Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

The HfP chat thread – Saturday 15th May

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Comments (374)

  • John says:

    Vodafone have contacted me to say my roaming use has exceeded its acceptable policy, it seems it’s max 62 days in a four month period. Due to CV19 I haven’t been able to return to the U.K. for some time. Within 14 days, roaming, which was included in my plan will be chargeable.

    Might I have any recourse? Do any other carriers come to mind that don’t have such a strict policy?

    • James says:

      Doesn’t seem unreasonable tbh.

    • ChrisC says:

      O2 has a fair use policy that says “periodic travel for holidays and short breaks”

      It also deems it as unfair if you use it more that 63 days abroad in 4 months.

      So I don’t think vodaphones policy is out of line.

      What recourse are you expecting? Carriers will have variations on what they deem is fair use. There is only a certain amount of flexibility they will tolerate as roaming can cost them quite a bit.

      I’d you are going to be out of the UK for much longer it’s probably going to be best to get a plan from a company in the country you are in.

      • Andy says:

        Chris C is right. You will find it difficult to maintain a UK SIM if you are not here. You may get lucky with a smaller network, but you could spend hours searching the terms and conditions.

        Depending on the country you are stuck in, look for a local SIM: if data is cheap then use Skype for calling and texting international numbers like a real phone and WhatsApp for calling friends. Or find a local SIM that offers cheap international calls (like Lebara in the UK).

        Good luck.

    • Yuff says:

      Switch to EE, no problems in Europe 3 of our 4 mobile numbers on my account have been using data in Spain since January 9th, our son uses a fair bit of data.
      I haven’t had any contact about it from EE.

      • Tom H says:

        +1 my wife used ee in Canada for an entire year without issue

        • KBuffett says:

          Read EE’s terms, they have a similar policy to the other networks. So you’re just betting on them not enforcing it.

      • Yorkie Aid says:

        I have never had any problems with Three. In normal times I am usually in USA for nearly 6 months (in one stretch) every year. To be fair I am not a heavy user as I have a US service as well but I do receive quite a few calls per day on the Three number.

        • Chris Jones says:

          I also have 3 sim carding in Austria for 2 years. Mostly only incoming calls as have a local phone but no issue. Its payg.

    • BJ says:

      Call them and explain. My own experience with Vodafone in this respect has been brilliant, they just applied multiple promo offers to my account to cover extra needs. This was pre-cocvid though and before we left EU so thst might have since coloured things. At the very least they might offer you a deal to better suit your current needs.

    • BuildBackBetter says:

      Why are you using data abroad? Do you not have access to Wi-Fi? Can’t you get another phone with a cheap local data plan?

      • John says:

        Because people sometimes go out where there is no wifi?

        • BuildBackBetter says:

          ‘Sometimes’ does not equal exceeding fair usage

      • John says:

        Probably for the same reasons that people use data in the UK, I’d have thought.

    • Tom1 says:

      On a similar note, moving abroad this year and wondering how people deal with keeping a U.K. number active for these 2FA/OTP text messages that are now very common. I can’t imagine most of them letting you enter a non-U.K. number to receive the messages on.

      Any suggestions for how to handle? I could take a Payg sim with a cheap phone to keep at home, but was really looking for a way to receive texts on my primary phone which will ultimately be used with a local sim in my new country.

      Has anyone managed to get an E-sim to work for this purpose?

      • BuildBackBetter says:

        Payg is risky. If u forget to topup it may get blocked. Get the cheapest pay monthly plan u can find.
        Also remember some companies will block you if you try to update address or mobile number to a non-uk one. Address most likely, less so for mobile number. For example you may not get miles from BAPP if u change BA address to non uk.

      • Yuff says:

        I spend more time in Mallorca, than the UK, and no problems with EE.
        Our son lives in Mallorca and his phone is on my mobile account and he has had no issues since Brexit.
        You do get a welcome message from EE, every Sunday, welcoming you to Spain 😀

      • Sam G says:

        I had a Vodafone pay monthly in Singapore for years for this purpose with no problem

        The issue with John is he was doing something that cost the network money (I am assuming he was using the sim for data) which is fair enough tbh and even then they aren’t cutting him off, just stopping him doing the thing they don’t like/against their T&C.

        I’ve heard that 3 are particularly strict about this so maybe avoid them

      • Louie says:

        It’s a pain to be honest. Some companies do allow overseas numbers (Barclays and HSBC are two, possibly Amex too but not sure about that) but most don’t. Hubby has a dual sim phone for that reason and I’ll probably get round to it one of these days, although I’ve managed with an old second phone so far as on the whole I am at home when I need one of those text messages. Still find keeping UK phone numbers (including the old home one using Vonage) handy.

        • Doug M says:

          HSBC app will generate the 2FA. Text messages the least secure method of 2FA. Time all companies started to use authentication apps and not text messages. Once you don’t need texts you can use Wi-Fi for 2FA.

      • Holmes says:

        I live in Ghana and managed to get a Vodafone eSim for this exact reason. Works like a dream, albeit quite expensive at £30pm for sim only.

        • Tom1 says:

          Excellent thanks – thinking that it I take a cheap 12 month sim only and then convert to payg should last me until authentication is done via app rather than SMS

      • Anuj says:

        You can get a sim/esim from someone like truphone or ubigi. Can be relatively inexpensive and are designed to work globally.

    • David S says:

      We have this as well. You just need to get used to using wifi at home and turning off roaming when you leave your property. Even if you remember to do this 50% of the time you are ok.

      • roberto says:

        I have lived overseas for almost 20 years and still have my UK Vodafone number in my dual sim phone. I also go the message that they will start charging roaming fees back in January but have heard no more. It will come but its small potatoes compared to what’s happening in the world currently.

        It’s thanks to all those who voted leave of course, ” Brexit, the gift that keeps on taking”

        • Yuff says:

          Hmmmmmm………how is the vaccination programme going in Europe…….Brexit the gift that has saves 10’s of thousands of lives…..

        • Chris K says:

          The fair use roaming restrictions applied before Brexit too. I don’t actually know of any providers who change the roaming policy because of Brexit either.

        • Lady London says:

          defo keep roaming data disabled. this gives a much greater chance of staying under the radar. Use wifi from another, local, phone being used as a hotspot if you need data and not out and about where there’s wifi. best to set any settings whilst connected to home uk network if you can – some (like call forwarding) often don’t work if set from abroad

          • Tom1 says:

            Thanks – idea is to have my U.K. number as an esim on my work (local) phone. So won’t need data or calls on the U.K. because that will work from my work number. The U.K. number will only be to receive U.K. sms from banks etc

    • The Original Nick. says:

      I came very close to taking Vodafone to court nearly 20 years ago. I stayed well away from them for over 10 years and went back to them. Guess what happened? Yep, exactly the same issue as I’d had many years before. I won’t go into it but I’ll never use them again. The same happened to 2 other people I know. All I’ll say is that if you’re on a contract with Vodafone closely check your itimised bills every month.I stick with Three nowadays and have 71 countries I can use my data etc in.

      • Lady London says:

        I too had an absolute nightmare with Vodafone which extended over 18 months of hell when they botched a port.

        Nothing would make me sign up with them now. For large corporates they’re brilliant, nothing too much trouble, problems actually solved or worked round, regular offers of complementary stuff such as to trigger compliance policies requiring refusal.

        As an ordinary consumer I won’t touch by them now with a bargepole.

        Did you know that similar to Google, Amazon and other new techs, Vodafone moved themselves officially to Luxembourg, that well known corporate tax haven, many years ago, presumably so much less of the profit they make in the UK market is paid tax on in the UK?

    • John says:

      I suspect the reason is I am grandfathered on one of the 100GB plans, long since discontinued, where you can use it all roaming. The latest incarnation max out at 25GB

  • Jon says:

    Does anyone know – has BA pulled the Bangkok route for/beyond May 2022? They’re selling direct flights up until end of April 22, but not into May – whereas other destinations are available. Just wondering if it’s a case of BKK not being loaded into the system yet, or it’s not going to be…

    • Pete says:

      BA don’t sell flights more than 355 days in advance

      • John says:

        Do any airlines?

      • Jon says:

        +355 days takes us to May 4th… Other destinations are already showing for sale in early May, but not BKK, hence my question.

        • Sam G says:

          Looks like a deliberate decision to me – the schedule is carefully done with the last outbound from the UK on 30th April turning as the last inbound on 1st May

          Bangkok was supposed to be going to winter only. Easter 2022 is very late so it would make sense that it was extended into April next year and then pausing for the rest of summer

          • Jon says:

            Thanks Sam. I spoke to BA just now and that is indeed the case, apparently.

  • a270 says:

    I have to travel urgently to the USA to a family member being ill. I have been granted an exemption. I can remember Qured being the cheapest for when I leave the USA to fly back. However, I need to book a test before I fly to the USA and since its an amber country, I also need to book the Day 2, Day 5 and Day 8 tests. The Day 5 Test to Release is so that I can resume work ASAP as I am a teacher.

    1. My question is which provider would work out the cheapest and most reliable for the 4 tests in the UK. I have heard of Randox here with the BA code but perhaps someone has worked out a better mix.

    2. Are all 4 UK tests done at home and then sent by post? My flight is on Saturday 22nd May morning so how soon before travel should I do and test and post it so as not to be too early/too late?

    3. I will be away for 10 days so what’s the best covid insurance option? I am 41 and healthy and have had my 1st vaccination.

    4. Any other tips/things I need to be mindful of?

    Thank you in advance.

  • DJ says:

    Since IC O2 cancelled my booking, I’ve two options:

    – London Park Lane IC
    – London Kimpton Fitzroy

    Which one is a better option?

    Thanks

    • DJ says:

      Forgot to mention, I do have to use the AMB weekend Stay, and have AMB Spire Elite if that makes any difference …

    • John Caribbean says:

      Are they switching you to those hotels or is it a straight cancellation?

      • DJ says:

        Straight cancellation, and now all the hotels are more expensive … a little annoyed to be honest.

        • Anna says:

          They should offer you an acceptable alternative. @meta may be along later and managed to negotiate a move to somewhere decent (in Amsterdam?) in similar circumstances.

          • meta says:

            I made a considerable fuss when Kimpton in Amsterdam was closed. They did notify me about 9 days before stay, so rates elsewhere were high.

            The hotel initially just offered assistance to move me to a different hotel at public rate. I told them thank you very much, but I know how to book a room. IHG CS (Spire Ambassador) was totally disinterested. Then I wrote to the press email of Kimpton and said that if they don’t move my reservation to a comparable hotel at the same price, I will contact their local tourism board, trade standards as well as post negative reviews. They were heavily advertising everywhere even though they were planning to be closed. They immediately came back with a favourable offer at their sister hotel Pulitzer and apologised and said on my next trip to Amsterdam that they’ll upgrade me to their top suite.

    • Brighton Belle says:

      Used both. Fitzroy had a small room in the roof but we enjoyed the free wine hour in the bar and somehow didn’t get billed for breakfast.

      Park Lane IC upgraded us to a superior room but no free drinks and no freebie breakfast.

      Booked reward night at Park Lane next month so I guess I preferred that.

      I’m Spire and wondering to get Ambassador so we get some recognition at Park Lane a 1 free breakfast. I’m not sure I’ll get much out of a year of Ambassador as I use Hilton Diamond more.

      • Yorkie Aid says:

        Are you sure you’d get the free breakfast with Ambassador on a reward night?

        • Anna says:

          No automatic free breakfast with any IHG status. It’s often better to book with Emyr unless you’re using a free night or points – he got us 3 nights for 2 at the Kimpton Fitzroy with breakfast plus $100 credit and we’ve been upgraded to a junior suite on the booking.

          • Anna says:

            You can sometimes get breakfast added at the online booking rate which can be half the walk up rate (usually per room versus per person), but it depends on the hotel. Kimpton Charlotte Square honoured this but not the Kimpton Clocktower; so 1- 0 to Scotland there!

        • Brighton Belle says:

          No I’m not sure so will expect the worst

      • James says:

        The one free breakfast is in China only isn’t it?

      • Peggerz says:

        Re the breakfast not being billed. This was my experience recently at the Kimpton Blythswood. I was staying using the 40k points bonus night from taking out Amb last year and I thought the check-in clerk mentioned breakfast as part of the stay, but my partner said I wasn’t correct – Perspex sheets and masks don’t always make things clear! However I was not billed for breakfast the next day at check out. I am IHG Amb/Plat. It is possible it was in compensation to there being no wine hour due to restrictions.

    • IanM says:

      Also treated poorly by IHG over this, I had a AMB weekend 2 nights which I just cancelled myself because it wasn’t prepaid and they were never telling me about it. But a free credit card night was just cancelled without it going back onto my account, I had to use another free night for the Park Lane. They said that the one I had used for the O2 had expired and they had already given me another one so tough luck.

      Currently AMB Spire so this is how they treat their top status members.

      • EvilGazebo says:

        They just cancelled my O2 booking, no free night returned I’ve enquired but no response yet and was guessing they’ll just say tough luck because expired/already replaced at Xmas. Thanks for the confirmation 🙄

  • bafan says:

    Looking at getting a another Citizenship. I have a Polish grandfather so it seems like a slam dunk if I can get the paperwork together. Does anyone have any recommendations for companies that can help or is it doable on my own? I have all the birth / marriage certs but his activity during WW2 is a mystery and both grandparents are long passed on.

    • Yuff says:

      I have just done the same for an Irish passport and the only documentation I needed, to prove eligibility, was my mother’s birth certificate.
      I assume you would just need your grandfather’s birth certificate.

      • bafan says:

        I did the Irish one and it was a walk in the park compared to this it sounds like! You need a proxy in Poland to communicate through apparently.

      • John says:

        If your mum was born in Ireland you were automatically an Irish citizen from birth. If she was born in NI you become an Irish citizen by virtue of applying for an Irish passport (effectively the same but legally slightly different).

        It’s not so simple when you are not already a citizen and you need to search historical documents to prove your grandfather’s address

    • John says:

      What’s the advantage of becoming Polish if you are already Irish? Just for family pride?

      Did your grandfather leave Poland (or what was considered Polish territory) before 1951 and acquire another citizenship? If that happened, was your parent born after that? If so they might have lost their Polish citizenship. I believe you need to establish your parent’s citizenship first and then yours is easy

      • bafan says:

        Yes and I have a (technically) half Brother whose only eligibility for a non UK passport is a Polish passport so I said I’d help me (and me too in the process 😌).

      • Tracey says:

        I was told I’d lost my right to Polish citizenship in the same way. My grandmother was born in Poland but acquired British citizenship before my mother was born. As my grandmother is no longer alive, she can’t apply to regain her citizenship and so my mother isn’t eligible.

      • Tracey says:

        “ How do I know if I qualify?

        Most people whose parents, grandparents or great-grandparents were born in Poland qualify for Polish citizenship through descent. In essence you need to have at least one ancestor who:

        Was born in Poland (or one of the former territories) and resided there after 1920; or
        Left Poland before 1920, but your ancestors’ residential address can be found in the Polish, Prussian, Russian or Austro-Hungarian registers; and
        Maintained their Polish citizenship until the day of your birth.”

        From https://www.polaron.com.au/services/eu-services/eu-citizenship/polish-citizenship/polish-citizenship-through-descent/

      • bafan says:

        I think my grandfather left before 1951 but I have a letter from the National Archives confirming he never became a UK citizen. I guess this is why people pay…

        Thanks for the help everyone – I might get some quotes from different agencies and see how I get on.

    • zark says:

      Yes, this is doable on your own. If you have the original Polish birth / marriage certificates makes it easier. You will also need your Polish-side parents documents and your own all tracing you back to your grandfather (i.e birth,marriage) & passports / id proof. All need to be verified by authorised translator in to Polish (list provided by Polish consulate) and their forms filled in, fees paid, documents sent to Consulate in London. They then send to Poland & several months later you should get verification if all in order. You can then also apply for a Polish passport in addition to your Uk one.
      Take a look at: https://www.gov.pl/web/unitedkingdom/granting-citizenship

      • bafan says:

        Great – thank you. Some of the agencies were charging £1000 upwards…if I can avoid that that would be 👍.

    • Harry T says:

      I briefly looked into this on behalf of someone. Apparently it’s a massive faff compared to a lot of citizenship claiming processes and will be difficult if you don’t speak Polish well. I would research agencies.

    • kitten says:

      I thought you had 3 already?

      • bafan says:

        I do! But my Brother doesn’t (for a few reasons) so I’ve been looking into for him, and I guess if I did it for him I’d do it for me too.

  • TomH says:

    Question on rebooking cancelled BA flights with lap infant.

    I’m booked on Avios to Croatia for mid-June with my wife and then 23 month old son. I now anticipate our flight may be cancelled given Croatia is unlikely to be in the second tranche of Green list countries and that UK nationals are still not allowed to enter Croatia without an essential reason.

    If BA cancel our flights, I’m aware we can rebook for free for later in the summer, regardless of peak dates or Avios availability. However, my son will have his 2nd birthday in mid-July, and I wondered if he will earn a free seat when this switch happens, does anyone have prior experience with this?

    If BA do not cancel the flight, I’ll apply for a Future Travel Voucher, again I have a question about how this would work once my son is no longer a lap infant. I understand you can’t change names or ticket type with Future Travel Vouchers, but I assume here additional Avios will be required to upgrade my son to a full seat. Will I therefore need 3 Avios seats to be available on a future booking? Or would 2 Avios seats be sufficient for the adults, and I can buy my son a separate cash seat?

    • John says:

      If your flight is cancelled you should be able to rebook online to most dates but the lap infant ticket will stay. This is currently my situation. I presume I will have to call up and get it changed before travelling. I asked this a few days ago and the replies were that BA changed it to a full seat without charge, but ymmv.

      I assume extra avios will be needed for the FTV, not sure if a 2 year old can be bought a solo ticket.

      • TomH says:

        Thanks! For the FTV I will need to call centre anyway, so I’m hoping adding a cash seat would be possible.

    • meta says:

      Tourists are allowed to enter Croatia.

      As per FCDO advice:

      UK nationals travelling to Croatia are subject to strict epidemiological measures and must carry evidence of health status (a negative COVID-19 antigen or PCR test result taken up to 48 hours before arrival in Croatia, proof of a vaccination, or a certificate of recovery following a positive test result between 11 and 180 days prior). Travel is permitted within defined purposes, including, but not limited to, residence, business and tourism. In addition to evidence of your negative COVID-19 status, those travelling under the tourism exemption are required to hold a valid accommodation booking or proof of property ownership in Croatia.

      BA is very likely not going to cancel the flight.

      • TomH says:

        Thank you, the Croatian travel for third country citizens is unclear in that it states “ will be granted entry in the Republic of Croatia only in cases of necessary travel.” But then in section 8 of necessary travel defines that to include tourism with prebook accommodation!

        Will need to monitor how the amber list changes as home quarantine will not work with a 1 year old in a small London flat!

  • TimM says:

    nhs.uk are now permitting the over-50’s to rebook their 2nd Covid vaccination up to 4 weeks earlier. This will make travel plans easier for countries requiring proof of the second dose at least two weeks before arriving, e.g. the EU, and saves testing before arrival. If this applies, the original 2nd vaccination must first be cancelled before rebooking. I found a greater selection of sites available to me too compared to my original bookings.

    • Anna says:

      Thanks for the heads up – have you got a link to the right website? I’ve just tried via my original booking and it’s only giving me the option to cancel my 2nd jab.

      • Andrew says:

        Same link – cancel then rebook.

        • Anna says:

          No guarantee of a replacement appointment though! My 2nd jab is in 3 weeks anyway so not that long off really.

      • Anna says:

        I’ve just rung 119 and they said the only option is to cancel the 2nd appointment first and hope there is then availability for another date! Not very helpful.

        • John says:

          Find a friend who has yet to book?

          • Louise K says:

            I got my jab by going along with hubby when he got his. I’m 46 and he’s in his 50’s. His 2nd is in 3 weeks time and I don’t have an appt booked, just to go along with him again and I will get it.

            I tried to book an appt yesterday for mine since I’ve not booked any and the earliest it would give me was 25th June.

        • Anna says:

          Apologies TimM, I read your post as meaning that the site would show you alternative slots at the same time you cancelled your original one! Not finished my first coffee yet lol.

          • TimM says:

            I noticed the ‘lack of coffee effect’ many years ago so weened myself off it. I have one a week for a ‘coffee rush’ now instead.

            I only moved my second jab earlier by 10 days but that means my 12th June flight to Kalamata, if it goes ahead, won’t require a test before departure. What the rules will be on my return, 4 weeks later, is in the lap of the gods. We can only do the possible, bit by bit.

          • TGLoyalty says:

            Have two browsers open cancel then immediately try to rebook in the other.

            Highly unlikely your original date would have disappeared.

        • James Pleasant says:

          They won’t let the gap between vaccs to extend much longer than 12 weeks – assuming your 2nd jab is in week 12, you can’t lose. Mine was in week 8 so I didn’t want to chance it. My wife’s was in week 12 and after cancelling hers (she got OAZ jitters) I was able to book it 10 days later to giver more time to think about it – but she could also have brought it forward by 10 days or so as vacc availability opened up after that lean period in earl-mid April.

          • kitten says:

            Wasn’t The Guardian saying leaving a 12 week gap between the vaccinations has been found to result in 2.5 times the number of antibodies and potentially longer immunity? I’m moving my second one to just over 11 weeks after the first one because of this.

          • Rob says:

            Yes, this is the bit I don’t get. Earlier in the week we were showing off about a study which proved 12 weeks worked best.

            People who get a 2nd after 8 weeks will end up less protected long term.

          • James Pleasant says:

            I didn’t know about 12 weeks’ gap being better than 8 when I got my second vacc – I just wanted it out of the way/ better immunity.

            Out here I can choose to get another Pfizer jab for free so I might do that later, I guess August/ early Sept – would make 3 vaccs of Pfizer so I can’t see any issues. Just a booster 5-6 months after my second jab in UK. Then I could get a 4th booster back in UK maybe Jan/ Feb.

            I think that’s my wife’s plan, ie get a Pfizer out here, maybe 2 in 4 weeks – she doesn’t want a 2nd OAZ (I make no comment). Out here they let you choose your vacc type.

          • TGLoyalty says:

            The improved immunity from larger gap is only relevant to AZ.

            Tbh I was perfectly happy to wait the 11 weeks for mine.

        • Louise K says:

          Scrub what I wrote earlier, I can now book an appt for next Wed / Thursday. This was not an option last night.

        • David S says:

          Same here – got a 119 jobsworth and concerned that if we cancel appt first we end up with a later date still

          • James says:

            Rather that jobsworth that having to read you whine. Maybe the were just pointing out the possible risk… I can only imagine what you’d say if you cancelled an appointment to then only be able to book a later one.

      • Ant says:

        I cancelled my husband’s 2nd appointment yesterday which was due 16/6 (12 weeks after 1st jab) then rebooked and got 25 may (8 weeks). All on the NHS website.

    • Oh! Matron! says:

      Am 49 and booked my 2nd vaccine a week ago…

      • Oh! Matron! says:

        Ignore my comment. Haven’t had coffee yet. However, I did book my 2nd vaccine last week and got a date within 6 weeks of booking. It’s not appeared in the nhs app yet…

    • HBommie says:

      Thanks, rebooked for tomorrow, easy.

    • Laura says:

      Thanks! Rebooked mine for 4 weeks earlier (I’m in the vulnerable group)

  • Joe says:

    Anyone any recent data on applying for Virgin Reward+ card – are they still offering pathetically small credit limits? Don’t want to apply if they’re going to offer something ridiculous!

    • Michael says:

      I applied a few weeks ago and was offered £6000. For reference: Creation £7500 and Amex £18000

    • Harry T says:

      They rejected my application and I appealed, asking them to not give me a terrible credit limit like last time. They gave me £6300 after manually approving me. This isn’t too bad but I have five figure credit limits on my Amex cards.

    • Travel Strong says:

      Every 6 months i’ve asked for an increase and have eeked it up from 7k to 11k.

      • Harry T says:

        @Travel Strong did you ask for a certain increase every six months or just ask for an increase in general?

        • Travel Strong says:

          Each time I asked for ‘maximum possible’ and mentioned my old virgin card had a 14k limit and would like to get back to that.

    • Memesweeper says:

      I got 10k a few weeks ago after numerous prior rejections.

    • Matt says:

      New card this month. 11k. Pleasantly surprised after negative reports here.

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