Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

The HfP chat thread – Sunday 26th September

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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 (285)

  • Dave says:

    Anyone know good travel insurance that covers Covid medical costs? As a double vaccinated person I’m not expecting to use it but I need $100,000 Covid insurance cover for Thailand holiday

    • ChrisBCN says:

      Try battleface and staysure

      • Andrew H says:

        Just taken out Staysure as have pre-existing condition. Cheapest I could find and is 15 months for price of 12 if you are quick. Also try finding it in well known shopping portals. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

    • Chris H says:

      I am interested in your Thailand trip. we have one booked on 21st Oct to Bangkok. Have you heard anything that makes you think Thailand will come off of the RED list, and anything more about the sandboxing for areas other than Pucket??

      • Chris H says:

        I am also posting this here again as it is related to this trip:
        I am replying to your reply to this question as you seem to be the person who knows a lot about EU 261 and other rights. I am hoping you can advise me on my options before I phone up and ask for the impossible 🙂 If anyone else knows about options, please reply.
        Swissair have already cancelled our outgoing flights and booked us on an alternative flight out once (originally leaving 20th Oct, changed to 21st Oct – Bangkok via Zurich), and we accepted that change. Now they want to change our return trip too from a 1pm flight to a 00:20 flight over12 hours earlier than the original flight.
        All the info I can find on EU261 talks about delays. What about this one where what they are offering is bringing the flight forward by about 12 hours.
        This will mean leaving a day early which means a total of 2 days holiday lost. (All assuming Thailand comes off of the RED list, and opens up for tourists).
        I don’t want to ask for a refund as we booked on a 2 for 1 offer in business. Can I ask them to re-route us to Phuket at their cost?
        Can I require them to rebook us with another airline to depart at a similar time, again at their cost?
        And if they say no, how should I proceed?
        Thanks for any help. All the info on other websites don’t seem to cover my situation,

      • Dave says:

        Case rates are slowly falling so I wouldn’t be surprised if Thailand comes off Red list next review. Crazy it’s on it really, both there and here are riddled with the Delta variant so either way that’s all you would get.

        Looks like Bangkok etc sandbox delayed until November 1st though

        • Richie says:

          Have they re-routed you at your earliest convenience?

        • Blenz101 says:

          Whilst we never know what random metric the UK will use it does seem unlikely that Thailand is going to come off the red list anytime soon. The country is still in its third wave and healthcare is still heavily stretched.

          Even when Bangkok reopens the UK government isn’t going to use that as the signal to remove the country from the red list. They will surely wait and see what happens with the case numbers for a period after reopening as well.

          Finally, it isn’t going to be seen as a key priority for the government to reopen either in terms of business travel / trade and I doubt the Thai government is pressing hard for a change that most of its citizens don’t want.

          • Dave says:

            The Thai Govt is under a great deal of pressure to reopen, the tourist industry is already on its knees and another peak season without tourists will be disastrous. The PM promised to reopen tourism by October which has been delayed due to vaccination rate although Thailand did over 1 million doses a couple of days ago.

          • Blenz101 says:

            The Thai government is under no internal pressure to reopen to tourists. Most Thai people believe this is a chance for the country to reset from the environmental damage mass tourism has brought and shake off the country’s reputation for sex tourism. They want less people but those who do come to spend more / higher quality guest.

            Most people working in the tourist industry on the islands are no longer there in any event. 90% of the country prior to the pandemic were not involved in tourism at all. There is no disaster beyond what covid has already caused if they have another interrupted season.

            Anyway, all this is just background. The UK government red list is likely to be the limiting factor even if more of the country is reopened to farangs.

      • chris says:

        Unless you are going into quarantine for your trip you won’t be going to Bangkok. The Thai government pushed the tourism opening date back to 1st November; and general expectation is that date will slip – Phuket and KS both slipped months.

    • Bill says:

      AXA, ACS and LUMA. Just got ours via an agent for our sandbox stay and wider travels in Thailand next month. Plenty of info on the Phuket Sandbox FB group

    • Clive says:

      Dave if this for the CoE requirement I bought from Coverwise which was accepted by the Embassy

  • John says:

    If Amex offer ends today, if I purchase today do I def qualify as it would only show as pending today.

  • Pete M says:

    Happy/surprised to say I was accepted for the VS Reward+ credit card immediately online and with a credit limit nearly three times my IHG one. End of my journey with Solihull I think!

  • trader363 says:

    Regarding helium mining – I have a number of hotspots on order that will be ready to be deployed soon. Am looking for host locations. If anyone is wondering what jibberish I’m talking about, here is a short summary.

    My roofer/electrician would place an antenna on your roof which earns cryptocurrency through a mesh network of hotspots. (Check the Helium website for details). The setup costs, hotspot and materials are well over £1,000 but I would provide this for free and you would get a small cut of the earrings for life . . . for quite frankly, doing nothing!

    Please get in touch if you are interested and we can check to see if your location is viable, as there are 0.2 million hotspots online and they need to be spaced out for decent rewards so your location may or may not be viable.

    P.s. sorry the hotspots are not for sale – no matter how high the offer :). They were ordered in March 2021 so it’s been a long wait!

    • trader363 says:

      As tempting as earrings sound, I meant earnings!*

    • Richie says:

      A small cut is too small.

      • Blenz101 says:

        Better to not be in too deep on something that has all the hallmarks of a ponzi scheme / rug pull.

        Can’t see anybody getting their money back on a network that nobody is going to pay to use.

        • trader363 says:

          Good point about nobody paying to use it – fortunately most of the earnings currently come from each hotspot being paid just for admin-related tasks such as connecting to other hotspots and proving their IP/location (no actual meanining data transfer) so it’s actually quite lucrative at the moment to host one even if this google-backed idea doesn’t thrive in the future

          • Ryan says:

            Do you have the devices in stock now?

            I’ve been offered free setup etc with a 10% cut of tokens produced, we’re looking at it for our cricket club too but open to hear what you’re figured are

    • Will says:

      Not particularly related to hosting a hotspot but as someone who’s not heard of this before, what’s it designed to do that 4”5g/wifi can’t do?

  • Aston100 says:

    Anyone know if the Escape Lounge is open at Stansted?
    Is it any good?

    • Rob says:

      I believe so, but it’s not great – certainly not No1 / Club Aspire level. Certainly don’t pay, but obviously it’s better than sitting outside.

      • Aston100 says:

        Thanks, was going to use the PP with my Amex Plat.

        • Sam G says:

          Yes it’s open though check the times closed quite early the way I went- was quiet during my visit and certainly worth a go with a PP. Manned bar and a reasonable little buffet. Was surprised to hear people paying on the door to get in, would rather have gone to the Wetherspoons upstairs !

    • Damian says:

      Used it mid August and it was open and actually quiet considering how busy the rest of the airport was.

    • Benilyn says:

      It’s crap

  • jek says:

    Has anybody had success with in attempting to move the date or location of the IC Rome points bookings after receiving the cancellation?

    • Blair says:

      I took the points and applied them in New York instead. I realised I didn’t actually really want to go to Rome next year.

    • Tracy says:

      I have a booking 29/4-1/5. No email yet but app says no rooms until June…anyone in April been cancelled yet? I still have 🤞

      • meta says:

        I have a booking for the same period, but arriving a day later and staying a day longer. They are apparently doing soft opening in April and May. Hopefully see you there if the opening not pushed further!

        • Tracy says:

          Haha, not surprised another HFPer will be there…..I’m going to book the Sunday too, hopefully using a free night voucher if it becomes available to book

  • Freddy says:

    My previous gripe with avios used to be general availability. That’s much improved at the moment but now I’m finding the taxes sky high. I’m finding cashing out to nectar and paying cash is better value. Where did it all go wrong!

    • Richie says:

      Haven’t taxes always been high?

    • Blair says:

      I feel similar. I’d love to know the demographic profile of the Avios user who rates Avios highly for their needs/wants. I am clearly not it. Its lack of availability and ‘taxes’ feels like a twisted guessing game to me.

      • Anna says:

        People who need to travel at peak times and find that paying the taxes on avios flights is a good deal less expensive than paying cash!

        • Blair says:

          I suppose yes. Sad as it doesn’t feel like an aspirational cashing out of points.

          • Anna says:

            It feels pretty aspirational when you’re in J or F to the USA/Caribbean and everyone else is going to Malaga on Ryanair! (Nothing against either of those, obviously).

        • Aston100 says:

          This worked for me for my NYC flights at Christmas/NYE (companion voucher).
          Considerably cheaper than a cash booking.

      • Gavin says:

        I find RFS short haul economy (zone 1 usually) to often be reasonable value, although not a bargain. Upgrades from WT+ to CW are a good value use, and also low-tax redemptions abroad, especially in Asia. Although that has been getting worse the past few years after a couple of devaluations.

    • TGLoyalty says:


    • ChrisC says:

      You mean the BA surcharges which aren’t proper taxes.

      • KBuffett says:

        Surcharges for airlines should be outlawed. They are not permitted in most other industries. The price you see should be the price you pay, all inclusive. The hugely complex nature of airline ticket pricing, cancellation polices etc aren’t really consumer friendly. I’m surprised it’s allowed, as many other industries have been banned from such practices.

        • John says:

          The price you see is the price you pay. Taxes and surcharges as an add-on to the base “fare” only come into play on redemptions

          • meta says:

            I only sometimes found value in Avios when redeeming on F or J with 241 voucher on other OW airlines. The new type 241 voucher has now improved the value to “always” as I don’t need to start in the UK and fake surcharges significantly reduced…

  • Tomas says:

    How flexible are Etihad when it comes to re-booking flights within the same zone? E.g BCN – KUL to say, LON – BKK

    • Blenz101 says:

      Worst case, travel credit and rebook. I don’t think they are going to be looking at zones to move you free of charge but will move you subject to fare difference. If they can’t a flight then you will have further leverage.

      Careful if you are thinking BKK, discussion earlier about it remaining on the UK red list. The M3 will continue to fly but you may not be about to get back to the UK without 2 weeks in HMP travelodge at £2500+ costs. Etihad won’t consider this their issue in terms of you having issues on your return to the UK.

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