Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

The HfP chat thread – Sunday 5th December

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

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.

Old chat threads are hidden from the HfP home page.  If you want to look for something in an old thread, click here.  This brings up all the articles in our ‘General’ category which includes the chat threads.

Comments (299)

  • Phil W says:

    Quick Question – If someone has had the Amex Gold card inside the last two years, will they get the BAPP SUB?

  • David says:

    Omicron and on and on – what would you do?

    (Apologies for the long post)

    We have/had a bit of a dream holiday booked: Cape Town then Stellenbosch, which is now under a cloud because of the latest restrictions. Avios and promotional bookings are great when the sun is shining but when there’s a blip, the house of cards can come crashing down (sorry to mix metaphors!) and it gets very complicated.

    We’re due to fly 28 Dec LHR to JNB in First, returning 9 Jan JNB to LHR in Club. We felt very lucky to have nabbed those!

    Flights were booked with Avios using a companion voucher during the 50% off promotion.

    They were originally booked for travel in May 2021 but BA cancelled the flights and let us move them to Dec.

    We have BA/Comair internal flights booked with cash via BA website JNB to CPT 29 Dec returning 8 Jan. Hotels are booked with points or cash but are refundable.

    BA have just changed the time of our outbound flight on 28 Dec so I called customer service to ask about our options for the LHR-JNB flight. I was told:

    – We can change the flights but, as both flights are operating, full Avios would be charged for new flights – as 50% promotion T&Cs said flights needed to be used by Jun 2021. BA waived the restrictions before as they cancelled the May flights.

    – The ticket is only valid until 10 March 2022, so we’d need to fly before then. A new one for me…

    – Because BA changed the outbound flight time we could shift the existing flights 2 days either way for free.

    – We could get a FTV but that would only contain 50% of the Avios needed for the LHR-JNB flight.

    So, the dilemma is to whether to bank the subpar refunds/vouchers under the nuts circumstances, fight more with BA for a better change deal, or go ahead with the trip (a la Colin from the other day) and immediately fly somewhere else on 10 Jan to do our ‘quarantine’.

    Switzerland and Spain don’t seem to be operating such rigid quarantine regimes at the moment/they’re better than the UK. And there’s Mexico.

    Or we could’ve missed a fourth option.

    • Harry T says:

      HUACA. BA agent is wrong.

      • David says:

        Ok – how so?

      • Harry T says:

        You should be allowed to reroute at a time that suits you, under EC261 (within reason). And you shouldn’t be required to pay any extra costs, whether that is Avios or cash. My girlfriend phoned BA the other about our thrice cancelled South Africa BA Holiday (flights cancelled) – booked for January 2022 after being moved from Jan 2021 and October 2021 – and was told by the first agent that she could only move the flights by 14 days. I advised her to ring again and then next agent moved the flights until the end of schedule without making a fuss – so now we are travelling in November. Unfortunately, some agents are better than others.

        • Jonathan says:

          Depends if their flight was cancelled & moved to a different flight or the timings changed. If the former (do you have a different flight number now?) then full UK261 rights whereas for the latter you have none if timings changed <4 hours.

          You also got a bit lucky with your holiday booking Harry, under package holiday regulations they could have just refunded you in full & ended their obligations.

          • Lady London says:

            +1
            As Jonathan says, key info missing.

            Has BA changed any of the flight numbers on your booking from what was booked originally or your last set of flights booked if you changed under statutory rights (which you did). If so, doesn’t matter if a flight timing moved by only 10mins: different flight number anywhere on the booking means it’s a cancellation giving you the completely free choice of other dates to choose to travel provided by statute EU261 and its UK equivalent. EU261 rights override anything BA says, anything BA says. Anything they can’t or won’t do or their systems won’t do is overridden.

            If flight numbers all the same as booked then you must fall back on BA terms and conditions as notified to you (and not, if any conditions were not notified to you) as they were *at your date of booking* ). Yes you’ve had changes since booking. But you were using statutory rights for those and not any condition or favour granted by BA. So if your original terms said you had to accept a change of, say, 2 hours, then BA can’t apply their current rule of 5 hours in order for you not to get whatever the original conditions said you could choose.

    • S says:

      A lot can happen over the next five weeks. Personally, I’d be optimistic, even though the Government seems to be digging their heels in.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        I agree with this.

        All this madness will do is stop low and middle income countries which rely on tourism from sequencing and reporting!

        Bring in pre departure PCR, bring in home isolation for 2-5 days but hotel quarantine is complete nonsense.

    • WaynedP says:

      So sorry to hear your plight, David – you’re dead right that you’ve bagged a dream holiday there in any ordinary time (Although as a former Capetonian I would avoid being a tourist in CPT from mid December to mid January – far better tourist experience once the schools are back).

      Sorry for long post in reply – hopefully there’s something here that will be helpful to you in your situation. My own is similar and I have been fortunate to have a very positive experience (after some polite standing of my ground).

      First, my own choice would be to avoid taking this trip right now. Internal SA flights are a Covid risk nightmare. I have been back to SA to sort out personal family matters twice since Covid (Dec 2020 and Nov 2021) both times needing to travel to Durban where virtually no-one has flown to directly since March 2020. Both times I avoided internal flights like the plague and chose to hire a car in JNB and drive the nearly 400 miles to my destination (and back).

      JNB – CPT is a 2 hour flight but 900 mile drive (great to break up over two nights) but best flown if you only have a ten day holiday, and best avoid domestic flights until Covid is conquered in SA, is my opinion.

      Second, I would try to get an agent on your side to make the change to April/May 2022. It can be done (I managed it as I’ll explain below) but I got the impression that it’s a really complicated procedure. You have to get a knowledgeable, competent, persuasive agent to really want to help you out, since they need to go above and beyond and engage the help of back-office BA admin to succeed. I consider myself fortunate to have managed it.

      My own return Club World LHR to JNB flight BA055 was also booked with 50% Avios and Companion Voucher in October 2020 for first outbound flight on 5 May 2021. Important date as will explain later.

      BA cancelled the flight and I just left it hanging in my list which I recall was the default option. I would have rejected any FTV or refund or re-booking options that might have been offered.

      I avoided calling BA due to complaints about wait times until 3 November 2021 when I got through to a helpful chap using 0203 250 0145 at 07:55 (it was a trial call as I thought the line only opened at 8am, so was delighted to be put through within a couple of minutes).

      • WaynedP says:

        continued …

        I was looking to try to rebook for end Jan 2022. Agent told me no CW or PE availability for then, but that I could reschedule the flight for any time up to outbound on or before 5 May 2022 (that all important date to note, namely 12 months out from original outbound flight).

        I specifically asked the agent to please make a note on the file to reflect what he had told me, as I knew there was some conflicting reports of BA reversing their 8 July 2021 policy update which had originally confirmed this option.

        I separately booked a Feb return using a newly triggered companion voucher, which proved better redemption availability with newer companion vouchers.

        While I was in SA on 11 November, SeatSpy alerted me to new CW redemption availability in May 2022, and I knew I had to act fast. I called BA up but due to time of day (late evening SA time, after UK office hours) I got through to an Indian offshore agent.

        She told me something along the lines that you have been told, namely ticket had already expired and all I could now do was to take FTV. She referred to a recent reversal to BA’s earlier policy when I politely stood my ground and referred her to the notes on my file from my 3rd November call, which she acknowledged were there in black and white.

        I politely but firmly rejected her assessment of the only options available, and she admitted that she was limited in what she could do, and that I needed to get hold of someone on the BA Exec Club / Avios team.

        I thanked her, ended the call and took up the challenge again the next day. Problem being that BA have no direct line to “someone on the BAEC / Avios team”. After 45 fruitless minutes I finally got to speak with a UK agent as it was still within UK office hours on 0207 949 3086. He acknowledged that he wasn’t on the BA Exec Club / Avios team and soon confirmed that he couldn’t help me with my particular requirements, but could patch me through to a member of the fabled team. After 20 anxious minutes of holding, I did finally reach “Julie” an angel of mercy. Everything changed from that point on.

        She was competent, knowledgeable and compassionate. I remained polite and factual without being dramatic, but did explain that the original flight would have served the purpose of a family funeral for my father which still hadn’t happened due to the whole Covid disruption.

        • WaynedP says:

          continued…

          She referred to the Indian agent’s conversation of the night before, to which I countered that the agent had self admitted that her knowledge and authority were limited, and I referred to previously noted assurance that I could re-schedule flight as far out as 5 May 2022.

          She acknowledged what I had been told, started explaining the complication of trying to achieve that, but must have just made a personal decision to take on the difficult (but not impossible) challenge.

          She went away to chat with someone in the back office, and came back to confirm that my flight would be re-booked for outbound on 30 April 2022, and that BA was waiving the modest increase in cost from a budget they had set aside for this purpose (I could be wrong but I thought this was to cover the increased passenger duty from LHR, I just said thank you and didn’t ask for the details of exact cost increase).

          She did however explain that it wouldn’t be instant, and that as part of the process I would receive an email detailing that the booking had been turned into an FTV. She said to ignore that, because as soon as she triggered the FTV, she would apply it to the new booking, which I understand was part of the complication of the process. She couldn’t reschedule me without triggering an FTV on their admin side.

          She said not to expect to see anything on my BA EC Account for a few days (which given that it was the eve of BA’s big IT maintenance shut-down was part of my expectations anyway). I was just happy that there was still redemption availability – which of course may no longer be the case for you, I’m afraid.

          Happy conclusion is that I have a re-scheduled April 2022 Club World return JNB-LHR flight (BA055 still) with old companion voucher (whose expiry date may or may not have been extended from Nov 2022 to March 2023 by the triggered FTV as part of the re-booking process) at no extra cost (pounds or Avios) which is a big win in my books and a great testament to BA’s “Julie” on the BAEC/Avios Customer Service team. I did send a separate thanks and shout-out to BA about Julie on their separate “log a compliment” form.

          Finally, I’d try to achieve what I did if I were you, but if redemption availability is no longer there, or you don’t get your own “Julie”, then I’d take the FTV and bide my time until domestic SA flights are safer rather than go ahead in Dec 2021, I’m sorry to say – but you did ask what I would do.

          • WaynedP says:

            Good luck, I’ve no doubt you’ll have a great time in SA once you finally get there.

      • S says:

        What’s wrong with domestic SA flights? Compared to say intra European flights?
        Driving has not insignificant risks, not to mention a recent article suggested jnb-cpt return in a basic VW car would cost R6500 (including the effect of wear on the car which admittedly isn’t an issue on a rental).

    • David says:

      Thanks so much everyone for your helpful advice! Particularly WaynedP for such a detailed reply.

  • davef says:

    MAN security theatre reached as new low this morning.

    Got told that the reusable transparent plastic bag with a zipper which I’ve used at over 30 airports inc MAN over 30 times “had holes in it” and therefore I had to put all my liquids in a disposable plastic bag.

    The bag clearly didn’t have any holes in it and is actually watertight. The ziplock bag she gave me which didn’t fit the contents was put through the scanner unsealed.

    • Super Secret Stuff says:

      Do you have that bag for ease or environmental reasons?

      If its ease of use, nice run and just carry on as usual.

      Enviromental, Surely you can see a disposable bag is the least of your worries when plying!

    • Anna says:

      Agree it’s not a big deal, maybe they were struggling to find things to take exception to this morning?!
      But so what if it had holes in it, I thought the purpose was so they could see what’s inside the bag? They’re not watertight anyway, so would leak if you didn;t screw a lid on properly even if there were no holes.
      Sometimes I think they set each other challenges to break the monotony. Let’s see who can convince someone there are holes in their plastic bag?

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Consider yourself lucky because technically you are only allowed the amount of liquids that will fit in that stupid little bag.

      • davef says:

        @Super Secret Stuff – Both but primarily convenience as I put all my various eye solutions in there as it’s thicker plastic and stands up so I can travel with just that containing liquids in hand luggage and my small BA 1st toiletry bag in checked luggage with all the rest in there. That way 2 small bags at the sink in the hotel room and I dont forget anything when I checkout.

        @Anna – That’s my point, it clearly doesnt have any holes it in. She picked it up, looked all over it and said – holes in it.. but then when I’d decanted the contents into the one she gave me she put it through the scanner unsealed… honestly I looked for a supervisor but they were all hiding.
        And the day got considerably worse from then on – Man/BA/LHR shitshow occurred and dozens missed flights

        @TGLoyalty – There were only 4 small bottles and a contact lense case in it. It’s well within the prescribed definition of a transparent resealable bag of that size and as I said, it’s flown 4 contintents, 30 airports, USA/China/Russia/All over South America and even the Germans havent ever picked on it.

  • Greg says:

    Off to Mauritius in 2 weeks time. There was a flurry of activity when BA announced the new LHR route and added a shed-full of avios seats. Has anybody been and returned this month with any pros and cons ?

    • Rob says:

      Hi Greg. We are in Mauritius now having used a 2-4-1 BAPP voucher. Having a fabulous time, only wish it’d been longer than a week. The weather at present has been great, really warm. Up to 33 degrees. Had a rental car but only used a couple of days. Only issues faced is the uncertainty of whether we need negative PCR or LFT for our arrival on Tuesday morning.

    • Tracey says:

      We are thinking of bailing. Reading the tripadvisor forum suggests there are far more cases than the government is admitting and that they are getting some sequenced in the coming week. The fact that Germany put Mauritius on their sort of red list and it’s on France’s list is causing us concern.

      • GeorgeJ says:

        Tracey, most places have more cases than the government recognises, even the UK, however we are fortunate to have the ONS survey which gives the direction travel.
        I think you are mistaken as to the import of the German classification, which is as a”high risk area” from 5 December that has been the classification of the UK by Germany since 7 July and I have been there several times since with little impediment (as long as you are vaxed). Anyway why does Germany matter, they have most of the world on their “high risk” list.

  • SteveJ says:

    BA Amex closure question : Do the points need to have been sent to BA before closing the Amex?

    I recall when closing the Nectar that they said they’d transfer any residual points after closure (and they did). Can’t recall if the rules are the same on the BA card. Rather not wait another month if it can be avoided, but of course will if it means losing the points.

    • Ikaz says:

      Most people seem to receive them after closing… It depends on your risk aversion, I would say that if you don’t receive the points, they are lost. So it depends on how many points you are waiting for and if you value those points higher than the extra month or so refund that you would get

    • Scott says:

      I asked Amex live chat recently, and they advised any Avios not already transferred would be lost upon card closure. In my case, the cost of holding onto the card for another few weeks was outweighed by the value of the Avios.

    • SteveJ says:

      Thanks both, will be a little more patient!

  • Mco says:

    If one is travelling long haul is it better to get a booster and fly after 2 days or come back and get it done? Someone was telling me that a booster can lower your immunity for a few days?

    • Peter K says:

      I personally would wait until I came back. That way, if you get a reaction to the jab such as feeling a bit rough for a few days then it won’t affect your trip.

    • Tracey says:

      Never heard of covid immunity lowering. What can happen is that you body is busy creating covid antibodies which leaves it low to resist infections in general, but it won’t increase your chances of getting covid.

      • Tom says:

        Tracey, you’re a doctor, I presume? Or is this something you read on an Internet forum and are passing on as fact?

    • Jonathan says:

      You won’t get any benefit from booster for a few days & full benefit takes >10 days but it won’t hamper your immune system at all.

      You may get some temporary side effects like a raised temperature, fatigue or muscle pains for 24-48 hours though.

      Depends where you’re going & for how long as to balance of risks/benefits. If it was a short break I’d probably leave it but if 2 weeks+ then I’d get it now.

      • Char Char says:

        ” but it won’t hamper your immune system at all.”

        Medical source please?

        • Lady London says:

          Medical source known as Jonathan, Char Char.

          • Jonathan says:

            There are at least two Jonathan’s who regularly comment but yes, I am the medical one.

            Your immune system handles many potential pathogens every day so having a vaccine doesn’t hinder your ability to fight off other viruses.

            For context one of the first vaccines given at 8 weeks of age is now a “6 in 1” vaccine for Dipthetia, Tetanus, Haemophilus influenza B, Hepatitis B, Pertussis & Polio. We also give Meningitis B & Rotavirus at the same time so 8 different pathogens which the relatively immature immune system of an 8 week old can still mount a simultaneous response to.

      • Tony1 says:

        Got booster a week ago. I had previous PZ ( * 2 ) and got M for booster – headache and slight fatigue …. fine now. OH had AZ and M for booster, Affected more than me, with temp and muscle ache – Ibuprofen sorted. Take the booster and sleep on plane 🙂

        • Graham Walsh says:

          My 1st & 2nd jabs were AZ, no major issues. Got my booster yesterday which was Moderna, lots of muscle ache in my arm. Taking some Ibuprofen to wipe it out. I guess in First/Club, the bubbles would wash away the pain too 🙂

    • Dilbert says:

      I had the same decision and just decided it better to leave til I get back. No medical background or evidence to back up my decision (before the pile on) just went with my gut.

      • meta says:

        Remember that your temperature might be checked on arrival and if it is elevated due to jab they might place you under surveillance.

  • Graham says:

    Got a trip to castres france next weekend so need a antigen test on sat dec 11th for flight on monday. I know qured to a video service but do any do one where you take a photo of your result and passport and send it off and get email cert back

  • Tom says:

    Since the Avois migration has anyone been able to sign up for Barclays Rewards? Getting a 404 error when logging into my BA account via the Barclays app.

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.