Forum Replies Created
11th October 2022 at 17:59 in reply to: Using Amex Platinum dining credit near the Lyceum TheatreGavin454
Thanks for the map, very useful.
I wouldn’t recommend Skylon, which is just over the river from the theatre. The food seemed overpriced and not particularly good.5th October 2022 at 21:42 in reply to: Change BA flight for free on day of travelGavin454
In theory you can do it in the app or the website once midnight ticks over. Don’t do online check in. Not sure how robustly it works though!
I’ve done it many times online or via the app, usually at 00:01. It’s very easy and takes no longer than a minute.
I thought the pre-arranged daytrip to the DMZ was just mindblowing, and very emotional
hearing the (young) guide’s story of how her family was separated.
Skinfood products are fantastic, if you like that sort of thing!
Also strongly recommend it!
Unfortunately, the tours to Panmunjom (the Joint Security Area tour where you can go inside the negotiation huts that straddle the border and come within a few metres of North Korean soldiers) have been suspended since March 2020 with no signs of reopening.26th September 2022 at 09:17 in reply to: No USA ESTA if you’ve been to Cuba since 2011?Gavin454
I was affected by this rule when it was first introduced (in 2016?) due to having an Iranian visa in my passport from 2011. Incidentally I also visited Cuba in 2012 but there’s no evidence of this in my passport.
Back then, getting a visa appointment was not difficult although it took up several hours queuing and waiting inside the embassy. The visa officer who saw me seemed surprised I was applying for a visa! It was a very quick appointment and immediately approved. Now I have a 10-year visa with no need to renew esta during that time, although I have to carry 2 passports to the US now as I renewed my passport this year.
Not sure what I should do post-2026 if I want to return to the US. Hopefully I can go back to using esta again.25th September 2022 at 10:25 in reply to: Tier points run to Geneva (today)Gavin45423rd September 2022 at 11:36 in reply to: Japan opens againGavin454
It will be interesting to see what happens in Japan regarding all the pandemic health measures stuff (masks, plexiglass, hand sanitizer stations, constant “reduce the spread” talk from politicians etc). It can’t carry on forever. They currently seem to be in the same place that Europe was about 1.5 to 2 years ago.
I’ll hopefully be going in January-February for skiing after cancelled trips in 2021 and 2022 – glad to have booked an award flight a while ago when availability was quite good!26th August 2022 at 19:11 in reply to: How do British Airways profit from Avios?Gavin454
Even recent compelling deals (Amex Plat @ 70k points, Barc Avios @ 50k points) which can be readily turned into Nectar are dismissed almost immediately. Be it due to the upfront cost of the card or general apathy. Explanations around Pro-rata refunds, Amex offers, insurance cover etc. don’t seem to register.
Indeed, a friend said I was flash and extravagant for using an Amex, I tried to explain I could refer him and it would be profitable for us both, and that I make quite a bit of profit out of the Amex/points game. He wasn’t interested at all, more than happy to continue putting all his spend on his debit card instead (with no benefits).
Out of the few people I do know who are into it, most of them waste their points by reducing the cost of cash flights, or making long-haul economy redemptions when they could have just paid cash for not much more than the fees/taxes. The problem is that people often see Avios as “free” and so consider the fees/taxes component to be the only cost. However, even if they come via flights booked by your employer, you still have to consider the opportunity cost of not converting them to Nectar @ 0.8p15th August 2022 at 12:04 in reply to: Japan during pandemicGavin454
The hardest part was probably getting the Japanese family tree, though it seems they’d have accepted a marriage certificate instead. I don’t have anything to compare it too though, I think it’s 15+ years since I last had to do a visa application and I think it was all dealt with by my employer back then.
Yeah, the Koseki / family register is a really annoying hurdle, and the main reason the application was difficult – since it can only be obtained inside Japan, and needs to be less than 3 months old. But also, having to book a visa appointment online at midnight 3 weeks in advance (fully booked within 1-2 minutes), having to visit the embassy twice, having to bother my fiancées elderly relatives in Japan to fill out an invitation letter when they don’t even have a computer etc. It’s just a bit galling when we could go visa-free before, and there’s no actual scientific covid-related reason for these visa rules being imposed.15th August 2022 at 10:24 in reply to: Japan during pandemicGavin454
How did you manage to get a visa?
I may be going on a temporary visitors visa (for reason of family visit) next month. I’m quite strongly resenting all the hurdles I’m having to jump through to get a visa, especially while Japanese people can come to the UK freely with no visa, and even breeze through the e-gates. I’ve been to various countries that require a visa and Japan has been the least straight-forward. Even countries like Iran, Uzbekistan, Russia, were much easier!
I’ve noticed that the hotels we usually stay at in Tokyo seem quite a bit cheaper than we’ve paid in the past, sometimes half the price in GBP.4th August 2022 at 09:03 in reply to: 10,000 United miles – what to do with them?Gavin454
If you go to Japan at some point when it reopens, you can book most domestic routes for 5,500 (no additional taxes or fees to pay)30th July 2022 at 11:40 in reply to: Where best to fly with a companion voucher?Gavin454
Do be sure to check what you’re paying with the voucher vs. cash prices.
Personally I’ve never found value in using companion vouchers for my typical travel, and I let my last one expire a couple of months ago (had it in my account for 3 years!)
However at the moment, cash prices are inflated so I suspect value can be had.26th July 2022 at 23:30 in reply to: Japan in Autumn – options for those booked to flyGavin454
My Jan/Feb flights were cancelled and rebooked from BA5/6 onto BA7/8 on the same days. However, I’ll sit on it for now and see what happens with opening up (or not). Gives me the option to refund later and not lose £35. Plus potentially, if the trip is able to go ahead, then I may rebook onto JAL which is an option by phone according to Flyertalk.
Presumably, BA are not expecting a big increase of demand going into 2023.23rd July 2022 at 21:36 in reply to: Japan in Autumn – options for those booked to flyGavin454
Do you really want to be chaperoned by a tour guide? It’s really strict from what I heard. You have to have everything pre-planned including meal times plus only use Japanese government approved agencies. You will also have separate rules for wearing a mask to the Japanese (and yes that includes children). There is a separate minder who makes sure you only take mask off for a brief moment while eating.
You will also need to get a visa yourself and the agencies can’t help with the application process. They will provide the documentation (ERFS), but you need to apply in person and collect in person from Embassy in London. Once you agree on the itinerary, you have to pay for the tour in full (non-refundable in most cases) and they need to submit the proof of payment to Ministry of Health to issue the ERFS certificate. Naturally most agencies don’t tell you this when you enquire.
The current lead time for issuing visas is 4 weeks minimum. You need to book an appointment to visit the Embassy and the slots are released 3 weeks in advance. They are released at midnight and all slots almost gone within minutes. You can call to check for cancellations. Then it’s about a week to get the visa. But what if you don’t get a visa? You lose money for the tour.
Tourists should be avoiding Japan on principle for implementing this ridiculous and discriminatory system.
Japan is currently one of the most COVID-infected countries in the world, since it’s going through exactly the same wave that (almost) every other country is dealing with right now too, give or take a few weeks. Their unscientific border restrictions have done exactly nothing to prevent or dampen it. Japanese people are free to travel the world without restrictions or visas for almost all countries.
As someone else said, the procedure is far more difficult and complicated vs. getting a visa for North Korea (pre-pandemic), and the rules for the tours are also largely more strict and onerous!28th June 2022 at 21:33 in reply to: Post your American Express Platinum retention offers here!Gavin454
I originally signed up to the Platinum card about 18 months ago. After 6 months, I had a 35k retention bonus. I’ve waited about 1 year + 2 weeks since my first retention bonus, and just been offered 50k for my second on chat via the app (got passed to the retentions team).1st June 2022 at 13:05 in reply to: Amex Plat worth? without the sign up bonusGavin454
When in the membership year do you tend to go through the cancel / retention process? I’m assuming towards the end of the year, or doesn’t it matter?
I got a retention bonus about 2 months after I opened the card. Most people seem to report that you need to wait 1 year after your first retention bonus before getting another one.1st June 2022 at 10:54 in reply to: Amex Plat worth? without the sign up bonusGavin454
The Amex platinum car rental excess insurance doesn’t appear to cover use of Zipcar (I often use Zipcar for running errands etc from my home in London). It seems your car rental needs to be associated with a “trip” for it to be valid. Car clubs are not mentioned at all. Most separately bought excess insurance policies specifically mention car clubs as being covered.
Personally, the Platinum card is borderline for me. If the retention offers didn’t exist, I would definitely cancel. Last year I got 35k and I’m approaching the anniversary of my retention bonus. I’ll keep the card active if they give me 35k again.30th May 2022 at 10:14 in reply to: Morrisons cashbackGavin454
Would anyone be able to share the current highest Morrison’s cashback offer stack that they have?
Don’t have it right now but my best was Airtime Rewards 10% + Barclaycard cashback rewards (via Hilton card) 10% a few months ago
Currently have Amex 10% on two cards27th May 2022 at 13:25 in reply to: Which Program should I credit miles to?Gavin454
If you are interested in only miles and not necessarily status, I’d go with United Mileage Plus. Miles don’t expire, and you can get good value out of them, especially for Japan domestic flights (much better than Avios). It might also be good for US transcon.
Short haul economy up to 600 nm (IIRC) are 6k flat rate (partnerawards).
Another UnitedMileagePlus thing are the excursion awards.
I’d second this – I flew business return from LHR to HKG via ZRH in 2019 on Swiss and credited the flights to United (I also did a status match with United just before this in order to earn more miles). I earned enough miles for 4 domestic economy legs on ANA in Japan, and still have some miles left over which don’t expire. I’ll probably credit occasional Star Alliance flights there in the future. Particularly if you might go to Japan in the next few years, it’s a good deal.21st May 2022 at 21:43 in reply to: I was told BA is refunding all vouchersGavin454
I was recently refunded a FTV (cash booking of around £800 + 66k avios upgrade from WTP to CW) from January 2021. The avios were refunded about a month after the cash, and had to chase them for it.4th May 2022 at 08:17 in reply to: Hotel ideas around Clapham CommonGavin454
Slightly further away but Colliers Wood Holiday Inn is about 5 stops down the Northern Line. Merton Abbey Mills is nearby for something to do next morning.
Yes, the Colliers Wood HEX should be more convenient than the Wandsworth one assuming the party finishes before the tube stops (the night tube has not been restarted on the Northern Line yet). Otherwise, the Travelodge next to Balham station has already been mentioned. Staying at The Windmill pub on the Common is probably the nicest option!30th April 2022 at 21:04 in reply to: Morrisons cashbackGavin454
Spoke to Amex, and they say they only payout when the merchant notifies them of the purchase. I argued that surely the transaction appearing in my Amex account was notification and they answered that the transaction was valid and the payment would be made within the 90 days.
If you’re persistent, they are able to add the cashback manually. A few months ago I had some outstanding cashback and requested it was added because I wanted to cancel my card. They initially stuck to telling me the 90 days term. I asked them to open a complaint, and the agent was suddenly able to add my cashback manually which appeared on my statement within a couple of days.30th April 2022 at 15:41 in reply to: Morrisons cashbackGavin454
My last Morrisons cashbacks took about 1 month.
Had a better deal with Barclaycard 10% stacked with Airtimerewards 10% recently, all tracked fine although they take a long time to release from pending.25th April 2022 at 16:27 in reply to: Getting to East Asia with a 2-4-1Gavin454
I’m not seeing much/any value in using my 2-4-1 long haul compared to paying cash, especially after recent increases in BA’s charges.25th April 2022 at 06:06 in reply to: Zipcar experience post move?Gavin454
Thanks all, returning to T5 on Sunday night but around 10pm ish so will see how I get on and report back
Did you manage to use it? I arrived slightly earlier on Sunday and there were no Zipcars available for pickup. Checked multiple times over 45 minutes or so.1st April 2022 at 16:07 in reply to: Post your American Express Platinum retention offers here!Gavin454
Pleasantly surprised with a 75,000 MR bonus to not cancel my card.. took it up obviously! I think my last one was back July last year…
That would be a surprise – it seems from most other reports that a subsequent retention offer is only available when 1 year has passed since the previous one.
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