Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

The HfP chat thread – Thursday 19th August

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Comments (452)

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  • Aston100 says:

    Is there no better value for Avios than using it with a companion voucher on a longhaul flight with BA in club/first?

    I ask because the associated fees and taxes are a bit silly and because most destinations I’d want to go to eastbound longhaul are not covered by BA.

    Are there any opportunities with other airlines that accept Avios and which aren’t hugely more than BA Avios + 241 + fees & taxes?

    Qatar cover pretty much all the places I’d want to travel, bit I imagine the maths doesn’t work anywhere near as good?


    • Anna says:

      You can get lower fees on Iberia and Aer Lingus (e.g. out of Madrid or Dublin), but every time I’ve looked at it it’s not been worth the extra time and money involved in getting to the starting ariport over using a 241 via LHR. May be different when we’re travelling as a couple again, it’s something I intend to look at again in future (especially after BA’s CS performance over the last year). Rob has done articles on these options.
      I think Iberia and Aer Lingus mainly go west though?

    • BJ says:

      Generally no. The taxes are nothing to do with BA, and the fees are not silly. Apart from anything else they are keeping the avios-cost down. You are likely making the mistake of perceiving the avios reward flights as comparable to discounted revenue fares while in reality they should be compared to fully flexible fares that are much more expensive. Best to redeem on First where available because any downgrade is likely only to be to CW and you are then entitled to 75% refund, value is further boosted when travelling at peak times like Christmas, flights to expensive destinations, and complex itineraries like double open jaw. All schemes have their sweet spots but IMO BA Premium cabin longhaul on complex itineraries at peak times is right up there near the summit of the FF game. Some might disagree on basis of comparison to both the hard and soft products of some competitors but BA now rolling out CS and F seems to be getting improvedso this is becoming less important. Not to mention you can go most places you want to go direct nonstop with BA.

      • Aston100 says:

        I’m aware of the usefulness of westbound travel at peak times.
        My flights to IAD and neck from JFK cost 120k Avios, a companion voucher and just over £1300 in taxes and fees. I would value that at just under £1300pp. That itinerary is currently about £3250pp cash. I would have been happy to spend up to £2500pp. So I’ve saved around £1200pp so I’m genuinely happy.

        My issue is longhaul eastbound.
        If I have to use Avios and companion voucher again, I’d probably have to fly to SIN (or HKG or possibly even BKK depending on time of year), overnight in a hotel (each way, losing 2 nights) and then fly a regional airline on a separate ticket with the associated risks. I’m quite risk averse.

        Hence was wondering if there was a way to use Avios on some other airlines and just how poor value that would be in comparison.

        Also, not sure why you think the fees are not silly on BA.

        • BJ says:

          Not sure where you actually want to go but I don’t consider nights in any of the hubs you menton nights lost 🙂 I’d quite happily stay a night in any of them just for a walk around and dinner.

          I have been posting here for years that burning air miles on flights when air miles earning cash flights make more sense is about the silliest thing you can do in this hobby. That decision does however have to be made within the context of how avios-rich and cash-poor one is at the time.

          For some time now many of us have been anticipating a substantial avios devaluation. That it hasn’t happened yet probably owes much to the silly fees as you call them.

    • S says:

      Same issue here. Most destinations I like to travel to are in the East and BA + Avios generally are not great redemptions unless 2-4-1 in First and as you said the fees are very steep especially when leaving the UK.

      I have used Krisflyer miles and AA miles converted from Marriott points for good redemptions to the East. Aside from RFS and travelling to the US or South Africa, Avios are not great value imo.

      • BJ says:

        Are you factoring ease of earning avios relative to other miles though? Doing so casts the alternatives in a different light, MR only works for a few airlines and it is not easy to earn huge stashes of Bonvoy points unless you are a very frequent business traveller. And Vonvoy better redeemed on hotels anyway.

        • S says:

          True there are many factors. Whilst it is definitely easier to earn Avios, if one has the ability to earn alot of MR, it’s a convertible currency and opens up many opportunities for other airlines.

          Redemption availability is far more open I found with Krisflyer and AA when I used these as the fact Avios are more easily available means Avios seats are more difficult to find.

          • BJ says:

            Hopefully the new companion voucher will genuinely help with availability. Not long until we find out.

    • Memesweeper says:

      The multi carrier award, and partner awards away from UK, are often good value. Multi carrier works well going east.

  • BJ says:

    Just been browsing Simon Calders recent stuff at the Independent and see he reported on the HfP article about BA longhaul aircraft on short-haul routes.

    • Blair says:

      Might be of niche interest but Aer Lingus use an A330 daily DUB to Malaga (AGP).

    • GoodExperience says:

      We did the London Amsterdam leg today on a 787 I think it was. Great to have a proper business class seat compared to the crush-fest on an A320. Unfortunately not enough time to relax and go fully flat as I wanted some breakfast too. Spoke to the flight engineer before take off who explained that as there is only one BA flight now to Amsterdam instead of six, they have consolidated all the freight on one flight and therefore need a much bigger plane. It felt real good travelling in business like that!

    • Rob says:

      We know Simon quite well. He came in for a ‘get to know you’ meeting pre covid and we occasionally bounce ideas around by email. There are things that often come my way which are better dealt with by a more mainstream writer in a more mainstream publication, and he will occasionally use some of our quirkier stuff that has wider appeal.

      • BJ says:

        Good to hear. I always liked Simon and found him engaging from what I read, and saw of him on TV. Sometimes I find some of his viewpoints and advice a little odd but this is probably because he is trying to reach out to an audience with a much broader range of travel and loyalty knowledge. The more varied the audiences level of understanding is the more difficult it gets to get the pitch right.

      • Bill says:

        I usually watch his Facebook live streams whilst he goes for a walk. They’re quite entertaining

  • VerdantBacon says:

    BA 241 flight to Sydney in F for start of Feb 2022 has been cancelled. Do we have any rerouting / options to get on another carrier that is running a service to Sydney? Would like to know my options before calling at 8am tomorrow

    • Richie says:

      Your absolute rights are as art.8 of 261, which BA are often happy to ignore. The simplest alternative may be a OW airline, so search to find your preference and then tell them what you want.

    • Harry T says:

      If you’re not an Aussie citizen, this should be a great opportunity to punt the flight up to a year from the original departure date in February 2022. They won’t be opening up to leisure travel for a good long time.

      If you can actually enter Australia in February 2022 due to having the right passport, then absolutely you have a right to be rerouted on another carrier. I suspect rebooking on Qatar is your best and most likely option.

      • VerdantBacon says:

        Thanks Harry, am an Aussie passport holder and need to get back for my brother in law’s wedding, otherwise we wouldn’t bother with two weeks jail time we have to pay for!

        • Louie says:

          You would be nuts to rely on a reward flight to get to an important event like a wedding. Whoever it is with, you are almost certain to be bumped – and it’s likely to be impossible to find an alternative if that is at short notice. Knowing you have a right to be rerouted or whatever is no help if there are no flights available.

          Buy a regular (refundable) ticket as a back up. Cheapest will probably be premium economy on SQ, although early February flights are already sold out on several days, even then you might get bumped. Also SQ only offer PE to Sydney; if you are not going there, you run the risk of getting stuck in Sydney if other states have closed their borders to NSW (although I believe they are starting to allow you to stay another night in hotel quarantine so you can go straight to the airport for a same day flight as is required if necessary). Also consider signing up for the repatriation flights to Darwin, which are much more reliable. Getting back on a one way reward flight will be much easier, well at least on SQ, I’ve not looked at any others recently as I believe SQ to be far more reliable.

          I take it you are double vaxed? WA is requiring interstate travellers to be double vaxed and other states may follow suit. And in case you’re not aware, the rules have recently changed so you will need a permit to leave Australia.

          I have reward flights booked on Cathay, SQ and JAL in Jan and Feb and don’t expect to get on any of them so have booked paid SQ in PE. Even then I am not confident I will be getting on any plane.

          • VerdantBacon says:

            Thanks, I have 5 flights back to Aus already. This one in particular got cancelled

      • Andrew says:

        Although likely be downgraded to J as QR don’t have any immediate plans to restart A380 flights which are the only long haul aircraft with F.

        • Andrew says:

          CX probably your most likely option if you want to keep F but not sure what the HKG transit rules are at the moment.

          • VerdantBacon says:

            To be honest not massively fussed on F or J, as long as we aren’t doing that distance in Y!

            If downgraded to J is there any further compo to expect?

          • Andrew says:

            And let’s face it – QR’s J is still better than BA’s F! You should get downgrade compo too.

          • VerdantBacon says:

            Yes it would certainly feel strange calling QR J a downgrade on BA F 😆

    • Lyn says:

      Just in case you haven’t already seen this, I think Australia has recently changed the rules for Australian citizens leaving Australia.

      You might now need permission to leave if you are going back to the UK, even if you are normally resident there.

  • GoodExperience says:

    Quick question for you Intercontinental Ambassadors out there, if using the IHG credit card free night at an Intercontinental hotel, do I also get the benefit of the “Restaurant & bar credit of up to USD20 for every stay” that is advertised as an ambassador benefit. Or do you only get this on paid stays. Thanks

    • Blair says:

      Anecdotally I have received it. As have others I know. But officially I think it’s for paid stays.

    • Phil W says:

      I’ve always received it for Free Night, Point Redemption, Weekend Voucher and (obviously) paid for stays.

  • Joints&Piles says:

    Amex Platinum insurance – I wondered what I could print out to carry with me as proof of insurance, just in case. I found that from the amex account there is a link to an Axa insurance benefit centre where you can create an insurance certificate. You just have to pick the destination country from a list of countries. Every country in the world is listed, except the one I’m going to…

    • Joints&Piles says:

      …and the certificate you can generate for other countries says nothing about the level of medical cover. What do others print? (Obviously that question is not directed to those who happily and confidently rely on the fact that nobody ever asks)

      • JDB says:

        You can download the IPID (insurance product information document) together with your certificate of insurance which should be fine. I’m not sure why you don’t mention the country you are going to, in case there is some obvious reason it isn’t covered and people could help you more. Otherwise, have you looked at different versions of the country name, or in local language? eg UK often appears as Great Britain, or just the individual countries etc.

  • BJ says:

    Any available seat for cash or avios on BA or reroute (within reason) on another carrier. BA will push back strongly on any reroute, even reasonable ones. Bigger question is who will be flying to Australia and who will be allowed in. To ease future drama it might be best just to settle for hew dates on BA if that would work for you.

    • BJ says:

      That was meant to be reply @Verddantbacon

    • VerdantBacon says:

      It looks like QR are flying into Australia regularly, of course getting into a seat is going to be tough. Can’t change the date much later as brother in law has decided to get married 22/2/22 and we face quarantine!

      • BJ says:

        OK good luck. Try calling USA number via Skype as we we’re reminded by Pete yesterday. I got through in just under an hour compared to two days of failure on UK number. Probably a reroute on Qatar is easiest reroute to get from BA. Let them know it is for wedding too.

        • BJ says:

          Vefore calling check whether Malaysian may he an option too, I think they will be more likely than CX via HK.

          • VerdantBacon says:

            Good options and definitely plenty to think about, just realised that the inbound hasn’t been cancelled yet (it’s not until the end of March 2022). Should I just wait for both legs to be cancelled and reroute both legs?

        • Sean says:

          Call Youfirst that’s what they are there for.

      • Andrew says:

        And QR won’t be F as they won’t restart A380 by then, so a downgrade to J.

  • Stephan says:

    Probably a bit late in the day for this question but how do people value an avios when booking a flight for a friend? I just find that given how hard it is to get the avios and flexibility it brings 1p is probably on the low side when buying a flight for a friend.

    • Harry T says:

      I wouldn’t book for a friend normally, but I think valuing them at the same rate you would use them for yourself is reasonable.

    • Tracey says:

      If they are a true friend I’d take 1p. If they weren’t a true friend or my Avios stash was short I’d make my excuses and stay away.

    • Stephan says:

      I had always used the 1p rule which I think makes sense for economy flights but I think club europe I would price them a bit higher. Rob may have covered that in his analysis tbh.

      • John says:

        Ask the friend what they would be prepared to pay BA for the flight and then apply an appropriate discount.

    • Genghis says:

      I’m burning at Nectar so I’d be happy to take 0.8p cash. Your friend shouldn’t pay more than they would otherwise buy them for, which in an avios sale is just over 1p.

      • Stephan says:

        Yup that’s exactly what I found and there happens to be one just now! so valuing it at 1.13p and I can replenish my stock given it’s a chucky 20% of my total avios

  • Andy says:

    Trying to check in for my Lufthansa flight tomorrow and it says I need a visa number?! I thought UK citizens could visit without a visa for 90 days!?

    • Blair says:

      What’s your itinerary and have you perchance chosen UAE or Ukraine rather than UK when entering your passenger details when buying the ticket?

    • Phil W says:

      Are you flying to Germany? When we flew there with Lufty recently nobody could check in online.

    • AJA says:

      Yes but check your passport expiry date.

      Passport validity
      We recommend that on the day you travel you have at least 6 months left on your passport. This allows for:

      travelling in Europe for up to 3 months (you don’t normally need a visa for the first 90 days in every 180 days of travel)
      the requirement from most European countries to have at least 3 months left on your passport on the day after you leave
      Your passport must also be less than 10 years old on the day after you leave. If you renewed your current passport before the previous one expired, extra months may have been added to its expiry date. Any extra months on your passport over 10 years may not count towards the minimum period needed.

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