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The HfP chat thread – Wednesday 22nd September

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

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Comments (644)

  • Save East Coast Rewards says:

    Howay Joe, tell us when in November you’re reopening the US! This is a key bit of info…

    • BJ says:

      I hope not, but I think we would be better to prepare ourselves for a sting in the tail with this saga. I think it’ll happen but I can see them trying to dial it back a bit after the way it has been announced and presented.

      • John says:

        Possibly only those with vaccines approved by the FDA will be considered vaccinated…

        • BJ says:

          …you’ll be putting most HfP readers off their cornflakes this morning!

        • Luke says:

          News reports have already said that AZ will be fine.

          • John says:

            News reports were also claiming we’d be waiting for the US mid terms for the border to open… so I’ll hope for the best but not get too optimistic just yet.

            Naturally the piece being missed here is the continued closure of US embassies around the world for routine consular services. There will be a large quantity of people still effectively banned due to an inability to get a visa interview, or a US citizen birth registered, etc etc.

          • Tracey says:

            Canada has used AZ, so unlikely it won’t be accepted.

          • Sandgrounder says:

            https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/international-travel-during-covid19.html

            WHO approved vaccines (A-Z specifically mentioned) have been acceptable since last month. See the last paragraph.

          • J says:

            @Luke: New reports I saw quoted Fauci as saying he believed they should be allowed, but he had no say in the decision. It’s likely to be fine. but nowhere has suggested it’s a guarantee.

      • Save East Coast Rewards says:

        Hmm are they waiting for the UK and other leaders to leave the US before the sting in the tail is announced? It would be a major help for airlines and passengers to know the date.

        • Blenz101 says:

          Isn’t it all going to be contingent on Congress. The president can presumably roll back the current proclamation but to introduce new rules will require new laws. Even if this is again done by presidential proclamation it still needs the backing of congress to be legally binding.

          So entry by November is the goal but ‘politics’ may yet play a part and is likely why no firm date can be given.

          Wouldn’t be surprised to see headlines declaring that entry is delayed due to standoff in the house and Biden unable to pass his announced policy. Double win for the republicans.

          • BuildBackBetter says:

            Administrative rules don’t require congress approval. That’s how Trump came up with this order.

          • IanM says:

            Totally incorrect.

            But I am not clear about visas – presumably the existing ESTA arrangements will work?

          • Mike says:

            POTUS has extensive powers over immigration, I would be surprised if Congress tried anything.

    • Lyn says:

      It sounds as if this was the decision was only made this weekend to shift gear and allow travellers who are both vaccinated and pre-tested from anywhere, rather than all pre-tested travellers from a limited set of countries.

      Personally I read it as simply an early announcement of that decision, with the goal of having the implementation ready by early November. This is a major change, which will take time to plan and implement.

      It may well be weeks before they are confident enough to announce an actual date. They may even wait until “early November” once they have all the systems in place.

      • AJA says:

        I think travel will open up in time for Thanksgiving weekend and Black Friday. It might be earlier in November but I wouldn’t bank on that.

      • Terri says:

        The previous wednedsay the US announced it was staying closed to Europe/UK due to Delta. Then days later a distinctly lacking on detail announcement by the same official that USA would be reopening its borders to all. I got the distinct impression it was a previously unplanned decision made over the weekend on the back of a fag packet to distract the european press and governments away from other topics ie a submarine deal. Hence the vagueness of when and how it will happen.

        If the US follows the Canada route of requiring all children 12+ years to be double vaccinated or endure 2 weeks quarantine, then the airlines will get the initial rush of adults heading to US but the US holiday market is going to struggle – a lot fewer Disneyworld trips to Florida.

        • Nicky says:

          It would be really crappy if there were a sting in the tail, especially when bookings shot up when the announcement was made. I personally have a cruise booked at Christmas and wouldn’t be impressed if I were messed around yet again by Cunard. We’ll just have to wait and see on this one

  • BrianN says:

    Jeez IHG are a nightmare. Just following up from the voucher article yesterday.

    I had a new voucher allocated to my account in June – so not a voucher extension. Testing booking dates, it’s clear this has been set up as ‘stay by’ rather than ‘book by’.

    Trying to explain this to IHG customer service is impossible as they are programmed to respond from a script it seems with the Chase voucher terms.

    Rob/Rhys, any advice on the best way to raise this with IHG?

    Thanks

    • Jonathan says:

      Considering IHG centrally have now acknowledged the issue I’d wait for the solution to be rolled out. Even if you get their useless frontline CS to accept what you’re saying then they probably won’t be able to rectify it so unfortunately it’s a case of awaiting the backend IT issue to be fixed.

    • BrianN says:

      Contacted IHG on twitter and the replies from ihgservice are a joke. They haven’t a clue how the voucher works. I’m so fed up with IHG. Pathetic service. I’m done with them after this. Had enough of the incompetent service and frustrating amount of time dealing with them.

  • Will in SFO says:

    As we are now US based, I am out of the loop on the ins/outs of the Amex 2 for 1 voucher. Long story short what is the most efficient way to get hold of BA to change a booking using Amex 2 for 1.

    We have parents who have flights booked, using a 2 for 1 voucher, for late Oct. Last week they were going to push the flights (for the 8th time!) out Feb 2022 but with Biden’s announcement they now, understandably after 2 years without seeing us and having never met their 17 month old grandchild, want to get out during Nov.

    Any tips (is it phone or live chat or twitter or what) on the most efficient way to get hold of BA to make the change needed would be appreciated. We know availability has to be there and its likely going to be hard slog to get hold of anyone at BA.

    • BJ says:

      Firstly, I recimnend your parents set you up as a third party nominee allowing you to manage their account. They can do this online under the manage my account options on the left panel. After that I recommend you call BA using the USA number (many people here currently do that) and you will most likely be put through to a CSA in the UK who will hopefully be helpful.

    • ChrisAc says:

      My top tip is to not do anything to book until an actual date has been announced as all I’ve seen so far is saying it will be ‘early’ or merely ‘in’ November. You don’t want to rebook now and then find out it’s the wrong side of the new date.

      I agree with BJ about getting you set up as a nominee on their accounts. I think this can be done online and not by calling.

      And I’d do some dummy bookings to see what availability is there at the moment and unless they have taken FTVs if they or you can rebook on line.

      Live chat might be less stressful then calling so have all the flight numbers etc ready to feed to the agent as well.

  • Pablo says:

    Would the Chronomics antigen test be acceptable for entry to Holland? Fully vaxed flying BA to AMS. Thanks

    • Reeferman says:

      Just booked my antigen test for entry to Netherlands – Collinson at LCY (with BA discount code) .
      Netherlands Govt website advises antigen test is fine, but must be within 24 hours of departure

    • MM says:

      yes it is

  • Scott says:

    Got some of the new Nectar price offers on my app this morning.
    You need to either use the hand held scanners or download another app to get them though.

    Got things like “Haagen Daaz Salted Caramel Ice Cream” for £2.31 and “Green & Black’s 85% chocolate” for £1.15.

    Bar one or two items such as a 1.5kg bag of their own crisps, most are things I buy, but I’m going to hold off until my bonus point offers appear on Friday.

    • ChrisC says:

      I’ve got a mix of what was left on my points offers from last Friday to some new ones that are for “my nectar price’

      All seems a bit complicated. Don’t think my local has the scanners let alone a “dedicated smart shop checkout area’

      • John says:

        Then you are forced to use your phone as the scanner

        Don’t need a dedicated area as all the self checkouts should do it

        • Peter Taysum says:

          You don’t even have to use a till; you can pay in your phone away from till!

      • ChrisC says:

        Just been to the Sainburys local across the road (needed something for dinner – Katsu Curry if you’re interested)

        Their “dedicated smart shop checkout area” is a QR code stuck on the wall!

        Also they these offers on the ‘saved’ tab on the app but you are then supposed to save them and when you try to it says ‘something failed’

    • Doug M says:

      The trouble with using my phone is that I never have a data connection in Sainsbury’s. They build them with that steel framework that does a very good job of blocking phone signals. They say they have WiFi but I can never connect. The shops with the handheld scanners are fine.

      • AJA says:

        This is my problem too. Can’t get a signal inside the shop and can’t connect to WiFi. Plus I have my shopping list on my phone so constantly switching between the two is a PITA. Fortunately my Sainsbury’s has smart shop so I use the handheld scanner.

    • Linda says:

      My latest offers which I get on Tuesdays are no points at all, just special prices on a few of my regulars purchases. Hope they aren’t going down that road! I want points.

  • Bigmaggot says:

    Morning All, TUI moved my departure from BRS to LGW which 200 miles 5 days before departure to Lanzarote which is classed as a major change in their T&Cs. I ended up cancelling and flying with Jet2 from the same airport we had originally booked with TUI. TUI tactic seemed to be get as many bookings from regional airports with no intention of flying then combine flights at last minute to the larger airports, as a previous booking for a departure a week before they just cancelled. While not a lot of money I complained and wanted compensation based on their T&Cs below, which they declined due to COVID. I booked last minute with them and COVID situation nothing changed. Should I MCOL them (skipping CEDR) or do you think I’m wasting my time?

    Compensation
    Any compensation payable will be on these scales, based on how many days before your booked holiday departure we tell you of a major change.

    Compensation payable per person / Period before departure when a major change is notified
    0 (84 days or more)
    £10 (83 – 29 days)
    £20 (28 – 15 days)
    £30 (14 – 8 days)
    £40 (7 – 0 days)
    If The Change Is Not Acceptable To You
    If any major change indicated above is not acceptable to you, you can cancel your holiday booking. In this case, we will refund all the money you have paid us and will pay you compensation, as shown above, depending on how many days before your holiday we tell you about this change unless the change is for reasons beyond our control (see ‘Important Note – Events Beyond Our Control’). This standard payment will not affect your statutory or other legal rights.
    Important Note – Events Beyond Our Control
    Events beyond our control include: war, threat of war, riots, civil disturbances, terrorist activity and its consequences, industrial disputes, natural and nuclear disasters, fire, epidemics, health risks and pandemics, unavoidable and unforeseeable technical problems with transport for reasons beyond our control or that of our suppliers; closed or congested airports or ports, hurricanes and other actual or potential severe weather conditions, and any other similar events.

    • Paul says:

      Their T&Cs can trump your statutory rights under EU261 and Covid doesn’t shield them. MCOL will cost £205 and then a mediation call which is negotiation. If you don’t agree a further £300 cost to get a hearing! CEDR is best route as it’s free and binding.

      • Blenz101 says:

        Was this a package holiday booking as the terms quoted seem to imply. If so EU261 does not apply and you are reliant on package holiday regulations.

        Airlines have been successfully using Covid as a defence and the reality is that is the reason why they didn’t run the original service as planned. In normal times it would have operated.

        If you have accepted a refund then things are further against you. Had EU261 been in play you could have asked to be put on the Jet2 flight, they would have said no, then you could have bought and claimed the cost back.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Their T&C’s can’t trump your stat rights

        MCOL £205 for a £40 pp claim?

        • Super Secret Stuff says:

          It sounds like they refunded the OP so surely that would mean EU 261 doesn’t apply anymore if the person willing accepts a refund?

          • AJA says:

            ^^ This. I’d not bother even trying for £40 per person. Especially as OP appears to have accepted cancellation. Put it down to experience. At least they got flights on Jet2 and managed to go on holiday.

          • TGLoyalty says:

            exactly EU261 doesn’t apply I read it as they are trying to get the £40pp the T&C’s say they are due?

            I also didnt think MCOL was anywhere near £205 for a claim

      • Bigmaggot says:

        Had a full refund. Yes was a packaged holiday for 6 of us flying.

        I thought CEDR charge £25 if they don’t agree with my claim or is that never enforced?

        MCOL would be £35 isn’t it?
        https://www.gov.uk/make-court-claim-for-money/court-fees

        • Super Secret Stuff says:

          If you’ve had a full refund and accepted it they’ve discharged there liability. I believe…

          • TGLoyalty says:

            f any major change indicated above is not acceptable to you, you can cancel your holiday booking. In this case, we will refund all the money you have paid us and will pay you compensation, as shown above, depending on how many days before your holiday we tell you about this change unless the change is for reasons beyond our control (see ‘Important Note – Events Beyond Our Control’). This standard payment will not affect your statutory or other legal rights.

        • ken says:

          Some utterly hopeless advice you have been given on this thread.

          In summary

          1) Its a package holiday
          2) The flight change was significant
          3) You cancelled and have been refunded in full.
          4) You are owed compensation (£40 x6) as per their own terms.
          5) They are using Covid as an excuse not too pay

          Personally I think they have absolutely zero chance of defending this (or even bothering to enter a defence) due to Covid.
          How can they ?, another flight went there
          It was a commercial decision to consolidate flights at short notice.

          Definite MCOL claim – I’d say 99% chance of winning.

          • Bigmaggot says:

            Thanks all for your opinions, will definitely progress this further, hopefully they will stop treating customers like this! But I doubt it 🙁

  • Bigmaggot says:

    I booked two rooms with Hilton for me and a friend.

    I paid for one and he got charged for the other after they swiped his card on checkin.

    I got base points and status bonus on both rooms, but I only got ‘2021 more nights, more points – double points’ promo on 1 room. Is this correct?

  • Tw33ty says:

    Lner offer a family return kings cross to Edinburgh for £169 for two adults and two kids. But on the same trains, same times, for two adults is over £300.

    Wondering what would happen if we booked the family ticket at £169 and didn’t take kids…

    Can’t find anything in the t+c’s but has anyone else done this?

    • Super Secret Stuff says:

      Probably nothing, at the very least blag it and say the grandparents stepped in so we’re free!

    • Craig says:

      How much with a Two Together railcard? You can triple up Tesco vouchers to buy it.

    • Erico1875 says:

      No. Good spot though. When the ticket collector comes round, if they ask. Re enact Home Alone, scream “weve forgot the kids” jump up and down a bit before msking a pretend phone call to make sure they are safe and gran and grsndad eill come round to look after them.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Do ticket collectors still come round? Thought that would be the first covid cut.

        • Harry T says:

          They do!

        • Ken says:

          Ticket inspections were scaled back considerably, at least when many trains had seats taped off to enforce social distancing. Most trains now completely back to normal.
          I was on a leg of London Midland train to Liverpool last weekend and it was rammed. Standing room only , hen parties, football supporters & barely a mask to be seen (other than staff).
          Was genuinely like Covid had never happened .

    • Yvo says:

      You always have to travel as a family for these ticket discounts.
      Point 13:

      13. The full group must travel together for the entire journey, on both the outward and return journey, on the trains specified on their tickets and in the seats stated. Customers travelling on different trains to the ones reserved, or travelling as part of a different group size, will have to purchase new undiscounted tickets at the full Standard Anytime fare onboard, as if no ticket is held.

    • John says:

      If checked, you will be asked to buy new tickets at the full walk up fare (£170 each) and only if you refuse will you be prosecuted, unlike on most other train operators.

      • Super Secret Stuff says:

        No ticket inspector in there right mind would do that. Plus the original fare would likely be deducted from anything owed. So worth a shot

        • Ken says:

          Let me get this right. You are advising someone that it’s “worth a shot” even though fare evasion is a strict liability criminal offence ?

          Do you travel on long distance trains ? I’d say more than 75% my long journeys has a ticket inspector on, and it’s not uncommon that someone has to pay the walk up fare in my carriage.

          • Super Secret Stuff says:

            Fare evasion us a criminal offence but fare avoidance is fine. I.e. you can delay your travel to an off peak ticket to pay less, you can travel a cheaper routing and you can pay the minimum fare allowed under the rule.

            My point is, it’s highly unlikely the inspectors will do anything as the ticket is valid and requires no railcard. Plus if you all the tickets you can prove you’re not trying to travel in two groups on different trains. The guards would much prefer to spend time getting people that have paid nothing.

            I’m a regular traveler on all types of trains. Also have won multiple ticketing disputes with train companies, fair to say I have an inclination on how they work…

        • BJ says:

          I think they will because I believe they get a % of sales, and for the same reason that is why they come round routinely. It’s an incentive to do their job properly I guess. I cannot recall the last time I took the train between London and Edinburgh that my ticket wasn’t checked. I was always quite impressed at their recollection of who had been checked already and those who hadn’t. When the crew changes that is usually followed by a full inspection too. Some just come round, some take it so seriously they make an announcement to have tickets ready for inspection for passengers boarding after each stop. Might be wrong on the incentive but it’s what I’ve heard, and the rest is my personal experience.

          • Super Secret Stuff says:

            The sub contracted ticket inspectors (basically not crew) do have incentives but normally around issuing a certain number of fines and them being upheld

        • IanM says:

          That is terrible advice, it’s not ‘worth a shot’ and advising people to break the law is not clever.

          • Super Secret Stuff says:

            It is not breaking the law! You can choose the cheapest ticket that suits you. The important thing with group travel is that you have all the tickets with you so the guard knows you haven’t sold them on or trying to travel in two groups

        • VerdantBacon says:

          Have you even been on a train before? The original fare is not deducted from the cost of a new ticket. You must pay the full price of a new and correct ticket. Absolutely not worth a shot.

          • Super Secret Stuff says:

            Absolutely is worth a shot. When I traveled on a railcard sold by a kiosk (bearing in mind I’m nearly blind), the guard charged the excess with an additional ticket and wrote on mine with a reference number. Also happened in cornwall once when I was a kid and the guard printed off a single instead of a return. 5p difference and wrote the regents etc. On it

          • Super Secret Stuff says:

            Side note of the railcard story, I got the excess refunded by customer service for there mistake

        • Andrew says:

          Be very careful what you recommend people do.

          The railway companies prosecute to the maximum extent that they can when people try to commit fraud by misusing railcards or failing to have the correct tickets.

          The only place you can safely “risk” it is for a journey that is wholly and exclusively in Scotland as the legal system is different.

          • Super Secret Stuff says:

            If you have all the tickets you have the correct tickets. Courts wouldn’t have it, particularly if you have kids or neices / nephews which suggests a genuine intent

        • BuildBackBetter says:

          If you get caught committing fraud, you can be sacked by your employer, in addition to being prosecuted.

        • Alan says:

          I have seen people being charged full fare for not travelling on the correct ticket several times. Always a big fuss when they were told the cost of a standard single and that no account would be taken off what they had already paid.

          • Super Secret Stuff says:

            They should challenge through customer service then

          • Steve says:

            In the early 90s I used to buy a weekly zonal ticket. One week I found that the ticket office had stamped it for a month and still charged me for a week. Quids in I thought. About three months later I received a conviction for theft (conditional discharge) in a magistrate’s court, having been stopped by an inspector on a routine check.

        • Alex says:

          Shocking advice.

    • VerdantBacon says:

      Used to commute on long distance trains in the UK very often pre Covid. The odds of you not having your ticket inspected are very low, if your ticket is not correct, you must pay the full walk up fare to continue your journey. If you decide you want to jump off at the next station you’ll still need to pay the full fare from your origin to that station.

      You might get lucky and not get an inspector, unlikely at that distance. But it’s not worth it unless you’re okay to take a risk of paying £169 family ticket + £180 x2 if you get caught

      • Rimmingtown says:

        If you get a ticket inspection, tell him or her that the kids are in the buffet, or in the toilet, bring some kids toys leave them in adjacent seat, you will be fine, most of these guys want an easy life.

      • Super Secret Stuff says:

        Not disputing the fact you’ll get inspected, you will. But they will accept the ticket

        • Jonathan says:

          I don’t know why you’re being so adamant in asserting nothing would happen. It’s clear in T&C’s what the outcome would be if you travel in a different size group to that purchased so this will be treated exactly the same as travelling on a railcard fare without the railcard. You will be charged the walk up fare.

          If you forget/lose your railcard then they will sometimes refund afterwards if you provide proof you held one at the time but I think you’d struggle to get off this. 1 kid instead of 2 would probably be fine but none is a big leap of faith. Just buy a 2 together & get the correct tickets for £200.

          • Super Secret Stuff says:

            If you have all the tickets in that group booking there is no issue. The clause is there to stop people abusing group discounts and then travelling as individuals on different trains

    • Andrew says:

      If the journey is later in October, have you considered travelling with Lumo? Fares from £19 ew

    • ChrisC says:

      This from the T&Cs.

      13. The full group must travel together for the entire journey, on both the outward and return journey, on the trains specified on their tickets and in the seats stated. Customers travelling on different trains to the ones reserved, or travelling as part of a different group size, will have to purchase new undiscounted tickets at the full Standard Anytime fare onboard, as if no ticket is held.

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