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The HfP chat thread – Thursday 22nd July

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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 (338)

  • Tazzy says:

    I was hoping to get the thoughts of HFP readers. We are due to fly Dublin to Austria return next week for medical treatment in Brno. We live in belfast and have British passports. We are fully vaccinated. I understand that Austria is not allowing entry to U.K. citizens, but we we are travelling from Ireland. I am a little anxious and struggling to get clear guidance. Also it appears that as we are fully vaccinated we do not need PCR tests to travel?

    • Blair says:

      https://www.dfa.ie/travel/travel-advice/a-z-list-of-countries/austria/

      Looks like you’d have to have been in ROI rather than NI in advance of departure to qualify for entry on a flight originating from Dublin. Considering there is no border between NI and ROI I am not sure how you’d prove that. Or how anyone would disprove it if you claimed it. I think you’re in Dublin Dodge territory again. Your morals are your own business.

      • Pete M says:

        The issue you may have is that as Ireland isn’t in Schengen, you will need to enter into Schengen in Vienna. Where you will present your UK passports. Which may excite the border official. Or it may indeed excite the check-in agents in Dublin. It’s a bit of a risk if you ask me. You’d be absolutely fine if you had Irish or EU passports as it would then be very easy to state you live in ROI and it would probably appear less dodgy.

        • Tazzy says:

          We are quite stuck as we really do not want to get 2 flights each way during the pandemic and flights to Dublin to Prague are only once per week. There are no flights from belfast to either.

          • BJ says:

            @Tazzy, a quick look at skyscanner suggests Ryanair may have flights operating to Prague from Prestwick and Jet2 from Glasgow for around £60. You could connect to either with Belfast to Glasgow via Prestwick bus service if it is still operating, or combination of ferry and car or train.

      • jack charlton says:

        The rule according to the foreign office advice is “Entry to Austria from the United Kingdom is currently prohibited by Austrian law.”

        there is a pre-clearance form which you are exempt from filling in if:-
        enter from a state or region listed in Annex 1 AND
        have stayed exclusively in a state or region listed in Annex 1 or in Austria for the past ten days AND
        Are in possession of a certificate in the sense of the 3-G rule (German: geimpft, getestet, genesen – vaccinated, tested, recovered).

        uk is not listed in Annex 1
        https://entry.ptc.gv.at/en.html

        So you must fill in a pre-clearance form. at which point you are likely to be declined.

        Are these forms checked on arrival ? do they check if people that didn’t fill in a form needed to do so ? I have no idea.

        But clearly Austria prohibits your travel intentions unfortunately.

        • Pete M says:

          How about flying to Germany or Poland and then driving to Brno? Neither is ideal, of course.

    • Pablo says:

      Have a look at Ryanair flights from Dublin to Bratislava. Fully vaccinated travellers coming to Slovakia from Ireland do not need a test or quarantine. Brno is 1.5 hr away from BTS and train fare costs around €5

  • Mark says:

    In Lisbon right now and it’s lovely with not many tourists at all. Walked in to the Brown’s Central Hotel and got a rate of 60 euros, receptionist said normal summer ADR is 150-200!

    • pigeon says:

      Do they accept NHS Covid Passes for proof of vaccination at restaurants? Thinking of going but don’t want to be locked out due to no EU Digital Covid pass!

      • Sam says:

        Haven’t actually been asked once for a restaurant. Hotel did ask but I just showed the NHS letter, they don’t seem to be very strict.

        • Sam says:

          Also you can get a free lateral flow which will work for your return back to the U.K. Opens at 9am and the pop up van is outside the pastel de nata shop. Results in 2 hours.

          Praça dos Restauradores 62 -68, 1250-110 Lisboa, Portugal

          • ankomonkey says:

            2 hours? Just enough time to gorge on delicious pastries 🙂

            Gluttony aside, this is genuinely very useful info. Family and I should be in Porto and Lisbon from mid-next week.

          • pigeon says:

            Could this be because the vaccination requirement is weekends only?

            Thanks for the tip on the lateral flows! I’m planning on a 3 night trip, so I’ll get the lateral flow just before leaving London to remove the (minuscule) risk of a positive test in Lisbon.

      • Rui N. says:

        Techincally, you do indeed need the EU digital certificate. But you won’t be locked out: you can a do a quick test outside the restaurant!

    • BP says:

      Do hotel bars shut early too?

  • Marco says:

    Are there any indication of when any of the Star Alliance lounge will open at Heathrow T2? Otherwise it’s only Plaza Premium if I’m flying J?

  • Nathan says:

    Has anyone used BA night before bag drop if flying before 13:00?
    Is it reliable or more chance of suitcase getting lost?
    Can you drop off another bag when you arrive for the flight?

    • babyg_wc says:

      Try airportr, they come to your house/home (not the Heathrow express version)

    • Matty says:

      I used it in late May at T5. Tried to check in / bag drop at 8:00 pm for 7:00 am flight. Staff had only a vague recollection of a ‘Twilight Check-In’ and had to go off and find somebody who knew if Heathrow were still involved. It was about 30 minutes of faff. Thankfully the airport was dead and bags accepted. No issues at the other end.

    • Keely says:

      We are using this Saturday for a Sunday morning flight. Husband works at Heathrow and checked with BA staff this week that it was still operating

    • Nathan says:

      Thanks all for replies

  • Ammar says:

    Quick Q – Have approx 25k in personal tax, corporation tax, ni/employer contributions over a year. Tried Curve backed up with COT but did not work today for some payments due so thinking about Curve fronted but obviously need a underlying good point earning card -wonder what other peoples strategy was, if any? I have the free HSBC credit card and Amex Gold. Previously had the M&M but that is closed now.

    • SteveJ says:

      Consider John Lewis Card if you shop there or Waitrose, Amazon card likewise. Santander All in One as you have enough spend to justify the fee. IHG card. All work well with Curve

  • Imran says:

    Game Over Guys!!!

    Got a call from Creation today where they told me they are closing my card account. The reason they gave me was that I breached their T&Cs by putting my account in credit 58 times!

    I fought back with a response that they only recently changed their T&Cs with respect to putting an account in credit. They have asked me to appeal the decision if I wanted to, but until then they have asked me to settle the outstanding balance. I have very little hope to get back my card account.

    The agent mentioned that Creation will recover the IHG points earned through “unscrupulous” (exact word he used!) means from my IHG account. Can they really do that? I am thinking of emptying my IHG balance today by making some booking or by transferring to airline miles (if that’s possible). Can someone guide in this regard please.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      I seriously doubt they can take back anything thats already in your IHG account but why not make some points reservations for next year just in case

      • kitten says:

        + do it now as possession is 9/10th of the law. IHG points reservations generally refundable. Check t’s and c’s to make sure in case any hotel is differing. When any hue and cry has died down cancel. Try to do bookings of up to 1 week at a time as this will use up your points more quickly in fewer bookings so less obvious if you cancel.

        • kitten says:

          get the points out by this evening if you can in case it’s blocked. US stays open longer than the UK in terms of opening hours due to time zones in case needed, btw

      • ChrisC says:

        They could soon contact IHG and ask them to remove the points on the basis of they were awarded based on ‘unscrupulous’ activity on the credit card account.

        Whether IHG would do anything is a different issue.

    • Andrew says:

      I very much doubt that FOS will be impressed by a firm applying changes in the T&Cs retrospectively.

      There are also many times over the last year my various accounts have gone into credit thanks to refunds, it’s probably happened to you too.

      Also, for some reason, Creation are still presenting their T&Cs dated 12/04/2019 08:47 as being valid on their website (when you click through to open a new account). You may want to download that right now…

      As the call will have been recorded for “training and quality purposes”, I recommend you get a copy of the recording where you were referred to as “unscrupulous”.

      • kitten says:

        If they close you, hit them with a GDPR request for all your data including any other calls as well, after that first request Andrew suggests. Best to have all that they have before you take it to FOS

      • Imran says:

        Thanks Andrew. This is really very helpful. Just downloaded the T&Cs and took screenshots.

    • thehornets says:

      If you don’t mind me asking, did they tell you which condition did you breached?

    • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

      Rookie move from Creation. They could have just said they were closing the account because it was unprofitable and probably been fine with two months’ notice. By giving that reason they have opened themselves up to a claim of unfair treatment.

      In my experience the better solution is to call up the customer and politely ask them to knock it off.

      • Harrier25 says:

        Surely something else has happened here for Creation to act with such immediacy?

        • Alex says:

          +1

        • Aston100 says:

          Must be more to this surely.
          My account has been in credit far more than 58 instances.

          That said, I’m going to download the t&cs and use all my points for bookings in 12 months time. Just in case.

          • Jonathan says:

            Big difference between refunds putting your account in credit vs the customer transferring money to knowingly put account in credit. They don’t provide a payment link unless you have a debit balance so it’s obvious you’ve been doing something you know is not entirely kosher.

            I’d take this on the chin, you’ve had a good run & eventually the game has reached the inevitable conclusion.

            I very much doubt they’ll rescind your IHG points but if they do then speculative bookings won’t protect them. Not sure points removal would wash with FOS either whereas closing your account is completely within their rights.

            Salutary warning to others about reigning it in slightly though.

          • Harrier25 says:

            It would probably be advisable just not to go into credit anymore and stomach a couple of days interest on that Che debit card transaction.

        • Jonathan says:

          Why do you think he’s been putting account in credit? Getting too friendly with Che or similar.

          They’re blacklisting for MS, putting account in credit is the easy explanation as it now appears in T&C’s.

          • Imran says:

            Thanks all for the suggestions. I have made some bookings and brought down my IHG points balance to less than 10k which according to Rob’s valuation is less than £40. I am okay to take that much hit, in case they decide to remove the points from my account.

            For everyone’s benefit so that you don’t land up in the same situation as me, I can confirm all the credit balances were used to top-up Che. I don’t book airline tickets with my IHG card, for which I exclusively use my PRG. So I had no refunds coming through, and I suspect all those 58 transactions relate to Che although I never kept a count myself of such transactions. It was good while it lasted!

          • Anna says:

            Are we all now draining our IHG accounts with random redemptions by any chance?!

          • Anna says:

            Also Imran – how much were you generally putting yourself in credit?!

    • The Urbanite says:

      Creation don’t like MS, but their systems aren’t smart enough to detect it.

      Usually things like this are triggered after attracting their attention and inviting human scrutiny. This could be for a simple infringement like a late or missed payment. Or contacting them to resolve a problem while your account is in credit. Or being unlucky and triggering a KYC review.

      It was a glaring omission previously – there was nothing whatsoever precluding you from cycling credit limits but now if putting the account in credit is forbidden, you have to avoid that to keep the account. Taking it a bit more slowly earns more in the long run.

      Unlucky Imran!

    • the_real_a says:

      Unless you were topping up Che and then immediately paying off Solihull there is absolutely nothing unscrupulous whatsoever in doing what you were doing. Both are FSA registered companies and i would be having a great deal of fun with the ombudsman and wasting time in the midlands with full data, calls, logs, system record disclosures. However doing A-B-A cycles is a rookie schoolboy error.

      • Crafty says:

        I would just add that it’s very easy to inadvertently put ones Creation account in credit, because even once has made a payment against the account, the balance isn’t updated for several days. I have on numerous occasions effectively double paid my balance by mistake because of this.

        As soon as they changed the terms, I thought this was why… worth being extra careful and making notes on payments against the account now to avoid such instances.

        • Dave says:

          I did exactly that last month. My account was then suspended. After a chat they unlocked my account and refunded the over payment.
          Best to be careful from now on.

        • Jimmy says:

          What terms have changed for creation? Thought it was only che that was changing in august?

  • MM says:

    This is reference to my post yesterday regarding using Virgin Upper Wing Drive thru check in. Just an update;
    Thanks Gary. You are a life saver. The other number was over 60 minute wait. The number does work and goes to Upper Class team. So a few clarifications;
    1- Don’t have to register the car anymore
    2- They could not figure out if it was possible to provide wheechair assistance. Newly opened lounge, procedures still being worked out. Duty manager will be contacted and someone will call back. Thank you to everyone who answered. You guys are amazing.

  • BJ says:

    So we can now replace ‘MS’with ‘unscrupulous’ going forward?

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