Bits: Norwegian rebuffs full IAG takeover bid, 50% off Iberia Express Avios tickets, topbonus closes down

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News in brief:

Norwegian rejects two formal takeover bids from BA’s parent IAG

A few weeks ago we reported that IAG, BA’s parent, had bought a 4.6% stake in Norwegian Air Shuttle with a view to launching a full takeover.

On Friday morning, Norwegian issued a statement to say that IAG had made two formal bids to take control of Norwegian.  Norwegian has rejected both of them “on the basis that they undervalued NAS and its prospects”.

This is, of course, a very similar situation to what happened with Aer Lingus.  Various initial bids were rejected until IAG made a series of concessions and guarantees that were attractive to the Irish Government.

It is a different game this time.  The 72-year CEO of Norwegian, Bjorn Kjos, has a 27% shareholding and it will be virtually impossible for IAG to acquire 50.1% without his consent.  This is why the Norwegian share price fell on Friday rather than rising, which is what you would expect to happen if the possibility of a juicy knock-out bid was expected.

IAG is not known for overpaying, and Kjos is clearly – at least in public – determined not to sell unless he achieves what others see as an unrealistic valuation.  IAG may have to settle for its existing 4.6% stake and wait to see if Norwegian hits serious financial trouble.

Norwegian rejects two bids from IAG

50% off Iberia Express redemptions to Madrid from the UK regions

Iberia Express, Iberia’s regional operation, is currently offering a 50% discount on flights to Madrid in Business Class.

It is valid from Manchester, Cardiff and Birmingham.  A return trip on an off-peak date will cost 15,000 Avios which is the same as you would normally pay for Economy.

You need to book by 31st May for travel before 31st July.  This is not a bad excuse for a weekend break if you live near any of those three cities.

I reviewed Iberia Express in Business Class last year and was impressed – see here.  You can see what they offer in terms of surprisingly decent food and drink here.

You can only book this deal via Iberia Plus.  You can use ‘Combine My Avios’ to move your points from BA or avios.com into Iberia Plus.

Your Iberia Plus account must be ‘active’.  An ‘active’ account is over 90 days old and has earned at least 1 Avios.  You cannot open an Iberia Plus account today and take advantage of this deal.

More details can be found on the Iberia website here.

Iberia Express Avios redemptions sale

topbonus placed in liquidation

The end is finally here for topbonus, the old airberlin frequent flyer scheme.

Whilst airberlin went into receivership last year, topbonus was a separate business which was 70% owned by Etihad.

Most loyalty schemes are cash cows, because the scheme is paid by third parties for points which are not redeemed, creating a cash outlay, for months or years.  This was not the case with airberlin.  To stop the airline bleeding cash, topbonus was not charging airberlin for miles issued on its flights until the point they were redeemed.

When airberlin went bust, topbonus had a huge liability to its members but no money to fund it with.

Ex-members were recently invited to make a claim for the value of their miles to the receiver, but this will not be settled until 2020 and is likely to only be for cents on the Euro.  You still have until 15th May to make a claim if you have not done so.

You can find out more on the topbonus website here.

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Comments

  1. Doug M says:

    OT: IHG Accelerate. Never really looked properly at this before as it’s always seemed so unachievable for me. But looked at this one and most of it can be done with two HIE stays if things are stackable. So if I have x for two HIE stays, and y for booking through the app twice, and z for a stay in May, can I book two separate nights through the app for HIE, making sure one is in May and meet all the criteria? If I can I seem to have a total of 34,000 points for two £43 nights at HIE Excel. Does that seem worth it? Also, can I check in, leave the key on the bed and go?
    Cheers.

    • Genghis says:

      Yes, yes and yes

    • Doug – Normally a stay specifically in May wouldn’t be part of the Accelerate completion bonus, it would usually be separate. (For instance I have stay once for 2,000 points as one of the challenges to reach the completion bonus, but also a separate stay in May for 2,000 points that is just an add on). So worth checking because you may have more flexibility re dates and not be limited to May.

      Also 2 HIE stays may mean stays at 2 separate HIEs. Again worth checking the terms,

      • AlanC says:

        I got caught out on the 2 HI Express stays before. Headline said 2 stays but dig into the T&C’s and it was 2 different properties. Lost out on the completion bonus and that challenge.
        Complained to IHG about it and got 15,000 GOGW.

    • Doug M says:

      Thanks both.

  2. JamesB says:

    OT Bit: Anybody know how soon after being rejected I can reapply for the same amex card again? I was under the impression that it was one month but amex CS told me this morning it is three months. Should I trust the CS agent or is this another exampld of them talking nonsence? I cancelled a Tesco and a Sainsbury creditt card at the end of April, how long befire those cancellations are reflected in my credit report or does it vary by card provider? Thanks.

    • Peter K says:

      I’m no expert, but from what has been written in the comments previously on here it seems 3 months is correct.

    • George says:

      It is three months, and if you apply within that period there’s a 50/50 chance they won’t even run the application, they just send a polite letter to let you know they cancelled the duplicate application (no credit pull).

      Generally cancellations appear on report by +60 days from balance being zero.

      • JamesB says:

        Thanks Peter and George. It is just a platinum companion card so I will wait the three months, no point my causing a fuss over that.

  3. Kinkell says:

    BITS: 3 of us travelling ET on same BA booking. I have Silver status. I get fast track and boarding in Gp2. The others are not identified as fast track and board Gp3.. Do we all get the fast track and board as Gp 2 given we are all on same booking made by me or are we separated out? ( most likely I’ll end up going with the others!) what is BA’s stance on this sort of scenario?
    Thanks

    • Genghis says:

      Just all board in Group 2.

    • Others will probably share their experiences, but I think you would probably be fine since it the same booking.

      I had OneWorld Sapphire (= to BA Silver) until a year ago. My husband has always able to use LHR fast track and BA priority boarding with me, whether on the same or a separate booking. I don’t know if anything has changed in the last year though.

    • Tilly says:

      The BA site says “It is possible that customers travelling together may receive different group numbers. In this case, please make your way to the gate where you will be able to board together.”

  4. Scott says:

    OT – anyone having issues logging into BA Exec Club? For the past few days, after entering my login details, I get: Sorry we can’t show you this page at the moment.

    Please try the following actions: Restart your browser and try again / Try using a different browser
    If these steps fail to resolve the problem, please contact us, quoting the following information: Our reference: / Your IP address: Time:

    I’ve tried two browsers, same issue. Occasionally I’ve been able to log in but then get an error navigating to the page I need. Not contacted them yet, but will do so, unless this is a wider issue.

    • RussellH says:

      Yes, I was getting exactly the same. Strangely, clicking the Reload button then took me into the site.

  5. Kinkell says:

    I can’t bring up any of my flight bookings beyond the 3 that are shown on the page. On clicking the icon to show more flights takes me to an error page, I can access the other bookings by putting in booking ref and name, but it is far less convenient. IT glitches in time for bank holiday melt down?

    • Kevin H says:

      Kinkell – it’s been like that for a quite a while now. No idea if or when BA’s IT Dept will get around to fixing it.
      Meantime, if you click on “manage my booking” for any 1 of the 3 bookings shown and then click on “my other bookings” at the top of that page, all your future bookings will be there – you just need to scroll down the page.

      • Kinkell says:

        Thanks all. @KevinH , tried that and I still get the error message which is why I go into booking ref and name.At least I can still access them for the moment!!

  6. Optimus Prime says:

    OT – A relative and her partner are planning to move to Australia in January.

    I guess it’s too late to build up a miles pot from scratch and book 2 reward one-way tickets on any airline.

    On the other hand they’d like to know which airline they should choose to sign up with their loyalty program so they can get some miles to redeem for a domestic flight once they’re living in Oz.

    They could fly Singapore Airlines or Etihad and then redeem on Virgin Australia?

    • Peter K says:

      Or fly Qatar and get Avios to use on Qantas.

      • If they’re starting from scratch then cash price and convenience is pretty much all that matters, surely? Only even think about points if these factors are very close to level. Whoever they fly with they will be able to use the points (or build more) when taking return flights to visit friends and relatives, which they surely will.

        Qatar does have some attractive deals, especially in Biz….

        • Optimus Prime says:

          Yeah agreed, cash price is all that matters.

          Do Qatar deals apply to one-way flights or just return ones?

      • Optimus Prime says:

        True and since they’re EU nationals they might be able to take advantage of ex-EU sales if they stop by to say bye to their families etc.

        Thanks!

    • Louie says:

      One way flights are usually very expensive. Also flights originating in Australia are usually way more expensive than flights originating in Europe. If your relatives are planning a trip back to Europe within a year of leaving, they might want to consider buying a return rather than a single.

      Unless they already have some miles I think they will struggle to get enough this time round. Not necessarily because they wouldn’t be able to earn enough but because they stand virtually no chance of getting miles flights in the first half of Jan (I struggled even booking nearly a year out) and I’d check the second half of Jan before going any further down that route.

      One way to go on points though would be to buy SPG points, currently at a 30% discount so US$682.50 for the max of 30k per person. SPG allow transfers between family members so if there were four of them at the same address, that would be $2,525 for 111k. With an extra 5k per 20k transferred to airlines, that would normally get you 136k airline miles, but AA are currently giving a 25% bonus, so that would be 170k AAdvantage miles for about £1,900. Which is enough for business class to anywhere in Australia, including internal business class flights on Qantas if they can’t get to their preferred international gateway (a far cry from Club Europe). Probably Cathay would be the best bet – I think charges would be about £250 each on top so maybe £1,200 per person one way. Qatar flights are hard to find. They’d need to pull their fingers out though as both the SPG and AA offers end on 31 May and the SPG accounts would need to be set up 14 days before buying points.

      Looking a bit longer term, you could you refer your relative for a Plat Amex now. She could then apply for a companion and a supplementary card. Then she could refer her partner and he could do the same. I haven’t checked the numbers but that’s something like 35 + 5 + 3 + 2 (for spending £2k) + 18 = 63k and + 35 + 5 + 3 + 2 = 45k MR points for £4k spend. Not enough for a one way business class trip, unless they can find some more friends to refer.

      Once in Australia though, they could use Amex’ Global Transfer process to get Aussie Amex cards if necessary (better not to though as better Amex bonuses are available if you apply through non-Amex websites). Sign up bonuses out here are much more generous too. For example there are (non-Platinum) Amex cards with a bonus of 50k MR points available and they come with travel credits equal to the fee.

      Then transfer the UK MR points to Australia. At say £1 = $1.80, that would be 113k and 81k Aussie MR points. 95k will get you one way between Perth and the UK on Singapore in business; 105k from the east coast – and no scamcharges like BA. And they could get SQ Silver before they left via Amex Plat/Shangri-La Jade. That gets you some priority on waitlisted flights.

      As to which airline to build up miles with, Qantas has a poor reputation for its scheme. Virgin Australia has a limited route network and doesn’t belong to an alliance, though of course it has a variety of partners. I’ve settled on Singapore mainly for international flights, but they have a relationship with Virgin which means you can transfer miles between the two, albeit losing 35% along the way. Internally I fly with whoever is cheapest usually. Etihad and Avios are both good for internal flights if you hit the sweet spots though, flying on Virgin and Qantas respectively.

      Hope that helps!

  7. OT: planning a trip to Malaysia and Singapore next Easter. Have enough points for a Marriott Travel Package. Any recommendation for a beach hotel/resort?

    • Tilly says:

      I tend to stay in Shangri-la resorts in Malaysia when at the beach and then with family when in towns/cities so probably not much use to you if you’re looking at Marriott. I have visited the JW Marriott in KL though for dinner/ lunch and it’s very nice.

  8. OT is there any way to make BAEC let you pay a different avios + cash amount on JAL redemptions?

    • No, JAL blocks this feature for some reason. A couple of other partners do too.

  9. Londonbus says:

    Topbonus: To give you an alternative – when BA closed bmi’s Diamond Club it had a windfall of £12m of diamond club miles which were unused.

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