & lounge prior . Also CE flight are cheaper at the moment

  • ant says:

    I just called BA to see about my Xmas flight to Malta (booked with Lloyds voucher & avios) as it v obviously has been cancelled. But even though the agent confirmed that the flight is no longer available as I have not yet received a cancellation email any changes i make are voluntarily!
    As I really need to go on this trip, what do you suggest –
    I wait till BA cancels and then ask for rerouting with Airmalta which they will probably refuse and i will have to buy the ticket myself (expensive as booked in business) and then claim it back
    Buy an Easyjet/Ryanair ticket which is v cheap at the moment and take the avios+cash back once flight cancelled . Not ideal as dates i want means have to fly out of Luton & back into LGW
    What would you do?

    • memesweeper says:

      Hold out for the cancellation and insist on rebooking with Air Malta. Requires them to keep flying the route too, though. Things are getting worse, not better, right now.

      • Super Secret Stuff says:

        I would just note, that if they cancel before 14 days prior to travel they have no legal duty to re route you unless you have already flown the outbound flight. So personally, I would hedge your bets with an Easyjet booking (if they have a flexible booking / refund policy)

        • Anna says:

          NOT true – you are entitled to re-routing (and duty of care) no matter when they cancel the flight. It’s only compensation which depends on the cancellation being within 14 days of travel (suspended at the moment.)

          • NvT1115 says:

            Yes that’s my reading of the current CAA guidance. BA are required to offer to re-route as well as refund or voucher in first instance. Whether they cancel 6 weeks in advance they still have to offer a re- route and if it is requested by the customer must demonstrate they have actively tried.

          • Anna says:

            It’s EU261 which is the law covering this regardless of any guidance – however it would be re-route or refund, not both.

        • Lady London says:

          Not true SSS. Rerouting and duty of care are required, no matter how far ahead BA cancels the flight. Only compensation, which is not currently being operated due to general prevailing covid conditions being exceptional circumstnaces, requires more than 14 days notice to be avoided. The rest, BA is firmly on the hook for and they (corporately) know it.

      • Lady London says:

        Yes. Unless you are prepared to quietly grab a throwawy ticket on EZ or FR and perhaps have the same problem with them, continue to make British Airways responsible for provisioning your flight back. It’s up to them to provide and it’s scabby if you are supposed to have stress, spend time and be out of pocket and probably have to spend further time getting more money back if BA is not prepared to honour their legal responsibilities. I don’t know a lot about Malta but if BA isn’t flying then I would agree with you Malta Air is the most likely one to keep flying some dates.

        please let us know how it turns out.

  • N says:

    Just a quick one to say the team at The Langley have been amazing accommodating my 35k points booking. I don’t want to go into too much detail but they’ve been excellent. Looking forward to our stay!

    • Jonathan says:

      Why not share the info? I’d be very interested in knowing how to get them to honour my 35k redemption!

    • Stanley says:

      That’s good to know. We’ve moved our stay to December, but they havent mentioned any extra points being needed. So fingers crossed. We went to Stoke Park at the weekend, so drove past the Langley. Still cant understand why the Langley never re-opened for the summer.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        bonkers decision if you ask me.

        They missed out on the best we are going to have it for about 7-9 months

        • Harry T says:

          Yep. I would have stayed one or more weekends at the Langley this summer and autumn. Granted I would have booked on points but I would have spent money at the hotel on the spa, bar, food etc.

          • Stanley says:

            Ditto. And they have a superb outdoor pool. My only thought is that the restaurant and bar are so small that distancing was impossible. But even then, they have plenty of meeting rooms and outside space to use. What a wasted opportunity.

      • Darren says:

        How was Stoke Park? It was on my radar in the summer but ended up at Danesfield House.

        • Stanley says:

          Spa was very good. Excellent treatments, and great pool. We had a suite for the family in the new building which was also good. The restaurant in the main house was very old fashioned though. Heavy carpet and big curtains, and a very dull set menu with a few choices. I think the fact that it was 95% families with kids, and no groups of adults “socialising” gave it a slightly odd atmosphere too. We will go back with the kids, for adults only, we will go to the Langley.

          • Darren says:

            Thanks for all that, no kids so maybe one to swerve. The spa/pool etc is tempting though.

    • Anna says:

      They haven’t come after me for extra points yet.