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The HfP chat thread – Wednesday 16th June

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We are running this daily chat thread on Head for Points during the coronavirus outbreak.

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Comments (439)

  • Vin says:

    Cancelled 2-4-1 booking to HND due to depart in 2 days (rebooked from a cancelled flight in 2020). Been given the same script from BA CS which has been posted so many times on this forum – must have Avios availability to reschedule / must be rebooked within a year from the original booking / didn’t accept my ‘EU261 challenge’ / take an FTV.
    Been informed that I must accept the FTV BEFORE the cancelled flight is due to depart (even though it isn’t departing!) – or else I’ll only be eligible for the refund of avios+tax+2-4-1(voucher will have expired). Is this what people’s experience has been ?
    I perhaps don’t have the strength/mettle/time to go through the MCOL process (endless thanks to the wise and wonderful who have detailed how to go about it – been very educational indeed) so may end up accepting the FTV. I’m not sure how the -355 day out/back booking will work with it though ? Any experiences to share ? TIA.

    • Andy says:

      I was in your situation, I took an FTV and used it to rebook for HND next May. It was smooth although of course it did rely on having availability for a new booking…

      • Vin says:

        Thanks @Andy – were both your outbound and inbound dates available when you made the booking or did you do it as and when they opened up 355 days in advance ?

    • Phil says:

      I think I got lucky. I had a 2-4-1 booked May-20 for May-21 EDILGWMRU. It was cancelled, I rang up ready for a battle but the CSA was happy to move me to Sept-21 for flights where there was no Avios availability. I would definitely try a couple of HUACA’s if you don’t hear what you want to hear.

    • kitten says:

      Try in MMB to rebook far ahead each day. Sometimes the booking status takes a few days to be updated, it seems, before it lets you do this.

  • James says:

    Anyone travelled to Gibraltar and then into Spain and managed to dodge the quarantine on return to the UK? Asking for a friend.

    • Harry T says:

      It’s not even 9am and the trolls are already out 😂

      • James says:

        Genuinely, asking for a friend…

        • Anna says:

          Tell your friend there have been a couple of reports on here in the last 24 hours of people getting daily phone calls plus the odd home visit!

          • James says:

            My friend says thanks, Anna!

          • Pete M says:

            Would they be flying back from Gibraltar or Spain? If the former then it’s about their honesty as to what they put on the PLF, isn’t it?

          • The Lord says:

            I am on day 4 at home and just had my 4th call

          • Tomgold says:

            so if i tell them that i’m departing the UK on day whatever, will they leave me in peace after that?

    • Optimus Prime says:

      Roberto mentioned that they’re stamping passports when you nip across the border so your friend will be found out.

    • Sam G says:

      Passports being checked / stamped into Spain I believe? Govt will be well aware of this potential loophole. You’d then have to lie on your PLF and hope passport stamps/record wasn’t interrogated

    • Ikaz says:

      My passport was stamped upon entry to Portugal this week, so there is that to think about

      • Pete M says:

        The friend may have several passports, but good point! Although I have not seen any Border Force agents having anywhere near the time to be flicking through passports these days.

        • meta says:

          But it might get picked up later and fine issued accordingly… The case in point is the former CEO of Etihad who flew from UAE to Switzerland then to UK on two different passports who got issued a fine even though he was let in by border agents.

          • Anuj says:

            He was found out by a whistleblower not by border force on their own merit

        • AnotherUser says:

          The friend would also have to hope that no-one decides to compare data on border crossings with PLF forms – either now, or some months down the line. As well as the enforcement element, the likely fines could more than pay for staff time

          • Pete M says:

            Sorry, how exactly would the UK Government compare Spanish border entry/exit data with its own PLF forms? We all have different levels of risk we are willing to accept, I would suggest the level of risk here is minimal if using two passports. From a health-risk point of view, Spain is currently seeing around 2k cases a day (compared to our 8k) with a minimal prevalence of the Delta variant. I am surprised they are letting us in!

          • meta says:

            Passenger data is routinely shared between the countries, so they could pick it up down the line. Also if you have two passports/nationalities, this will be known to border agency in the UK and they might as well ask you to see that passport at the border or if not at the border, they can do it later and issue a fine because you lied on PLF.

          • TGLoyalty says:

            You’re living on another planet of you think Data on border crossings is just shared cross borders and routinely compared for any purpose

          • TGLoyalty says:

            The U.K. border force doesn’t even know how many visa over stayers there are in the U.K. at any one time but you think they know all the cross border movements globally 😂

          • Pete M says:

            Well I suppose you best stay at home then meta and AnotherUser 🙂 James and his friend may find this discussion helpful and can make their own mind up about how likely this government is to go to this extraordinary trouble when it can’t / doesn’t want to even investigate billions of pounds lost through fraud in Covid business support programmes…

          • meta says:

            @Pete M it’s not about me at all. I’m just presenting the facts. The fact is, it is sometimes checked. There is a risk. Apart from the highly publicised case of former CEO of Etihad (and he was caught on subsequent travel not the initial one!), I am on several FB travel groups where people were caught though only issued with minor fines. It’s up to you/your friend to decide.

          • TGLoyalty says:

            You keep referencing this exCEO but he was only caught because someone blew the whistle!

        • paul says:

          Remember that the passport number used to depart a country will be passed as APIS data to the port of arrival and consequently Border Farce will be expecting to see that on arrival.
          That’s not to say that this will ever be picked up at the border, but if the data passed from one port to another by carriers can simply be by passed in this way, then one wonders what the point?!

          • Yuff says:

            I think you’ve been watching too many mission impossible films.
            The left hand does not know what the right hand is doing in our own country never mind in the EU now 🤣🤣

          • bafan says:

            That doesn’t make sense. If you used a UK passport to leave / enter the UK and then use another passport to enter SP, they absolutely wouldn’t know. Government IT is shockingly bad and they are constantly found and yet people act like they are some type of Mission Impossible style IT geniuses who are monitoring everything.

          • TGLoyalty says:

            Priti would be elated if they actually had that data 😂

  • Olver says:

    How long did it take for the £50-75 Dell credit to show up after the purchase was confirmed for everybody? Just read several bits saying 24 hours up to 5 days.

  • Michael C says:

    Just a quick reminder (following up on Rob’s article some days ago) to say Avios bookings are now available for the return trip 2-5 June 2022 for the mega Bank Holiday break!

  • Lee says:

    Earned another £1.5 to use DELIVEROO on gold card
    This is second payment for my DELIVEROO Plus subscription and same as first one
    13 Jun Credit DELIVEROO -£5.00
    13 Jun DELIVEROO PLUS – UK LONDON £3.49

    • KP says:

      Im confused… could you elaborate please? You got £5 cashback twice for one subscription payment ?

  • Nadir says:

    Does anyone know if Virgin have blocked all awards on LHR-PVG route? Trying to book something for next year and, irrespective of what date I search for, I get an error message saying ‘Sorry, no reward flights are available for your search, some flights don’t operate every day. Try selecting flexible dates to see more availability.#101638_R’

    Tried doing a search on SeatSpy but it throws up a data error message: ‘There was an unexpected problem collecting the data. Please refresh the page or try the search again.’ Works fine on different Virgin routes (tried HKG and that showed availability).

    Tried speaking to Virgin via WhatsApp and their response is ‘what you see is what you get’ and ‘try again later’. Super helpful /s.

    I don’t know if Virgin have actually blocked all awards on this route or if it’s an issue with Virgin’s database. Any insights?

    • Rhys says:

      Interesting. Looks like they are still selling cash tickets, albeit at very high prices. Perhaps they are deciding whether to cut the route or not.

      • kitten says:

        how diplomatic of you to put it that way, Rob 🙂 .
        Clearly looking cancelled already

    • Rhys says:

      Virgin have told us they have no plans to cut Shanghai and are hoping to restart it soon 🙂

      • Nadir says:

        Thanks for reaching out and checking with them, Rhys. Just a bit frustrating that they can’t/won’t say if (extremely unlikely, I know) all awards seats are booked (in which case I should keep trying) or if they’ve pulled all the inventory (in which case, I’d be wasting my time if I kept trying before/until they reinstate it).

        I also suspect, especially given the Seat Spy response, that there may also be an issue with the system. There was a thread on FlyerTalk re an issue someone else had on the Delta website with the same error code.

        Oh well, I suppose I have to keep trying every now and then.

    • ChrisC says:

      “What you see is what you get” isn’t them being sarcastic.

      VS does not guarantee to release a certain number of reward seats at a certain time like BA does.

      So you have to do some work and check regularly for availability.

  • Yorkshire rich says:

    When I stayed at the doubletree Bristol, even with 2 nights parking it came to £192, so I made sure my two night stay in Cardiff would go over £200 so it would be trigger the £50 back on the Amex offer. I’ve just looked on the Amex app and my offer for £192 spend was triggered, and it’s showing as £50 back doubletree Bristol.
    Also paid everything on my Amex and was pleasantly surprised with the couple of £5 refunded from shop small.

    • John says:

      Hilton offer is cumulative so you only needed to spend £9 at Cardiff. Then you could have spent another £200 on a different card to get another£50 back

      • Rob says:

        I triggered one once at the Costa at Hilton Olympia, which whilst on the High Street is owned by the hotel.

  • RussellH says:

    I had a very interesting discussion about Amex yesterday.
    My dentist always used to have large signs in the waiting room “We do not accept American Express.”
    So I was very surprised to find him listed on the current Shop Small map (although we know that it is not perfect.)
    When I made my appointment I asked the receptionist if they did indeed now take Amex. She said that as far as she knew, the answer was still no, but she would talk to the boss.
    After the checkup the dentist asked me why I had enquired about Amex – I said that they were listed on the Amex website.
    He was NOT pleased. He told me that in practice they had always had to accept Amex, it simply came as part of the package supplied by his merchant acquirer, and he had been trying to get it removed ever since, without success. He clearly does not want to have anything to do with Amex.
    He explained that while Visa/MCard charged 1.2% merchant fee, Amex was charging him 5.2% (!!) which, if true, is totally over the top.
    He also seemed to be totally unaware of Shop Small.
    He told me that clearly it was not a huge deal if one patient paid for a checkup on Amex, but if several started to do so for something like bridhes or crowns Amex would be very painful.
    I got my Shop Small e-mail after paying with Amex, but this has got me thinking.

    Many of us have wondered why some businesses can accept Amex, but do not advertise the fact, while others are perfectly happy to do so.
    I now wonder if there are merchant acquirers out there who do provide Amex-inclusive packages without making it clear to the businesses that this is the case, while others make a positive decision to accept Amex.
    Further, I now wonder, are Amex doing an auto sign-up on Shop Small this time around? I know that in the past businesses had to actively sign up for it.

    Just to be clear, I have known my dentist for 21+ years, I definitely do trust what he tells me, though I suspect that the 5.2% fee must be wrong…
    But it does make me question using Amex in small businesses where the business is not aware that they accept Amex.

    • Harry T says:

      If the business doesn’t want to pay amex fees, they shouldn’t do business with Amex. However, Amex customers are perhaps more likely to splash the cash, so small businesses would potentially be well served by encouraging Amex customers to spend with them.

      • RussellH says:

        His point is that he does not want to do business with Amex, he never asked to do business with Amex, but he was nevertheless forced to accept Amex and cannot get rid of them.
        In practice, I assume that he could get rid of Amex, but only by changing his merchant acquirer.

      • RussellH says:

        This Amex user is certainly not inclined to “splash cash”!

        And I would have thought that dentistry would be one of the areas where ability to pay with Amex should be absolutely the last thing to consider when deciding where to go.

    • Chrisasaurus says:

      “ He told me that clearly it was not a huge deal if one patient paid for a checkup on Amex, but if several started to do so for something like bridhes or crowns Amex would be very painful.”

      Next time you’re in it might be helpful for you to run over the way percentages work with him!

      • John says:

        He means he can suck up the extra £100 once in a while but if he has to pay his bank an extra £100 per customer it won’t work

    • Tonyb says:

      5.2% seems incredibly high, I accept Amex and I think it’s just under 1% more than visa/mc.

      • Rob says:

        More complex than this. A World Elite Mastercard, eg HSBC, is outside the cap rules as are business cards and Amex MR cards, as are all Diners / Discover / JCB cards.

        • stevenhp1987 says:

          Does the same apply to Debit Cards?

          Which would mean Curve can make a teeny bit of extra cash from each Metal customer?

        • RussellH says:

          Indeed.
          When I first got my Creation Marriott M/c it was one of the very first to branded “Mastercard World” rather than plain “Mastercard”.
          Shortly after WorldPay brought in a special handling fee for “Mastercard World” increased from 1.8% to 2.6% for me and, presumably other customers as well. This meant that for years I only felt comfortable using the card in the largest retailers, who I was sure could well look after themselves in negotiating card fees.
          Yet back when the interchange cap first came in, and we could still pay HMRC with a credit card, my Marriott M/c was the cheapest card to use – even the IHG “Mastercard World” was a few points more expensive.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Your dentist obviously believes people won’t leave because they don’t accept payment. Which is probably true for a medical service.

      However, I’m increasingly likely to just not go back or leave because frankly they should make it as easy as possible to take a customers money.

      I visited somewhere yesterday that was cash only and didn’t take Amex meaning if I didn’t have Apple pay set up for curve we were stuffed. Frankly the food was merely ok so I won’t go back unless it’s the only choice.

    • Richster says:

      I think there is some kind of auto-sign up – my business accepts amex and because I have an Amex Merchant account, they sent me a Shop Small Pack the other week with all the stickers and stuff. I didn’t opt in, and have so far in the past 6 months only taken one Amex payment. I my case I sell exclusively to other businesses, so I don’t mind the fees, I get the money the next day instead of waiting “60 days from the end of the month that the invoice was received + 10 days” which is what some of the larger companies tend to play with. Gah!

    • David D says:

      Interesting. My dentist is listed in Amex maps as a Shop Small participant so I paid with Amex last month and the payment went through with no issue (paid before Shop small so didn’t receive a credit). I didn’t ask if they accepted Amex, just paid through Apple Pay.

    • Memesweeper says:

      “ He explained that while Visa/MCard charged 1.2% merchant fee, Amex was charging him 5.2% (!!) which, if true, is totally over the top.”

      Some merchant acquirer deals are truly awful. There is absolutely no justification for that level of fee, and nor is Amex to blame. Unfortunately a lot of deals come with payment card machine rental and a three year contract that’s hard to wriggle out of.

      For small business volumes the “challengers” like SumUp make a lot more sense, and the lack of a long tie-in means you can move on quickly when a better deal arises. I know a few shops and restaurants that have iZettle/SumUp alongside a legacy card machine. The staff know which one to use for debit/credit visa/mc/Amex depending on the fees. Your dentist might be well placed to get one and direct Amex users to that instead.

      • RussellH says:

        I lost track of what goes on with merchant acquirer over 7 years ago now, but a few years before that was when the oligopoly of the big bank merchant acquirers started to break down.
        It was probably around 2010 that I managed to get out from under WorldPay, but it was not easy. The first 3 or 4 merchant acquirers I approached all completely refused to do business with anyone in the travel sector.

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