Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

The HfP chat thread – Friday 3rd December

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Comments (402)

  • Colin MacKinnon says:

    Going to be spending a night in San Francisco in late August – arriving 14:30 at SFO on one day, flying out at 13:00 the next.

    Any recommendations? Have three nights at the new Kimpton on Fisherman’s Wharf booked for the return, but question the value of getting into the city for just one night?

    But would rather not just spend 20 hours in an airport hotel – unless there was one anyone can recommend with a good restaurant and perhaps a nice place nearby for a short hike?

    • Mark says:

      It’s so quick on the BART I’d go into the city

    • Chris says:

      Go to San Mateo or Palo Alto. Only about 30 minutes away and way more interesting than an airport hotel

      • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

        I’d second Palo Alto, especially if you’ve already got SF in the itinerary. Hotels there aren’t all that, but some decent restaurant options and it’s a pleasant hike up to the Stanford dish. Its campus is a nice attraction with an afternoon to kill too (or was pre-covid at least).

    • Den S says:

      We are going in May but not going into San Fransisco but travelling down to Carmel the following day. So we have booked the only Hotel in the airport – The Grand Hyatt at SFO, which is connected directly to the terminals and has its own dedicated AirTran station. It’s relatively expensive but will save a lot hassle in transfers. The next day we will just pick up the Hire Car early (due to the time difference) as if we had only just arrived!

    • Andrew says:

      Take a trip to San Jose and visit the Winchester Mystery House.

    • Jen T says:

      We’re just back from that Kimpton. Not amazing so if there are better prices elsewhere or the rate drops, take advantage of it. It is clearly a hotel that’s been taken over by Kimpton and changed quickly. Staff aren’t great. Location is excellent though!

    • KJT says:

      I have done the Marriott and Embassy suites waterfront in pre covid times . Both adequate for a one night stop and there is a nice walkway around the bay.

  • VP says:

    Obviously very niche and YMMV but just thought about sharing in case it helps.

    Tip/summary: Even if you are flying as a couple, always better to search flights for 1 person.

    Was looking for a flight on BA website today and the price was £700 however the moment I selected 2 people, the price jumped to £935 per person as apparently only 1 ticket was available in the £700 bucket. Opened two browsers and was able to select 1 ticket each at same price in both of them, filled in all information and pressed payment almost instantly and luckily managed to snag both at £700!!!
    Had 1 of transaction failed, then obviously would have made use of BA’s 24 hr cancellation policy and cancelled the other.
    Had I searched for 2 tickets, would have never even booked the direct flight as £935 per person was out of our budget.
    Obviously there is a risk we may not get seats next to one another when check in opens but even if we pay for our seats thats still considerable better than the alternative of either paying £500 more or cancelling altogether.

    • Travel Strong says:

      I’ve also had the situation with BA where the price *dropped* after purchasing the “1 left at this price” in Club Europe! Allowing the actual tix to be purchased at the new revealed price before cancelling the first.

  • Niall says:

    Does anyone know if randox labs close down around Christmas? Planning to land back in the U.K. on 23rd December and would be unfortunate not to get result back before Christmas day. If no reply will call them up and answer my own question

  • Dave says:

    If I am transiting through the US on the way to Mexico, do I need pre flight tests or because it’s a transit it doesn’t matter?

    • Anna says:

      I would guess yes, or you risk being refused boarding. The USA usually requires everything from transit passengers that it does from stay-over ones, e.g. ESTA.

    • Sandgrounder says:

      AFAIK you can’t transit airside in the USA, you have to be admitted as if you were staying. I would say yes, you will need a test.

    • John says:

      There isn’t any transit in the US – you go through US immigration and customs like anyone whose destination is the US

      • Andy says:

        Thanks all, shows how naive I am about travelling through the US!

      • Lady London says:

        Yeah and the worse thing about it is you have to collect and resubmit your luggage for your connecting flight as well.

  • Mart says:

    Any advice please
    At Manchester going to Maldives with Qatar booked on aa miles.
    We have been downgraded to economy or wait 7hrs for next business seats ,only going going for 4 days could do without that.

    Not happy with the treatment we have been given I choose our seats months ago and checked in yesterday with our seat numbers
    What’s my rights in this situation,not one to complain but this is rubbish?

    • Anna says:

      That is very annoying! You have fewer rights than if your flight was cancelled, if you take the original flight you can claim 75% of the original cost of that leg but you’ll still be stuck with the economy seats.
      Sounds like they sold your seats to a higher bidder.

      • Mart says:

        Original cost ?
        We paid with AA miles and about £230 each in taxes

        • Sean says:

          yes 75% of miles back plus any YQ. APD will also be lower for economy so should get that back too.

          • meta says:

            You also have re-routing rights in comparable conditions that means you can try and get them to re-book you on another airline in business class. Easier to book you on OW, so maybe they can book you on BA?

            On the other hand, if you want to fly in business 7 hours later, that classifies as a delay (and not due to covid as the flight has not been cancelled so they can’t argue that) so you’re entitled to extra compensation of 600 euros per per person plus duty of care.

            Either way in all three scenarios, it might be a fight to enforce your rights.

          • meta says:

            Although this all depends on when they downgraded you. It seems as if you’re already at the airport.

          • Anna says:

            I thought re-routing rights only applied to cancellations?

          • Blenz101 says:

            You are correct Anna. No reroute options unless by airline goodwill. No delay compensation if you pick another flight.

          • TGLoyalty says:

            Eu261 might not give you the right to a re route however the airport staff usually have the ability to do it regardless.

          • meta says:

            Delay compensation is due under article 7 (2). Airline may actually reduce it by 50%. (Air France case law). Regarding re-routing, airline might prefer that rather than pay the 75% compensation, so should be presented to the airline as an option. Pre-pandemic that was a common thing and in two instances BA put me on AA flight instead and thus avoided downgrade compo. The delay compensation applies if arriving at the destination 7 hours later albeit the airline may reduce it by 50%.

          • Lady London says:

            Meta I’m not sure a downgrade gives full re-routing rights in the same way as EU261/UK equivalent. I think ChrisC said it didn’t.

          • Lady London says:

            75% of the cash cost of buying miles is what you should claim for. Who wants a smaller amount of miles back that you potentially have no use for? Plus it’s likely a nightmare trying to get them back on a Partner airline award booking. Much better to keep the claim with the operating airline whose flight changed/downgraded you as that’s administratjvely simpler and where the claim legally belongs.

          • Lady London says:

            Meta : case ref. or link for the Air France please?

        • Blenz101 says:

          Yes, your rights are to get 75% of your miles back and 75% of any carrier charges (YQ), as mentioned the APD will be lower for economy so you will get that back also. Note this is only for the outbound leg not the booking as a whole. On the return if you are downgraded again then you will only get the lower APD back.

          I don’t think the advice is right about if you voluntarily take a later flight being entitled to anything. Your EU261 rights cover downgrade compensation at 75% in this case not you moving things around to still get business.

          Pretty common to bump miles seats for paying customers. Much better economics to compensate you than to turn away a full fare passenger.

        • Mart says:

          Downgraded on check in at Manchester

          • Blenz101 says:

            Personally I would take the economy flight and count myself lucky that it was at least on the outbound leg so you will get a chunk of miles back. As I said, if it was the return (non-EU airline flying into the UK) you would just be getting some tax back and an apology.

            Waiting 7 hours and turning what by the sounds of things is a day flight now in economy into a night flight and dropping such a huge chunk of your holiday is a poor trade off. Hopefully this would also avoid any issues with your hotel if you have speedboat / internal flights to connect with as well.

          • Lady London says:

            Not miles back, Blenz. The claim would be for retail purchase cost (without privileges or promotions) of the % of miles due back, plus the same % of all non-true-tax charges back, plus refund of the difference in the APD tax.

          • Blenz101 says:

            LL sadly the legislation doesn’t explicitly cover this, Mart is due back what he paid. As I said in later replies he may get cash anyway as I doubt QR will be able to arrange AA miles easily. If the correct amount of miles are deposited back this is the carriers obligation fulfilled.

      • Lady London says:

        Not 75% for downgrade from Business to Economy – I think the % is near that, different though. Flyertalk will have the info or read the very readable text of EU261.

        For sure you can get this off Qatar after flying in the lower class. But I suspect you’d have to do all of request, complain officially when they refuse, after 8 weeks of registering formal as complaint or if they say “final answer” before then send Letter Before Action giving them 14 days then MCOL : and I’m certain you’d get the money back plus the small court fee. (Add 8% pa statutory interest to your claim from 7 days after the date of the flight till paid as no airline should make you have to go through all these steps on such a clearly valid claim.)

        Practically, for a 4 day break I’d not want to take the downgrade. So talk to QR and try and keep travel class. Mention if forced to you are certain they will end up paying you that high % of fare back and try for a voucher?

        This kind of thing – like QR regularly rescheduling good connections to bad ones – and the fact that in peak season I am certain Anna is right and they’ve just sold your seat for more – are just 2 of the reasons why I stopped automatically choosing.Qatar and try other carriers first now.

        • Blenz101 says:

          Sadly he mentioned paying something like £230 in taxes. Even If you strip out the Y class APD that will still be due the airline would still likely be happy to offer even more than the EU261 75% entitlement. The passenger has no leverage, frankly they could offer him 100% back of what he paid and still prefer to have him sat in Y with a paying customer in J.

      • Lady London says:

        Looks to me like Qatar targeted someone with an award seat for downgrade. Mean b*5t*rds Qatar!

    • Billy says:

      4 days in the Maldives…how decadent 🤓

      • Mart says:

        Update in Doha now
        Downgraded to economy flight overbooked
        Because we are.miles bookings downgraded even though we are silver Qatar

        • Mart says:

          Final update
          Upon boarding we moved to buisness anyway
          Unbelievabley poor

          • Blenz101 says:

            You you were only downgraded MAN-DOH? Slightly better news then. You should still get compensation the MAN-DOH leg back at the 3500km+ rate i.e. 75% in terms of miles and YQ and hopefully you are getting a little bit of lux into MLE.

            For your return you may wish to proactively speak to QR to ensure you don’t end up on another oversold flight. Your return gives you zero rights and you would just have to accept a downgrade / refund if the flight is oversold, they can and will target award seats over paying passengers and those from outside QMiles will be first in line.

        • Blenz101 says:

          Sadly not that unusual. You would be even more furious if you paid in cash and a miles booking was prioritised over you so not totally unexpected. It sucks when it happens but no sane airline would downgrade paying passengers over those on a redemption and especially from a booking outside their own programme. Your only hope would have been to be top tier with QR or a Qatari national.

          Over 3500 km is a 75% refund ‘of what you paid’ as compensation for the downgrade less any government taxes. QR won’t bother to fight on this point although it could be a protracted process given AA miles were used. You will quickly get the 75% of any cash supplement (YQ) back plus the business class portion of the APD. Not sure how you travelled onwards from DOH but if your downgrade was only for the MAN-DOH sector you can likely expect the refund to be calculated on a pro-rata basis. This point is debated but if QR do a pro rata per leg you will have to go to court to challenge the point.

          Whilst LadyLondon wants to fight here for cash compensation the legislation doesn’t give you this explicit right. Not even sure AA miles are sold in the UK to give a figure on which to base a claim. However, you may end up with cash by default given the operating carrier wasn’t the programme used. LL’s usual advice has been provided about going to court (LBA > MCOL etc.) but you should be advised that you may well not win and would lose your court fee, this isn’t an open and shut case as so often seen here with cancelled flights and re-route rights not being honoured. If QR arrange 75% of your miles back plus the cash element getting a judge to agree to convert those (via USD) to cash compensation will be challenging.

          I would see what happens in terms of offer from the airline the first instance and make yourself aware of what you are actually entitled (i.e. 75% of what you paid). Enjoy your holiday meanwhile.

  • Gormlesstraveller says:

    Hi, what are people saying about the 10% incidence rate on the KLM flights? Anomaly or to be expected when flying these days?

    • Luke says:

      I wouldn’t listen to most people online as they are without clues.

    • Geoff 1977 says:

      Incidence of what?

      (Serious question, not trying to be sarcy or anything)

      • AJA says:

        I’d hazard a guess at incidence of testing positive for Covid.

        • Geoff 1977 says:

          Pretty obvious now that you mention it. What’s the source of this “10% incidence”? Didcot Dave from the pub?

  • GaryE says:

    Are Morrison’s petrol stations still accepting the Morrisons gift cards ? Just wondering if worth the hassle to buy them at the Amex 10% off offer? TIA

  • The Canuck says:

    The arrival testing has always been paid for by the government bc they target specific flights that they want higher rates of testing from. For example flights from third world countries and lately from the UK even usually have almost everyone “randomly” selected for testing. Now that it’s mandatory for all non-US flights it’s probably easier just to have it done by the same labs which are set up at the airport already. Not great it uses my tax payer dollars but it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the other garbage Trudeau wastes money on and it helps keep country safe.

    Depending on where you enter Canada the response times will vary. My experience in YYZ is test results in around 12 hours, in YVR I’ve had anywhere from 44 hours to 6 days. Not sure if the increased testing will have any effect but previously they were randomly selecting about 50% of arrivals anyway.

    Previously, you did not have to isolate while you awaited your result but you now MUST isolate until you get your negative result, your own hotel is OK. But if I’m reading your comment correctly then your hotel has evidently decided that they only need to do US traveller business as all international arrivals will need to be isolating for at least some point of time.

    • The Canuck says:

      This was for Mel TS on page 1

      • Mel TS says:

        Thanks, I just saw this 🙂 We are heading into YYZ – I’m happy with the testing being done then and there and reassuring to know its not been massively long, just feel a bit guilty I’m spending your tax money. The hotel has now changed its mind and I have it in writing that we can isolate there – but I have just rebooked for a bigger room with a kitchen and a better view in case we are stuck for a few days!

    • Kate says:

      Oh god, having just replied to the thread on page 1 saying we were still planning on going on our Canada trip next week I might be changing my mind – 6 days?! Even 44 hours is longer than I was hoping for….

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