Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

The HfP chat thread – Tuesday 24th 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 (294)

  • Mike says:

    Any recommendations for affordable PCR tests with 48hr turnaround?

    It seems all of the tests in the £99-120 price bracket take around 72hrs to come back which is useless.

    Meanwhile all the places promising 48hr turnaround seem to be charging north of £200…

    • Dave B says:

      Try Boots they have a few stores offering 48 hours.

    • Mr. AC says:

      If you have symptoms, NHS tests (based on my family having 3 tests over the past few weeks) managed a <48 hours turnaround, specifically 30, 37, and 40 hours. Central London.

      • Mark says:

        Are NHS test consisted PCR tests?

        • Mark says:


          • Blenz101 says:

            Only the PCR type. Most counties don’t accept antibody tests but you would need to check.

            The NHS website clearly states the tests are not to be used for travel and you would need to declare your reason for using an NHS test.

            Also, the NHS tests only give the time of the result/analysis, not when the sample was collected. This (deservedly) caught people out when travelling to Dubai as it was the time of test not the time of the results the authorities used as point of reference to count the 96 hours from.

      • Blenz101 says:

        If you have symptoms you wouldn’t be looking to get a rapid result test for travel. You should be isolating and in which case the time for the result to come back wouldn’t be a concern.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          That’s very general.

          Also nhs tests are/will be available to all in some areas

          • Blenz101 says:

            It was hardly general, the site is explicit about who can have a test and I gave specific examples of ways in which people have been caught out when trying to use the NHS. It was intended to be constructive.

            I could help if the test was required in the north of England (Thorpe park in Leeds was within 36 hours) but hopefully somebody from the south east can help with the updated question.

    • Mike says:

      Just to make it clear, I want a PCR test for travel to the Canary Islands. I’m not prepared to break the rules and use the NHS. I don’t have any symptoms.

      The Canaries require a test dated within the last 72 hours.

      Boots are only guaranteeing 72hour turnaround as far as I can tell, which leaves no margin for me to actually travel. If anyone has evidence to the contrary then I’d appreciate a link.

      I live in Aldershot. I’m prepared to drive up to 25 miles if necessary to get a test at a clinic in South London or whatever. I just don’t want to pay north of £200 if I can at all help it.

      So the question is: Who is the cheapest provider I can use for a test with guaranteed <48hr turnaround?

      • Mike says:

        Or can anyone who has recent experience using Boots tell me how long the results /actually/ take to come back…

        • Magic Mike says:

          A late reply but Medwyn Travel Clinic in Dorking did tests for us with a 28 hour turnaround last month. £120. Not guaranteed but good reviews.

      • Matt says: these guys say within 2 days. We used them a month or so back and it was quicker than that. London based.

      • DB2020 says:


        Saw your post earlier today and I happened to be walking past the Bliss Pharmacy in Kensington, who had a sign in the window advertising PCR tests with travel certificates.

        As I might need a test and certificate in the next few weeks, I went into the pharmacy to find out more about the test. They said that there is no appointment necessary, just walk in 72 hours before travel, they will test right away and provide the results in 48 hours, with a fit to fly doctor’s certificate, for £140 all in. Amex accepted. They also participate in the Amex Shop Small scheme, if the rumours of one in December are to come true.

        Only challenge is that it is 37 miles away from Aldershot, and you are prepared to travel 25 miles.

        Thought that I would post this anyway, just in case you or any other reader wants to take advantage of the service.

        A search for Bliss Pharmacy Kensington will provide the address for those interested.

  • Ilga says:

    Very impressed by the Virgin Atlantic sale. Do we think they will be running their usual golden ticket hunt for ‘free’ flights on Cyber Monday as well?

    • Super Secret Stuff says:

      Hopefully! You might even see more seats because there flights are so empty! The taxes they charge include a fuel surcharge that they keep and short term cash flow benefits so to me seems very possible

  • AndyF says:

    Q regarding Morrisons and Giftcards. Why unload to Amazon as the endpoint? Can it be withdrawn…

    • Super Secret Stuff says:

      I don’t think it can be withdrawn?

      The reason for Amazon is they are easy to use and they rarely do Amex discount offers

  • Super Secret Stuff says:

    Anyone know if the Melia GCs are back in stock? Thinking of getting it for my partner for Christmas…

    • Rob says:

      Germany had 1 yesterday when I checked, UK was still out. I need to have another look actually.

      • Super Secret Stuff says:

        I checked Germany today and there were none. UK still out. Maybe spain as they are Spanish? Really hoping for British tho! Giving a Christmas present that is written in German or Spanish is a bit odd…

        • MattB says:

          I’ve ordered the vouchers from Amazon Spain and UK previously and I’m sure they are the same. The UK ones from last week shipped from Spain anyway. It’s not really a card, more a piece of paper with a code on.

          • Rob says:

            I got mine from Spain two years ago. The card is in Spanish but not hard to translate, and our article last week explains it anyway. It’s possible you get a Spanish card even if ordering from .uk of course.

          • rams1981 says:

            my one fro Amazon UK was all in English

  • SteveD says:

    So as I sit here well into my 2nd hour on hold with Virgin, maybe the HfP hive can answer…?

    If I book flights in the sale but then add on a hotel to turn it into a package, how does that affect the flexi booking arrangements? Are the free flight changes still available? Or will I lose my deposit if I don’t / can’t travel (assuming it’s not Virgin that cancel).

    Thanks all…if/when I get through and get this question answered I’ll report back.

    • James says:

      You can cancel a package and use the deposit towards another booking up til some date in 2022.

      • SteveD says:

        Thanks James, that’s useful.

        Was cut off automatically after 2 hours so can’t give an answer myself.

  • mr_jetlag says:

    Economist Black Friday sale – headline is £29 for a quarterly sub, but if you click through you can get an annual for £108. No avios though.

    • Rui N. says:

      Where are you seeing that? It shows £29 for 12 weeks, but £215 here after clicking through. TIA

      • Rui N. says:

        Found it 🙂 under gifting subscriptions 🙂 good found, I was looking to renew.

        • mr_jetlag says:

          Yes I already renewed (just two weeks ago!) so asked their CSM – very politely – if I can get the credit for the difference.

  • The Savage Squirrel says:

    Radisson Rewards. Not seen it mentioned, but they have a 100% offer at the moment, taking it down to 0.26p/point to buy. Given a rough 0.33p valuation and the return of international travel in a vaccinated world, could be bargains to be had?

    • Super Secret Stuff says:

      I am planning Australia in either 2021 or 2022, places like Sydney, Melbourne and visit a couple friends. Does anyone think this could offer significant value? Looking to go for a month overall

      Also, anyone know about wheelchair accessible hotels in Aus? Are they everywhere or few and far between? My partner is in an electric wheelchair

      • The Savage Squirrel says:

        @SuperSecretStuff Radisson’s footprint in Australia is tiny; Melbourne and Sydney only, so I probably wouldn’t make any speculative purchase. Am only really familiar with Melbourne, but in the points field, if you’re looking for accessibility in a very central location to reduce travel difficulties then the Doubletree opposite Flinders St Station is well thought of in this regard.

        Travellers Aid in the station opposite may also be a useful contact for further information or support.

        • Super Secret Stuff says:

          @The Savage Squirrel thank you, really useful to know all that! I had noticed there footprint being small. Hilton it might have to be… I do have a fair amount of Best Western and IHG points so might have to fall back on that.

  • Dominic says:

    Reduced quarantine announcement has come through… can reduce quarantine to 6 days, if you pay for a COVID test five days after arriving back in the UK.