Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

The HfP chat thread – Monday 9th November

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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 (274)

  • Toppcat says:

    A couple of quick (?) questions for the HfP hive mind:

    I am currently in the Seychelles, having flown out from LHR on an avios booking using a companion voucher. My flight home to LHR has been cancelled. I have booked a flight home on Emirates via Dubai with cash, which gets me home around the same time.

    I have two options as I can see them: 1) accept the cancellation and refund of the return leg of the trip with BA, or 2) convince BA to refund my EK flight home.

    My understanding is that under EU261 I am entitled to rerouting, and that right hasn’t changed due to covid (albeit no compensation due). BA will undoubtedly push back on paying out cash to a third party (I have finally managed to get through to someone, who said that they could only rebook on BA or a One World carrier, and none of those can get me home from SEZ at the moment…), but am I correct in my understanding of EU261? Does anyone have any experience of whether I am going to have any joy with BA without going to MCOL etc?

    Secondly, if I do accept a refund for the return flight, does anyone know what will actually be refunded to me? Presumably I lose the companion voucher, and just get the cash and avios used for the return flight refunded?

    If the companion voucher were to be refunded I think I would take the refund (as the EK flights were pretty reasonable, and I value the voucher highly) but if not then I think I am going to want to push for the cash refund of the EK flights.

    Final question… Do I need to submit a complaint form (apparently the only way to contact customer services just now) before the flight was due to depart? I want to avoid BA automatically issuing a refund and having to fight them from a position where they have already taken action.

    Many thanks!

    • Rhys says:

      BA may prefer to reroute you on BA or a oneworld carrier but they absolutely have a duty of care to you and if no other airline is flying the return then they need to suck it up and rebook you on Emirates!

      • Harry T says:

        Rhys is correct. If they don’t play ball, you can always use section 75 and buy flights on your credit card. Or you can buy new flights and take BA to MCOL, which they will lose. They need to pay for your accommodation and living costs until they sort you an alternative flight too (within reasonable limits).

        • Lady London says:

          i believe s75 would cover duty of care costs too not just the replacement airfare.

          I think it’s scabby of British Airways just to abandon someone in a remote location, regardless of the law, and not get them home. In this case the law even says they have to. BA should even have to go on the internet (heard about the internet, BA) and buy someone a ticket if their pathetic excuse about their system not letting them has any level of truth.

          I really hope the regulator takea a look at British Airways leaving paasengers stranded in clear defiance of unambiguous law and finds a way to make such cases cost BA much, much more. For BA must be finding it cheaper to do this so that’s what we must stop being the case.

      • Toppcat says:

        Thanks Rhys – glad my understanding is correct. Entirely thanks to HfP, it has to be said!

    • Paul says:

      BA have to pay your reasonable costs to get you home so if you flew J then you get J home. Moreover if the cancellation was within 14 days my understanding is that they must also compensate you as per EU261 and there is no Covid-19 get out of that for them either.

      Do not take any offer of refund. My understanding is that BA do not need to refund you the return if they pay for another flight.

      • Aliks says:

        I had a roughly similar situation flying back from Italy last month. BA cancelled my home bound flight and refused to reroute me on a Ryanair flight. They offered a BA flight from another city, and the agent confirmed they would pay expenses (rail, night in a hotel, meals).
        Of course when I got back to the UK and filled in the BA expenses forms online, all I got was a flat refusal from BA. 3 more emails got similar refusals.
        My 4th email threatened to take them to arbitration, and they finally paid up.
        Check out the excellent guide on CEDR claims on HfP:
        https://www.headforpoints.com/2017/05/10/how-to-take-british-airways-to-court/

        • Polly says:

          Banking on you giving up your claim half way through, as most people don’t have our hfp resources. Would be far cheaper for them to bung you on the Ryan air flight. What is it with BA and wasting money? Glad they paid up.

        • Toppcat says:

          Thanks for the link Alike, that’s very helpful. Gearing up for what will undoubtedly be a battle with BA…

        • Anna says:

          I had a very good experience with CEDR when BA refused delay compo from a flight back from NYC last year (back in the days of leisure travel!).

        • Lady London says:

          BA clearly expected you to put your hand in your pocket instead and just buy the Ryanair ticket. I view that as a form of bullying.

    • Anna says:

      Sorry – I just can’t get past, “I’m currently in the Seychelles and my flight home has been cancelled” …

      • Polly says:

        I know. I am dreaming every day of wakening up with a similar thought in a far off location…Roll on 2021 with a vaccine

      • AJA says:

        +1 I would not have flown in the first place but on the other hand I’d be quite happy to be stuck there with BA on the hook for hotel and food.

        • Polly says:

          Think we would have flown. Was just thinking of all our forumites who jumped on that plane last Wednesday to the Maldives! Tried v hard to get my OH to join the exodus, no joy. Now that’s a great idea, BA on the hook for the delay…

        • Navara says:

          +1

      • Toppcat says:

        If I didn’t actually need to be back in London, I really would be pretty happy with the situation! Sadly it isn’t going to turn into a free holiday extension though :/

    • meta says:

      @Toppcat Under no circumstance accept any refunds if you intend to take BA to CEDR or MCOL. The moment you receive a refund it’s over. You could try and extract some goodwill with BA if they want to give you some compo for the 241 voucher (I would expect 2x Avios for the leg)

      I had a similar situation where BA cancelled my flight from Porto on bank holiday. It was clear it was a purely commercial reason as BA had a flight 4 days later and continued the normal schedule for another 10 days. They flatly refused to pay for accommodation for 4 days or reroute on TAP departing at almost the same time. Purchased tickets myself and now at MCOL. A few more days before they have to respond. So far no response whatsoever from BA.

    • Sean says:

      Whilst I agree with most of the comments re toppcats situation – I am not sure EC261 just gives toppcat the right to buy replacement flights without giving BA the chance to re-route.

      Options are firstly to understand what BA are offering to do. When in possession of those facts then other options are to be explored.

      • meta says:

        If you read his post, they are only offering him a refund.

        • Sean says:

          Sorry Meta – but where in this post does it say they are only offering a refund. My eyesight must be bad:

          A couple of quick (?) questions for the HfP hive mind:

          I am currently in the Seychelles, having flown out from LHR on an avios booking using a companion voucher. My flight home to LHR has been cancelled. I have booked a flight home on Emirates via Dubai with cash, which gets me home around the same time.

          I have two options as I can see them: 1) accept the cancellation and refund of the return leg of the trip with BA, or 2) convince BA to refund my EK flight home.

          My understanding is that under EU261 I am entitled to rerouting, and that right hasn’t changed due to covid (albeit no compensation due). BA will undoubtedly push back on paying out cash to a third party (I have finally managed to get through to someone, who said that they could only rebook on BA or a One World carrier, and none of those can get me home from SEZ at the moment…), but am I correct in my understanding of EU261? Does anyone have any experience of whether I am going to have any joy with BA without going to MCOL etc?

          Secondly, if I do accept a refund for the return flight, does anyone know what will actually be refunded to me? Presumably I lose the companion voucher, and just get the cash and avios used for the return flight refunded?

          If the companion voucher were to be refunded I think I would take the refund (as the EK flights were pretty reasonable, and I value the voucher highly) but if not then I think I am going to want to push for the cash refund of the EK flights.

          Final question… Do I need to submit a complaint form (apparently the only way to contact customer services just now) before the flight was due to depart? I want to avoid BA automatically issuing a refund and having to fight them from a position where they have already taken action.

          Many thanks!

      • Toppcat says:

        They are offering to reroute me on BA (no flights at all from SEZ) or a OW airline (no flights at all from SEZ). Hence they are pushing the refund option. The agent I spoke to said that they aren’t empowered to book me onto a non-OW airline, and only customer services can do that, and they can’t be contacted at the moment. The only way they can be reached is by using the complaint form on the BA website, and response time is unknown…

        • Lady London says:

          In other words British Airways is bullying you to take their refund and let them off the hook by simply not providing access to all your other rights.

          It’s a shame you don”t have time to accept their clear invitation to pay your hotel expenses, meals and communicaruon expenses until such time as BA decides it would like to honour your right to a replacement flight home in any other carrier that’s running, or other combination of transport home by any means necessary.

    • Lady London says:

      if they fo want you to wait until they can book you on a replacement flight – theirs or someone else’s – of their choosing then they are also legally obliged to pay all needed hotel nights and meals 3 per day no alcohol) until the day they give you a flight at whatever the reasonable rate is.

      You can mcol this it’s also open and shut you get this if any resistance. If they agree anything get it in writing or timed screenshot, recording (as BA’s recordings have sometimes mysteriously been lost) or at a minimum make a note of date and time of the call and who you spoke to. Especially if you can get what you need for the companion voucher.

      • Lady London says:

        ps note for a while in the past BA appeared to be offloading couples who had used a companio voucher more often than others – perhaps thinking they would have less compensation (when compensation for offload applied, or for downgrade compensation) to pay as one of the seats they picked had been “free”.

        A few court cases apparently corrected BA’s misconception and they had to do things like refund the full cost of 2 avios seats at a sum calculated on something like the last selling price for the flight, or the vale of the avios at BA’s advertised buying price, or pay any compensations due,x 2 seats not 1, etc.

        So in this case refund is not advantageous to you. FTV might be if it preserves the voucher to a time you would use it anyway – or try refund +negotiate the voucher but get it in writing/recorded.

    • Nick says:

      BA do have to get you home… but you can’t just buy a new flight and expect them to cover the cost without asking them first. They have arrangements with other airlines they can use, and may already have plans for repatriation flights in any case. It’s unfair to demand they pay for a flight you book without asking them first.

      In any event, if you flew out then the voucher is classed as ‘used’, so you won’t get it returned. It’s only refundable if travel has not begun.

      • Toppcat says:

        I don’t disagree, Nick, but we are in a situation where BA cancelled the flight and notified us by email, giving a link to refund or rebook which showed no available return flights. The email didn’t set out our rights under EU261. Once we have finally been able to speak to someone at BA, they have advised that the can only rebook us on a OW airline (and I can’t find a OW flight out of SEZ), and heavily pushed us to accept a refund. They have categorically refused to honour their obligations under EU261 and only when pushed have pointed me in the direction of a customer services team that can’t be called, and will respond at some future, indeterminate time. I think I have given them plenty of opportunity to advise of alternative options!

        What is daft is that BA are still flying to Dubai – there must be a solution which involves getting the various people stuck in SEZ on to the various BA DXB-LHR flights, but no suggestion has been forthcoming…

        • Anna says:

          I seem to recall over the weekend someone in a similar situation in the Maldives and someone who clearly works for BA or knows someone who does responding that BA were in the process of putting some kind of rescue flight on for all stranded passengers so you may just be a victim of automated processes at the moment. When did you get the cancellation email?

        • Lady London says:

          Exactly @Toppcat. Please do let us know how this turns out.

          If BA is so nasty and obstructive asvto force you to do the light work of filling out an MCOL form and paying its tiny fee which wil be returned to you when you ein, please ensure you add to your claim the extra 8%pa pro rata statutory interest on everyrhing, untul such date as BA’s payment reaches your account, in your claim.

    • Toppcat says:

      Thank you all – I really appreciate the considered responses. Just another demonstration of how positive the HfP community is.

      It looks like I am suiting up for a battle with BA, but one in which I should ultimately prevail…

      I really wish I didn’t have to be back in London, and could just use this as an opportunity to extend my holiday for a week or two…

  • Andrew says:

    Quiet on the Amex offers this morning – Mondays are normally when they post some interesting ones. Maybe it’s a return to the dry spell of the spring due to the lockdown again. Wish they would bring back the double points double value on the Platinum card.

    • Harry T says:

      Yeah. I’ve got bugger all new offers. I’m fairly sure amex will have to do more to retain customers because the UK looks set to head into a deep recession wormhole.

    • Richster says:

      As others have said before, it isn’t always Amex driving these things, it’s the companies themselves (e.g. Marriott / Harrods) trying to drive extra business through the Amex offers… so, if no companies are in a position to offer anything, then Amex have nothing new to offer… aside from any of their own MR offers on generic spend or Shop Small type things.

      • Andrew says:

        Yes, which is why all the offers dried up in April and May because most companies put a hold on marketing spend. So I wonder if the same has happened now.

      • Harry T says:

        Yes, Richster, it’s absolutely that.

      • Lady London says:

        They may already be committed to black friday promotions.

    • Ming The Merciless says:

      Double points! Best deal of 2020. I netted just under half a million MRPoints before being shut down!

      • Harry T says:

        What did you do, Ming?

        • Ming The Merciless says:

          I had some very changeable travel plans with my large family, in F, on fully flex fares.

          • BP says:

            Assume you withdrew the points before getting a refund or am I missing a trick here? Not that I’d even attempt this with the current BA refund times – 6 weeks and counting

      • Jonathan says:

        So you spent £500k on fully flex flights?! I’d have been very twitchy about committing that level of cash as it wouldn’t take much of a delay in a refund processing to leave you needing to settle the balance before the refund arrived! Not surprised they shut you down (presumably permanently) as that spend/refund pattern is clearly not normal.

        • Crafty says:

          No, BJ, no need to try to withdraw before refund. The offer was for double points on purchases; however, Amex clawed back only single points on refunds.

  • Secret Squirrel says:

    Curve to Ernie NS, been declined twice today? Anybody else getting declined today?

    • Anna says:

      Mine’s gone through ok just now, however the issue with revolutionaries and the seagulls has re-occurred after resolving itself last week!

  • ash says:

    Hi all, I’m considering W Maldives for a week but can only get there at the end of August anyone have any experience going this time of the year as wonder what to expect weather wise? I know nobody has a crystal ball and its rainy season just trying to get I idea how much rain / cloud / wind people have personally experienced.

    Thank you

    • Anna says:

      My cousin went on his honeywoon to Maldives one August as he is a teacher and had limited travel dates. It seemed fine, very hot with the odd shower which passed over quite quickly, apparently. Conversely, when we went some years ago in December it was really quite stormy!

  • Craig says:

    Data point for Virgin cancellations. I made a booking for New York, rewards using the credit card companion voucher. I decided to cancel and made the call 30 days ago. They said it would take 30 days which is exactly what it did. I had been prepared to take the £30pp hit but even though I booked before the guarantee dates they have refunded the full amount.

  • sambe says:

    Anyone else still have a BA refund unpaid? Mine is partially stuck in the “manual queue” after they initially refunded the wrong amount (surprise). They’ve agreed to pay the rest (verbally) but say there is nothing to do other than wait. It’s been 5 months… Obviously they are not allowed to take so long but is there anything that can be done to move it along?

    • BP says:

      Yes, over 6 weeks now! Not happy and really hope it doesn’t reach 5 months!

    • Harry T says:

      Make a complaint using the online form. In my experience, if you end up in the manual refund queue, you are going to be waiting a long time.

      Five months is grossly unacceptable though – at that point I would make the complaint, and then proceed to a chargeback if I didn’t receive my refund in a week.

      • Lady London says:

        +1
        Don’t put up with it.

      • Nick says:

        Send a polite PM to BA Refund Helper on flyertalk. Officially he’s not working on this any more, unofficially he’s a fantastic guy and will either pick it up or ask one of his team to do so.

        • ChrisC says:

          Don’t do that.

          He specifically said he won’t be helping any more.

          After 5 months it’s time to write to BA legal and give them the required 14 days notice to pay up or you’ll take them to MCOL.

    • Alex says:

      I had a cancelled flight end of September, they told me the refund would be 8 weeks but it arrived in 6-7 weeks I think.

  • The real John says:

    Not very happy with Amex today.

    I paid for a service over a year ago which I partially used, but the company did not respond to requests for a partial refund over many months. I therefore disputed the transaction with Amex. The first agent I spoke to opened a Section 75 claim for a partial refund.

    However Amex charged back the whole transaction. This finally attracted the attention of the company who agreed that I was due a partial refund. But as Amex had fully refunded me, I had to pay the company again. I did this by bank transfer.

    The claim process with Amex was not very smooth. Although the first agent I spoke to was good, subsequent agents were all confused and contradicted each other. Eventually Amex agreed that I had never asked for a full chargeback, only a partial refund under S75, and gave me compensation for the trouble.

    It is now 6 months after the resolution and 13 months from the original incident. The original transaction has reappeared on my latest Amex statement, and this morning I received a letter saying Amex has received no further information from the company so have concluded that the charge was valid.

    • Charlieface says:

      That’s completely ridiculous for Amex. If they receive no info they should assume you were right. Plus they already closed the investigation. Also they have I think a time limit, 6 months sounds way too long.

    • Jan says:

      I’ve had Amex tell me “they have received no further information from the company” also and hence the charge was valid. I know it was not acceptable from Amex but since it was a small transaction I just let it go.

      • Isherwood says:

        I was very disappointed with the way Amex handled our chargeback. They sided with the supplier even though their ‘evidence’ was a tissue of lies, and told us ‘claim closed’. So we took it to the Amex complaints dept and it was sorted out eventually. But all the talk of amazing customer service I had read on HFP didn’t really stack up when things went south.

  • Robert says:

    Hold Amex Gold charge with c.200k MR points – paying annual fee no longer making sense, offers haven’t suited me the past year – barely made the £15k bonus target last year (Covid impacted)

    Considered downgrading to the green card but decided the £60 annual fee not worth it.

    Applied for and awaiting an American Express Rewards Credit Card to arrive to protect my MR points, how long after the card arrives can I cancel the Gold Card? Gold renewal was 2 moths ago and bonus MR points posted 3 weeks ago now.

    • Harry T says:

      You can cancel when the new card account is definitely linked with your existing MR account – sometimes this doesn’t work and you need to call amex to link them.

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