Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Forum Replies Created

  • in reply to: Curve card keeps declining/getting blocked
    JDB 4,629 posts

    @NorthernLass – over £100 sometimes, blimey! I’m now imagining some exotic high maintenance hairdo like a beehive that requires considerable coiffing!

    in reply to: Becoming an independent travel advisor
    JDB 4,629 posts

    Am surprised commissions are so high, about 7-10%!

    That’s on top of all the extra perks provided.

    Why can’t hotels provide these packages themselves and keep the commissions? Even when hotels offer these perks, they are advertised at rates above flexible rates!

    Hotels do offer these perks, but they can’t advertise it openly because that’s the deal with the agents, so they can pretend they are offering value to their clients. Hotels play along because the guests are overpaying via this channel. The 7-10% is a lot relative to the effort/value added, but actually quite a lot of up market groups or individual hotels will pay substantially higher commissions to select agents that bring them high spending customers. The 7-10% will get squeezed as too many people are latching on to this and they aren’t really agents or independent travel advisors at all but rather an unnecessary intermediary to be paid off. Serious agents will still get paid quite well. Bigger hotel owners have successfully pushed back on the 20%+ commissions they used to pay to the giant OTAs – that’s down to more like 12% now and will undoubtedly go down further.

    It’s a far cry from the early 80s when I helped set up a business/marine travel agency – 9% comm on all air tickets with up to 40% override commissions from a few big airlines, 15% standard hotel comm, often more.

    in reply to: Becoming an independent travel advisor
    JDB 4,629 posts

    Thank you for asking this – its something I’ve toyed with as well, but always discarded as I don’t have the contacts needed. I wish there was a space for some one who plans stuff for others – does all the research on where to go how to get from a to b, what to do/see but then lets them book it themselves.

    Isn’t that called the “Internet” ?


    @Blindman67
    – I think you hit the nail on the head. I’m not willing to pay someone else to make a booking at full price on the premise that I get a few minor ‘freebies’ thrown in in recompense for paying top dollar (and the ridiculous ‘maybe’ upgrade). I am entirely confident that I can get the benefits, plus confirmed upgrades, specific room allocations etc. all at a much lower price. One should never underestimate the value of human contact, so why put an intermediary in the middle?

    However, I do think that independent travel agents can be very successful if they have an angle and truly add value. I do use agents, particularly when visiting somewhere new, when I perceive that it’s complex and the agent has ‘walked the course’ so can offer valuable advice in structuring and booking a trip. I did this for our first trip to China and still use the same agent to help with some aspects ten trips later.

    I used a small independent agent for a trip to Serbia last month – he organised (in discussion with me) a brilliant itinerary taking into account various factors I wasn’t aware of, but most importantly he had a great guide and a network of suppliers en route who really made the trip; there is no way I could have replicated that for myself. Both are adding huge value and I’m very happy to pay for that, but I really don’t need someone to push a few buttons to book a hotel (which they likely know nothing about) such that I arrive there as a totally anonymous guest. It’s all the other bits which are more difficult.

    in reply to: Mexico advice and suggestions
    JDB 4,629 posts

    I wonder if they really were all private security or whether some of them were just one of the many types of official law enforcement, many of which don’t carry any police type word on their uniforms :- Protección Civil, Seguridad Ciudadana, Tránsito etc. There are private security people and rather ill disguised plain clothes officers outside embassies and what we guessed were politicians’ properties. Like in many cities there are private security staff outside banks and high end jewellery shops.

    in reply to: Best credit card for spend abroad
    JDB 4,629 posts

    What about the Santander credit card with no FX fees and 2% cashback? Seems like a good deal to me!

    The 2% only applies in year one (and is 1% thereafter), is capped at £15/month and there’s a £3/month fee, plus I think you need a Santander account.

    in reply to: Mexico advice and suggestions
    JDB 4,629 posts

    @NorthernLass – Claudia Sheinbaum is the one to thank! She has done an extraordinary job cleaning up and improving the city. She was originally elected much to the horror of the central residents who shuddered at her socialists credentials, but they will now grudgingly admit that she was a great mayor. Mexico is still a pretty macho and catholic society, so to elect a Jewish woman as President with a landslide majority is a testament to her and her achievements as mayor of CDMX.

    in reply to: Chat thread – Friday 14th June
    JDB 4,629 posts

    There was an interesting article over on OMAAT this week that updates on 2 days concerning whether EU261 applies to SWISS airlines flights. Seems they are trying everything to avoid paying delay compensation which wasn’t helped by the fact that it looked like a robot had written a refusal letter to deny compensation (it initially referred to an aircraft type which SWISS no longer have.
    Apparently SWISS didn’t like the suggested editor and reader comments and in attempting to clarify provided lots of opinions as to why the compensation rules don’t apply to them – not in EU, case law hasn’t been signed of by Swiss courts, a faulty plane and therefore a cancellation doesn’t warrant compensation. As readers here will use SWISS or Lufthansa for flights and they sometimes have good fares, what do our U.K. based legal eagles, etc think about the airline paying compensation? It will certainly affect my search criteria when looking for flight availability

    EC261 does apply in Switzerland and UK261 will apply to journeys to/from the UK. Swiss also participates in ADR, using söp. Swiss does have a reputation for ignoring/refusing claims on all sorts of spurious grounds and söp is pitifully slow, bureaucratic and seems to lap up a lot of rubbish from airlines. While we read of many moans on HfP about BA complying the the APR, it’s a relatively small number given their position in the market here and they aren’t bad in the European scheme of things. I’d rather be dealing with BA than Iberia, TAP, Swiss or Lufthansa. The ME airlines aren’t exactly too keen on 261 either. Unfortunately I don’t think one can base one’s travel plans based on who plays 100% by the rules (nobody does). One has to accept that most journeys will run smoothly and that if problems are encountered, they need to be dealt with as one finds them.

    in reply to: Mexico advice and suggestions
    JDB 4,629 posts

    @NorthernLass – the Centro Histórico is probably the quietest area as it’s largely pedestrianised or access only. The Reforma hotels are quiet by virtue of being mostly modern double glazed buildings but you step out into noise and traffic. Polanco generally quite also, but slightly location dependent. The bit we like about staying in the CH, apart from characterful hotels is that it is wonderful to wander around before all the groups arrive and after they have gone. One can also walk to so many places from there.

    Frida Kahlo is a bit marmite, but it’s as much a human interest story as well – she led an extraordinary and tragic life in addition to her tempestuous relationship with Rivera, himself such a talent – you might like his murals more than her pictures but his house/museum is a bit rubbish so you need to see them around town.

    in reply to: Mexico advice and suggestions
    JDB 4,629 posts

    @NorthernLass – I would stay either in Polanco which is a smart residential area so lots of nice restaurants/shops and a nice area to walk around – the hotels are mainly smaller boutique type. Reforma is just too busy/trafficky (except on Sundays when it’s closed to traffic) and is a bit of a no man’s land. My first choice however, would be to stay in the Centro Histórico. We like the Círculo Mexicano, great location, superb staff, very comfortable (although super modern/minimalist) and has a lovely roof terrace for tip top breakfast/snacks/drinks looking over the back of the cathedral. The whole area has been massively improved by the now President and is great to walk around.

    In terms of visits, I take it you have deliberately omitted the Museo Soumaya, Frida Kahlo House/Museo Anahuacalli (and in fact the Coyoacán district where the house is has interesting churches, Cortes’s house, great restaurants etc) and also there are the pyramids (which are an hour away). I assume you are including the Templo Mayor in the Historic Centre.

    It’s worth bearing in mind that the Anthropological Museum is vast – quite difficult to ‘do’ in one visit so possibly worth planning what you want to see. The nearby Chapultepec Castle is interesting in its own right and the best viewpoint in the city. The other thing to bear in mind is that as you will have spotted, the city is vast, the traffic can be pretty bad so it often takes a long time to get from A to B.

    In terms of restaurants, I’m not sure that we necessarily like the same food! Good Mexican food bears little relation to what one gets in England. There has been a big return in Latin countries, and especially Mexico to ‘cocina de los raíces’. We really like Raíz (in Polanco and more for dinner, small and have never seen another foreigner there!) and Arango at lunch time is on about the 7th floor, very light and airy with great views over the Republic monument, fabulous modern Mexican food, beautifully presented. In the San Antonio area (and next to the Kahlo/Rivera studio, not near the house) the San Antonio Inn has a series of beautiful courtyards and gardens, supposedly where the margarita was invented. Food isn’t the best, but all the rest makes up for it. The nearby weekend market is fantastic whereas most markets in the city are just full of Chinese imports of Mexican ‘handicrafts’. In the historic centre, the Café de Tacuba is a real institution – they can be quite grumpy but it is real traditional Mexico and the food is good. Also the El Cardenal restaurants (I think they have about five) are really good, again very much on the traditional side. I wouldn’t eat at the Casa de los Azulejos, but it’s worth a visit, maybe for a cup of coffee – the outside and inside decor is spectacular. Casa Azul is a restaurant to avoid!

    If you like really comfortable shoes – Flexi shoes (branches everywhere) may not be ‘designer’ but they’re great!

    in reply to: Chat thread – Thursday 13th June
    JDB 4,629 posts

    I don’t think we’re entirely sure what @Cranzle has been issued with yet? Most people don’t realise there are different kinds until they are affected.

    Also – our local railway station issues them as “Parking Notices (sic)”, even though they are covered by the railway bye-laws, so there’s an outside chance it could be one of those!

    I challenged our council because I did have a valid permit for my gym but had just forgotten to swap it for the old one. When I read the guidelines they hadn’t adhered to most of them, including not even displaying the amount of the charge!

    Its a Parking Charge Notice by Euro Car Parks. I’ve received a couple of others in the past (can’t recall which company), and I’ve ignored them. But they were relatively recently so I wanted to get experiences here. One of them was from a visit to a car park where the machine said there was nothing to pay after I entered the reg number. A load of hassle for no reason!


    @Cranzle
    – well you have the choice of the @TravelStrong high wire act or engaging and you may find MSE quite helpful preparing any appeal to ECP or POPLA. Depends a bit whether it was an overstay, not paying, outside a space. Basically if you fight hard they will eventually back off as too much effort/risk to take you to court. They are aggressive and don’t like getting the same back!

    There is of course the easy life option of paying the reduced rate!

    in reply to: Best credit card for spend abroad
    JDB 4,629 posts

    But do any of the suggested routes actually result in money saved? Doesn’t Curve apply a spread on Fx rates? What I read is it’s 1-2% which wipes out any fronted benefits.

    I have Revolut because I’m largely paid in USD by my employer, but I *think* at 0.18% and zero other benefits it’s no worse than Curve making 1-2% on Fx and giving me back 1% in Avios.

    Did I miss a trick?

    Curve Metal has no FX fees on £100k pa, simply charging the Mastercard Wholesale Rate, except at weekends/public holidays when there’s a 1% fee and there’s never any fee for USD or EUR transactions. This is unconnected with the ‘fronted’ benefit of £3k/month.

    in reply to: Best credit card for spend abroad
    JDB 4,629 posts

    Wow @JDB

    I’m surprised you got your wife for only £375 albeit £600 all-in. However I got the impression you’d been married for decades. Although I understand there is no time limit on claims under s75 I would have thought that there would be some reasonableness element to it?

    Yes, it was a cracking deal, even with the extras. Very attractive P/E ratio too. P.S. I know that’s a terribly unfashionable metric these days. Useful ready reckoner though.

    in reply to: Chat thread – Thursday 13th June
    JDB 4,629 posts

    How do you know they’ve gone away though, and are not just slowly going through the civil claims system?

    I’ve seen this kind of enforcement on Can’t Pay – We’ll Take It Away 😂



    @NorthernLass
    Because you receive *real* notification from the courts if it actually goes to small claims, not a letter from JD and Boggsman, BarkingBye, or Chancher&Co. You can address it at that point, it if ever happens (it won’t) and prevent it going further.

    I have many claims over 10yrs old, and I’m pretty content they are dead. However you can get letters for a good 1-3yrs!

    The trouble is that by the time you get the *real* letter from the court, the amount claimed will have grown very substantially from the £40/£50 it might have cost you to pay up in the first place. Worse, if you have moved and the correspondence doesn’t get forwarded, you might end up with a CCJ against you. While the court will likely only order you to pay the original charge (at the full price) you will also end up paying the costs, including attendance by the other side, particularly if you have failed to engage with the process. Obviously if you are in the habit of getting lots of parking tickets, you probably like the high wire anyway, but for most people they are best not ignored.

    in reply to: Vueling
    JDB 4,629 posts

    @geekay – there is a precise definition of a cancellation that would entitle you to a refund or reroute.

    3.2. Cancellation
    3.2.1. Definition of cancellation
    Article 2(l) of the Regulation defines ‘cancellation’ as the non-operation of a flight which was previously planned and on
    which at least one place was reserved.
    Cancellation occurs in principle where the planning of the original flight is abandoned and passengers of that flight join
    passengers on a flight which was also planned, but independently of the original flight. Article 2(l) does not require an
    express decision of cancellation by the carrier.

    So, if in your case Vueling has moved the time by a few minutes and changed the flight number but moved all the passengers from the original flight onto this one, that’s not a cancellation.

    in reply to: The car hire tips thread
    JDB 4,629 posts

    @NorthernLass – are you not able to upgrade your CDW policy to one that includes SLI/ALI? I vaguely recall you raising this quite a while ago when I expressed surprised that a policy costing around £50 would cover what’s necessary, particularly in the Americas. That would probably be cheaper than 8 days on a daily rate??

    in reply to: Chat thread – Thursday 13th June
    JDB 4,629 posts

    @NorthernLass – councils issue Penalty Charge Notices and as you say, being public bodies, have strict guidelines as to their issuance but will often apply them quite strictly so as to treat everyone equally. These days they are pretty smart about obtaining detailed evidence to rebut appeals.

    The OP specifically asked about Parking Charge Notices which operate under a totally different set of rules/law; they are essentially breaches of contract. The operators of private car parks get paid on results so can be really quite aggressive.

    in reply to: Best credit card for spend abroad
    JDB 4,629 posts

    @Froggee – your analysis seems fair, although your fear of Curve is, I believe, misplaced. The Creationgate saga was not about Curve per se but rather the abuse it enabled. I don’t have any hesitation in using it where I don’t need s75. It has saved huge amounts of money over the years while earning me points and without getting yet another card; two Amex, HSBC and Barclays Avios+ (and the Curve) are at least one more than I really need.

    I do value s75 as a form of insurance. As @GuernseyGlobetrotter says with HSBC WE one can earn double points on FX spend as one can on the Amex Gold. Both have promotions to take that to 2.5 Avios per £ which gives that insurance for very little vs FX fee. I find Amex rates generally slight better than MC ones. Amex was several % better than MC in Argentina in Feb/Mar, but that’s a specific situation. Curve has been suspended there since December.

    With s75, there is the question of who makes it the easiest to claim and that’s probably Amex as there’s a more automated system but they have got much tighter.

    I haven’t made an s75 claim with Barclaycard for almost 20 years but then they paid out £1000 without fuss for a non delivered purchase.

    Last year I made a claim to HSBC for my wife. The card charge was about £375 but with other associated costs (charged on another card) came to a total claim of £600. The forms were very cumbersome but ultimately they got the £375 on chargeback after an appeal to MasterCard (following rejection by the merchant) and paid the rest under s75 plus £100 for not having paid within the stated time frame. That pays a few years of card fee and a bit of FX.

    Amex was great in Covid for getting refunds from Aeroméxico, Volaris and Aerolíneas Argentinas who basically blocked refunds. You get 3MR for airline purchases plus the 0.5MR so that feels a good deal.

    The focus on the last % of ‘fees’ and agonising as to whether the MC rate will be better/worse makes me laugh when I read what people are overpaying for or endlessly paying cancellation fees etc. etc.

    The other thing I can’t get my head around is that with these fee free cards, sometimes they don’t really seem to work as intended, notably fee free debit cards for cash withdrawal. I was in France last month and took out the max the machine would allow on my fee free First Direct card (MC) and my non fee free HSBC (Visa). Guess which had the lower £ total debit? My son had the same experience in Mexico using a fee free Coutts card vs my (then charging) FD card. Mine was again lower.

    Splitting a bill with a fee free card evangelist (accountant and FD of a big company) in Argentina. Halifax vs Amex Gold. Amex won!

    in reply to: Chat thread – Thursday 13th June
    JDB 4,629 posts

    Parking Charge Notices – what is the likelihood of being chased through the courts for ignoring these? Does anyone have experience?

    If you are drawing the distinction between a Parking Charge Notice and a Penalty Charge Notice, it depends who issued it, plus the location and circumstances. Some firms will chase these very aggressively, including issuing proceedings. One case ParkingEye Limited v. Beavis [2015] UKSC 67 went all the way to the Supreme Court.

    There are some oddities, particularly surrounding parking in places subject to byelaws e.g. railway stations, but in general these things are best not ignored as the cost can escalate very quickly vs paying within the reduced price period.

    JDB 4,629 posts

    @hugo r – the statutory provisions of UK261 are stronger than those of the package holiday regulations insofar as they relate to flights. It’s not totally clear whether your onward TG flight was within a BAH or a separate arrangement made by you. If they were inside, then BAH should be your first port of call before claiming on insurance.

    JDB 4,629 posts

    Hi I’ve checked and it only goes back to the 7th June … that’s a pain !!! Need the data for the 5th , wonder if anyone has some kind of subscription which gives historic data which they might be willing to share

    We also missed our connecting flight (booked separately) I guess nothing we can get on that one

    It doesn’t greatly matter what data you proffer as QR will have their own record of the arrival time and will determine your claim solely on that basis. QR doesn’t use any arbitration service, but if you escalated to MCOL, they would need to provide proof of the arrival time to the court.

    From what you say the arrival was very close to three hours late – so possibly over or under. If the delay is over three hours (but under four hours) you are entitled to 50%. As the delay is so close, QR can potentially introduce an element of ‘extraordinary circumstances’ to take it under the three hours.

    in reply to: Booking children / young adult using Avios
    JDB 4,629 posts

    @megol – yes, BA will allow this but, as you suggest, it needs to be done over the telephone. It’s quite a common scenario for children to have separate bookings as maybe a different parent or a grandparent travels with the children on the outbound vs the return. It will be on two separate bookings (and it doesn’t matter than one is cash and the other Avios) that BA will link and the children won’t be able to check-in without you.

    in reply to: Ancient Rome tour – points?
    JDB 4,629 posts

    Morning all,

    We’re off to Rome today and I’m keen to explore the ancient parts of the eternal city. Does anyone know of any points earning opportunities for doing so as part of a tour?

    Normally I hate that kind of thing, but I’m told the guides really help bring the ruins to life.

    I’m afraid I can’t help you with a guide in Rome but I hope you find one. I know lots of people here are rather sceptical about the cost and/or the value that guides can offer, but we find that, as you suggest, good guides can truly bring places to life far more than reading books. In addition, they often enable you to see things that are otherwise closed, avoid queues, avoid busy times and to see far more sights by efficient planning/timing. One learns all sorts of useful information from them as well. However, good guides do get booked up a long time in advance, so you need to plan!

    in reply to: Same day change
    JDB 4,629 posts

    Booked a TP run starting from SOF in July. SOF – LHR – BOS and onwards. The ticket is AA with the legs above on BA. Booked in Club. Can I do same day change to an earlier LHR – BOS? If so, do I contact BA or AA?

    The FCOD policy doesn’t apply to connections, only point to point bookings. Not sure if the booking/ticket also needs to be with BA for the policy to apply. Of course no harm in asking BA once you arrive in London.

    in reply to: Tier points with travel agent bookings?
    JDB 4,629 posts

    Hey There, I have been booked through a travel agent for a return flight to Singapore with BA. Would this journey be eligible for Tier Points and Avios? (Outbound in WT (M); Inbound in CW (I)). I have added my EC number to the booking but on manage my booking it just says unable to display information. Many thanks for any help!

    Although the booking classes you have identified might ostensibly entitle you to TP and Avios, those booking classes are not the sole determinant of eligibility, so you can’t be sure when booking with an OTA as they can have special deals that book into those classes but are stripped of the reward benefits.

    in reply to: China Southern – no Avios credited
    JDB 4,629 posts

    Hi all,

    In March I flew an open jaw to Vietnam with China Southern with a layover in Guangzhou each way (LHR-SGN and HAN-LHR) with China Southern and put my BA Exec Club number in. Never got any Avios credited and can’t for the life of my navigate the airline’s poorly functioning and poorly translated website.

    Does anyone have any experience around whom to contact about this and how to approach it?

    Thanks!

    You need to claim the missing Avios from BA not China Southern. You need to log in to BAEC to do this – just Google ‘claim missing Avios’. Make sure you keep all the evidence such as boarding cards.

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