Bits: Norwegian’s CEO resigns, IHG status match extended, £1285 ex-EU Qatar Airways to Chiang Mai

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News in brief:

Norwegian’s founder and CEO resigns

Bjorn Kjos, the founder and major shareholder in Norwegian, stood down as CEO yesterday after 17 years.  He is being replaced on an interim basis by the CFO, Geir Karlson.

There is an interesting barb directed at Kjos in the final line of the statement issued:

“Bjorn has played an unprecedented role in Norwegian’s success. His vision of offering affordable fares for all, combined with his enthusiasm and innovating spirit, has revolutionized the way people travel for pleasure and for business, not least between the continents. Bjorn is definitely one of the most influential European entrepreneurs of our time.”

“We have to ensure that Norwegian is well prepared and positioned to handle volatile markets and unexpected events. It is crucial that we continue to deliver on our cost reduction initiatives and that we constantly ensure that we have a route portfolio that yields profit. It is also important that the new CEO develops an organization that embraces continued improvement and operational excellence.”

Norwegian was given a financial lifeline back in January when Norwegian shipping tycoon John Fredriksen (who, fact fans, owns the house with the biggest private garden in London after the Queen – it is just off Kings Road) backed a NOK 3 billion rights issue.

Fredriksen did not do this out of charity, however.  We have seen Norwegian taking a more aggressive approach to its network, including cancelling the London Gatwick to Las Vegas service and asking cabin crew to take unpaid leave.  His hand is also likely to be behind the departure of Kjos.  With the low-yield Winter season getting closer, the airline needs to make sure it is well prepared.

Norwegian CEO resigns

IHG Rewards Club status match extended

IHG Rewards Club has been running a major UK status match campaign recently.

If you have status in any other hotel programme, you can match it to Spire Elite, Platinum Elite or Gold Elite in IHG Rewards Club.  You get the new status for 90 days and will retain it if you do a certain number of nights in that time.

The offer was meant to end on 30th June but has now been extended to 26th July.  If you missed out, you have a second chance.

You can find full details of how the match works in our extended article on the offer here.  The link to apply for your status match is here.

IHG rewards club status match

CZK 36600 (£1285) Qatar Airways deal – Prague to Chiang Mai

Qatar Airways is currently an interesting Business Class deal from Prague to Chiang Mai.  

Prague is easy to reach from virtually all of the UK, and this trip would generate 560 British Airways tier points.  That is over 90% of what you need for British Airways Executive Club Silver status (600 tier points, which must include four one-way BA cash flights), which brings you lounge access and free seat selection on every flight.

The price will be around 36,600 CZK, which is £1,285.  Availability seemed very good for the Autumn and into 2020.

You won’t get Qsuite, since Prague to Doha is the Boeing 787 herringbone seat, which is perfectly fine – I reviewed it here.  You have an A330-300 to Bangkok and then an Economy short-hop on Bangkok Airways to get to Chiang Mai itself.  Including the connection from the UK, you are looking at FOUR flights here, so make sure your partner is onside if you are not travelling alone!

(EDIT: whilst I thought it was chopped, there is still a direct Doha to Chiang Mai at certain times of year it seems – although always a risk that Qatar pulls it and switches you back to Bangkok Airways.)

The Qatar Airways booking site is here.  You can find out more about the Boeing 787 seat here.

Hat-tip to German blog YHBU.

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  1. IHG status match. How long will the matched status last?

    • Kirsty says:

      I believe 90 days, and you have 90 days from Registration to complete a minimum number of qualifying stays (two for Gold, five for Platinum, etc) in order to retain your new status until 31 December 2020.

  2. I thought the US Ambassadors residence’s garden was 2nd biggest

  3. Harry T says:

    Has anyone successfully received a referral bonus for self referral from the Platinum Amex in the last month or so? I’m looking to refer myself for the BAPP from the Platinum but I’m worried AMEX may have tightened up their IT recently with all the changes to their products and bonuses.

  4. youngtraveller says:

    In regards to IHG, When do we get to know if the status has been matched? I signed up pretty much the moment it was announced but haven’t heard since about it.

  5. Slightly off-topic (although IHG related) – I renewed my ambassador a few months ago and the offer included 10% points back on reward nights. Does that apply to just IC stays or would other hotels from the IHG group qualify too? I stayed in a fairly expensive HIX (40k per night) and wouldn’t mind getting some of my points back.

    • Whizz68 says:

      You should receive the 10% back on all points redemptions, not just IC stays.

    • Craig says:

      All stays although the number that post automatically is dire. Points should hit 6 weeks after the stay posts, not the date of the stay. If they don’t then ring IHG, usually instantaneous at that point.

  6. DaveL says:

    OT – anyone know if the 90,000 point annual referral limit resets if you get the card for a second time or if it’s linked to MR acc? Cancelled last platinum in jan after making a couple of referrals and got it again recently, so wondering what my available refs are.. thanks

  7. HayMow says:

    I applied 30 June, thanks to the previous article, but haven’t heard anything yet. Anyone else have this experience? Maybe it’s as I’m ‘only’ Hilton Gold and higher statuses are being dealt with first?

  8. OT – Can anyone help.

    I’m trying to book 4 direct single flights from Hanoi to Da nang with Vietnam airlines. I used google flights and got a few results but the websites are all in vietnamese. I managed to get translated into English but when I came to pay I was given some phantom price that in no way showed why some substantial extra charge was being added.

    Need some advice here if anyone has any.


    • Roger C says:

      Are you sure you’re actually on the official Vietnam Airlines website? There are some crafty lookalikes out there which are basically just travel agencies masquerading as the airline. When I attempted to book a series of flights last year I nearly fell into this trap. Make sure you can log in – I assume you’ll be wanting to collect the points in any case.

      I’ve just done a search – entirely in English – on the official site. While baggage can be an issue with prices it all looks OK here.

    • Craig says:

      Try the app?

    • AndyGWP says:

      I used American Express travel to book my Vietnam Airlines internal flights. They were same price as going direct / via. Google Flights BUT included luggage allowance (thanks for whoever tipped me off indirectly about that before). Recommend that it’s worth a look!

      (… it worked even better with the Amex Travel offer on my Gold Card at the time)

      • AndyGWP says:

        Actually. I might be thinking of another airline – Vietnam Airlines appears to give a free luggage allowance anyways. Amex Travel worked out better for one of the airlines I booked, I’m sure of it 🤔

    • Craig says:

      I know things are about to change to item baggage limits, but currently do Vietnam Airlines allow baggage pooling? I have a flight from Singapore to Hanoi with 30Kg each, so would this allow 3 x 20Kg bags between 2 of us? Ta.

    • Polly says:

      We pulled all our Vietnam flights up on skyscanner which brought to us directly to Vietnam airways…can’t remember how the luggage pinned out, as we just had 20 kegs pp.

      That’s a good tip about using amex travel, didn’t even think to look there!

    • Daniel says:

      If you use the official Vietnam Airlines website you might find they have fares which are not available to travel agents (Amex etc).

      I’ve flown this route and paid about £120 for a flexible business class ticket, one way. This fare was not available elsewhere at this price. Worth it for the lounge access and luggage allowance alone, as Sky Team is not an alliance I maintain status with anymore.

  9. Do Spar in London sell gift cards? if so which ones?

    I have a 10% offer on my santander cards..

    • Mark2 says:

      I think that you will find that they are locally owned so will vary.
      Spar is a buying group ISTR

    • Bonglim says:

      I had/have 10% Morrison’s, and so far have had 2000 pounds John Lewis and 200 amazon vouchers!

      • Bonglim says:

        I tried with 25% funky pigeon a while ago and they (funky pigeon) cancelled the order.

  10. OT I received an email last night from BAEC offering 30000 Avios on the Amex card rather than the usual 25k.
    Here is one of the terms :
    Offer available to new Cardmembers only. Introductory offers are not available if you currently hold of have held any personal British Airways American Express Card product in the past 24 months. Apply before midnight on 28 July 2019 and 30,000 bonus Avios will be awarded onto your Account once you have been approved and you have spent a minimum of £3,000 on goods and services to the Account within three months of Account opening. Please note this offer is subject to change, this is not an offer to upgrade and it can take up to four weeks for bonus Avios to be awarded to your Account.

    I thought that you couldn’t get the bonus if you had any MR earning card eg gold rewards credit card.

    Have I misunderstood something?

    • Shoestring says:

      we’re talking about the BAPP here, so:
      [You can get the British Airways Premium Plus sign-up bonus of 25,000 Avios if:
      You have not had a British Airways or British Airways Premium Plus card in the previous 24 months (Preferred Rewards Gold, The Platinum Card, Green, American Express Rewards, Starwood, Nectar, Platinum Cashyback are OK)]

      but as you say, the new promo is 30K Avios

      • Also had an email for free BA card offering 10k bonus

      • I’ve obviously not read previous articles clearly.
        What about the SPG card? Can you get the bonus on that if you have a rewards Amex card?

        • Shoestring says:

          [Have you had ANY personal American Express card (excluding MBNA and Lloyds Bank cards) in the previous 24 months?

          If ‘no’:

          You can apply for any personal American Express card and receive the full advertised bonus. This article outlines my recommended application strategy to maximise your bonuses.

          If ‘yes’:

          You CANNOT get a sign-up bonus on the following cards:

          Platinum Cashyback
          Platinum Cashyback Everyday
          British Airways American Express (free card)
          Preferred Rewards Gold
          Starwood Preferred Guest
          American Express Rewards (all three variants)]

    • Oh dear, are they wondering where all their customers have gone?!

      • My thoughts to, it will bdhilsriousif they have shot themselves in gbdfoot and have to backtrack on some of their recent efforts, ir launch something even better. Thespebding bonuses may even have been prompted by lower than expected spending as opposed to a new strategy to encourage and reward loyalty.

      • Freddy says:

        I got the basic BA card offer of 10k rather than the 5k – think they must have seen a sharp drop in cardholders/applications….surprise eh

    • Was this a targeted offer or does everyone get the 30k bonus?
      I was just to apply.

  11. OT – email from PRIORITY PASS confirmed the change.
    From August 1, 2019 access to non-lounge airport experiences will be removed from your membership program. You will continue to have access to over 1200 lounges in more than 500 cities across 143 countries.

    • marcw says:

      You can still swipe your non-lounge experience, but if the restaurant is not on the list, you will be charged 🙂

    • Jonathan says:

      I think they missed a word in there… “You will continue to POTENTIALLY have access to over 1200…”

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