Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

The HfP chat thread – Thursday 22nd April

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Comments (279)

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  • yorkieflyer says:

    Telegraph reporting that The US State Department has heightened its travel warning against the UK, now categorising it as ‘Level Four: Do Not Travel’. This is the strongest advisory rating, indicating a “very high level of COVID-19”. Some 116 countries have also been reclassified as ‘Do Not Travel’, including Canada, France, Germany and Israel.
    Seems an odd decision but will jinx many folks plans and not be welcome news for Virgin Atlantic I suspect?

    • Andrew says:

      Reuters are reporting this, so yes, looks like no US travel this summer after all which is a shame as I thought that might be the one place we could actually travel to reasonably freely:
      https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-adds-about-100-countries-its-do-not-travel-advisory-list-2021-04-21/

      • kitten says:

        It sounds like the US wanted to give clear guidance to US residents who may have been thinking of visiting Europe this year, France and the UK presumably being particular favourites

    • Liam says:

      It’s possible that this is just an update that they should have got round to months ago and that it doesn’t preclude some review in the UK’s favour in a month or two, but it doesn’t look promising. Selfishly, I (a Brit living in the US) have my wedding in Chicago in September so am dearly hoping they find a way to ensure people can travel from the UK before we have to confirm everything around mid-July. I was hopeful, given the vaccine rollout in both the US and the UK, but this development makes me a little less hopeful.

      • Andrew says:

        Selfishly I’m hoping for September too as I have a trip to New York booked, but in this pandemic, weeks turn into months turn into 6 months and nothing changes so I’m a little less hopeful after reading this.

        • APB says:

          In the same boat with redemption flights to California in September, F both ways. Booked when they were 10 a penny but now rare as hen’s teeth. Redeeming a load of hotel points with stays booked at the absolute bottom of the market too so if it doesn’t happen it’ll be a nightmare to recreate at any similar cost/quality.

      • Anna says:

        This must be so annoying Liam, especially as Americans have been travelling pretty freely to Mexico and the Caribbean all this time. Mexico is in a really bad way by the sound of it!

    • Jonathan says:

      I couldn’t see any quarantine free travel between the UK and the US happening at all in 2021 long before this news was reported.

      Any country where the mutant strains of COVID-19 have been around will always be extremely risky for all travellers

      • TGLoyalty says:

        “Mutant strain” there a 40k mutations out there.

        Variants of concern might be a better way to put it but even then similar mutations to the Kent strain have taken place in California and NYC and it’s already the dominant strain across most countries.

        Sounds like some strange old news working it’s way though.

    • Anna says:

      How does this relate to our ever-increasing vaccination numbers and infections going the other way equally dramatically?

      • Anna says:

        And where do we go in the summer now? I’m bored silly with the UK, don’t fancy Gibraltar or Malta, can’t afford the Maldives and can’t get into Aus or NZ!

        • Andrew says:

          I fear we’ve run out of options then – travel this summer will be all but non-existent I think, possibly even less than last summer. It’s the threat of variants which places with high vaccination numbers are worried about and that undoing their vaccination efforts, which is possibly why the UK is is off the list for travel from the US as they fear we might still be a melting pot of variants.

          • kitten says:

            Do you blame them?

          • Anna says:

            Well if I do book anywhere else you can be assured it will be on a no fly list a few days later!!

          • Yorkieflyer says:

            No, but ‘hard working families’may find they can’t travel due to a combination of quarantine, expensive tests, being unvaccinated

        • Yolo says:

          Be careful, someone will tell you it’s your patriotic duty to spend your money on a UK staycation.

          • Anna says:

            Lol – I had a staycation last week, thanks, though due to pretty much nothing being open we mostly spent money on takeaways!

        • QFFlyer says:

          I’m the other way round, bored silly with Australia but can’t go anywhere else…with the NZ bubble now open, guess I’ll be heading there a few times over winter. Wish I could visit the UK now, family etc., but can’t easily leave Australia and getting back home would be even more difficult with the entry caps.

      • Alan says:

        If any mutations really can get round the vaccine they will take off as we open up and in a couple of months we will be back to square one.

        Fingers crossed they won’t, we have a California trip booked for October and until I saw this I was reasonably confident we would get to go.

    • Anna says:

      How up to date can this list be given that Israel, the UK, France & Canada are all placed in the same (highest) category, and even travel to New Zealand comes with a warning! Surely Americans are much more likely to catch Covid in the us than in NZ (if NZ was letting them in, of course)?

      • meta says:

        This is misleading reporting. If you read US papers, almost the entire world has been put under No travel advisory. As reported ad nauseum elsewhere this is just in preparation to relax restrictions for some countries. It concerns Americans and their travel and not citizens of other countries.

        It will then be easier to just say 8-10 countries are good to go rather than messing about with the traffic light system.

        • Yorkieflyer says:

          Pretty much the same nonsensical approach we’ve had with FCDO advice making it difficult to travel due to insurance problems. This became a tool of government policy rather than what it previously had been, an honest assessment of risk to a traveller

    • BSI1978 says:

      Not surprising I guess, although selfishly having seen some reasonable deals to SFO of late, I am disappointed. Glad I didn’t pull the trigger on these at the weekend.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Or you will be disappointed you didn’t as USA has opened up.

        • IanM says:

          The recommendations are not mandatory and do not bar Americans from travel.

          • Pete M says:

            Meta is spot on – I am so irritated by these sensationalist / clickbaity reports in the supposedly decent Telegraph and Times. This isn’t really news or likely relevant to us!

  • SwissJim says:

    Just got off a call with Amex to cancel my BAPP card (not really wanting to cancel, wanting a retention bonus – not a sniff of that). They suggested this was a bad idea, as I would forfeit my BA Companion vouchers (I have 3), as taxes needed to be paid for on an Amex card in MY name. I challenge that strongly, stating that my understanding was that taxes had to be paid on ANY Amex card. They said that was wrong.

    Is this new news? Is the person I’m talking to talking rubbish (and does anyone have confirmation from BA on this point?). Of course, I’m about to see if I can find the terms, but last thing I’d want to do is forfeit the vouchers…..

    And (a point I’m not sure of) does the payment need to be made on an Amex card OF SOMEONE TRAVELLING, or literally any card?

    Of course, I can move to the free card if I want – but not sure that’s really what I want to do.!

    Thanks

    • Andrew says:

      If you weren’t really wanting to cancel but just wanted a retention offer why don’t you just change to the free BA card if you want to save the annual fee?

      • SwissJim says:

        Because it prevents me re-applying in 2 years time and getting the sign-up bonus (I know, long view…). And if I have to hold a BA Amex card, I’d rather just spend the £10,000 (it’s not that hard for me fortunately, in usual times at least…).

        • yorkieflyer says:

          if you keep the blue card you can of course upgrade just before spending £10k in your year to get the voucher

    • Genghis says:

      Not new.

      De jure it’s in the terms, “The Cardmember is responsible for paying any Taxes, Fees and Charges relating to their Companion Voucher booking. All Taxes, Fees and Charges must be paid for using the British Airways American Express Card.”https://www.britishairways.com/en-gb/executive-club/modalContent/executive-club/avios/collecting-avios/credit-cards/uk/credit-card-companion-voucher-terms-conditions.html

      De facto, any Amex in any name, traveller or not.
      De facto, you won’t lose your vouchers

      • SwissJim says:

        Thanks Genghis. Though the suggestion reading the above is any BA Amex (not any Amex at all). Which would mean even if I switched to Platinum (a possibility, though I’m still just within my 2 year window – annoying given the current hiked sign-up bonus…) I would have to also hold BA (even if only free) or know someone who does…. Though in practice maybe the rule’s not rigorously enforced (not a risk with 3x vouchers I think I’d be prepared to take).

        • Genghis says:

          Indeed – but only per rules, not in practice. I wouldn’t worry. I’ve done it for years. Even used a mate’s Amex during my ban.

      • JDB says:

        I think “the” in front of the BA American Express Card might suggest it is the voucher earning card that is required, but is not enforced. Another condition that exists, but appears not to be applied is that you must still hold the voucher earning card at the time of travel – “Cardmembers must remain eligible for this promotion at the time of travel.”

    • Anna says:

      This is how the “pay the taxes” works in practice. I booked a 241 flight last week and said I was using my OH’s card (with bonus avios offer) to pay the “taxes” (he was there so could have confirmed he was allowing this, and I forgot they don’t do name verification). CSA said it was my 241 so it had to be my card which had earned the voucher. That card is actually closed, so instead I just gave details of my supp card on OH’s account and it went through fine. I should have just given OH’s card details to start with but it was early and my brain hadn’t woken up 🤣

    • TicknBash says:

      Did exactly the same last week as my year is up end of this month – just after triggering another 241 (3 in the bank too).

      Was offered 1 extra Avios on my spend for the next 3 months – and I think fellow Hfp Aston100 got the same.

      • Swiss Jim says:

        Clearly I drew the short straw…. oh well, all part of the game, win some, lose some, but always up!

  • Ali says:

    ** Update from my run-in with Lloyds last week **

    Someone from their compliance team called today and refused to let me continue with my current account. I apologised profusely for opening up multiple current accounts, but he wasn’t ready to listen to any excuses. They had already made up their mind before they called me. As a result, they have closed my oldest current account. I feel absolutely gutted. 🙁 Those few hundred quids in switch incentives came at a great personal loss to me!

    The officer also mentioned that I might not be able to open new accounts with other banks in the group in the future. This has caused me a great amount of worry. I suspect they have left some markers on my credit file. Please can someone tell me how to find out about the markers on a credit file.

    • BuildBackBetter says:

      Unless you are losing some rewards or points, closing your current account isn’t the end of the world. There are banks better than Lloyds, but best not mess around if you want to retain your account.
      Am not sure they can leave anything on your credit file.

    • mutley says:

      I’m sure that banks are not allowed to keep markers on individuals after a certain amount of time. If you suspect they have then write to the ICO.

      Don’t worry, from personal experience You WILL be able to open a bank account with another provider.

      • Blenz101 says:

        They can keep the marker for as long as they want.

        Legislation allows them to retain it for as long as it is needed and no more. If a lifetime bank then say a retention of 50 years.

        CIFAS is similar but does have an official appeal system in place to get the marker removed.

        The bank can mark your record how they like provided it is accurate. No real right for them to provide anybody a service if they don’t want to do business.

        • mutley says:

          I bow to your greater knowledge in these matters, however the fact remains that Ali can change banks without fear that any marker ( deserved or not) will not affect his future banking relationship with another provider.

          I know for a fact that a well known Bank has a marker on my good self ( largely for having them over for £65K a dozen years ago). The same bank offered my business a bounce bank loan last month which I gleefully accepted and raised an ironic glass to them, despite banking with one of their competitors for the last decade.

          • Blenz101 says:

            Of course. I said the bank can hold the marker for as long as they deem reasonable, i.e. it isn’t like a credit record where 6 years is the limit to record “behaviour”. If they want to ban for life (or offer a one per lifetime offer) then they can keep a record for this purpose for a reasonable period, the expected life expectancy.

            They can’t of course influence other banks currently.

            The CIFAS marker if they do place one is completely open to challenge and a quick look on their website will show the route to do this.

            Lloyds are open to challenge if the information they hold is inaccurate, it can be corrected. However, the decision to decline to offer an account after an internal investigation is not something that is legislated for.

    • Genghis says:

      Do a subject access request under GDPR on CIFAS if concerns.

      Just for the craic (or if you’re planning on taking further, say if you’ve suffered a loss), do one against Lloyds. There’s likely to be email trails, compliance system records etc which may provide some more colour. If not included, question completeness of records provided.

    • Lady London says:

      Sounds like they had made up their mind and weren’t going to listen to an appeal from the local branch Saturday staff?

      Keep tabs on which other-named financial institution might be or become part of Lloyds TSB Group in future. You don’t want to waste any future applications. I am not sure how long it would take for this not to matter any more.

      If @Ali waited, say, 3-6 months for records to be updated, does the legislation give him a right to request a copy of all data Lloyds TSB Group has on him?

      Also how would he go about detecting any other markers to beware of such as CIFAS?

      • 747_Brat says:

        @LL: Not sure about the questions you posed. But I believe Lloyds and TSB went their separate ways and are 2 different banking groups now!

        • JDB says:

          Yes, TSB is no longer part of the Lloyds Banking Group, but Halifax and Bank of Scotland, amongst others are still part of the group.

        • Adder says:

          Correct – TSB is owned by (Spanish) Banco Sabadell.

          Other brands in Lloyds Banking Group (LBG) inlcude Halifax, Bank of Scotland, Birmingham Midshires, Scottish Widows and MBNA, among others.

    • IanM says:

      No real sympathy for people that try and game the system, spoils it for everyone

      • Blenz101 says:

        Nothing wrong with gaming the system but it really has to be done with eyes wide open.

        Messing with the old established banking groups, PayPal, Amex etc is asking for trouble. As is leveraging credit in the event of a KYC request.

        Rinsing a niche credit card or fintech is not the end of the world (for the user). When the game is up just move on and make sure proof of funds is available.

        Cutting yourself off from a major banking group if you have a mortgage is never going to be worth a few hotel point or airmiles. And that is without the potential CIFAS marker!

    • @mkcol says:

      I genuinely don’t understand the distress of losing your longest held current account 🤷🏼‍♂️

  • trader363 says:

    Any opinions on whether the UAE will be open for travel in October?

    • Blenz101 says:

      Yes. The UAE will be open. Dubai is hosting the delayed Expo2020 that month. Everything here has been open as normal just socially distanced for the past year.

      How the U.K. behaves towards international travel is another matter.

  • ComeFlyWithMe says:

    Has anybody had issues with HH from BCard posting if above 99,999 points? Had quite a bit of taxes to pay as somehow two months of decent sized tax/company payments fell into the one billing period. Spend of £51,300 should equal 102,600 HH points, but instead 2,600 HH points seem to be reported on BCard and posted in HH account (i.e. the first digit drops off). Not sure how to approach this – anyone?

  • GEORGE says:

    Anybody know if BA are changing their short-haul summer schedule again? Flights booked from LHR to MLA (originally LGW to MLA but recently changed) in July have disappeared from flight schedule (i.e. can’t seem to book additional seat) – anyone encountering anything similar?

    • Andy says:

      I had some LCY flights for the summer cancelled this morning, although the BA Cityflyer schedule might be managed separately from LHR/LGW

    • Lottie says:

      i had my July LHR to MLA flights cancelled and moved for me onto different flights today. i had a Friday flight out and back which BA moved to Saturday to Thursday.

      • George says:

        Did BA email you? Looking on ‘Manage my Booking’ the flights don’t appear to be cancelled, but if I look to book another seat on the flight it doesn’t appear to be showing.

        • Lottie says:

          They did, I got two separate emails one for just the outbound and one for the return and outbound together. I haven’t checked for alternative flights yet I’ll wait and see what the next government advice is first.

      • David says:

        They did something very odd with my Malta flights in July cancelled my Saturday flights and moved them to Monday. When I phoned up and told them there was availability at a diffent time on Saturday they moved them back to Saturday !

  • Secret Squirrel says:

    I read today on a FB group dedicated to Amex Platinum U.K. that if you call up Amex they will apply the recent Waitrose offer if you had not received it. Does this sound correct before I call them?

    • Blenz101 says:

      Generally they won’t apply offers saying they are targeted.

      No harm in asking if others have had luck.

      • Andrew says:

        Do you mean the £175 credit? That wasn’t targeted, it was for all, but you needed to hold the card before a certain date in early Jan (I think it was) – so if you are a new member then it will probably be a no, but if you’ve had the card since last year then they should apply it if you had been missed by the IT.

      • Aston100 says:

        I asked them to add a Dell offer which had appeared on all bar one of our cards.
        They said the offers are targeted but they’d look into it.
        They added the Dell offer a couple of days later.

  • bafan says:

    Listening to AA’s Q1 conference call and Doug Parker has been asked twice about US-UK corridor. Saying that they’re actively engaged with the Biden administration and that they know there is significant demand and that they’re hoping for a US-UK corridor specifically but nothing new to report.

    • bafan says:

      They’re saying if the EU opened tomorrow it would take a minimum of 45 days to actually operate a service, and that they think a big chunk of potential international summer traffic has decided to stay in the US so any planned service would reflect that.

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