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The HfP chat thread – Friday 7th May

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We are running 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 (320)

  • Lol says:

    I posted this mid evening last night and no one replied as probably not seen by many at that time. Apologies for repost. I transferred a few Melia points to BAEC yesterday as a test and although the Melia account immediately showed the transfer I’ve had nothing appearing on my BAEC one. Early days I know, but I hoped it might be immediate. Does anyone know how long it usually takes? I know it’s not very good value but I have quite a lot of Melia points and just wanted to see what is possible in case I suddenly need more Avios for a big redemption.

    • Russ says:

      No idea sorry but think we need another Melia review to go alongside Marriott and Hilton. hinty-hinty Rob, Rhys.

    • MinR says:

      Takes about a week to appear on BAEC

      I transferred some on 11th March. Transaction posted immediately on Melia, but appeared on BAEC on 16/17th March.

  • Imran says:

    Can you take an insurance company to MCOL for rejecting your travel insurance claim?

    I am being fobbed off by an insurer for 2 holidays which I booked in 2019, before the pandemic was in sight. But I had to cancel those as the travel dates were in March & May 2020, when the pandemic was in full force. They are refusing to pay up saying that any travels after WHO declared the pandemic on 18 March are ineligible for a claim. The fact that I booked these travels in 2019 doesn’t carry any weight in their books.

    Any help/tips in this regard would be appreciated. Thanks.

    • Lady London says:

      did your terms as purchased have an exclusion for pandemics? or even epidemics?

      If you’re certain you’re covered within the terms you received on the date of purchase (later term or policy changes don’t count) then raise an official conplaint and follow their procedure. If negative or no result after 8 weeks go to Ombudsman (FOS). After these delays I’d be looking for statutory interest of 8% to be paid too but I have no idea if you have a right to this.

      Are you willing to mention which brand name insurance/which underwriter?

      • Imran says:

        @Lady London: The insurance was purchased through my work, but paid for by me personally. The insurance was underwritten at the Lloyds of London and sold to my employer through an intermediary. So the insurer is the Lloyds of London really.

        I should have mentioned about my experience with FOS. I filed a complaint with FOS in June last year but they haven’t even started with the complaint citing how busy they are. I called them last week and was surprised to know that the complaint is still waiting for an investigator to be assigned. I am thinking of withdrawing the FOS complaint and do a MCOL, if that is possible.

        • Genghis says:

          If you do go to MCOL / FOS, your counterparty will be the name at Lloyds, not Lloyds of London.

          • Wollhouse says:

            Imran- Ghengis is correct- Lloyds of London is the room; they don’t underwrite anything- a syndicate will have underwritten your policy and they’re who’ll you need to name. But this info should be specified within your policy or you can ask

        • Lady London says:

          If you purchased through your work is there someone you could go through that is responsible for the relationship? Have a word and ask them to get the basis for rejection (ie which numbered clause existing in the conditions made known to you at your time of purchase) or delay from the insurance co. Explain you are on the point of MCOLing it and just want to make sure there isn’t any good reason before you do.

          The FOS’s rate paid by any company for every claim made against them has gone up to £750 btw. But FOS is swamped so I would MCOL as well now. The corporate relationship might possibly help.

    • Sandra says:

      Fairly certain travel insurance comes under the Financial Ombudsman Service for complaints (someone with more knowledge than me will probably correct if I necessary) but I think it will also depend what the t & c’s of the actual policy are, firstly are pandemics covered or excluded?

      • Imran says:

        The policy is silent on the pandemic. It has a lot of exclusions but surprisingly pandemic isn’t one of them!

        • Gavin says:

          A travel insurance policy that I had through my girlfriends work specifically excluded any claims arising from epidemics or pandemics, so I was out of luck. But if it’s not mentioned at all then I don’t see why they are claiming that the WHO declaring a pandemic is relevant to your claim…!

          • Lady London says:

            This is why I would claim now by any means necessary. You want to be soon enough to get any money the insurance chain has right back to the Names if necessary, some Syndicates and Names may be overexposed or illiquid and I don’t see why their delays and losses should become yours.

            If it can work I’d withdraw the FOS only after I win the MCOL

            Dont forget to add the MCOL fees, any expenses, plus 8% to your claim for statutory interest. If it’s displaced time you could have spent earning a living having to chase them excessively then whack in a small but fair amount at your professional rate. Not usually awarded at mcol level unless the company has been particularly unreasonably obstructive but this is getting close.

  • Travel Strong says:

    rare positive virgin money experience: Just submitted a missing [email protected] back claim and it was reviewed and credited in about 2-3 minutes! Under FAQ’s I was pleased to find an electronic request form, no letter writing required!

  • Stephan says:

    What’s the most sensible approach of picking up someone by car from Heathrow terminal 5? I think there was an article on it but can’t seem to find it..

    • Simon says:

      Drive to T5, but STOP the car when you get to the short term car park. Then find your passengers. Do NOT pick up strangers. Go back to your car and drive away.

      • Amy Carpenter says:

        This was 2018 mind you but I waited at the drop off and was picked up there no probs.

    • MrHandBaggageOnly says:

      Technically you only have two choices. 1) Use the short term car park and pay the crazy prices – £5.10 for 29 minutes etc. or 2) Park in the Long Stay car park that is free for the first two hours and use the shuttle bus.

      Collecting passengers from the Departures drop-off area is not allowed and sign posted as so. (Although what actually happens if you do actually do it I have no idea.)

      • JDB says:

        You get a ticket – I think £40. They use cameras as well as people to identify / ticket the ‘offence’. It is also anticipated they will charge a drop off fee later this year.

  • Josh says:

    Have to fly to the US in a few weeks for family reasons. Is there anyone who can recommend a travel insurance policy that would cover this? Only there for 3 weeks.

    Am fully vaccinated so I don’t even care about covid health coverage..just the health coverage part for everything else that’s of value!

    • Jonny O says:

      Have you considered buying a US based insurance policy. I have done this in the past and i actually think it will work better should you need a hospital emergency room visit because the US based insurance provider is widely recognized.. have a search for Patriot Platinum Travel medical insurance. Make sure you select a plan that is consistent with your citizenship and residency status.

    • Sam G says:

      battleface covers you for travelling against FCDO advice + covers covid medical expenses, I used it last year for a trip to Colombia (though didn’t have to claim so can’t tell you about that part)

  • Aston100 says:

    I’m about to embark on my plan of culling all Amex cards from Players 1 & 2 bar the Nectar card in order to get the ball rolling on sign up bonuses. Would require us to spend only on the Nectar card for the next 18 months before the first of the 2 year timers resets.

    HOWEVER.
    I’m not convinced the 2 year Amex signup bonus strategy gains overall more miles & points.
    For a start, I’d be limited to cross referring only the BAPP and the Plat every 2 years (plus supplementary cards) between the 2 players else the timers will be prematurely reset.

    I reckon churning cards every 6 months between the 2 players would allow us to also include other Amex cards in the churning, as we wouldn’t be entitled to signup bonuses anyway.

    I reckon too much emphasis is attached to the 2 year gaps and signup bonuses. This may be a distraction from what can be earnt through churning multiple Amex cards.
    I’m not about to apply for any loans anytime so credit score isn’t an issue.

    Anyone know if I’ve missed anything significant here in my naivety?

    • Genghis says:

      Have you run some numbers?

      • Aston100 says:

        I have and I seem to be better off not waiting for 2 years between signups. Plus less need for adhering to strict timeframes.
        Hence why I’m wondering if there is something I’m overlooking here, other than making it potentially harder to get a loan or mortgage (neither of which I currently need).

        • Aston100 says:

          Also, as people pointed out recently, the Nectar card (which would be the main card in use during the 2 year plan) doesn’t seem to get the same volume or quality of offers.

          • Genghis says:

            If it works for you, great. It doesn’t for me.

    • BuildBackBetter says:

      Depending upon your circumstances, you might want to consider business plat and icc plat as well. Won’t suit everyone though.

    • Jayne says:

      Is this going to be a daily question, now?

    • Steve says:

      How about a one year cycle, just focused on BAPP and Plat?

      Hold each card for approx 6 months (or cancel once SUBs/241s hit, keeping Nectar going).

      2021 – player 1 BAPP
      2021 – player 2 Plat
      2022 – player 1 Plat
      2022 – player 2 BAPP
      2023 – start again

  • Joseph Heenan says:

    The BA phone lines seem to be terrible at the moment, apparently because their Indian call centre is closed due to Covid restrictions. I gave up after 45 minutes in the queue.

    I direct messaged them on twitter instead and fairly easily able to get a cancelled (by BA) Avios 2-4-1 flight rebooked for dates without Avios availability.

    There was an initial pushback of ‘no reward availability’, but a “As flight I booked was cancelled by BA I believe it can be changed to these dates regardless of reward availability – there’s still availability in the business cabin on both dates – could you check please?” solved that issue and they came back saying as it was “involuntary” they could rebook to my preferred dates.

    Whether Japan will open for travel any time in the next year is a different matter, sadly I’m not feeling too hopeful.

  • Tical says:

    Just a note to thank Anna and Lady London for their advice in taking BA to MCOL as it refused to re-route following a flight cancellation. Not the quickest process – claim filed in October 2020 with money just hitting my account after BA agreed to settle. That agreement only came once a hearing date was set

    • Pete says:

      Seems to be a fairly common theme – they really do count on an infinitely small percentage of people taking it this far…! Well done though!

    • Lady London says:

      Congratulations.
      Unfortunately many organisations that practise similar tactics operate similarly. Settling shortly before court date or only after MCOL claim submitted – which luckily is easy – or after assignment of court date is the new version of “settling on the court steps”.

      As with many insurance companies, the game is about wearing the claimant out and dragging it out. Based on the more money they can keep hold of for longer, even if it’s by law supposed to be paid to claimant within 7 days, as in EU261, the greater use they can continue to make of the client’s money. Plus the longer it is takes and the more obstructions they can throw up in the person claiming’s path, even little ones like the ones by Virgin Atlantic reported yesterday, the greater chance they will end up not paying out.

      For this reason, if an airline or an insurance company is denying, dragging its feet, or putting up one obstacle after another, you *must* claim absolutely everything you can think of if the company does these dirty tactics or even is just inefficient. Don’t fail to claim any expense you possibly can that might be covered, don’t try to save them money as no favours will be returned by these companies. Add 8% pa statutory interest to the whole amount claimed if they’re not being prompt or force delays by forcing you to mcol.

      Of course if the airline or insurance company deals with your claim promptly and fairly you can make concessions if you want to.

      Remember that if a settlement offer has a gagging order included you don’t have to accept that condition. If you do accept such a condition then depending on how important their good name is to them then I would think an extra 1/3rd of everything on top of would be the absolute minimum but would be interested to hear from any lawyers here on that.

      Thanks for reporting your success @Tical.

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