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The HfP chat thread – Sunday 29th 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 (201)

  • Ali M says:

    Hey Ya All…
    I have 120k points ‘lying around’ in HSBC – do they do conversion bonuses? Virgin or Avios is where I’ll be looking but not booking anything imminently. If they do bonuses, then will just wait until that information comes through

    • DANi says:

      Hsbc premier usually do a once a year bonus to avios..I believe something like 25% uplift. Last year it was around this time . I’m waiting for it as well

    • Joel says:

      They normally do one or two of these promotions per year. It seems like a long while since the last one. Make sure your points aren’t in danger of expiring.

  • John says:

    Has Border Farce still got no means of scanning the QR code on the PLF? Last month at MAN, they just check you’ve got the code, same at LHR. Is the plan they’ll have scanners at some point-if not, what’s the purpose of them?

    • John says:

      Why does it matter to you whether they scan it?

    • Nick says:

      It’s funny to me that you’re asking why they don’t scan a code, rather than why they haven’t linked a completed form in their own systems, using the passport number you enter in the form to identify yourself…

    • Mouse says:

      It’s not really their job to check the details on your form, their job is to check whether or not you are legally allowed to enter the country, so it’s unlikely they will engage in anything more than a cursory effort regarding the form.

      • John says:

        Thanks all, lovely.

      • memesweeper says:

        I’ve crossed borders into the UK a few times in the last six months and on one occasion at Heathrow me + son and our forms were thoroughly checked out. On other trips and for other family members it’s just been a cursory glance. Perhaps they just check a random sample?

  • Anna says:

    Beware The Langley and any points booking changes – I have just cancelled a 2 night stay at New Year and got a message that no points will be refunded as it was a points advance booking! I paid the full amount in points months ago, so when The Langley moved the booking to New Year from last summer they must have changed it to a points advance booking in their system and presumably would have charged me another 75k points for it! I’ve submitted a form to Marriott asking them to return my points but I’ve no idea how long these things take to sort out. Gutted as I needed the points to make another booking at the current reduced points rates.

    • Harry T says:

      Sorry to hear that. I cancelled a some last night and got my points back, so it must have been the way they tinkered with your booking.

    • Crafty says:

      I didn’t get such a message, but did also get zero points returned when I cancelled my booking. However, this was addressed immediately with a Twitter enquiry, which I would recommend for a swift solution.

      • KBuffett says:

        Twitter has been the best and fastest way for me to get responses from Marriott @MBonvoyAssist

        • Anna says:

          I’m not on Twitter – are the on Facebook?!

          • Doug M says:

            Worth setting up an account? Twitter seems to be quite a good way to initiate contact with quite a number of companies.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      It’s worth checking if the points were returned for the original booking

      Marriott will show 0 against the cancelled and the original line when the booking was made. Silly way of doing it which is confusing to the customer.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      @Anna don’t feel like greater Manchester would have dropped out of T3 by then? Or new plans for NY?

      Burnham seems confident it’s going the right way to be reviewed down on 16th

      • Ken says:

        Greater Manchester numbers falling fast but this mainly as they were so high.

        Places like Trafford, Stockport, Tameside have reasonable numbers.
        The places like Oldham, Bury, Rochdale, Wigan less so

      • Anna says:

        We’re just over the border in East Lancs and unless they do something radical like providing compulsory isolation facilities for people in the worst affected wards things aren’t going to improve enough to drop a Tier until they roll out a vaccine. Still up at 900 – 1000 cases per 100k in some street clusters. It’s frustrating for those of us on the semi-rural outer edges who don’t mix much anyway!
        But re The Langley – we’ve got a five day window at half term now so might go then when we’ve more time to explore the surrounding area.

    • A says:

      Could you make another points advance booking now, and then hope you get the refund sorted in the interim? Can always cancel if you don’t get them back

  • JamesH says:

    Hey my renewal is up for BA Premium Plus card in the coming weeks and not sure if to renew or get an alternative. Work travel is down (and will continue to be) so the £ I’m putting on there is down too. Had it a couple of years, done well with companion flights and have one voucher plus c. 150k Avios.
    1) if I cancel it, will I struggle to use the voucher and Avios or are they separate?
    2) if I cancel it, where do I go next that offers a nice welcome bonus?

    Or… should I supplement it with another instead of cancelling?

    THANKS for listening to my strangely timed 6am Sunday thoughts lol

    • John Caribbean says:

      Why do you want to cancel? To save the fee? You could just move to the free card.
      You won’t lose your voucher if you cancel, but you’ll need an amex of some description to pay for the flight.
      There’s an article about the optimum strategy for getting amex cards to maximise introductory bonuses

    • BuildTheWall says:

      You won’t get sign up bonus on any Amex except Amex plat.
      You can downgrade to free ba card, but that won’t reset for a signup bonus on the paid one when you get it next time.
      If you put through a lot of your own spend, go for Amex gold card. 10k bonus for 15k spend, plus bonus on other ccy and airline spend. Also helps reset your eligibility for sign up bonus on bapp.

  • Chris Heyes says:

    JamesH Amex Gold if you want to accumulate more points,
    not quite the same as BA Premium so should get their Bonus 20,000 points which you could transfer into Avios or Hotels
    If you cancel your BA Amex make sure you transfer out before you do.
    One downside “COULD BE” when you need to re-apply with covid and changed financial climate you could be at worst refused or limits reduced “Who Knows”

    • Nick says:

      Why ‘should’ you get the 20k bonus? It’s VERY clear in Amex T&C that you DON’T get the bonus in this situation, regardless of whether you think it’s ‘not quite the same’!

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Agree perhaps only the Plat if you haven’t had any MR earning card for 2 years (assuming it’s a personal one and not business where that reduces to 6 months)

      • Chris Heyes says:

        Hi, Nick because we got the 20k bonus,
        whether we should have or not ? could have been an IT error nevertheless we got just over 20k from Gold will hit another 10k by Christmas (then no spend on card until cancel after June renewable date (June 6th) so cancel July for fee refund
        No idea how, why Nick but we got it, not complaining lol

        • TGLoyalty says:

          So rather than should it was could perhaps if you are lucky and the IT isn’t quite right.

    • JamesH says:

      Appreciate all these replies – thank you! The original reason was justifying the fee with lower than normal spend. But Id put 10k on and still get the companion voucher i’m sure. Thanks again all.

  • @mkcol says:

    I usually pay around £120-£150 for a week’s car hire in the UK for up to a Focus sized car. For the first time I am looking at hiring one for over Christmas week and am seeing prices at least £200 more for a Fiat 500 size across different providers, and am using different pick up locations to check if it’s a local thing or not (it’s not).

    Am I too early to book for this week, or is the normal sort of uplift?
    Any UK car hire recommendations for either a Milton Keynes or near Euston pick up?

    • Nick says:

      You’re lucky… I’ve seen prices near me over £500 for the same.

      It’s an effect of ‘lockdown easing’ – airline style revenue management has kicked in. The government said everyone only has 1.5 days to get to their families (23rd and 24th morning before the trains shut down). So everyone realised the trains would be rammed and looked for alternatives. This caused demand to rocket, which means prices rose as car hire companies saw an opportunity. Basic economics.

      You’re not the only once to notice, there have been a few news articles this week on this very thing!

      • Nick says:

        I suspect if people stop booking then prices could fall again, particularly nearer the time. Though it’s gamble of course… and the roads will be horrific that week anyway.

        It’s as if those making these decisions have chauffeur driven cars and police escorts wherever they go and so didn’t realise the effect it would have… it was entirely foreseeable (in the same way that students gathering at unis was always going to be a corona nightmare). If they allowed people to use trains from (say) the 21st, demand would be so much more spread out and it wouldn’t be an issue. Hey ho, our fault for electing a bunch of morons I suppose.

        • callum says:

          These exceptions only exist because the government has to pander to a frustratingly ignorant population. (I moan about it a lot, but then the authoritarian alternative wouldn’t be particularly palatable either!) The “smart” thing to do would be to have no travel restriction relaxations at all – I suspect the government know that but view it as untenable (they certainly aren’t morons… Immoral, evil, greedy, selfish I’d agree, but not stupid).

          Though why the 21st? Why not make it the 20th? But then what’s two more days – make it the 18th. Why not round down to the 15th? But what about the people working over Christmas? Perhaps make it the entire month so they can still make a trip?

          • The real John says:

            I think a lot of people who (for example) could travel on 20th but not 21st are just going to do it anyway.

    • marcw says:

      Rental car prices are hig… As companies have sold a big percentage of their car stock.

    • Charlieface says:

      Try starting the rental earlier (and finishing the same date), companies price off start date so you may find it works out cheaper.

      • @mkcol says:

        Tried that.
        It’s actually 21-28 Dec I need. I’ve fiddled around, all it seems to do is increase the price in line with duration you’d expect.

        I’ll hang fire a few weeks & see what transpires.

  • Louie says:

    I’ve found prices several times what I normally over pay Christmas every time I have looked since I started looking in June. Currently £2,300 a week from LHR for a Kia Picanto via Hertz UK with Amex Plat discount. Bargain! Just as well my trip back to the UK will be cancelled.

    Anyway, how about £236 for a week for a Picanto or £265 for a Corsa from Hertz Milton Keynes via Hertz Brazil site with Amex Plat discount (£262/£294 without)? Not the greatest but better than you have so far.

    • @mkcol says:

      Interestingly Hertz (UK site) said they had nothing available!

      But good idea to look at a foreign site, I’ll keep that in mind.

      • Louie says:

        You can always book now just in case you can’t get anything better and then cancel later if you do.

  • Rupert says:

    Hi I saw a few companies for fit to fly being provided recently in London but don’t have time to search through again. Can anyone provide anyone they have used?

    Also if the time needs to be done 96 hours before does that mean test taken at pre 96 hours or when it arrives at the lab.

    • Tracey says:

      Sofitel Heathrow T5 has a rate for overnight and testing which is the cheapest, works out about £60 for the test each.
      Next cheapest I’ve found is £120 at branches of Boots, but their booking system is a pain as you need to register and upload passport pictures before you can see availability- and being the cheapest around availability is limited. I had to book and unbook. Other than that it is a question of deciding whether you want to take the swab yourself or have a professional do it and finding places local to you or using the search here.
      Whether it is 96 hours before departure or before arrival depends on where you are going.

      • Rupert says:

        Thanks, this is for Dubai who I dont think accept “home test kits” which surely this would fall under.

        • Sandgrounder says:

          If you are flying from the UK or Germany to Dubai you can get a complimentary test on arrival instead, would you not consider this?

          • Rob says:

            I would want to be very clear about what the Government would do to me for 14 days if I failed a test on arrival.

    • Colin MacKinn says:

      Wife did a test for Spain last week. Used a company called Medicspot.

      While they can send out kits, you can also go to a “hub” chemist, where they collect at 2pm and promise result by 11pm the following day. Hers arrived by email at 9pm.

      She picked up the kit just after 1pm from the chemist, sat in her car and did the test. She had to fill in some paperwork AND fill in stuff online.

      The online form asked her to enter the time she did the test. That was the time entered on the form they emailed out. So, for Spain the 72 hours started at the time she entered on the form, and she had to arrive in Spain before the 72 hours were up.

      The online certificate makes no mention of the fact that it was a self-test. You can see what the form looks like on their website. Lots of mentions of government numbers etc!

      Ironically, the entry folk in Spain looked at it for less than 10 seconds. She could have just printed out the sample on the web page, for all anyone seemed to care!

      • The real John says:

        But the airline staff looked at it carefully right? Or in any case you have to act as if they will look at it carefully

        • Colin MacKinnon says:

          Ryanair staff just looked for the QR code from the Spanish pre-flight form. Two guys on hand-luggage only fares got turned away at the gate for not having it.

          No check for a PCR test form. You just tick a box on the Spanish pre-flight form saying you have a negative PCR test and – bingo – email with QR code generated. That was all Ryanair wanted to see.

          Check of the actual PCR test form – if you can call the five second scan that! – was on arrival in Lanzarote.

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