Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

The HfP chat thread – Friday 15th January

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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.

Please only comment under the main articles on the site if your comment is directly related to the topic of the article.  This has long-term benefits as it keeps the commentary relevant for people who read those articles in the future.

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Comments (259)

  • WaynedP says:

    Repeating an unanswered question by another poster re applying for Virgin Status Match.

    Terms state status lasts for a rolling 12 month period, and offer ends 28 Feb.

    I could apply now as I have a qualifying VA flight booked, but are there any disadvantages to waiting until late Feb to maximise the status benefit ?

    If those who have already successfully applied report that their actual status expiry shows as 28 February 2022 (rather than 12 months from successful status achieved), then I would apply on the spot rather than wait.

    • APPL says:

      I’m not sure where to find status expiry. It says that I need to earn 1k TP by 31 Jan 2022 to remain a Gold member, so I guess it will be valid until end of January.

      • Blindman says:

        +1
        Applied 13th Jan, got notified today. Valid up to Jan 31st 2022

        So maybe best to wait until Feb 1st to apply to get the max time?

    • BS says:

      Status expires end of Jan 2022. I’m sure if you waited it would be Feb 2022. Danger is they pull the offer because everyone is doing it!

    • WaynedP says:

      Thanks for the insights.

      I’ll hold off until next month as I’d prefer to maintain status benefits into Feb 2022 and I think the risk of VS retracting the offer before end Feb is very low.

  • Ben says:

    Not sure if this is of any use to anyone but Virgin cancelled my £999 flight to CPT this month, and I noticed that they if you travel by the end of March they will cover the fare difference. (before everyone jumps on me, i agree travel to South Africa is unlikley by March just for people who are booked to different destinations for business etc)

    If your flight has been cancelled, please see below for your options.
    To make it as easy as possible and for immediate peace of mind, we will automatically keep your ticket open as credit for you to use any time up to 31st December 2022. There’s no fee to make this change, and if you choose to travel on the same route by 31st March 2021, we’ll also waive any differences in the fare. You can change the passenger names if you’d like someone else to benefit from your booking too. See our ‘Flexible No Change Fees’ policy for more details.

    • Anna says:

      If they cancel your flight they have to re-route you under EU261 at no extra cost so this sounds rather sneaky, tbh!

      • Ben says:

        Is that even if it was more than 14 days out? The cancelled at 14 days and 4 hours or something.

        • meta says:

          Yes.

          • Ben says:

            Ok thanks so last question. Would I have a leg to stand on if I left the ticket open till South Africa “reopens” say Oct and ask them to re book or does it have to be on the same day as the original flight just with a different airline if VS doesnt fly there at the moment?

          • Anna says:

            Ben, this has been discussed here many, many times now, if you look back over past chat threads you will find everything you need to know for being in your situation!

    • kitten says:

      Why are you falling for this? BA tries similar. In neither case should you fall for it.

      • kitten says:

        However in the case of Virgin, which like Norwegian seems to have 9 lives, you should also consider your other choice of taking a refund

        • Ben says:

          Sorry what am I falling for?
          Im not that bothered about the refund as its a business trip, what I am bothered about it being able to fly in upper class for that price.

          • WaynedP says:

            @Ben, I’m in similar situation and have re-booked for late March without charge.

            Virgin peak season starts 26 March 2021 (SA schools start breaking up that week for Easter holidays and UK are not far behind), so being able to have all or part of your rebooked journey beyond 26 March without any extra charges represents good value in my opinion.

            Sure, travel to SA may not be possible by then, but if that happens and you have the flexibility, I think it will be beneficial to wait it out until Virgin cancel and offer further options. That’s my own approach.

            BTW, if you haven’t been to CPT in March/April before, I can recommend it as a former Capetonian. Not too crowded (despite school hols), good weather and good diving opportunities if that’s your thing.

          • Ben says:

            @WaynedP sounds like a good choice. I will be waiting to see if the restrictions are lifted and I possible get out there end of March.
            Im very lucky in that I get to go all over SA every quater for a couple of weeks at a time. So would love a bit of winter sun between meetings.

          • WaynedP says:

            You are very lucky, I am envious. Magic place, warm hospitable people. And W Cape will always be God’s own Country for me.
            Just hope the Ox-AZ vaccine reaches SA soon and in vast quantities, so that those that helped in trials can benefit equally from the protection it offers. The need is urgent right now.

          • kitten says:

            Anna has advised correctly

  • ashraj says:

    IHG related- There is a new Kimpton opening in Paris later this year. Looks promising with reward nights at 40k and cash prices over £350 +.

    • Rob says:

      Thanks, will take a look.

    • Anna says:

      D’oh! I booked flights to NCE for August before realising how poor the choice of IHG hotels was (basically if you want Nice ville or a beach location you have overpriced HI’s or really overpriced IC!).

      • Phil W says:

        IC Carlton Cannes is nice. Great deals if booked FH&R and have Ambassador.

        • Tim Rogers says:

          What’s the benefit to combining FH&R and Ambassador? I’d expect them to cover mostly the same benefits.

          • Rob says:

            Some hotels give a double upgrade. Ambassador doesn’t get you free brekky but FHR does.

            I admit if you are booking via FHR there is no need to buy Ambassador on top unless it is over a weekend in which case the free night voucher may beat FHR.

            Remember that bookings via Emyr at some ICs get you free lounge access – we did an article on this once with a list.

  • Vladimir says:

    Tesco vouchers: to convert to avios or not to convert? When is the last day we can initiate a conversion?

    • Rob says:

      In theory 18th is fine.

      I will probably dump my stash. I could potentially do marginally better if I held them but with just £30 of vouchers I would rather have one less thing to think about.

      • Oli says:

        Thinking the same. Just waiting for my Tesco delivery tomorrow before converting Faster vouchers.

        • BuildBackBetter says:

          If you have paid using Tesco card, you’ll have to wait 2 more days as Tesco bank takes time to award points.

        • Genghis says:

          I think you’re pushing it. It takes a day to get the vouchers and IIRC someone reported site maintenance over the weekend. Good luck but I’d be converting now.

        • The real John says:

          Unless you only have 150 points I would be converting all but 150 points to a voucher now, then all but £2.50 to avios. If shopping doesn’t credit in time then you can send the rest over.

    • Genghis says:

      I’m keeping ours in vouchers. Avios are relatively easy to earn elsewhere and there’s still some reasonable options for us once things get back to normal: days out, hotels.com, Intrepid, the restaurants on a weekend etc.

    • Dan says:

      Yep – I’ve all but given up on a Avios bonus so bit the bullet and transferred over £41 over to Avios keeping enough for the Virgin 2000 miles bonus.

    • Sandra says:

      I did a faster conversion using the app late Weds evening and avios landed in my account today, transaction in BA account dated yesterday, credit dated today.

  • Louie says:

    Clubcard Virgin autoconvert bonus. I’ve not earned any CC points this quarter but I do have change from a voucher (the balance of which was converted to Avios). Is that enough to qualify for the autoconvert bonus (as I will get a voucher for the change in the current quarter) – or does it need to be new spend?

    • Genghis says:

      The “change” will come back as points and so as long as >250 cc points in any subaccounts you might have (confusing terminology perhaps, but don’t worry if you don’t have Tesco Bank) they’ll then go over to Virgin.

      However, actually sending points over to Virgin didn’t used to be the determinant for getting the autoconvert bonus. Things might have changed as we’ve not the bonus for the last few times but I’ve signed us up again – who knows, might get lucky!

  • Louie says:

    Next question. Does anyone know how much the taxes etc are on a clubbusiness class return Avios trip LHR – SYD? I don’t think BA’s website will tell me as there is no availability so I can’t do a dummy booking.

    • Jody says:

      It’s around £750 each I think. Can’t remember exactly how much, but we had avios flights to USA, which we then changed to Australia (and have since changed back!) and I remember being surprised that the taxes weren’t much different to the taxes to the US. It was something like an additional £83 each from the flights we had booked in to Seattle and out of Vancouver (or the other way round) for flights to Sydney.

    • Alex says:

      A good tactic for this is to book a cash fare on the dates you want, same cabin obviously. Look at the fare breakdown and the taxes should be very similar if not identical. I always do this when checking and it’s never been more than £10’s out from what I end up actually paying on my reward flight.

      • Alex says:

        A quick look on BA for a flight in January next year return pops out £764.74 in taxes per person

        • Louie says:

          Thanks. Why do BA make it so hard to find what a redemption flight would cost? I can’t see anything on their website that tells you how many Avios you would need either, which is ridiculous (and it used to be there). Just as well Flyertalk has a nice simple distance table.

  • David says:

    I would like to try out BA First whilst it’s still around. Given we now have Club Suites, is there an argument to be made that CW is now a better option? What are the benefits that First gives you over CW (besides for intrinsic satisfaction)? Would love to know the thoughts of those that have flown First and CW…
    For the route I would like to travel F just requires more Avios vs CW and not much difference in taxes so question is not ‘is it worth it’ more ‘is it better’!

    • DeB20 says:

      For me it has always been the space, the quality of food and drink, as well as the service in First, that makes the difference. Club World does not compare, Club Suite gives one privacy with the door, but service, food choices and quality are no match for First.

    • Rhys says:

      First is an all-round more exclusive product. Better lounge (Concorde Room) and service, but also a much smaller cabin. There’s a reason Club World is called ‘the dormitory’ on some aircraft!

      • Rob says:

        I am not convinced. If you want a proper F experience then you won’t get getting it on BA. For an overnight back to the UK, with no special lounge access, there isn’t a lot of value.

    • Neil says:

      Also you get to call YouFirst which can be very useful when things change

    • Colin MacKinnon says:

      F was better for me because of more space than CW and, critically, not paying to choose a CW seat. From Scotland, all my short-haul is low-cost direct and long-haul on points – so no BA status.

      Food – not happy with BA in either class, especially ex-USA. Service quieter in F, so can sleep better.

      New CW is a bit of a game changer – not many Bad Seats! So only being able to choose at check-In not an issue. Perk of travelling from Scotland on outbound is the early check in, so this only applies to return.

      Risk is always that equipment changes mean last minute swap from CS to CW.

      Final thought. Book F and you might get downgraded to CS if there is an equipment change and be due a nice compo!

    • Andrew says:

      Totally agree with the other comments – First is a far superior product and the door on the Club Suite doesn’t in anyway make up for the lower standards in every other aspect. For me Club World is not at the required standard, so I will only fly First with BA, but happy to fly business class with other airlines which have much higher standards of food and service such as Qatar.

    • David says:

      Thank you all for your interesting opinions! Despite Rob’s reservations, I will definitely be giving it a go as soon as possible 🙂

      • Anna says:

        You can have the best of both worlds, F out on a day flight with lounge, YouFirst, seat selection, etc, and J back using less avios but still getting lounge access and a flat bed.

        • AJA says:

          ^ This. Go for First outbound, Club Suite / Old Club World yingyang inbound.

          • Alex says:

            I agree – I find F on the outbound during more often than not a day flight and then J on the return which is often a night flight. For East coast USA i would however suggest first both ways and choose a day flight. Flying from New York on a night flight isn’t really long enough to sleep properly once you’ve eaten etc so I tend to pick a day flight and still go first.

            As others have said it isn’t the best product BY FAR however I would recommend you definitely do it – for you it might be worth the extra avios, it might not be. You’ll only know if you try it

    • GaryC says:

      I think First is a worthwhile upgrade in either direction of travel across the pond. My company travel policy is J by default, but allows individuals to pay the difference for F. My most typical TATL route was LHR-BOS, and I unlike most of the suggestions on this thread I would typically upgrade the BOS-LHR leg when paying with my own money. Reasoning behind that was twofold: (1) my CCR card got me lounge access at LHR, but doesn’t get you access to the First dining area at Logan, which I think is a real step up from the rest of the lounge in terms of service and food. (2) Some wine and a melatonin at dinner, a request to the cabin crew that you want to bed down asap after wheels up, and the comfier bed, smaller cabin with less chance of being disturbed, means the F cabin actually allows you to maximise sleep on the short return leg.

  • dezbez says:

    Hello – a couple of questions about Fine Hotels & Resorts pls, which I’m hoping the collective wisdom on here can help with…..
    1. Do you need to have the Plat Amex both at the time of booking and when you stay ie do you have to use the Plat card to pay? (or do you pay when you book)
    2. Do stays booked through FHR eg at a Marriott count towards status, points, reward nights etc?
    TIA

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