Burning through some Avios!

Old Jan 8, 15, 3:45 am
  #1  
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Burning through some Avios!

So after spending quite a few nights up trying to secure LHR - SIN in F / CW before Xmas 2015 I gave up. Honestly, hats off to you people on here who have managed to secure these seats ^

We are planning to honeymoon in Asia over Xmas and NY 2015 and I have secured 2x one way seats to KUL in F using the 2-4-1 on 23rd Dec. The plan is to go to a few places in Asia and then try and open jaw it back from SIN or HKG in F, and wrap both under the 2-4-1, but quite frankly I don't fancy my chances. Therefore I'm looking at some other options:

(1) Not worry about not getting BA flights back and travelling Cathay in F using 2x Avios one ways (i.e. burning through a normal one way F redemption charge for 2 people) [don't worry I'll still have well over 1m leftover ]

If I do this I might want to fly KUL or SIN to HKG and then have 2/3 days in HKG before flying back to LHR in F on Cathay. Is there a way to book this using Avios as one trip or would I need to book separate legs; i.e. KUL / SIN to HKG then HKG - LHR separately?

- If I did the above and later this year some availability opened up on BA flights (e.g. from SIN or HKG) could I call the Exec Club and grab two F seats (and combine with my 2-4-1 redemption made one way to KUL) and then cancel my Cathay redemption (HKG - LHR).

If so, so I do all of this through the BA Exec Club? - And any idea what the cancellation charge would be? Also if CW seats opened up I presume they would charge less Avios for what would effect become a mixed class return fare?

(2) Cross my fingers and not book any return flights yes and hope that some availability comes up. We are looking to fly back 13/14/15/16 Jan 2016 so have some flexibility. Is it worth taking this risk or better to book some full Avios seats as in (1) [in your opinions!]

Some general questions (sorry if you think they are stupid!)

- Presumably all Avios redemptions will need to be made through the BA website from my Exec Club account. It's probable that I'll be making them on Cathay and Air Malaysia
- Presumably all are cancellable and cancellation can be done from Manage my booking or would I need to call the BA Exec Club (or Cathay / Air Malaysia)

Thanks so much for any help!!! It's the one part of the Honeymoon my fiancé has tasked me with to get sorted and I want to make sure I use my Avios wisely and maximise the travel experience for her.
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Old Jan 8, 15, 4:04 am
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I would think you have a good chance of getting some seats on BA at T-355. We weren't able to make a booking for ourselves this year on the peak days (3/4 Jan, had to settle for MH) but had plenty of choice for my in-laws who come home from HKG on the 12th (booked last Jan). If you return in CW yes it will be 60k additional for the return rather than 90k. This would have to be added by phone (with mixed experience of having to pay the £15 offline fee).

Any partner bookings are still made through BA. Two legs with a stop can only be booked by phone, and there is no real benefit for which you would want to pay the offline fee. All BA and partner awards are cancelable for £30pp, done online unless something goes wrong (which usually brings a quicker refund than offline).

Last edited by pauldb; Jan 8, 15 at 4:11 am
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Old Jan 8, 15, 4:14 am
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Originally Posted by pauldb View Post
I would think you have a good chance of getting some seats on BA at T-355. We weren't able to make a booking for ourselves this year on the peak days (3/4 Jan, had to settle for MH) but had plenty of choice for my in-laws who come home from HKG on the 12th (booked last Jan). If you return in CW yes it will be 60k additional for the return rather than 90k. This would have to be added by phone (with mixed experience of having to pay the £15 offline fee).

Any partner bookings are still made through BA. Two legs with a stop can only be booked by phone, and there is no real benefit for which you would want to pay the offline fee. All BA and partner awards are cancelable for £30pp, done online unless something goes wrong (which usually brings a quicker refund than offline).
Thanks so much for your reply - interesting to note your experience with HKG. I suppose it does make sense to just to book "stopover" as two separate tickets rather than going through the hassle and wait on the phone.

I'll be interested to see if any flights come up at 355 days and if not, guess I'll have to try F in Cathay for the first time (not been in Cathay F before!)
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Old Jan 8, 15, 4:22 am
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If I've understood you correctly, you'd like to book an open-jaw using an Amex 2-4-1? If so, I don't believe that's permitted. It has to be point-to-point return, and on BA metal only. Unless someone comes along to correct me!
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Old Jan 8, 15, 4:27 am
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Originally Posted by Teefaf View Post
If I've understood you correctly, you'd like to book an open-jaw using an Amex 2-4-1? If so, I don't believe that's permitted. It has to be point-to-point return, and on BA metal only. Unless someone comes along to correct me!
I'm here to correct you. Totally normal thing to do (on BA metal).
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Old Jan 8, 15, 4:35 am
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Originally Posted by SEW247 View Post
I'll be interested to see if any flights come up at 355 days and if not, guess I'll have to try F in Cathay for the first time (not been in Cathay F before!)
I would add that BA tend to have patterns in this (until they change them). Through November/December it seems they are releasing seats Mon/Tue/Wed. Probably worth seeing what comes up week-beginning 4th Jan as a guide, though BA may treat that week differently being closer to the start of school/uni term. If the pattern continues, I guess the 13th isn't your preferred date but it would suggest not waiting to see if the 14th/15th/16th appears.
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Old Jan 8, 15, 4:38 am
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Open jaw with 241 is absolutely fine, but can only be used on BA metal. Just call BA when seats become available and they'll be able to adjust the booking for you. It's worth pointing out that this can't be done online so they waive the offline fee.
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Old Jan 8, 15, 4:53 am
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This is going beyond what you asked, but if you miss out or seem to be getting forced in to a shorter trip, you could also tag PEK, CTU or PVG on the end. These tend to have better availability. We stopped over in PEK in December 2013 - it's cold but you have the Great Wall almost to yourself, don't have to get up so early to see sunrise in Tiananmen, and it's less avios than HKG for a daytime flight with more time to experience F. Plus you don't need a visa for <72hrs so it's a low-hassle way to see a little of China.
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Old Jan 8, 15, 5:34 am
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A side side note that I have from bitter experience as it sounds like you are essentially doing exactly what I'm doing. Hopefully it might save you some time (or at least you haven't made the mistakes I have!):

For my upcoming honeymoon I booked F outbound to HKG on a 2-4-1 and booked a return leg on CX via BA as there was no return availability on my inbound dates or anywhere nearby (burning half a 2-4-1, boo ). Of course, this was booked about 6 months prior to my wedding and 12 months prior to when we will be taking the trip as redemption seats go fast.

When it came to changing my wife's name from her maiden name to her married name, we thought it might be a short pain but relatively simple as it surely happens all the time.. Changing some other legs on Qantas took me mere minutes and they comped it - this was on the cheapest economy fares they had. Changing our BA leg was a bit more difficult but after emailing copies of passports and wedding certificates we managed the change, although I can't remember if we had to pay a change fee. I think we did.

Where it got REALLY problematic was getting BA to amend a surname on BA paper for CX metal. They already had evidence of her name change but we had to send it several more times. After a while they claimed it was literally impossible for them to change this record and I would have no choice but to cancel the tickets and rebook. If I had done this, the redemption flights would likely be gone and I would have had to pay around £10k to get my wife equivalent seats.

I have been bounced around from department to department and spoke to well over 12 different agents at Exec Club. Most of the time I could only speak to first-line agents who couldn't understand how to make changes and supervisors (who I was told were the only people who could assist in changes via the ticketing department) were rarely available and when they were would parrot the same "solution" to me as they were told ticketing could do nothing.

I reached out to CX myself and was almost immediately connected to a supervisor without asking. CX customer service was frankly wonderful, especially considering I'm not actually technically a customer of theirs. They reassured me that it was totally possible but needed to be done at BA's end as they ticketed me. The supervisor gave me step-by-step Amadeus instructions for BA but also tried to contact them directly without success, while expressing surprise that I was having to contact them myself as BA should have spoken to CX (BA claimed they could only speak to OneWorld who also told them I could only cancel). She provided me with her work email address and a direct phone number so she could assist me further, which she did throughout the process and even called me on occasion to check how things were going.

Back with BA, I was asked to forward these instructions to generic mailboxes no less than three times, all the way coming back and saying it was not possible. Eventually after getting nowhere I went to BA Customer Relations and after some wrangling managed to get in contact with someone who understood that there was an issue and could understand the instructions. I passed on my CX contact's details and eventually they managed to talk and sort it out.

This process from end-to-end took 2.5 months.

To wrap up, if you need to do the same thing:

1. Don't take no for an answer, it's perfectly reasonable ticket change.
2. BA can change partner bookings and there doesn't need to be an explicit agreement between OW partners on this, despite what I was told.
3. Executive Club (at least at my level, GCH or something might get better) cannot help you even though it's related to Avios. Surprising. Go straight to Customer Relations.
4. At least in my experience, knowledge of BA's own systems appears to be woefully inadequate when dealing with any moderately unusual situation.

Sorry that was a long ramble! I'll be writing a complaint letter to BA once I can formulate my complaint in a clear and concise manner. Needless to say, CX have already received a "thank you" letter Wonderful customer service.
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Old Jan 8, 15, 5:48 am
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Originally Posted by pauldb View Post
I'm here to correct you. Totally normal thing to do (on BA metal).
Haha, thanks for sorting me out!
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Old Jan 8, 15, 6:50 am
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OP - BA's charges are so high on their own flights - and you have such a mountain of Avios - that you'll probably find nothing in it financially to fly back with Cathay.

You'll probably find yourself on a daytime flight which will be a real hardship in F, I'm sure
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Old Jan 8, 15, 6:59 am
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Further to the above, as Avios aren't an issue to you, get yourself on CX in F. You absolutely will not regret it
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Old Jan 8, 15, 7:16 am
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Thanks for the replies everyone - noted the saga on changing names - I think the to-be Mrs will probably hold out changing her name until we've done our honeymoon - sounds like a right pickle.

I also like the potential option of going to China and possibly doing a fly back from Beijing or Shanghai - didn't know about the 72 hr visa thing having only ever travelled there on business.

The option of going back in F with Cathay does also seem like a potential goer.

So I think my tactics will be to book 2x F ones-ways with Cathay from HKG to LHR and then see what opens up with BA to come back in F with the 2-4-1 from HKG.

Phew, that's that sorted, just need to decide where to go and what to do on honeymoon now
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