Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

The HfP chat thread – Monday 28th December

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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 (210)

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  • AndyGWP says:

    Hertz appear to be allowing you to share your Five Star / Presidents Circle status with another person (ie. gift them status for one year):

  • Clive says:

    Well that’s my first trip booked for 2021

    Going to Iceland in February if everything works out

    Then in March will be heading to Morrison’s

  • Jon says:

    Coming back to booking holidays for August to Oz and I have flights already LHR-HKG and SIN-LHR and have been waiting for availability on HKG-PER (I plan to do a cash fare CNS-SIN on the way home).

    Odd thing is though that HKG-PER has great availability for Cathay up to June 12th and then absolutely nothing. So what gives?

    • Harry T says:

      Are you an Australian citizen? I would bet my house and car on non Australian citizens not getting into Australia in August 2021.

      • Harry T says:

        Regarding CX availability, are you booking with Asia miles? That should bring up more availability than partners like BA. I imagine people wouldn’t book before June because only a mad man would count on getting in before then, so perhaps all the optimists have booked up the flights from June onwards, as realistically no one is getting in before summer.

        • BuildTheWall says:

          Also, isnt every flight restricted to 30 passengers? how many redemption seats will be available out of a total of 30 per flight?

      • Jon says:

        I’m holding a rebooked reservation to Lizard Island at discounted 2020 rates and it costs me nothing to keep that reservation open. I figure entry to Australia *might* be possible with a vaccination certificate but I’m not making plans that can’t be changed.

        As for CX availability, I’m searching using Avios and there’s a bizarre cut off on June 12th. Look before then, practically every day has business class availability. Look after then, nothing in any class on any day. It’s been like that for months.

      • The Savage Squirrel says:

        Lots of comments about entering Australia last week or two that just don’t seem to have grasped how different the situation is there vs the rest of the world and how stringent committing to zero is. But that’s the path they’ve chosen and it has overwhelming popular support so it’s not changing. See you’re going to Perth, too. Just to put things in perspective….

        Western Australia requires 28 days of zero community spread at the other end to open the borders; as a result they’re currently closed against even some other Australian states (unless you fancy 2 weeks quarantine at a state mandated facility), let alone international travel. They were previously closed to all other Aus states for quite some time.

        Vaccine you’ll get is probably Oxford. 60-90% effective is incredibly beneficial in epidemiological herd immunity, hospitalisation reduction and spread reduction terms, but its not 100%; not even close. A vaccine cert’ is not the same as a Covid-free cert; not at all. So that alone ain’t going to do it for you.

        Chances of zero community spread in the UK for 28 consecutive days by the summer are of course zero.

        So basically, forget about it and make other plans. Wish it wasn’t so as I have relatives in Perth, but I’d say even Xmas 2021 is unlikely and March 2022 is 50/50.

        • Jon says:

          It still costs me practically nothing to hold flights if I have sufficient Avios. I’m not trying to debate COVID policy and have no interest in doing so.

          But what gives with CX redemptions on Avios?

          • Harry T says:

            Taxes and charges won’t be trivial.

          • Andrew says:

            There is no way you’re going to Australia in 2021, so don’t even give it another thought, get your Avios back in a voucher, move on and plan a different holiday for the summer.

        • Harry T says:

          @Savage Squirrel
          Great comment. Most people commenting recently need to do the reading and realise any plans to enter Australia before 2022 are probably foolhardy, unless an Aussie citizen (even then you’re probably screwed).

        • Lyn says:

          SS, I agree with Harry T that your comment is well-written, and helpful for people who aren’t as aware of the current situation in Australia, which is likely to continue for quite a long time.

          Some of the discussion about travel to Australia I’ve seen in the last few days was specifically related to Australian citizens trying to get back as soon as possible. But of course they are among many thousands of other Australians, desperately trying to get home, some of whom no longer have jobs or even visas for the countries they are stranded in.

          Like you, I also wish it wasn’t so, as my mother lives in the Melbourne area and will be 92 next month. She is in remarkably good health but it is a really uncomfortable feeling knowing that I can’t just fly to Australia at short notice if needed. I know I share this with many others, including commenters here, some of whom are in the opposite situation and can’t leave Australia to visit relatives in Europe.

    • Nick says:

      You realise there’s no rule that says CX have to release reward inventory, right? If there’s nothing after a certain date, even as a non-gambler I’d bet money on it being a commercial decision not to release them this early.

  • Mark says:

    Both departure and return flights to Istanbul next month are now cancelled. Am I right to say I don’t actually have to re-book it now, and can call BA up at a later date to re-book me on another flight (even after my original intended date of travel) at no extra cost?

    • memesweeper says:

      Unless it’s a BA holiday, yes. Call before the first flight was due to depart though.

      • Mark says:

        Thanks. Not a BA holiday.

        Friend actually was in the same situation few months ago but the staff on BA hotline ‘adviced’ him to call in at a later date when he has a more firm date of travel as opposed to booking in before the first flight was due to depart as that is not necessary. Thought it was a bit unusual so just wanting to be sure.

        • GeorgeJ says:

          I have waited a couple of times, its not an issue with BA flights. One of them isn’t likely to be rebooked until the spring.

          • Nick says:

            If the first flight on the booking is cancelled, you don’t have to call until you want to. Doesn’t have to be before this date, nothing bad will happen at all. It’s only if your first flight is operating that you should call before it is due to depart.

  • James Craig says:

    There’s been a lot of conjecture regarding when we will all be able to travel again , perhaps with a ‘covid vaccination passport’. What’s the general consensus about when international travel will be truly opened up again? I ask as I am getting married at the end of May (hopefully!) and am looking to honeymoon in June if not, then potentially September.

    • Rob says:

      I think it depends where you are going. Basically, the West has bought up all the covid vaccine for a fair while to come. This means that you have a good chance of getting into, say, the US (because they will have vaccinated) but a far smaller chance in, say, the Philippines where they will be further down the list.

      Since it appears that you still transmit the vaccine despite being vaccinated, the fact that you have been vaccinated makes no difference to the place you are visiting – you can still be a carrier.

      • James Craig says:

        Thanks fair points, I hope that the US is open again soon, as I work for a US company. Last work trip was March when I finally got my global entry (after an 8 month wait!)

      • Joseph Heenan says:

        “Since it appears that you still transmit the vaccine despite being vaccinated”

        The last I read was that research on whether the vaccines prevent transmission hadn’t been finished yet. Has something new been published on this subject?

        • memesweeper says:

          I’m 100% sure you can’t transmit the vaccine 🙂

          If vaccination prevents transmission is unknown but perfectly possible. The duration of any protection is also unknown.

          I guess countries will open borders to travellers based on their own levels of COVID to date (lower levels = more restrictive) and the level of community transmission in the source country. I don’t think vaccination certificates will be used at all in 2021 as criteria for admission anywhere.

        • Rob says:

          No, but you would imagine they would have a pretty good idea by now.

          • Andrew says:

            Totally agree with Rob on this – vaccination certification (which by the way isn’t even a thing in the U.K.) – isn’t a pass to get into a country as you can still transmit even if you’ve been vaccinated. So don’t expect countries which are currently closed to suddenly open the doors to you once you’ve been vaccinated. Of course being vaccinated vastly improves your chances of having a negative test, but so is self-isolating which if you WFH is reasonably easy to do already ahead of a trip/test.

          • The Savage Squirrel says:

            Actually no they wouldn’t.

            For a start, you cannot prove a negative in medical science. It is impossible to prove that something never happens – the best you can ever got to is that it is very unlikely, or that it has not been observed (so far). To get to that stage takes a very high number of people over a high time period.
            Secondly, “by now” – LOL, I realise medical/pharma research will not be the field of HfP but this is pretty close to the fastest set of trials in history – so for speed (quite rightly) the parameters have been very limited: is the vaccine safe, and does it reduce Covid symptoms and likelihood of hospital care and death. Which it does. That’s it. When you read “it may not do X” it’s not because it’s failed that hurdle, there simply is no data.
            Thirdly, the data for this is incredibly noisy, you have to strip out those who have had the vaccine but not acquired immunity. Then false positives, then false negatives.
            Hell, the data is so noisy that despite millions of infections we’re still unsure if you can cath Covid twice (best guess – possible but very unusual – the vast majority of 2-time cases are attributable to false positives and misdiagnosis).

            FWIW I think it highly likely to virtually certain that the vaccine and immune response will mean you are unlikely to be an infectious vector (or at very worst, far less infectious – like 90%+ less) , should you acquire Covid, as that’s how vaccines have worked for nearly every other transmissible disease, but as Andrew rightly says, the noisy data and less than 100% efficacy will mean this does not allow open borders until both our own case rate is negligible and countries at zero complete their own vaccination programmes to their own satisfaction.

          • Alan says:

            Not at all, Rob – that wasn’t the focus of the trials – they were focused on safety and efficacy with regards the recipient themselves.

      • Anuj says:

        India maybe be a potential destination. They’ve ordered a billion doses of one vaccine and 500 million of the Oxford one and they have license to produce domestically too. They might actually be able to get quite a few people vaccinated by the end of the 2021

  • 747_Brat says:

    Finally got accepted to the holy grail of HSBC current accounts: The Premier!

    I have been trying since March this year, but they had closed the applications for existing customers weirdly, and were accepting only new customers. Took a visit to the branch, but got accepted immediately based on the salary credits to the account and “investments”.

    Also, applied for the free Premier Credit Card since there were no sign-up offers for the World Elite card currently. The Relationship Manager confirmed there might be some offers coming up, since the account is now accepting upgrades from existing customers. So hopefully, I will switch to the World Elite then.

    Does anyone know if one can simply upgrade to World Elite and still qualify for the sign-up bonus, or does it requires a cool-off period like Amex?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Polly says:

      Some folks on here have done a 6 month rotation with them, successfully. And sure G will chip in soon, as l think he has…

    • AndyGWP says:

      Thanks for the update – good to hear… as I’m also an existing customer, I’d also been patiently waiting since forever

      In fact, I’ve been waiting so long, I’ve forgotten my reasons for wanting the Premier account!???

      • 747_Brat says:

        Premier comes with a nice stash of benefits, including free travel insurance for the whole family, dedicated relationship manager, free access to iPass Wi-Fi hotspots (works on LH group & CX planes), access to Premier Credit Cards etc.

        It might be worth trying again as they are accepting applications from existing customers now.

        • Genghis says:

          Does anyone actually use the relationship manager? Any benefits?

          I opted just to call the premier contact centre myself. At Barclays they’d always call me for an update – and try to flog me stuff – at the most inconvenient of times.

          • 747_Brat says:

            Some people do value dedicated relationship managers. I personally do most of my banking on the app, and don’t envision seeing my relationship manager anytime soon.

          • Rob says:

            I’m with Genghis on this.

            However, in fairness, we are finance people with substantially more knowledge and experience than the people calling us. If you make your money doing something else (I do believe there are other ways of making huge chunks of money outside banking, although reports are few and far between) then it may prove useful to you. Or, more likely, it will lead you to buy an overpriced in-house investment product.

          • Polly says:

            Never, totally useless during all those issues we early card holders had. They may now know about the card 4 hrs in!

    • Mark says:

      Might be wrong but the sign-up bonus are only for new-to-bank customers as per the previous few times.

      • Guy says:

        I got mine about 15 months ago and was already a HSBC customer and got the bonus no problem. Given the last year thought possible things have changed since then

      • 747_Brat says:

        Surely, existing customers qualify for sign-up bonus, as a colleague of mine recently received the bonus on WE card.

    • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

      Surely Jade is the holy grail

      • Rob says:

        No. I have it and its useless.

        Only upside is that I got it as a fluke (happened to be shuffling some assets around and money sat in HSBC for a while) so wasn’t expecting it. Luckily. I literally cannot see a single benefit except the free WE credit card. The one partner benefit that was of some interest let me register and then I never heard anything again. You won’t be surprised to hear that the goons at Ten look after it.

        • 747_Brat says:

          What’s the verdict on Ten?
          My only experience of dealing with them was back in 2018, when I was living in New Zealand and banked with Westpac. Ten managed the concierge helpdesk on behalf of Westpac. I contacted them to help me with a couple of Ed Sheeran concert tickets, and they flatly refused to arrange the tickets. They were pretty useless then, but never dealt with them again.

    • Bigmaggot says:

      I upgraded to premier too a couple of weeks ago, by telephone, despite many agents telling me they weren’t upgrading existing customers!

  • C says:

    Iberia have extended the 25% off gift cards. I wonder if these can be used again the fees for an avios redemption?

    • ChrisA says:

      T/C’s posted on another site would suggest not.

      • C says:

        That’s a shame. It doesn’t seem to be possible to book BA flights though Iberia either to get the discount. Does anyone know a way around this?

  • TheThunderer says:

    Please could someone remind me the best number to phone BA on at midnight to grab reward flights 355 days out? Thank you

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