Bits: 9,000 Thistle hotel rooms in London for £90, Norwegian launching low-cost Gatwick to Vegas

News in brief:

£90 Thistle Hotel rooms in London – including breakfast

Thistle Hotels is running a four day promotion, starting today, to celebrate the 90th birthday of the Queen.

There are 9,000 rooms available at exactly £90 each including breakfast, spread over the eight Thistle hotels for stays until June 2017.  On peak dates a price of £90 will represent a decent saving.

You should be able to book via this special link from today.

Sister company Guoman Hotels, which runs The Tower by Tower Bridge amongst other hotels, is having a similar sale.  It is charging more but you get breakfast and a bottle of prosecco thrown in!  This deal is bookable until the end of February 2017.  Click here for details.

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Norwegian 787

Norwegian launching Las Vegas from Gatwick

I haven’t covered budget long haul (at least from the UK) airline Norwegian for a while.  I looked at them when they launched their New York service and I wasn’t hugely impressed – the cost savings over BA were modest and the terrible flight times meant that you either lost sightseeing time or had to pay for another hotel night.

The company has continued to expand using a growing fleet of new Boeing 787-9 aircraft.  It now flies to Boston, New York, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Los Angeles and Oakland / San Francisco.

In October it will launch flights from Gatwick to Las Vegas.

I took another look.  3rd to 7th November, for example, is £380 return.  However, adding food (!) and a suitcase takes you to £480.  This compares well with Virgin Atlantic (£612) and BA (£719).

Premier class was £910.  This only comes with 46 inches of legroom – we’re not talking a flat bad here – but does include food, seat selection (which BA charges for), luggage, fast track security and lounge access.

This is not such a great deal, however, when you consider that – ex Dublin – you can buy ‘proper’ flat bed business class to Las Vegas for £1,175 on BA, Virgin or American.  Factor in the Avios or Virgin miles you would earn and Norwegian looks even poorer value.  For economy travel it might be worth a look.

If you’ve ever flown with Norwegian long-haul, please post below – I’d be interested to know how you found it.

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  1. Hi Rafel

    I actually have no problem with Norwegian airway. I flew with them once in April from Gatwick to Boston and will take it again in July. I agree that you don’t get to collect points for BA or Virgini. But as I was travelling economy, I found no difference in the experience when comparing with BA. In fact I quite enjoyed the 747 Dreamliner. For business class travelling, there is no doubt BA or Virgin are better than Norwegian airway. It is definetly one of the best option if you are travelling on budget.

  2. Norwegian seems like a useful option for pairing with one-way awards. If you don’t have enough avios or virgin miles for a round-trip in business – or there isn’t availability – you could use a one-way on Norwegian in the other direction. Similar idea to Virgin’s CombiFares.

    • +1
      I must remember to think of them in future, always forget about that.

    • Plus the taxes back to the UK are usually a lot less, so fly out with Norwegian and back on a redemption.

  3. It’s a shame for me they didn’t announce this a bit sooner!
    I also see the value in one way only tickets.
    I booked a one way to LAX last month in premium, and then bought a ticket cash ticket to LAS for November (under £600 total) to combine with a one way AAdvantage redemption LAX-LHR on BA in F which was my AA Miles finished off before their last devaluation.

  4. You can add SJO to your list of destinations ex LGW. Also they have a fleet of both 787-8 and 787-9s. Colleague of mine has seats booked to LAX later in Sept- cost her £270 return. At prices like that I can understand why people are attracted to their services.

  5. Norwegian is predominantly a short haul airline IMV

    The long haul destinations are in a small minority and I doubt whether by any particular measure (such as miles flown/ revenue/ profitability) they are the more important side of the business.

    • Funny, that’s exactly the opposite of what their CEO was saying the other week. They’re going to use long haul as the main focus of the business to drive their short-haul traffic from gatwick

      • Is that the current state of affairs or just a cunning plan?

        There’s probably a reason EJ and RA don’t do long-haul.

          • The graph at the bottom of this page says it all

            Norwegian has grand plans for LH – but for now they remain plans and the airline is very largely SH. They don’t separate out LH profitability. All we know is that LH load factor is 90%+ whereas the SH figure lags a significant way behind EJ & RA (both 90%).

            Looks a really interesting operation to follow as it grows – because Lewis is correct in stating that the strategy is all about making LH pay, with several interesting transatlantic routes in the pipeline, including Cork – Boston.

            • Norwegian have very big plans for LH in the future (far bigger than are mentioned in the articles above). Kjos’s focus for the future is very much on LH ratehr than SH.

              Now that he has a UK AOC and doesn’t have to rely on a dubious Irish one, the US options will open up much more. The UK AOC also opens up the options of traffic rights to other countries that couldn’t be obtained with just an Irish or Norwegian certificate.

              Personally I think Norwegian will see rapid expansion in the next 12-24 months. The biggest potential pitfall that I could forsee would be Kjos overstretching the operation & not allowing time for new routes to establish. From what I have seen and heard from former colleagues who have had dealings with him directly, he can be a stubborn bugger at times & when he gets an idea into his head he runs with it, regardless of what those close to him may advise.

  6. Genghis says:

    OT. I recently got the £24 Lloyds avios cards for FX transactions. How useful is the upgrade voucher after £7k spend?

    I have a £5k Visa / MasterCard payment coming up but should I put it on the Lloyds MasterCard (to earn only 1k avios but get closer to the £7k spend) or BMI visa (5k DC = 5k avios)? TIA.

    • It’s ok, not as valuable as an Amex 241, but it certainly helps bring the Avios down for a premium reward.

      Remember if you want to use it for two people it only works on one leg i.e outbound OR inbound unlike the 241.

      I think it’s best used on CE redemptions with RFS where the standard business class avios aren’t horrendous so you can buy normal one way, then use the upgrade to make it bit cheaper the other way.

      If you’re flying solo, it can be a much better option than the 241 though!

      • Well it saved me 72000 avios so reasonably useful

        • Genghis says:

          Cheers both. Can it be used for others? Ie. Upgrading the MIL on a flight she takes with us?

          • Sounds like it might need a call to Avios as that’s what the more complex bookings need.

            Mine was an easy return from LHR but throw in a domestic connection or an open jaw and I think it’s a call to sort. They are pretty helpful whenever I’ve spoken to them

      • We’ve just used one to book a one way Dubai to London for 2 in Club. We’re using Etihad miles in the other direction – not enough for a return in J after their devaluation last year.

        Potentially also useful for pairing with a cheap one-way Avios redemption via Madrid with Iberia, or a one-way with Norwegian – their premium cabin is probably fine for outbound day flights to the US.

      • If you’re flying solo, it is ALWAYS a better option than the 2for1, for obvious reasons! :)

      • Of course, a 241 is of no use flying solo.

      • +1 I saved 78000 avios with my upgrade :-)

    • The_Real_A says:

      Also you can upgrade two one way flights – provided one is out of UK and the other is into UK. For example I upgraded LHR to HKG and PVG to LHR. They were part of different trips. Very useful if availability is lacking.

      • Also, and this is huge for those of us who don’t live in the UK, you don’t have to start the trip at London. You can do for example, USA->LHR->USA. I often end up using this to get the two of us overnight club world seats from Miami. Then pick up a return using my BA 2for1 voucher. Then get back to the US on cheap one way economy redemption or Norwegian!

    • I just redeemed 2 vouchers earlier for 2 of us in Club LHR-NRT. Instead of 300k Avios it came to 156k so pretty much the same as a 2-4-1.

      Biggest drawback compared to a 241 is you cannot upgrade to First.

  7. The Thistle link is not working for me.

  8. Margaret says:

    We flew Norwegian at the end of March from Gatwick to New York on a brand new Dreamliner, which had been in service for two weeks The cabin environment was great and felt more refreshed than usual, but the economy seats were so bad I used the blanket I brought to sit on as the end of the seat pressed into the backs of my legs. Also, the entertainment broke after about an hour, so the journey wasn’t as good as expected. I would personally avoid, unless the price was REALLY cheap!

    • From what I have heard, the thin seats in Y are a common complaint across most of the airlines using the Dreamliner.

  9. Managed to get a round trip to LA starting in ARN and finishing in LGW for £215 last week. If you book ahead you can get some very good prices. Be sure to always book from the Norwegian (.NO) as you’ll find the prices even after the exchange rate charge around £10 per leg cheaper.

    Subsequently from LA i’m then doing the PTY tier-point run that’ll get me Gold BA….(£595)..So overall, quite happy.

    Even if the product is average, for the price I’m paying, I’m very happy.

  10. Norwegian are great on long haul.

    We paid for their premium seats up front. Excellent.

    Nice clean and fast aircraft and you do arrive far more refreshed and less jetlag.

    The other great advantage is for one way flights – unlike all other carriers they do not charge almost double for a single ticket. They just charge half a return. Excellent!! So for anyone cruising the atlantic they are a great choice.

    Sure it was a late flight from a poor FLL airport. But the flight made up for it.

    I would fly them again if I had to.

  11. Would be interested to know how people compare flying BA Y to Norwegian, and how they rate the Dreamliner experience on both.

  12. OT – Any whispers from Curve/Amex on them rekindling their romance?

  13. Flew LGW>LAX>LGW with Norwegian on the 787 back in 2014 in economy. If memory serves me correctly, I think I paid £405 return from LGW>LAX.

    I was actually quite impressed by the offering. Super aircraft and crew.

    Onboard upgrades to Premium Economy were being offered by the crew (pay at your seat) for I think 200 USD.

    Though you have to pay for meals and snacks/drinks if you want them, the meal offering put BA to shame based on my recent A380 experience with them which was so bad they gave me 5000 Avios after complaining.

    On the Norwegian 787, they have a very efficient way of ordering drinks and snacks – swipe your debit or credit card at your seat and order on the seat back IFE. It can get pricey but most drinks were delivered within a couple of minutes. The good part was that they clearly reported their systems a long time before we landed in LAX, so I think we only got charged for about half of what we actually consumed!

    Sat in row 6 which is an exit row seat – as far as I can recall it was the same price as any other seat.

    I really had no complaints whatsoever and would certainly use them again if the price was right.

  14. We flew LGW to FL the first summer they did this route. £400pp (there are 5 of us, so was a big saving v’s Virgin etc in August).
    Not sure why, but the Dreamliners cabin I agree with a lot of posts – we all found it much more pleasant than other airlines. The IFE is high quality, but not a great choice – the sky map is brilliant though…played with that for hours…different views from diff parts of plane, and we even flew past Manhatten!
    You have to pay for everything, from blankets t headphones, so go prepared.
    This year we are flying LGW to COP then to MCO….all for £400 in August. The LGW to COP leg will have wifi too…I’ve used that route before, and COP is a good airport…surprisingly big!

  15. koroleon says:

    Premier class on Norwegian looks more like Premium Economy, except with extra legroom. On BA and VS, premium economy is 2-3-2 in 787-8 with 38 inch legroom – Norwegian offers 2-3-2 with 46 inch legroom (all based on seatguru). Using the low fare finder on BA, it seems that you can go to Las Vegas in WTP for £970. So Norwegian wins here (lower price, more legroom), unless you use BAEC to your advantage (IMHO this is a fairer comparison than ex-DUB fares).

  16. The_Real_A says:

    Rob – you really need to cover Thomas Cook Airlines (no joke). Their product on the scheduled airline is very good indeed, to the point I now fly them in Economy and Premium Economy rather than BA.

  17. Ryanair attacked over Oslo base closure

    Won’t Norwegian just pick up most of the routes?

  18. Genghis says:

    OT – when using a 241 for a booking, I understand that an Amex needs to be used. Can this be any Amex (i.e. can I use the Lloyds Amex?)?

  19. Also OT: When booking a 241 on BA Metal can it then connect on non-BA Metal. I am thinking of utilising it on a trip to Sri Lanka which connects in India.

  20. I flew Norwegian from Oslo to Bangkok a while ago. A good experience overall, with brand new aircraft (all longhaul flights are with 787s) and a cool IFE system, where you can order directly with your credit card. We paid extra for food and luggage when booking. I think the main advantages with flying Norwegian is the ability to book cheaper one-way tickets (we flew back from Hong Kong), new planes and non-stop flights. I think their new route to Las Vegas should be a hit, as there’s not as much competition for direct flights compared to their other routes.

  21. Genghis says:

    OT – St Helena airport too windy to open

    • I was invited down to the opening of that …. didn’t feel it was sufficiently worth the full week it would have taken to fly and (via South Africa) get back!

  22. Don’t think you can argue with some of Norwegians fares…. 1399NOK (118GBP) one way from OSL-BKK next year….

    The Norwegian version of their website, allows you to pay in NOK rather than GBP, which is cheaper.

    Also some very cheap fares to the states if take a little detour and do an ex-CPH/OSL/ARN on the outbound. :-)

  23. Totally OT but:
    Anyone know of a good place to kick back in Paris, along the lines of a lounge (a la Virgin Money, or the Eurostar lounge) – I’ve got a big space in the day before I meet someone and having lived there before I don’t have anything particular to do/see except sit and read + drink. If my Amex Plat got me in somewhere that’d be nice…

  24. Rodger McSalty says:

    Thanks for the heads up on the Thistle Deal – that’s come in very handy for a stay near Heathrow next month.

    Worth noting that the Thistle Heathrow Deal includes not just breakfast, but also dinner and up to 8 days of car parking!

    It’s mentioned on the promotional page, but not when you make the booking. It does however show clearly in the booking confirmation email.

    • Amazing, I bet you could give the dinner a value of at least £15 and the parking is worth about £50+, if you call breakfast £10 then the room is only £15

    • See if they will let you use the pods for free too!

    • Where does it say all this is included? Have tried making a dummy booking, have found a room available for £90, no mention of dinner etc. It is offering me to add parking at £10 per night!

  25. Sussex Bantam says:

    Totally OT but I’m looking for some advice on car hire for an upcoming trip to Florida. I’ve booked an Avis car via BA with the flight booking. The voucher says CDW and ALI but there is no mention of the level of excess. I’m also not clear if I need LDW cover as well.

    I must say I find car hire insurance completely confusing. Any advice ?

    • Take out an Amex Plat for a month and forget about it!

      It is a bit rubbish not giving the limits. Insurance4carhire is worth pricing up if you want peace of mind.

  26. Heh heh bit of a Ryanair opening ceremony, never seen one lower budget before in my life lol

  27. Okay, late to the party, but which Thistle is good for central london? Taking the Mrs to the city for a few days (fly in LGW, out LCY), and need a nice place.

    Feel free to say none, and I will use my Spire/ Hilton Diamond to get something with them…

    • The Guoman properties are higher quality in general so perhaps start with those (factoring in the value of free prosecco!) and then work back to the Thistle ones.

  28. Thistle T5 booked for the evening prior to our trip to Iceland next year.
    £90 for the room including tax, dinner x 2, breakfast x 2, parking for 6 days (up to 8 days allowed). Incredible value! Thanks again Raffles.

  29. Nick Haley says:

    Hmm. On the date I need it’s £73 on and i have no need for parking. So It’s a deal but only just. Good to check nonetheless.

  30. Donald Russell steak deal
    With £10 off I got £73 of meat for £19. (You buy the Groupon, copy the Groupon code, open up the link to the steaks & paste in the code which reduces the £73 to zero with no postage).

  31. This might appeal :) Tesco pet insurance £50 with £30 Tesco giftcard if you go for Extra or Premium insurance. My shorthair non-pedigree cat with £200 excess was £.50/month

  32. Old reliable – Which? – £8.25 for a £1 trial

  33. Genghis says:

    Not too sure where you go that quote from? 50p a month? I tried to repeat and mine came out at £6.95 a month with a £200 excess for the Extra cover. Perhaps I live in a more dangerous area than you!

  34. damned iPhone
    nearly everywhere’s more dangerous than where we live
    £6.95 still OK, assuming 6 months but I reckon somewhat fewer

  35. and clubcard automatic discount helped

  36. Isn’t the £10 off for new customers for first purchase? I saw it yesterday, but CBA to worry about setting up a new account.

  37. Rcarpe2 says:

    How long did you have to wait for Winner? I’ve not had my withdrawal auctioned nor has the cash back tracked after 4 days.