Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

The HfP chat thread – Thursday 29th 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.

Please only comment under the main articles on the site if your comment is directly related to the topic of the article.  This has long-term benefits as it keeps the commentary relevant for people who read those articles in the future.

Old chat threads are hidden from the HfP home page.  If you want to look for something in an old thread, click here.  This brings up all the articles in our ‘General’ category which includes the chat threads.

Comments (460)

  • Pete M says:

    So I am off to Berlin tomorrow, booked like a week ago. There was no Avios availability and a one way Y ticket with BA was £400pp. Booked with EZ at £160. Avios availability came back today – the flight times are more convenient, so switched. EZ have generously allowed me to move my £160 flight to a £100 flight to LPA next February and made a song and dance about NOT CHARGING ME MORE. Not a word about where the remaining £60 went. I have to say, the more I try other airlines at this time, the more I appreciate BA despite all its shortcomings…

    • Mike says:

      “ booked like a week ago” – Did you book a week ago or approximately a week a go it is not clear ?

    • John says:

      Was the £160 flight refundable? If not, why do you expect them to refund you when you have made a voluntary change?

      If you appreciate BA so much why didn’t you book the £400 flight in the first place?

    • Anna says:

      Have to say EZ’s Ts and Cs are there in black and white when you book with them! I’m surprised the LCCs are even offering this, but imagine it’s only because we are in such unusual times and they’d be getting even fewer bookings if they weren’t offering some sort of flexibility.

      • Pete M says:

        Oh come on guys, of course the T&Cs are out there and I voluntarily made this change. But issuing a voucher for the full amount, like BA do, would have been a positive experience and made me keener to use EZ in the future. As it stands, I will look to avoid them if I can.

        • Anna says:

          In the nicest possible way, I think maybe your expectations of LCCs are a little high? They are best avoided anyway unless you just want a cheap flight with no frills from a convenient regional airport!

          • Pete M says:

            I think you’re right, Anna! 🙂 I think in my mind EZ were the kinder face of LCCs!

        • Harry T says:

          BA are being unusually generous but there’s a reason Ryanair and EasyJet have been successful as businesses – they don’t make poor business decisions that jeopardise cash flow. Easy have also been pretty generous throughout the pandemic, compared to Ryanair. As Rob has said before, Ryanair have taken a more sensible approach to refunds and rebooking from a business standpoint (certainly not a consumer standpoint!).

    • Tracey says:

      Just to warn you, if you change the flight again, you could find that amount carried forward to the next flight is only £100- the £60 having already disappeared in a puff of smoke.

  • Oli says:

    I raised an MCOL claim againt BA about 10 days ago for replacement flights after BA cancelled with original flights. Today I received an unsolicited refund of my RFS flights. Is this normal? I never asked BA for a refund; the cancelled flights were planned in June.

    • Toppcat says:

      They have done this to me too, and then tried to claim that they have discharged their EU261 obligations by doing so, which they clearly haven’t…

      • meta says:

        Too me too last year during ongoing MCOL claim. BA settled in the end.

        • Oli says:

          Thanks. Not sure how this will land now as they will somehow have to value the Avios refunded and deduce that from the price of the alternative flights i purchased…

          • Pete M says:

            When they agreed to pay out my CEDR claim back in March they automatically deducted the value of the Avios and RFS from what I was claiming. They were surprised when I said they’d never refunded the ticket and paid out in full.

          • meta says:

            For me they only deducted RFS fee, but I kept Avios as an extra. That’s how I negotiated with them to drop the MCOL case.

          • Lady London says:

            It’s a cheap trick.

            No you don’t have to accept the avios refunded. State you have no use for them after BA’s behaviour and your MCOL claim will include the full value of the avios as spent being 1.6p per avios and instruct them to remove their unwsnted unrequested x,000 avios from your account.

          • Lady London says:

            Just write to them formally rejecting this as it is already subject to MCOL and instruct them to remove them from your account

            If questioned in the hearing I
            would say I have no use for them and given the way BA has behaved I don’t want to increase my exposure to/investment in avios therefore the MCOL is for the cash value based on BA’s regular selling price of 1.6p per avios.

          • Oli says:

            Thanks everyone, very useful!

  • BJ says:

    I called the passport office on opening at 8am this morning. After being kept on hold 20 minutes it requested that I provide my number so that they could hold my place in the queue and call me back. Now gone 10am and I’m still waiting. I was not expecting that.

  • TJ says:

    Are there any good hotels which are walking distance from DBX? Arriving late night and just want to stay somewhere close & convenient for the night.

    • Richie says:

      Where are you parking the Aston Martin?

    • Rich says:

      DXB? There’s a Premier Inn on site

    • Blenz101 says:

      Dubai isn’t a walkable city it is designed for cars outside of its zoned communities. Roads tend to run to at least 4 lanes in each direction with barriers preventing you crossing. A cab to any nearby airport hotel won’t run to more than a few £.

      That said if you want to stay at the airport you could look here https://www.dubaiairports.ae/while-youre-here/sleep-options

      Which terminal you land in will also make a difference to your options.

      • Rob says:

        Taxis are effectively free in Dubai, not entirely sure what the issue is ….

        • Tariq says:

          Do they still charge a premium for journeys starting from the airport?

          • Rob says:

            There might be a higher base fare – you certainly don’t get as far for £2 from the airport as you get from a downtown address.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      There’s plenty within 10 mins driving distance. It’s not a walking city.

    • Martin says:

      Sofitel The Obelisk is a quick taxi away and is great. Stayed in Jan and going back next year.

      • Rob says:

        Agreed, it is outstanding. Did an overnight there in December after a late arrival. If price is competitive with other options near the airport then book it.

        The new Hyatt Regency is also decent – we have reviewed it – but nowhere near Obelisk standards. If it was in London the Obelisk would be in the top 10 hotels in town, and we paid under £100 back in 12/20.

        Avoid the Meridien. Whilst technically opposite the airport, you still need a taxi to get there so you might as well drive for another few minutes and go to one of the above.

        Many other decent options too but I only have experience of these three.

        • Njb says:

          The Premier Inn is awful – made that mistake a few years ago.

  • A says:

    What’s the cheapest current pre-flight test for me to fly home to the US?
    Eurofins is £40 with BA discount, or does the £35rapid expresstest at LHR work for the US ? Any other (reliable)options?

    • Blenz101 says:

      Rob should really do an article on this, the Google traffic to the site would surely make it worth it! Affiliate link or discount code would be the icing on the cake.

      Would just need to cover what is the cheapest PCR [+other type] test? In person, by post and pre-departure and on arrival.

      Readers would need to do their own research on what type of test is acceptable for their journey.

      • Craig says:

        Even a pinned and updated article, I know it’s changing all the time but it would be very useful? It would also allow all discussion relating to testing to be on one thread.

        • Joints&Piles says:

          Very useful. There’s been a ton of testing talk in the chat over recent months and I ignored all of it because I wasn’t travelling. Now I do have plans I wished I’d paid attention. A reliable summary of options, discounts, requirements etc would be a huge timesaver compared to trawling old chat threads and hunting around the interwebs.

          • Rob says:

            For the same reasons we don’t recommend insurance, we are not going to start ‘recommending’ testing providers. What is ‘reliable’ anyway? Do you actually care if your test is thrown in a bin, not analysed, and an ‘ok’ certificate issued? We will continue to review services as we try them and we will continue to publish news of new testing sites and offers.

          • Joints&Piles says:

            I was suggesting that I would consider HFP a reliable source for such info. I said nothing about recommending testing providers, nor about price, only that I agree pulling together related articles into one place to make it easier to find (and as a nucleus for related chat) would be very useful, instead of searching the general category and old chat threads.

        • Rob says:

          If you’re the sort of person who is only obsessed by price then we can’t help you, especially with something as serious as covid testing.

          • Pete M says:

            I kind of get where you are coming from, Rob, because as I travel a fair bit, friends and acquaintances have started to come to me for advice about Covid testing. And I’ve recently had a bunch come back to me complaining about tests not arriving, them not liking the process or trying to basically argue with my recommendations. Like… I really don’t need this, I just tried to help!

          • Craig says:

            OK, I get that, any chance of a dedicated chat page for testing? I think most of us here are looking for a balance of price and quality?

          • John says:

            This is a “dedicated” chat page… people have been posting about tests every day!

          • Rob says:

            Yes, but there is a difference between HfP explicity making recommendations – which is what is being asked of us – and readers sharing experiences.

          • A says:

            ‘Reliable’ in my post means it actually arrives and gets a result sent.
            Completely the opposite of the clear scam testing I booked to the Uk where I didn’t really care about it – I want (need!) this one to work so I can go home. And yeah, price is a factor.

            My problem with this is, the US specifies a pcr, or a lateral flow if it contains something or other… So a PCR from eurofins is no good (according to a prior response) but an expresstest walk in (which is think is lateral flow) is acceptable? Some of this is as clear as mud.

    • Nick says:

      Eurofins won’t be accepted. Do ExpressTest on day of departure.

    • Jonathan says:

      It does half amaze me that some people don’t think that pre-departure or return testing for COVID-19 isn’t serious at all, and cheapest means best !

      Everyone is fully aware how dangerous the virus is to public health, and how it spreads like wildfire. If you don’t know those two points about it where have you been for living ? Under a rock or something ?!?

      • Blenz101 says:

        Well a PCR test is a PCR test, if I take a £350 one at Harley Street in person or a £25 one through the post.

        The mandatory testing now taking place is for asymptomatic travellers who should by and large be fully vaccinated. The positivity rates are typically below 1% and the number actually being sequenced to seek new variants is a handful a week.

        All people want it the cheapest and most reliable in terms of getting a result back in time to travel. The result will be what it will be no matter how much was paid.

        You should be far more worried about the dangers of those who just edit the PDF of their last negative result changing the date and travelling without paying for and taking a test at all.

        • Rob says:

          No it isn’t. Your £25 one is likely to be thrown in the bin unanalysed and a random certificate issued, eg https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/15614601/covid-testing-firm-dumping-kits/

          Your £350 test will be processed at an onsite lab and the results issued in record time.

          • Blenz101 says:

            But I presume anything on the .gov site should be considered ‘safe’? The government are basically offering a price comparison site for testing providers as things stand.

            I accept that perhaps it is more MSE or even Which? territory though.

            If this is still with us in a couple of years time then perhaps the various testing providers HFP uses on its trips will naturally end up with a summary roundup of providers by default.

          • Rob says:

            No. The Robert Boyle / Gridpoint report shows how Government listed providers are gaming the system with fake or unachievable pricing, so why you would trust them to actually look at your sample I don’t know …

        • C says:

          Just a warning not to be too cavalier about the benefits of being fully vaccinated. I’m currently in and out of bed for the second consecutive day following a positive test. I had my second AZ dose at the start of July. This week will equal my cumulative total days off work due to illness since 2009. I do think we should all be travelling and sensibly social (and some of the testing requirements are absurd) – but stick with providers that will give you a real test, and careful evaluation, and don’t believe that this vaccine provides actual protection against contracting the disease.

          I know everyone has read the above from other sources, but it’s just a cautionary reminder from a regular reader.

          • Rob says:

            You should not, for a second, believe that the Astra vaccine provides any real protection against catching Delta covid. It provides HUGE amounts of protection to stop you getting seriously ill if (when?) you catch it but the number of fully Astra-jabbed people in their 40’s/50’s I know who have caught covid in the last three weeks is crazy. You should bear this in mind if you are within, say, 7-10 days of a holiday which requires a test.

    • Harry T says:

      Just use randox – fair pricing and actually reliable.

      • Tracey says:

        Plenty of horror stories about Randox on Facebook testing groups.

        • Harry T says:

          There’s horror stories about everyone. My own experience has been rock solid. Makes sense to go direct with randox as they do a large part of the testing for other companies, and their prices are good.

  • Joints&Piles says:

    Any recommendations for hotels (especially any that offer parking deals) near LHR T2? Flying from T2 in September but haven’t used T2 for many years.

    • Joints&Piles says:

      I see some positive opinions of Hilton Garden Inn T2 in recent days chats. Any others? Any with parking?

    • Rich says:

      Hilton often have a parking inclusive rate – not sure if there is one for the Hilton T2. IHG do something similar.

      It all depends how much faff you’re willing to put up with for shuttle transfers.

      Holiday Extras have a decent search for hotel + parking, with very clear info about transfers and what happens with the key etc.

    • Aaron C says:

      I’ve used HGI T2 the last few times. They have a deal with Maple Parking. You drive to the hotel and the Maple driver is waiting for you and take your car away. They then bring it back to M+G at whichever terminal you arrive back into.
      Hilton T4 I think allow parking onsite (nor did when things were dead) if you don’t want to have the car driven away.

      • Joints&Piles says:

        Thanks all.

        At Hilton I see packages for at most 15 days of parking.
        Holiday Extras will price up the HGI with the 21 days parking that I need.
        Is there a way to book longer parking stays direct at Hilton?
        I can book separately but a direct booking might be cheaper and I’d (probably) earn points on the parking spend.

    • the_real_a says:

      Do price up NCP T2 offsite parking.

  • Harry T says:

    Day 9584937373 without a Marriott Bonvoy promotion or Amex offer. @Rob any idea when one of these apparent unicorns might appear?

    • Jonathan says:

      That is by a long shot far longer than Amex have been trading !

      For those of you who are unsure, they started in March 1850 as an Express Mail service, hence where part of their name comes from !

      • QFFlyer says:

        As that’s around 26 million years, it’s a fair bit longer than most companies have been trading!

        • Jonathan says:

          They haven’t even been trading for that many seconds, and they won’t reach it for many more years !

    • E says:

      This is more true to form for Marriott in year gone past. They have only really had Amex offers in the last few years. And their own promotions tend to have gaps during the year when they don’t offer anything. Perhaps now they feel they have to make less effort with previous SPG members, it’s beginning to look like they’re moving back to their usual approach. Hope not though as I could use the offers!

    • Dave says:

      The Bonvoy double night promotion earlier this year was completely useless with many parts of the UK still in lockdown.
      Hopefully they’ll run it again later in the year when we’ll actually be able to make use of it. Have my doubts though.

      • Harry T says:

        I don’t think we will get that lucky – I agree it was useless for Europe and UK but they are very US focussed.

  • s says:

    Just purchased Ambassador for the first time. Is the 20 USD F&B voucher benefit in addition to the welcome amenity voucher? Is the 20 UD voucher offered at ICs only, or is it also offered at Kimptons?

    • Clubx says:

      The 20USD credit is all you get at IC for drinks. In Kimpton you get a £10/£15 raid the bar coupon on the basis of your Plat status that comes with AMB

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Not true. The amb 20USD credit is ON TOP of the elite welcome drink voucher/points option.

        Why would it replace it!

        • S says:

          That my reading of the benefits chart, but I had a feeling that’s not how it plays out in practice.

          • TGLoyalty says:

            That’s how it’s played out every time I stayed and you should NOT accept anything else

            Amb benefits are over and above the standard IHG elite benefits NOT instead of.

        • meta says:

          Not all ICs offer welcome drink. My recent case at IC Ljubljana, they said points only! Although I did get a very decent welcome amenity in the room that was almost a meal for one person.

          • John says:

            🙁 all I got there was a square of chocolate (I guess it had enough calories for 2 people’s meals).

    • Anna says:

      Don’t forget you can only use the 2nd night free certificate at Kimptons until the end of the year.
      I don’t think I’m going to renew Ambassador after this year as I find Spire status recognised so well by Kimpton I’ll probably do most of my stays with them in future.

    • QFFlyer says:

      In addition. The welcome amenity is an IHG wide thing, AMB benefit is IC only and they do stack, although not all IC’s offer the drinks.

      Best I’ve had is at the IC Grand Stanford in Hong Kong – welcome drinks, $120 Spire Elite F&B discount, $120 AMB F&B discount. And they allowed them to be used on room service.

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