Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

The HfP chat thread – Tuesday 19th October

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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.

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.

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Comments (627)

  • bafan says:

    Currently in the United Club waiting to go to Honolulu…so far so good with entry requirements. Convinced my AirBnB host to take me through the drive thru at Walgreens in Salt Lake so I didn’t have to shell out for $200+ at the airport. United are saying that you can get pre-cleared at the podium before departure. Apparently they give you some type of wrist band that you wave at the authorities in HNL and you go on through.

    • Patrycja says:

      Hi, I am travelling to Hawaii for New Year. I thought that at the moment to avoid quarantine you have to have a US administered vaccine. Is that correct? What else do you need to enter? Is there passenger locator form?

      • Louise K says:

        Download the Hawaii Safe Travels app.

      • bafan says:

        If you have a COVID PCR test from one of their approved providers it also allows you to enter.

        • bafan says:

          I had to upload my test and it verifies that you are allowed to travel automagically. I haven’t downloaded the app but I did fill the form out and get the QR code. Of course United are United and we were delayed af so…let’s see how it goes.

          • Patrycja says:

            We are looking to book United as well as need to fly from Santa Ana airport. How many days before you fly do you need to get PCR done?

    • SimonP says:

      Just come back from Maui and Oahu. On the way out we took a Worksite Labs test in LA, as they are an approved provider for Hawaiian Airlines. We are both UK double vaxxed but that did not count at the time (early September). The results came through quickly and were uploaded to the Safe Travels app which generated the QR code which allowed us to get the wrist band from the Hawaiian check in desk at LAX. This meant that on arrival in Maui we could walk straight out of the airport without having to go through the palava of more checks and queueing at OGG on arrival. There is a very good Facebook group called MAUI COVID TRAVEL TESTING which has loads of advice.

      • Patrycja says:

        This is extremely helpful. Just joint the group on FB and will read the posts. Thank you for a very detailed post and highlighting the provider you used.

  • cinereus says:

    Now there are more Bits articles, are you planning on retiring these posts?

    • Andrew says:


      • Rob says:

        No. First we’ll get the forum up and then we’ll see how much traffic goes there and how much stays here. If it drops then, yes, we’ll retire them.

        • Adam says:

          It would insteresting to do NLP analytics on all these posts and create statistics and group them etc.
          Also see trends etc
          Most interesting would be to see if system learns bendy and beardy relations 🤣

    • Natasha says:

      There is a forum coming this Q21

      • cinereus says:

        So we are told. Not really sure why it is taking so long…

        • Rob says:

          Far more complex than you think – costing us about £2k in IT costs. It was also well down our priority list after the relaunch – for example, EVERY single article on HfP (all 11,000 of them) has been manually re-edited since the relaunch to fit the new layout ….

    • Youllnever says:

      I’d rather it be kept separate to be honest, so it’s easier to parse through comments related to the bits article.

  • Anna T says:

    Good morning. If you take a BA FTV to use for flights October 2022 and make changes ( say anytime up to the expiry date of September 2023 ) are you charged the £35 fee for each tickets? Thank you.

    • pauldb says:

      If you use your FTV for flights after August 2022, that new booking is not eligible for BWC/FTV again. The FTV and its Sep23 expiry are no longer relevant.
      Since you mention the £35 fee, is this an avios booking. You would be able to change the new avios booking per standard T&Cs for £35 – up to 1yr ticket validity, but the cancel (and rebook) fee is also £35.

      • Anna T says:

        Thanks pauldb. So not really worth taking FTV for rescheduling avios flights after BWC date of august 2022 if will be charged £35 service fee then.

  • Aaron C says:

    Morning. I’m off to Germany soon. What is the situation with vaccine passports at venues? I understand that the NHS App is fine to show proof of vaccination for immigration. My friends there say you need the “CovPass” to get into places. Will this accept my NHS QR or do I need a work-around? Cheers!

    • Thywillbedone says:

      Was there (Munich) at end September. Every bar/restaurant we visited asked for some form of vaccination proof (even beer gardens). I used NHS App (which worked fine except at the airport on entry where the app wouldn’t open …but I had saved a PDF to my phone) and my friend had a paper printout. Also worth bringing a driving licence when out and about.

      • Aaron C says:

        Thanks everyone. Very useful tips as always. I’ll let you know how my weekend in Munich goes!

    • roberto says:

      If you download the French Tous AntiCovid app you can import your NHS certificate into the European format which shows a checkable/verifiable “pass” allowing entry across Europe. The German one you mention may offer the same.

    • Paul says:

      The NHS app now downloads certificates to apple wallet.
      In Greece back in august the EU covid passport was extensively in use and I was rather envious. We really did lose a lot and gain nothing

    • Rhys says:

      I didn’t have any trouble showing my NHS one last week – although it can sometimes confuse people at first because it looks different. Just have to tell people it is the UK one and point out the dose number etc.

      • Pete M says:

        I spend a lot of time in Germany and it is a real mix. The French app works well as they are used to it, as long as they don’t scan it – it won’t scan with the German app venues use, as the NHS database isn’t yet linked to the EU one (supposedly happening any moment, though). Generally they’d be happy looking at it, sometimes also asking for ID. But last weekend at Bergain I was surprised they were actually scanning the QR codes. My French app with the British QR code didn’t scan at first (as explained above), but when I mentioned it’s a UK QR code they used another app and it worked fine. With a bit of luck, by the time you go, the UK NHS database will be linked with the EU one and all this will go away!

    • ChrisC says:

      When I was due to go to Berlin in August I used the german corona warn app and that accepted the NHS QR code and even gave me a ‘tick’. It was also used to scan entry to places.

      But trip got cancelled so never got a chance to use it.

      I’ll geck with my friends which app they use. One runs a bar in Berlin so I’ll ask which app he uses to check vaccination satus

      • Pete M says:

        The German app doesn’t like the UK QR codes as of a few weeks back, sadly.

  • J says:

    Morning all. Virgin Atlantic credit card users – has anyone else found that this month’s statement points are showing in your Flying Club activity list on the web site but are not reflected in your total balance?

    My balance is still the same as last month, although my credit card points are listed as credited on 10th October…

    Have messaged Virgin via WhatsApp on Saturday, so hopefully they’ll reply before too long. But wondering if it’s just me or maybe a more widespread glitch? Also can’t see more than the last 10 activity items, regardless of what I do with the date range settings, so maybe something’s up with the IT…

    • FCP says:

      Yes, same for me as you detail.
      Does not show October spend at all on Virgin Red app.

    • Harry T says:

      Yes, this has happened to me. They don’t show in my Virgin Red activity, but do show in my Virgin Atlantic app. But I’m fairly sure my balance is the same as last month!

    • J says:

      Heard back from Virgin just now – they’re looking into it. Might take up to seven days.

      • David says:

        Me too – card activity/points show but aren’t reflected in total. Very helpful (as always) FC Gold agent said many had raised this, she would e-mail ‘support’ and expect it resolved in 2 days (it’s already 3).

  • Howard says:

    Morning – does anyone have experience of cancelling a BA holiday within 3 weeks? Guidance on website is not clear and I’m struggling to get through to call centre?

    • Graham says:

      Use BA chat on the website in the contact us section. They helped me with my nyc booking at the end of October last week.

    • MrHandBaggageOnly says:

      Hi Howard, unfortunately I had to do this yesterday for a trip departing this Thursday (one of the party has Covid now, so self-isolating and unable to travel). We had to call, no online options, as departure was within three weeks. Once on with the agent we only had the option of cancelling and getting 40% back and then trying the claim the remaining 60% via travel insurance, or moving the whole holiday to another date for a £100 change fee, plus any price differences. As it happened, shifting our trip to February half term made it cheaper, so even with the change fee we actually ended up with a small refund as well. I called first thing yesterday and got through to an agent quite quickly. Best of luck.

      • Howard says:

        Thanks, i did eventually get through – mornings seem to be the best time. Best option for me was to amend the booking for a £100 fee and then cancelling that (which is now more than 3 weeks out) for an FTV.

        I played around with BA holiday finder to find something as close to the original price so as not to loose any value in the FTV but also not invest any further money. Interesting that you got a refund as the new price was lower, i’d assumed that it would be lost – did the refund come as an FTV?

        • MrHandBaggageOnly says:

          Good news, glad you sorted it. Apparently the refund will come to the card – it is only around £40. I’ll believe it when I see it, but BA have been pretty straight with me over the past 18 months, so I am hopeful the agent is correct and it will happen.

          • Howard says:

            Ok – missed a trick then. Truth is I booked with an E voucher anyway, but would prefer an e voucher refund over an FTV.

            I guess going forward, if someone wants to cancel, they could find the cheapest flight/hotel only, suffer a £100 cancellation fee and then get a cash refund on the rest. Could even be better than cancelling for an FTV for no fee if more than 3 weeks out if you get a cash refund.

  • Patrycja says:

    Good morning all,

    We are off to US for New Year. My husband’s ESTA finishes on 11th of January, we are coming back on 7th. I had a look on US embassy and foreign office advice and we should be able to use his existing ESTA, do not need to apply for a new one even though it finishes 4 days after our return. Is that correct? Does anyone have an experience with ESTA expiring shortly after the end of US trip?

    • Andrew says:

      I think an ESTA is just to be able to enter – unlike a passport it doesn’t even need to be for the duration of your trip, so would be valid for entry on 11 Jan in your case.

    • John says:

      ESTA is an authorization for you to travel by air to the US. It is not a visa and has nothing to do with how long you are allowed to stay or whether you can travel by air from the US.

      • Andrew says:

        Not just air – by sea as well – you need one if you take a cruise into the USA too.

    • Sukes says:

      Correct, ESTA needs to be valid for entry to US, not exit. However I had BA checkin at LHR refuse to accept this until I showed them a printout I’d brought with me from the ESTA website that stated the terms – until then check in guy wrongly kept telling me it had to be valid for whole trip & I wasn’t eligible to fly….

    • Patrycja says:

      Thank you all for your answers. Great to know we don’t need a new application before we go

  • JRC says:

    Posted this y’day but bit late in day so reposting for HfP readers advice: Having originally discussed on here about Canary Islands vs Malta for a 5 nights in first week of January, now looking at Dubai to take advantage of the double tier points promo on BAH. Any recommendations for All Inclusive resorts in Dubai? the reviews on tripadvisor seem to indicate some of the hotels do all inclusive but have lots of hidden charges/things that are not included or restaurants you can’t eat at. Thanks

    • Blenz101 says:

      All inclusive isn’t really a thing in Dubai itself. Rixos, Palm is perhaps the closest to being in Dubai. Beyond that you have desert resorts, a RIU in Deria and JA in Jebel Ali (both out of town).

      In the same way most people wouldn’t look for an all inclusive hotel in London or NY the same is true of Dubai. Dubai just happens to have a coastline and climate.

      I’d really look for a nice hotel where you want to be and enjoy the world class dining scene Dubai offers. Alcohol is expensive but you can get a ‘brunch’ package almost anywhere licensed so you aren’t having to worry about per drink costs. And doesn’t have to be a party brunch either.

      • JRC says:

        Thanks Blenz101.

        That makes sense, it worse more to contain costs as normally would pay for a LH flight on Avios than shell out £3k for seats and some of the BAH deals seem to throw the hotel in for “free”. Will look into brunch options – any reco’s?

        • JRC says:

          was not worse!

        • Blenz101 says:

          Take a look at brunchcrunch, time out Dubai and whatsondubai for brunches.

          They range from 5 hour party with entertainment through to a few hours champagne with your meal. Can find them 7 days a week, Friday being the biggest day. £40-50 will certainly get you a good few hours of unlimited food and drinks as a guide.

    • Tazzy says:

      I’ve done Dubai several times and have done Rixos the palm and Palm tree court at jebel Ali. Both were really nice, but we had already been to Dubai and seen/ ate where we wanted to try

    • Sarah says:

      I’ve just come back from the Rixos Saadiyat Abu Dhabi which is all inclusive (easy to get there by car from Dubai, which is where we flew to). The hotel was very nicely designed, and food and drink decent quality. Only a small number of restaurants so 5 nights is probably plenty there. At the minute, there was no charge to use the a la carte restaurants, but I believe that in normal times there is a small surcharge. Buffet was pretty good though (go there for lunch rather than the snack bar at the pool) – lots of lobster on offer at the weekend. We had a shisha one night and that was our only additional charge, the wine was drinkable, and there were a few different options, plus premium spirits. Pool service was great with the servers nipping round on roller blades. It was very quiet when I stayed and didn’t feel like an all inclusive – ie it wasn’t full of people getting drunk all day. Not sure what it would be like if it was busy – we stayed a few days at the Royal Meridien Dubai after which felt quite hectic in comparison.

      • JRC says:

        Thanks Sarah and Tazzy. Looks like Rixos is the main brand for AI in Dubai/ Abu Dhabi – like the idea of pool service with people on roller blades!! 🙂

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