Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

The HfP chat thread – Wednesday 6th January

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Comments (337)

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  • Simon says:

    I’d be ever so appreciative of any HFPer help in terms of confirming whether or not my thinking below is correct with regard to Virgin upgrade vouchers — I’m a long-time VS miles/points collector, but largely for Hilton/IHG use, so this is the first time in many-a year that I have been considering booking a VS flight.

    • I have three upgrade vouchers (expiring, respectively, in: Dec ’21, July ’22, April ’23)
    • I was hoping to book a one-way LHR-NYC ticket for myself only (I do appreciate that one-ways are sub-optimal, just to say)
    • I am basic, Red VS member.

    Would I be right in thinking the following was possible:

    1. I book a one-way, Economy, CASH fare.

    2. If there is reward seat availability for my preferred date, I can phone up and use one of my upgrade vouchers to change my cabin from Economy to Premium.

    3. If there is reward seat availability for my preferred date, I can phone up and use another of my upgrade vouchers to change my cabin from Premium to UC.

    4. I would have to pay the “taxes” difference between Premium and UC.

    Does this seem correct?

    Several months ago, I saved a screenshot of an HFPer commenter who had seemingly successfully achieved something similar to the above (that is, applying two upgrade vouchers to one economy ticket), but, not being a VS expert by any stretch, I wasn’t entirely sure whether this rang true. Any advice/replies very much appreciated. TIA.

    • Jonathan says:

      As I understand it you are not permitted to do double upgrades.

      However, the Virgin call centre staff do seem to have quite a degree of flexibility with how they apply vouchers as I’ve seen a few uses reported that definitely aren’t in accordance with T&C’s.

      I assume the voucher is an entirely manual process that depends on staff knowing & applying the rules. It’s probably worth giving it a go & maybe HUACA a couple of times to see if you can wangle it.

    • yohana says:

      there should have been an agreement already for many the choice that it pik at first. if upgrade is available than that would open up my original seat which sauys i can bring one more person

    • dezbez says:

      To echo Jonathan, I’ve found Virgin ultra flexible for the recent bookings I’ve made, both with usage of vouchers and with transfer of miles between accounts. I can’t remember specifics but I’m pretty sure what they did for me wasn’t something that was ‘advertised’. I got the impression they would do everything they could to get my business.
      So defo ring up and ask – you’ve got nothing to lose.

      • Simon says:

        Jonathan / yohana / dezbez – many thanks indeed for the replies. It seems that, on balance, it might be worth chancing my arm with this. Many thanks once again.

  • Mco says:

    I have a business abroad and will be working there for a month. Two questions is it illegal if I go for a 5 night break while I am working away for a month?

    The months family insurance is £250 and am thinking of just taking out the Amex platinum again which means I get it for £300 for the year effectively. Will Amex cover this sort of trip though?

    • Rob says:

      You are inside the duration limit for days out of UK so should be fine.

    • Jonathan says:

      Depends where you are heading and the circumstances of the trip. If it’s under FCO all but essential travel then AmEx won’t cover. They are also applying restrictions on cover related to Covid.

    • Nick_C says:

      Sounds like you have a reasonable excuse for leaving your UK home and being away from it – you are going abroad to work.

      “is it illegal if I go for a 5 night break while I am working away for a month?” UK law does not apply to you once you are abroad. You need to check the legal situation in the country where you are working.

  • Craig says:

    Just had an email from Krisflyer, Silver extension for 12 months for expiries between Mar 21 and Feb 22.

    • Pangolin says:

      Yes, I got the same, except for Gold. Now my *G is valid till May 2022 🙂

  • Russel says:

    I know it’s debatable. I am closing my Capital on Tap rewards card and I have 30000 points. Cash or Avios? Whats the better reward? Many thanks.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      £300 worth of avios vs how much cash?

      Do you have lots of avios so cash is more useful or could you use 30k avios.

    • Rob says:

      Would you buy Avios at 1p per point at the moment if offered to you? If so, take the Avios, if not, take the cash.

      A 2nd question is potentially ‘do you expect to be able to buy Avios at under 1p per point in the future, if BA does another massive ‘75% bonus’ promo?’. If so it would be logical to take the cash and then use it to buy Avios later on.

    • The Savage Squirrel says:

      0.5p of course I meant :D.

  • Youllnever says:

    @Genghis how did you justify the annual fee for the Premier WE card past year 2? Was it purely for the point scheme itself and earning rate? TIA!

    • Genghis says:

      Yes – but everyone is different. You may find it better to churn so as to offset the fees with the bonuses.

      • BuildBackBetter says:

        Surely 6 months with the free card and 40k miles is better than the retaining the WE card with 0.5 additional miles per £? Is it more the hassle that you want to avoid?

        • Genghis says:

          Depends on how much you spend doesn’t it?

          • memesweeper says:

            Exactly. And if it’s marginal factor in horrifically long forms HSBC make you fill in.

          • Youllnever says:

            @memesweeper what sort of forms did you need to fill, and this is for card downgrades, correct?

  • Anna says:

    Ok lovely peeps with all your wisdom –
    I want to book a 4-5 day break in late March 2022 to celebrate OH’s retirement (we can’t do a proper holiday until later in the year because of the GCSEs – if GCSEs have returned by then!)
    I have FTV & other vouchers galore and would like to do the outbound at least in F. Could do a misture of avios and cash bookings.There will be 3 of us. Where is good for a longish haul short break? We’re not fussed about the weather, but like museums, historic sights and good food. Have done NYC, Washington DC/Boston/Miami already. Not been to Chicago or Philadelphia. Vegas probably a bit far. Would consider the ME if there was enough to do (Dubai booked for Easter so if that goes ahead we wouldn’t do a short break there.)

    • Anna says:

      We may well also have a few IHG free night vouchers to use up at this rate 🙄

      • meta says:

        Ideally you want something below 8h flying. Perhaps, Tel Aviv. It has F, though it’s a relatively short flight. You could go to Jerusalem for a day as well for sights. Other than that, if you’re not fussed about F, you could book short-haul to Amman. 4-5 days would be enough for Amman and Petra.

        • Jonathan says:

          Food is fantastic in Tel Aviv & weather should be pretty good in late March. Lots of interesting architecture if you’re into that. Jerusalem fascinating for the history. Holocaust museum is very powerful.

          Should also spend a day in the West Bank to get the other perspective on the wider political issues (plus the opportunity to see some of the biblical sites like Bethlehem).

          It’s only an hours drive between Jerusalem & Tel Aviv so easy to do both (airport is roughly in the middle).

    • TGLoyalty says:

      I thought it’s been confirm exams have been cancelled for 2021?

    • BuildBackBetter says:

      Istanbul / Marrakech / Cairo? Warm climate, great value for hotels, good food and some history?

      • Vit says:

        Second that. Been to last two and love it. Aiming for Istanbul when travel is back on.

      • Genghis says:

        Istanbul with a few days in Cappadocia (hot air balloon ride): lots of interesting stuff and pleasant walks.
        We went in March and had pleasant sunshine in Istanbul with some snow and pleasant sun on different days in Cappadocia (seeing snow in Cappadocia from hot air balloon is fantastic).

    • Stuart Evans says:

      If you haven’t tried it, Las Vegas has some attractions for a trip like this (assuming stuff is open etc).
      – Hotels generally very good value and the best of them are terrific
      – Great variety of great restaurants
      – Fabulous entertainment
      – Ditto shopping
      – Good ‘people watching’
      – Great scenery (Grand Canyon etc) pretty close
      Of course, the flight is longer but I actually think that’s a benefit on the overnight return; and I actually don’t think it adds much to what is bound to be a long day on the outbound.

      For completeness, the BA lounge at LAS is nothing special, and historically they used older aircraft on the route.

      Other attractive West Coast destination include LAX (very good F Lounge – at least as good as Concorde Room at LHR); and Phoenix (now with A350 and Club Suites)

      Whatever you choose, have a fabulous trip

      • Anna says:

        Great, thanks! I would love Tel Aviv or Cairo but OH won’t go anywhere perceived to be “unstable” or in any way risky. He’s not best pleased that I’ve booked Florida for this summer!

        • Alex says:

          I would recommended Toronto if going west, lots to do, a real melting pot for food and weather should be decent. If going west I second Tel Aviv and a bit different and It’s a long flight but personally I find the times work very well for visiting Hong Kong. I’ve been 3 times all for less than a week and loved it every time as did my partner.

          • Sandra says:

            +1 Toronto would be my choice if you’ve never been. Niagara Falls also an easy day trip.

        • Optimus Prime says:

          Anna, my OH and I used to think Vegas was a dump and wouldn’t enjoy if don’t drink/smoke/gamble, so we just spent 1.5 days during our trip to the West Coast and Hawaii.

          We liked it very much (low expectations etc) so we came back a couple years later to celebrate my birthday.

          Most hotels have huge suites (IC Palazzo first time, Cosmopolitan second one), there are many luxury restaurants (dinner at Eiffel Tower while watching the Bellagio show is worth it), lots of shows (Cirque du Soleil, concerts, etc). The Neon Museum is worth a visit too. We also booked a helicopter trip to Grand Canyon flying over Hoover Dam, it’s amazing as Chris Heyes says below. Pictures don’t make it justice, you have to see it yourself. BTW the trip included landing and breakfast at the Canyon.

      • Chris Heyes says:

        Stuart Evans, Vegas is one place not visited (almost did)
        But chose Phoenix instead for Sedona (where the early westerns was filmed) then Grand Canyon for a week South Rim El Tovar Hotel, then all the way round to the North Rim (Log Cabin right on the Rim)
        Then down to Lake Powell (Page) that was the best trip we’ve ever done regards scenery/sights experience ect

        • Anna says:

          We went to Vegas as part of a longer trip in the 90s, I would definitely go back but probably just as a couple. Probably most of it wasn’t even built when we were there!
          One of my regrets in life is that Tom Jones was performing at the Luxor where we were staying (which had literally just opened), and we decided our budget didn’t stretch to it!

    • Eppleby Green says:

      Chicago is a great place to visit although the immigration people seem to be anti foreigner. Chicago has great museums and art galleries as well as other great attractions. There’s also beach and lakeside attractions and Navy Pier. Many excellent places to eat and Magnificent Mile is great for shopping, window shopping and people watching.

      • thehornets says:

        I agree. Chicago is quite small and very walkable. Toronto is ‘hipper’ and also a very walkable, friendly city with the benefit of being able to visit Niagara (a few hours drive away). The boat ride to the bottom of the falls is one of my favourite ever activities – it’s a shame that Niagara itself is like Great Yarmouth.

      • Liz says:

        Agree with Chicago – great city. We got an amazing half price deal on Hotels.com in 2016 for the Chicago Athletic Association hotel on Michigan Ave, opposite Millennium Park and the ‘Bean’ – great location, great museums and it’s the start of Route 66. We stayed 5 nights before a road trip south then went back the following year for 1 night before starting our Route 66 road trip. Love the city.

    • Toppcat says:

      Another vote for Jordan from me. That would be enough time for Amman, the Dead Sea and 1.5-2 days in Petra. Probably not enough time to go to Wadi Rum though. Good weather, lots of interesting things to see and do.

      • Ed says:

        +1 for Toppcat suggestion above. Depending on duration, try and get Wadi Rum in there very interesting.

      • memesweeper says:

        +1

        BA use rubbish planes on the route now, but it’s a fantastic destination

    • Chris Heyes says:

      Anna I would say Lake Powell,(Page) Sedona (Phoenix) Grand Canyon is a must at least once. Although might be a little far
      Where ever you decide i would fly back in Business if overnight flight,
      1st is wasted if asleep
      Twice we have flown out 1st back Business
      Trust me the very first sight of the Grand Canyon will blow your mind
      it’s impossible to describe (stay there don’t do a trip)
      Shorter trip Yugoslavia (Hilton) walled old town never been but our next stay after American Trip, or Santorini combined with Athens or Surriento Suites (Correct spelling) Sorrento our secret escape lol Pamela really looks after her guests weekend or a week or more BnB only, you would want the two bedroom Suite (next to the harbor but out of the way)

      • BLG says:

        “Where ever you decide i would fly back in Business if overnight flight,
        1st is wasted if asleep”

        Anna has mentioned in the past that she does economy for overnight flights to save on Avios. Although she may now have a much bigger pot with all the cancelled bookings. I only remember this because If I had to choose, it would be the flat bed for the overnighter.

        • Anna says:

          Bigger pot these days, avios and money! And hopefully from next year, the flexibility to travel off peak.

          • BLG says:

            Great to hear. Once you get the flexibility and more leisure time you should give Iberia a go.

          • Child of Thatcher says:

            The benefits of being a civil servant for 30 years.

          • Chris Heyes says:

            Anna funny enough we always traveled off peak for last 23 years Sept is the best Month around 6th/7th BA off peak starts.
            But next year we are going Aug noticed Hotel prices are a lot more in Aug than Sept.
            Has i say early Sep is good for weather and prices almost anywhere
            May/June can be good but can be wet if you get it wrong
            If poss (kids) 3 weeks is a good saving as well inmo flights no extra

      • Chris Heyes says:

        Did Cairo and the Pyramids, Alexandra quite a few years ago when it was perfectly safe to wander around by oneself quite a distance between them though. Now a days they try to promote their Resort Sharm-el-sheikh because its safer, but nothing to write home about (avoid) though Not sure your OH would take the risk
        Tel Aviv went before the “War” Jerusalem to be honest didn’t like it was full of tourists, i mean full, overpowering. was safe when we went though,

      • Anna says:

        We drove round the Grand Canyon on the Vegas trip. A proper round trip around the South West is on my wish list.

        • Chris Heyes says:

          Anna We did part of Route 66 stopping at a few places on route hard work for us though as we cant drive, Amtrak Buses (i think quite a while ago now) Route 66 actually doesn’t exist in parts now they built a motorway was using backpacks in them days lol
          stop two days get on next bus, had a few lifts from travelers as well so got further than we planned Not even sure if it would be feasible now Amtrak cut it’s routes

        • Nick ONS says:

          Anna we stayed at the Hilton October 2019, the suite was amazing overlooking both US and Canadian falls all on points. You could watch the falls from the bath!

    • Doug M says:

      If heading west, I’d definitely say Chicago (in terms of USA city experience second to NY) or Toronto ahead of Philadelphia. Toronto is interesting, very USA but with enough Canada (and a big dollop of Shanghai) to feel different. I’d also offer Montreal, although smaller it’s very interesting. I’m not sure about the weather in any of these in March, I’ve always been June through September. Minneapolis always worth consideration too, but also weather dependant.

      • Lady says:

        Always regretted not seeing Quebec City when we did Toronto then Montreal. I would fly between Toronto and Montreal or take train if there is one as driving between was pretty boring.

        • Doug M says:

          I did train Toronto to Montreal, very easy as city centre to centre. Boring scenery wise but simple option.

      • Lady says:

        Always regretted not seeing Quebec City when we did Toronto then Montreal. I would fly between Toronto and Montreal or take train if there is one as driving between was pretty boring.

    • The Savage Squirrel says:

      “museums, historic sights and good food.”

      My suggestion would be a road trip South out of Washington.
      South along the coast to the Outer Banks
      Across through Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill to Asheville
      Back up along the Blue Ridge Mountains

      History: Washington, Arlington, Civil War battlefields, Richmond, confederate capital, early settlements, Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg, Yorktown seige, Roanoake,, Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk,
      Sights: Charlotte, Chapel Hill (THE perfect college town), Mount Mitchell tallest peak E of mississippi, amazing Blue Ridge Parkway (google it!).
      Blue Ridge will take you back to Shenandoah Valley and Harper’s Ferry, then across past Sharpsburg and Gettysburg. Any spare time and there’s Baltimore too.

      Food: veering from metropolitan Washington, to seafood of NC Outer Banks, to Southern cuisine in NC, to Appalachian (it’s not really squirrel and roadkill).

      Thank me after.

      • Anna says:

        Hi Squirrel, that sounds an awesome road trip but a bit long for 4 days! We did spend 5 days in Virginia a couple of years ago and managed to fit in Washington DC, Gettysburg, Arlington, Fredericksburg (former colleague of OH lives there) and a couple of other places. I’d love to see more of that area.
        The Air and Space Museum near Dulles is packed with an astonishing number of historical pieces, including the Enola Gay, a Blackbird, a Concorde, a space shuttle and planes salvaged from Pearl Harbor!

  • DT says:

    Just noticed that if your phone is in flight mode (or has no signal and wifi), the Hilton app shows your status and milestone progress instead of “Hang tight while we update the rest of the meter for the upcoming year”

  • yohana says:

    there should have been an agreement already for many the choice that it pik at first. if upgrade is available than that would open up my original seat which sauys i can bring one more person

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