Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

The HfP chat thread – Sunday 15th August

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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 (243)

  • Eppleby Green says:

    I managed to speak to a BA Customer Service(?) Agent this morning after being on hold for only 40 minutes. During our conversation I asked why I was unable to amend an avios booking on line. The agent said that BA had deliberately blocked this facility!!! It seems a bit strange for BA to have done this and, if true, accounts, at least partially, for the difficulties we all seem to be having in contacting BA.

    • Harry T says:

      BA have blocked it to push people into accepting vouchers. BA stopped allowing changes and refunds online early in the pandemic, to manage their cash flow.

      It was apocalyptic trying to contact BA about a holiday last week. Conversely, I wanted to cancel a flying blue redemption on KLM and hopped on the FB live chat, without much optimism. A human agent replied immediately and refunded me the miles and taxes, without a penalty fee, within ten mins. BA aren’t waiving cancellation fees and their chat service is frankly atrocious – you wait an hour to talk to someone and then they quote policy from 2019.

      • meta says:

        The best experience for me was Singapore Airlines who called me a week after the flight was cancelled to talk me through all possible options. Then we agreed that they’ll call back a few days before my original flight, so I have time to think about the options. And they did exactly that.

        On another booking, I called them and phone was answered within a minute…

        • Harry T says:

          Singapore airlines are fantastic. It’s a shame the conversion from Amex MR was recently diminished. My best ever flight redemption was 95,000 SQ for a one way from LHR to Darwin on their news J at that time. Total class act.

          • BJ says:

            YMMV. My two longhaul London to Singapore were good, soon after a380 was launched. However, regional J was rubbish on flights to both BKK and DPS, old aircraft with inferior seats to Thai and CX regional. Very poor on time performance. Book the cook always looks good on paper but is a bit underwhelming in practice. J lounges are good but a bit of a factory. If I had the miles I’d still use them longhaul but not regional.

          • KBuffett says:

            Is there still an option to get the same rate via a different currency AmEx? If so, can someone briefly explain how to use my GBP MR points via an ICC card?

          • BJ says:

            There is a historical article on it I think if you want to try the search. However, you need to be wary of expiration, especially in this era.

          • Guernsey Globetrotter says:

            Yes – on the Amex dollar ICC the rate is still 1:1 and you also get the currency uplift when transferring membership rewards from your UK Amex account to the dollar card (so effectively you can get 1.38 Krisflyer miles per point at the GBP-USD rate now). However, you can only do such a points transfer once per calendar year. If you wait until SQ are running an offer you can get another uplift of 15% when transferring from Amex (usually happens annually – last one was Dec-Jan 20/21). So effectively you can arbitrage your Amex MRs up to about 1.6 Krisflyer miles for the cost of the Amex ICC sub of USD100.
            This is the article Rob ran recently for more details:
            https://www.headforpoints.com/2021/04/02/american-express-membership-rewards-krisflyer/

      • Anna says:

        It wouldn’t be so bad if you could then use the FTVs to make new avios bookings online! At this rate it’s going to be 2023 before people can get through to BA to actually use them.

        • Louise K says:

          I agree.

          Avios are heavily recruiting for home based CS agents at the moment so maybe things might improve soon.

    • Lady London says:

      Can you ask BA using your rights under GDPR for you to have a copy of the recording of this call? Based on 2 posters’ comments yesterday this is both something your GDPR rights and also BA’s Privacy terms mean you should receive and could form a valuable support to an Unfair Trading complaint.

  • Vin says:

    Lufty lounge in MUC – entry only allowed if wearing FFP2 masks. All others are turned away ! They don’t seem bothered about checking for a negative Corona test (but FRA does)

    • Joints&Piles says:

      Do you need the Luca app for lounge entry? Lufty website says so, but the app seems to be for Germany residents only.

      • Phil W says:

        Just spent two weeks in Munich and used the Luca app. Easy to register as a tourist, just put 00000 in the post code box.

    • Blair says:

      Are FFP2 masks sold out of a vending machine next to the lounge ir is it tough luck if u haven’t got one?

    • Char Char says:

      Well that is just pathetic really.

    • Phil W says:

      FFP2 masks are mandated across Bavaria.

    • John says:

      How did you get to the airport without one?

      • Vin says:

        My flight originated from HAM – where FRSM are acceptable – but I had a couple of FFP2 as back up in my hand luggage.
        I didn’t see any mask vending machines at the airport – but then again I wasn’t looking for them.
        If you don’t have the Luca App you can simply fill in a paper form.

    • Yorkieflyer says:

      Sounds very sensible

  • Andrew says:

    If anyone is bored at 7pm this evening – Channel 5 doc “Upgrade Me! Secrets of First Class”. Wouldn’t expect much from it but I’ll pop it on while I’m having dinner.

    • ChrisC says:

      Remember to wear a dinner jacket and slip a £50 note in your passport as you checkon as that’s GUARANTEED to get you to the pointy end!

    • BJ says:

      Thanks, I’ll have a look although not expecting much either. Best strategy IMO is pay for your flight with cash or miles, keep your mouth shut and hope for the best. I imagine nothing annoys staff more than pax fishing for upgrades. Probably almost all decided by miles flown and cash paid these days anyway.

      • Jonathan says:

        BA have quite a sophisticated algorithm which decides who gets the upgrades. For the most common upgrade (WTP-CW) the odds are actually stacked against you as a Gold/GGL. Seems to target those with no/low status & a history of flying WTP but not CW presumably to try & tempt you to trade up in the future. Lots of reports of 3 or 4 upgrades in quick succession then if you still don’t bite & pay for business you’re on the scrap heap.

        Otherwise it’s a case of flying solo in WTP on business traveller heavy routes on Mondays & Thursdays when the small PE cabin is frequently oversold by 5-10 seats.

        • KBuffett says:

          I do wonder why these so called algorithms don’t get leaked.

          • John says:

            Does the parent post not constitute a “leak”?

          • ChrisC says:

            No John as this info has been on flyer tak for a good few years now.

            If the actual systen were leaked BA would soon change it.

            It’s not like you can easily manipulate your chances to get an upgrade anyway given BA give so few out anyway.

      • ChrisC says:

        I know both VS and BA have specific algorythms for deciding upgrades when they need to offer od-ups which do include status and previous flight history including other upgrades the pax may have had.

        If you’re usually a PE flyer had a couple of upgrades already and you’re still booking in PE then down the list you go!

      • BJ says:

        Makes sense. Only upgrades I’ve ever had on BA is two from CW to F. Fortunately, in over 40 years of flying I’ve never been downgraded on any airline. In my student days I used to target voluntary offloading the USA as it was very easy and rewarding.

    • Andrew says:

      One of the secrets of an upgrade is travelling alone and having Andrew as your first name.

      Not joking. I’ve checked in with friends and colleagues when booking solo, and it’s me that’s had the upgrade every time.

      Or maybe years of faking smiles when dealing with customers has helped. Smile with the eyes first, let the pupils dilate and then smile with the lips.

      • Super Secret Stuff says:

        Probably helps but see below, there is a system unless humans override it

      • Rob says:

        My friend Jamie Oliver (who has done the photos for a few HfP parties, so some will have met him) would tell you that Jamie seems to be more successful for some reason ….

    • Super Secret Stuff says:

      Hate to break it to you, the pecking order is:
      1) senior management by seniority
      2) revenue development (eg bum lock CEOs and finance directors, celebs, drastic behavioral changes of a profitable frequent flyer)
      3) other staff by seniority and length of service
      4) GGL and gold
      5) silver and bronze followed by alliance frequent flyers

      All of that goes out the window if one of the crews family or good friends are on board, then who knows. 3 different people at BA have told me near enough the same thing, so fairly confident I never have a chance 🤣

      • Flyoff says:

        From my experience, and particularly on flights to South Africa, Club World was a BA management club with added family members. Most of the conversations were which department do you work in and wider BA employee chat.

  • MATTY says:

    I have 2 companion vouchers looking to book tomorrow . If I travelled along wife and child and the fourth person didn’t would that be OK?
    Both vouchers are in my name .
    Thanks in Advance

    • Sean says:

      Not sure I understand the question – why would you book for 4 people if 1 not travelling? Would not save anything and actually have to pay tax for 4 people?

      • Anna says:

        I don’t understand either. It sounds as though you need to use 1 companion voucher for you and the child and just book a 3rd seat for your wife. This can all be done on one booking as there is a child in the mix.

  • Louise K says:

    I have been trying to book a BAH to Hawaii via LAX all week and until today was unable to get the flights I wanted as it was pushing the HNL/LAX or SEA leg to Y.

    I priced up the flights with 2 nights in LAX and the price was £4.4k. However, when I added 3 nights at the Royal Hawaiian it pushed the price down to £3.5k.

    After several failed attempts, it eventually booked and has been ticketed but I am rather confused as to how I managed to add another hotel for £1600 less than with one hotel.

  • Gormlesstraveller says:

    Black Friday Melia points deal – is there any secondary market on these gift cards? (They are rather good value)

  • Guernsey Globetrotter says:

    Stansted hotel recommendations please peeps? Flying out at midday so right at airport not necessarily essential but easy logistics to get there in morning would be good – I am NOT a morning person 😉

    • Craig says:

      Radisson Blu is nice with a wine tower! Hampton is functional but decent, both walkable not sure if either are being used for quarantine?

      • Guernsey Globetrotter says:

        Thanks Craig – will take a look – a wine tower might just swing it! 🙂

        • Rob says:

          We’ve reviewed the Hampton. Exactly what you’d expect and two minutes walk from the terminal.

      • Guernsey Globetrotter says:

        Hmmm – no availability at Radisson for our date at the start of October so suspect you’re right about the quarantine hotel situation. The recent Tripadvisor reviews of the Hampton and Holiday Inn airport properties also suggest things are not quite up to standard at the moment… May just go for the Premier Inn on the basis that you usually get at least what you pay for there!

  • AnotherUser says:

    I’ve got a flight out from Prestwick. Looks like my problem won’t be crowds, but a pretty dead airport. Forget about lounges – looks like they’re not even serving food in the cafe/bar 🙁 Any suggestions for something to do in or by the airport? Got Amex plat/PP, but doesn’t look that that will help here

    • Doogie says:

      Having eaten there twice in the last 5 or so years my recommendation is take a picnic or dine beforehand, absolutely worst food I’ve ever been subjected to.

      As you say, nothing in the airport and normally a clustered handful of commercial flights, a woeful airport.

      Main entertainment advice would be to postpone getting there as long as you can – I don’t know what the official recommendations are as haven’t flown since all this started, and take your own tablet/ e-reader etc

    • Pete says:

      Prestwick Town centre is less than a mile away. If nothing else it has a Spoons.

      • AnotherUser says:

        Thanks. Don’t think I’ll even be able to get a terrible meal in the airport itself now – nowhere serving food! Will either take a picnic or enjoy the excitement of a Spoons :/ On the upside, it looks like the airport should be quiet

    • Peggerz says:

      To be fair to Prestwick, the only airline doing passenger business is Ryanair and those that have bought a cheap flight aren’t going to spend cash on restaurants etc. So the choices are ‘thin’. I’d stock up on a picnic or – depending on what time of day you are flying – have a reasonable meal somewhere close by before calling at the airport.

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