Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

The HfP chat thread – Wednesday 28th April

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Comments (290)

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  • MT says:

    Called the BAEC US number to book a return leg for a reward flight and went through straight away only to be told I was “too early” (12:40am BST) and call back again in 10 min. Tried again from 12:50am and the line was continuously busy until 1am when it changed to “offices are now closed”… Checked online and the Avios availability is now gone so someone must have gotten though somehow (or booked online) but a very poor show from BA nevertheless, not impressed!😠

    • Paul says:

      What were you expecting? That they should stay awkwardly on the line with you for 20mins waiting for availability to be released, tying up capacity from answering calls to people whose issue could have been immediately resolved?

      • Anna says:

        That’s rather harsh given that this site is awash with accounts of people calling BA in the early hours and waiting on the line until award seats are loaded to ensure successful bookings.

        MT – are you going to the US or somewhere else with very high taxes on separate bookings? If not could you book inbound seats when they are released tomorrow and claim half the avios back (if you’re using a 241, you don’t give a lot of detail)?

        • MT says:

          Thanks, Anna – it was the inbound from the US with 2-4-1 on FTV. I have done it many times before and never had an issues (asked for all the details and being put on hold until the seats are released to try my luck) but for whatever reason I was told to hung up and call back in 10min… Which obviously did not work! I do appreciate it’s always a bit of a lottery but the agent was not being helpful and sounded like they wanted me off the phone as soon as possible… This is what I think is the most disappointing!

          • Genghis says:

            I’d have booked online and then called in the morning to immediately cancel (within 24 hours), hoping it goes back into reward inventory (v likely) and then ask them to rebook on the 241. If they’re not willing to cancel it, you do it yourself online and then ask them to rebook.

      • Nadeshka says:

        That’s exactly what I’ve done and call centre have always been very happy to help. Not 20 mins, more like 10 once I cleared security.
        They’ve either put me on hold or chatted to me about the holiday plans, and in the latter case they asked to chat as they were bored and tired at nearly 1am and wanted the distraction.

    • Chris Heyes says:

      MT But your unhappiness is someone else’s joy
      Its all just a game win some, lose some that’s how the game works
      Don’t see how its a poor show from BA someone got their tickets
      So it worked fine for BA

    • Nadeshka says:

      Not sure why it changed to offices are now closed, if that’s the US number you could also try the Japan number? I have had success in previous years with that.

      • MT says:

        Thanks, Nadeshka – I did try the Japan office but by the time I got through the seats were gone…😕

    • Jenster says:

      MT – Sorry to hear that. I think I need to do this tonight at 1am as this morning at 6am hardly any seats were left for my return leg (I need 4 CW) Do you have to call the USA phone number? I presume you are charged for an international call? Never gone down this route before.

      • Genghis says:

        Note that only 2 CW are guaranteed. You may get lucky but I doubt it at t-355. I use Skype to dial international numbers but there’s prob better apps.

  • 1ATL says:

    Providing you have sufficient Avios you can always book the one-way you need separately online at midnight then call back later to have the booking amended and the appropriate Avios refunded against the 241
    It’s exactly the same (or used to be) with the UK Gold line that’s open until midnight…. timing is everything. 10 minutes before is probably just too early assuming no queue. My aim was 5-7 minutes Whenever in that position I used to have a few other enquiries to hand to pad out the minutes until the stroke of 12 and then went in for the kill. If you’re in the queue or connected and on the line at closing time they won’t disconnect you.

    • MT says:

      If you book it online then you get the Avios back but the taxes don’t get recalculated and you overpay. I have done it many times before and never had this issue but it is becoming more and more difficult to get any sort of “value” from Avios these days, they should just allow all of this to be done online, it’s 2021!

      • 1ATL says:

        Depends on where you’re redeeming to. Some destinations it works out cheaper to book separately. Swings and roundabouts….

        And yes I get where you’re coming from but for the vast majority of redemptions I’d suggest calling up at midnight isn’t necessary – it’s only needed to key leisure destinations over school and festive holidays.

        Still keep an eye out over the next few days and weeks as those seats you wanted to nab may get released by those who can’t get the seats in the other direction and give up. I’m sure I’ve nabbed some where this has happened before (F from AUH after new year, J from DXB after new year, J from BGI after Easter)

      • Chris Heyes says:

        MT Over pay by a little or no ticket it was your call !
        You just called it wrong, just a learning curve !

        • JLNF says:

          Funnily enough, I was after seats last night, online at 1am, saw the availability drop in, got as far as hitting ‘payment’ and .. the BA website went down. Totally down. Could have cried. Message said try again at 0110. I did get back in and secure the seats, but it was a nervous wait!

        • Anna says:

          If it’s the US, you’re not overpaying by a little, though. When I called to ask for a CW return to be added to an F booking a couple of weeks ago, the You First CSA not only refused to add it, she quoted me £1000 for the return taxes! (I still have need to submit a complaint to BA about this).

          • Michael C says:

            @ Anna – hope you have the basics ready for your trip (this w/end?): tickets/passport/credit cards/currency ;o)

          • MattB says:

            I’ve been misquoted a couple of times. Either hang up and call again if not in a hurry, or in my case it was 2am and had no energy left to argue and just wanted the seats so accepted. Then I called back on the UK line in the morning and got it adjusted. The operator was impressed I knew what they should have been down to the penny.

          • Anna says:

            Michael C – new(ish) passport has been pleading for an outing since December 2019!! Don’t think it’s quite reached that point that you have to show it at Gretna Green though. 🤣

          • Andy says:

            Also I thought that the call centre can get tickets quicker than online? I’ve lost out a few times for that and I was so quick online the only way they could have beaten me is by phoning up!
            Although I do prefer to it online I’m faced with having to do the nightly phone up next month to try and use a FTV 😬 don’t fancy staying up till 1am for a few nights in a row!

    • Nadeshka says:

      Andy – Call centre can grab seats quicker though – they can block seats the moment they are released whereas I believe online transactions only take the seats at checkout. So it’s a bit of fastest finger first if someone enters their details in faster, they get the seats out from your basket!
      On the phone they can reserve them as soon as released and then sort out payment at your leisure (have done it a few days later in one case, gave me the opportunity to retry for different seats the next day).
      I had to call 3 nights in a row in an attempt to get 4 CW seats back from Japan, and as an already sleep deprived parent of a toddler those late nights were particularly frustrating when they only released 2 and I knew I needed to stay up again!

      To Jenster, yes I just load a few dollars of credit on Skype and call through that, never very expensive and worth it to grab the seats.

  • David D says:

    For Anna and anyone else staying in the George or Kimpton Edinburgh, hoping that this does not move onto the Kimpton as well or you may have a busier hotel in Edinburgh than you may be expecting.

    • Anna says:

      Interesting – there was some negative publicity last year about The George’s firing and re-hiring. I have a lot of sympathy for staff who are treated badly by employers though I’m not sure whether it was the George management or IHG which were the instigators.

      • Anna says:

        Though I don’t think The George has even re-opened yet so there wouldn’t have been many people to make the point to!

      • TGLoyalty says:

        There seems to have been this view that furlough was there to support the wages of failing businesses.

        Which is far from the truth a business still has to be viable in its current structure to survive the pandemic.

        Many businesses have made tough decisions on their future business model and the employees that underpin that. I understand it’s frustrating as an employee that’s let go but if the business is failing you’ll all be let go eventually when it goes bust and the whole city will suffer.

        • Anna says:

          Was The George failing though? The pricing (last time I looked) didn’t look as though they were desperate to get guests back through the doors. Both cash and points prices have been looking ridiculous in recent weeks – I was planning a stay in September but feel I can get better value elsewhere.

          • TGLoyalty says:

            Or were the rates high because fixed costs were far too high and lowering the rate for additional high variable costs was futile?

            High rates doesn’t always mean you’re doing well.

            Also take memesweepers point that it’s relatively easy to take that action in the UK

      • Memesweeper says:

        The sad fact is it’s too easy/cheap to do this kind of thing in the UK.

        • Rob says:

          Look at France, where most small businesses do everything in their power NOT to hire staff because of the difficulty in getting rid of them. You also have the added requirements which kick in when you have 50 staff, which means that many French companies artificially restrict their growth to keep under 50 people. Better to have a job with few certainties than no job at all.

          I certainly wouldn’t have taken the (substantial) financial risk of hiring people for HfP if it would have been virtually impossible to fire them if necessary, given that our revenue is driven by a couple of companies who could drop us at any time.

          • Chris Heyes says:

            Rob I actually like the French system although i can understand why people think the English system is considered better.
            I worked for a company (19 years 8 months) Which had a tier Management System in place a Head + 4 Managers (plus under managers)
            The 4 Managers wanted the Head aggressively, which was funny to watch.
            The Head liked me, mainly because I helped him out when I first started
            2 of the Managers didn’t like me, 2 of the managers really liked me
            of the two that didn’t like me one was fair, but the other did all he could to get rid of me (I found that funny as well, because i always got the better of him)
            the funniest bit was when he gave me a warning and when i appealed to the Manager who didn’t like me, but was fair.
            The warning was rescinded and he was given a final warning by the “Head” and told he had to beg me to forgive me otherwise he would be sacked, he never bothered me again after that in fact he turned out quite nice lol

          • Genghis says:

            My French colleagues get away with murder and don’t really have to do any work.

            I keep a **** log where I record and keep evidence of indiscretions. It’ll be expensive to get rid of me.

          • Memesweeper says:

            Well , it seems the Guardian agrees with me:

            I’m not of the view we should make redundancy as hard as it is in France/Germany. You are absolutely correct that jobs are not created in those economies because of the difficulty in firing for poor performance, or making people redundant. But fire-and-rehire is insidious, and employees need protection from powerful employers exploiting them at a time of weakness.

          • Lady London says:

            ‘indiscretions’ financial, or more of a human nature, @Genghis?

            I too am shocked at the expectations of French workers. Mollycoddling demanded and yet actual work doesn’t seem to be a driving purpose sometimes. I have a feeling management privileges higher.

          • Genghis says:

            @LL whatever really: failure to disclose to regulator, breaches of Equality Act etc. Good to have stuff in the back pocket to negotiate a potential departure.

      • Axel says:

        It was The George not IHG who treated the staff so badly.

        I’ve taken on one of the the over 80 staff that were laid off abruptly from the Walford Caledonia last summer. Without the transactions altlantic business none of these hotels will survive in Edinburgh

        • aDifferentSimon says:

          “Walford Caledonia”
          Get outta my hotel!

        • Andrew says:

          Transatlantic business, Fringe…

          I used to work for an Edinburgh based financial company, we could have 50 colleagues staying in the Carlton Highland some nights*, our team of 20 spent 3 months in there at one point. I suspect the switch to online courses and closures of vast swathes of branches since the 2008 financial crisis hit some hotels very hard indeed off-peak (pre-Covid).

          *Conference season and we’d practically block book the Caledonian a year in advance.

  • Steve says:

    Anyone found a way to bend into AJ Bell? Tried Solihull and it failed.

    • Kim Philby says:

      No, but I have managed to shoe-horn into Marconi. I used Stoke-on-Trent via Singapore. I have also shovelled into Aberdeen using Cockapoo!

    • Sam says:


    • Steve says:

      Attempt was Unfronted

    • JP says:

      There is an option if you have a card that is no longer available to new customers….

      • Steve says:

        Afraid I don’t, looks like I’m slumming it with the debit card masses on this one then!

    • Reney says:

      Tried Bendy with beardy and creation and also che topped up with creation. That is all the options I have and none of them worked.

      • JP says:

        Yes those ones stopped a while ago, and creation was always a bit funny and had to be done in small amounts.

  • YC says:

    Any concerns with having too many amex supp cards? For a couple who holds 3 main cards each, is 12 amex cards in total looking like taking the ps?

    • Andrew says:

      As long as they are for real people you’re fine. I’ve got 6 supps off my Plat and 2 off my BAPP, so that’s 10 cards in total. I’m sure others have many more.

    • Travel Strong says:

      3 cards each, 6 total, and a supp on each? Totally reasonable and normal as far as supps go.

    • Anna says:

      Holding a supp doesn’t count as having a card in any way which would affect things like credit rating or applications for other cards.

      • YC says:

        Thanks all – just didn’t want to raise any red flags as relationship with amex is valued

  • Bs says:

    Missed this: Heathrow refused permission by CAA to increase landing fees by requested amount. Instead they are allowed to increase by about 30p per passenger.

  • Anna says:

    Spain has announced they will accept vaccinated UK tourists from June – I haven’t seen any clarification about what happens with children and whether younger/unvaccinated travellers will be allowed in with a negative test.
    Not the best news for anyone who’s booked to travel in the second half of May. I suspect there will be a few half term trips booked and as this falls into May AND June this year it’ll cause a few problems!

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Always read past the headlines.

      Tests and proof of past infection will be allowed under the EU digital health pass scheme.

      • Anna says:

        How are children going to be able to get digital health passes though? Can they have a separate account on a parent’s phone?

        • TGLoyalty says:

          Under 11’s are already exempt for lots of these things and the PLF for coming back to U.K. will be digitally linked to your passport number so you shouldn’t need a pass on a phone.

          For entry abroad Good excuse for over 11’s to get that smartphone they’ve been begging for or stick to the paper alternatives and it’s a slower route via immigration rather than egates.

    • Andrew says:

      And we still need to come up with a way of showing we have been vaccinated.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Shapps reckons that’s going to be the NHS App

        Which isn’t hard since you give your NHS number for registering tests and the jab doses.

        • Peter K says:

          Depends where you have your jab. I wasn’t asked for this and my jabs were not registered on my patient access account.

          • TGLoyalty says:

            well yeah I think its England and Wales only in the first place and Shapps only talks for England?

            There is probably a way to get your doctors records updated from the vaccine card if it wasn’t logged at the vaccine site.

      • Wollhouse says:

        Very true! My friend has had both her vaccines in Scotland where she lives. She had a business trip with English colleagues to Thailand. Thailand requires quarantine in an approved hotel, at your expense. IF you have had both your vaccinations, and have 2 negative tests whilst in quarantine, you are released after 7 days; if you haven’t had the vaccinations, it’s 10 days. In Scotland you get no proof of your vaccinations at time of vaccination. When she called her local doctor’s surgery requesting a copy of her medical records so she could show she had had her jabs, the practice refused. She escalated to the practice manager who advised that they were following Scottish Gvt Guidance and absolutely refused to provide same (yes, we’re aware this is her OWN medical records we’re talking about!!) Unfortunately, her final jag was right before she was due to travel and the entry forms for the Thai embassy had to be submitted so she didn’t have time to argue and had to submit without proof. So, she’s now sitting in quarantine for ten days whilst her English colleagues will be released after 7. She was unimpressed….

        • Andrew says:

          The GP Practices will swiftly come around when they are inundated with formal Subject Access Request that they cannot (usually) charge for.

    • Yuff says:

      I am in this situation with one of our bookings, the other is Dubai but leaning less and less to flying to the UAE at half term.
      It looks like Spanish islands will be on the green list when the list is released and mainland Spain on amber.
      Ryanair have cancelled my wife and daughter’s flight on the 30th and re-booked for the 3rd june……that’s handy. There is a a flight on the 29th May which they can change to…….
      Waiting for updates……
      On another note I cannot get the nhs app to show my vaccination status , do I need to phone my GP’s surgery?

    • ankomonkey says:

      We’re booked to Canary Islands at half-term – 28/5-4/6/21. 2 adults will have both had first dose but not second; 2 kids will be unvaccinated. Using final Marriott Travel Package certificate before current expiry date. To add mole sauce to the chorizo, with the EU 6 months on passport rule, I can only travel until 5/6/21!

      Desperately hoping this all comes off, but appreciate there are many things that need to align. I keep praying to the Gods of Mount Teide…

  • Pete M says:

    A masterclass in how not to run a vaccine programme: some German states, including Berlin, have decided to allow under-60s to have the AZ shot if they request it – thereby removing the strict age/occupation requirements that are in place for the “better” vaccines. Queue every man and his dog booking numerous appointments at various GPs in the city, hoping to nab an AZ shot ASAP (you don’t need to be registered with a GP to book and get an appointment, your health insurer will pay for you to see any of them). Result? It is now practically impossible to see a GP in Berlin sooner than 1-3months from now, because all their appointments have been taken and they can’t just clear them as they don’t know what they are for. So tough luck if you need a repeat prescription or actually have a medical issue… Oh, and to boot, a lot of the GPs don’t actually have AZ stock, as that is still not arriving in sufficient quantities.

    • Oh! Matron! says:

      My German colleague, in his 20s, mentioned this to me this week, and I was gobsmacked! And then I spoke to a good friend in Finland, and they are at 33% vaccine rollout. So, this is nothing to do with the EU, but individual states…. It kinda makes BoJo look semi competent!

    • Lord Doncaster says:

      Oh to hark at German efficiency

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