Bits: Norwegian to launch Heathrow flights, get 100% bonus when you buy IHG points, use Avios for Colombo to Sydney

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News in brief:

Norwegian to launch Heathrow services from March, it seems

Well, here’s an interesting one.  Norwegian has been awarded six weekly slots at Heathrow Airport for the Summer 2020 season.

Starting from late March and running to late October, Norwegian will be in a position to launch three flights per week (given that a take-off and landing requires two slots).

At the moment there are no clues as to what route Norwegian will launch, although as it is a Summer slot it may be targeting Florida.  There is no guarantee that Norwegian will gain Winter 2020 slots, and without the potential for operating year-round it would be trickier to target business routes.

This came to light in the Summer 2020 Heathrow slot report, published by Airport Coordination, the company which handles slot trades on behalf of airlines.

This is a very interesting document if you have 10 minutes spare and have avgeek tendencies!   It seems that there were 9,658 allocated weekly slots last Summer.  Ten were surrendered – eight by Tunisair and two by Turkmenistan Airlines.  This left 9,648 slots already allocated.  The airport seems to have squeezed out an extra three flights (not daily, three in total over the week!), because the total allocation for Summer 2020 is 9,664 slots.

This means 16 additional weekly slots (ie 8 flights).  Six went to Norwegian, two to Virgin Atlantic, two to Tunisair (partly offsetting the eight they gave up), two to Shenzhen Airlines and four to China Southern.

JetBlue asked for 70 slots – enough for five daily flights to the US – and got nothing.  Virgin Atlantic asked for an extra 114 slots which must have caused a few giggles at Heathrow, given that it ended up with a grand total of two, allowing it to add just a single additional departure per week.

Norwegian gains slots at Heathrow

(Yet another) 100% bonus for buying IHG Rewards Club points

I wouldn’t blame you if you were getting jaded about the sheer number and frequency of hotel ‘buy points’ offers recently.

IHG Rewards Club has jumped back into the game with a 100% bonus, which is as generous as you ever see.  This deal runs to 30th December.

IHG has also increased the annual ‘buy points’ cap to 300,000 points (ie 150,000 plus the 150,000 bonus).

The page to buy points is here.   You need to buy 30,000+ to get the full 100% bonus.  It is staggered below that, starting at a 40% bonus for buying 7,000 points.

The standard prices, before the bonus, are:

  • 1,000 – 10,000 points for $13.50 per 1,000 points
  • 11,000 – 25,000 points for $11.50 per 1,000 points
  • 26,000 – 100,000 points for $10 per 1,000 points

With a 100% bonus, you would be able to buy 300,000 IHG points for (at current exchange rates for $1,500) £1,168

You should look at this if you have a ‘buy points’ target for the latest Accelerate promotion – although it makes more sense to buy 7,000 and get the bonus than buy 1,000 for no bonus.  If you are topping off your account, it is also a good deal irrespective of the exact cents per point cost.

You might also be interested if any hotels on the current ‘PointBreaks’ list – see this HFP article – caught your eye£58-worth of points would get you any hotel on the 15,000 points list for a night.

You can buy via this link.

SriLankan Airlines business class

A new Avios route to Sydney with SriLankan Airlines

We don’t cover SriLankan Airlines much on Head for Points.  We should do more, because SriLankan is a member of the oneworld alliance, allowing you to earn and redeem Avios on its flights as well as earn British Airways tier points.  It also appears to have a decent business class product as you can see above, using the same seat as Cathay Pacific.

SriLankan flies daily from Heathrow to Colombo.  One of the most common reasons to fly it is as an alternative Avios route to the Maldives, as Colombo is only 85 minutes flying time from Male.

SriLankan recently announced that it intends to add flights between Colombo and Sydney in 2020.

The airline already flies to Melbourne, and has flown to Sydney in the past, dropping the route in 2001.

It is also talking about starting flights from Frankfurt or Paris, which would give a second European starting point (London is currently the only European destination) and additional potential Avios seats.

If you were intereted in redeeming on SriLankan Airlines, you should become familiar with the little-known Avios multi-partner reward chart, which offers some of the best value redemptions you can get.

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Comments

  1. Harry T says:

    OT:
    I’ve got a £1500 or so bill to settle for my Mum’s BA Holidays package. I currently hold a BAPP and a PRGC. I’ve already triggered my 241 this year and can’t earn another one until next July. I have to spend 15k on the PRGC by next October to trigger the 10k bonus MR. Will probably be able to spend the rest of the 15k but could be a little tight.

    Is it best to use my BAPP to pay off the £1500 bill and get triple Avios for the BA spend or use the PRGC to pay it and get double MR points and help hit my 15k spend? In the latter scenario, I’m sacrificing 1500 Avios or so.

    • Harry T says:

      Should add that it would be helpful to hit the 15k spend on the PRGC before next July so I can switch my spending back to the BAPP to trigger the next 241.

      Maybe I should just cancel my BAPP now and get another one after I’ve spent the 15k on PRGC?

      • Next time, just get the BACC , then upgrade to the BAPP when you are close to the 10k spend. Maybe 1 mth fee, then cancel or downgrade… saves fee. Yes you will possibly miss out on extra BA spend avios, but no big fee outlay.

    • Neil Donoghue says:

      Collect 3 Avios for every £1 spent with British Airways flights and holidays. I know which card I would be using…Worry about the PRGC target next year.

    • If mum does not have her own amex already it is about time you referred her following the strategy best suited to new amex rules. Supps are both very convenient and rewarding should mum refuse to fully participate in the family games herself. You also need to ‘move your mum in with you’ and add her to your BA household account if that hasn’t happened. According to @Liz, a regular bottle of gin I think it is, works wonders but YMMV. You will also find that real or imaginary friends, staff and pets join in our hobby too if HFP comments are all to be believed.

      • Harry T says:

        Mum has just got her first Amex – she wanted the free cashback card. She is in my BA household account though, so I get the Avios from her flights and holidays bookings. Was considering referring her for a BAPP but I’d probably have to pay for it and spend on it if I wanted the sign up bonus – bit of hassle!

      • Harry T says:

        @BJ my Mum is in my household account for BA – I collect the Avios from her flights and holidays. I did refer her a free [email protected]@ck card.

        I am a bit worried if I referred her for a BAPP and then spent on it for the bonus that it would affect her credit score (I’d pay the card fee too, obviously). Any thoughts?

        • Genghis says:

          Assuming your mum’s not doing anything crazy, applying for a credit card is minimal risk to any supposed scoring.

          • Agree, in my own experience credit score for what little it may be worth, has varued minimally as a result of my churning.

      • Genghis says:

        As I’ve posted before, bottles of mr muscle I effectively got for free worked for my MIL 🙂

        • Never know whether to laugh or cry when you tell this story…double dipping avios and brownie points for free, it’s scandalous 🙂

        • Harry T says:

          @Genghis – please enlighten me! That story sounds hilarious.

          • Shoestring says:
          • Genghis says:

            Tesco had a coupon in the mag for 50 cc points for a Mr M when it was on offer for £1. One coupon per transaction. I got about 50 mags, cut out the coupon and then in separate transactions bought 50 or so Mr Ms over separate days. Heading into work with all this stuff, my colleagues thought I was crazy. I prob was.

            But at 50+1+1 = 52 cc points = 124.8 avios = 0.8ppa i was relatively happy at the time. I got a pile of MMs and gave a load away to MIL who flies BA occasionally but never uses her avios so in exchange I got access to her points and she thought I was a good lad.

            You don’t really get the funny stories these days. Someone else can tell you about the small cabbages…

          • Small cabbages… my OH never ever wanted to see a cabbage in our house again after that one… but it was very lucrative, think as G says it was about 50 cc pts per smallest ever cabbage… tasty too…think we got about 50k avios out of that one…somehow l missed the MM on!
            Those were the days….

  2. OT – using Curve for ATM withdrawals abroad – is the £200 limit on top of the UK cash limit, and do you get charged by the underlying card? (HH visa and IHG in this case).
    Also – how do you actually set your Curve card to a foreign currency, I can’t work it out?!

    • You don’t change the currency of curve. You can change the currency of the underlying card, but that would cause it to incur a foreign transaction fee (if you are using Hilton visa or IHG mc).

      If your underlying card was Tandem then you could change its currency to euros when you are in euroland for example – this would avoid Curve’s weekend markup as Tandem would be doing the conversion, but on weekdays Curve’s exchange rate is purportedly better than visa/mastercard’s so you should probably keep it as GBP and let curve do the conversion.

      I have never been charged in the months I withdrew £400 of cash, but this can’t be guaranteed.

    • Thanks – though I’m still confused as the Curve website says, “We do not charge a fee if your payment card is set to the same currency that you are withdrawing” – so it sounds as though either way you could get charged a fee!

      • I think what that’s saying is they don’t charge a fee if they’re not doing the currency conversion. (ATM withdrawal limit aside.)

  3. OT: Anyone waiting a long time for a BA avios refund or points deposit at the moment? I am waiting 6 weeks for the avios and tier points from a BA flight and over a month for the avios, voucher and taxes back from a cancelled avios booking (cancelled online), despite multiple calls to customer service. Is there any way to force them to refund things more quickly?

    • Taxes can take a while to come back, but avios and voucher usually re-appear pretty much straight away – I would escalate this as a formal complaint if I were you. You should have got a notification at the time you cancelled of exactly what should be refunded.

      I’ve found tier points and avios for flights taken normally credit within a week or so, I don’t know whether this is typical.

      • +1, ask for goodwill gesture too as they have prevented you from using your avios for so long.

        • Thanks both. I have received nothing so far, not even a confirmation of the amount to be refunded.
          By escalate, do you mean fill in the complaints form online, or should I lodge a compliant via the call centre?

          • Complaint form Jane, you need to get it in writing.

          • Have you checked that your booking was actually cancelled?

          • Shoestring says:

            My Easter OUTWARD flight has been cancelled and we’ve been put on the flight 2hrs 25mins later.

            Over the magic 2hrs duty of care guide/ limit – you reckon I can charge lounge entry (well, 4 lounge entries) to BA?, it’d only be 4x £15 if I keep my Barclays Dragonpass going.

          • Lady London says:

            @Shoestring I would

          • Shoestring says:

            I’ll definitely be submitting a claim, nothing to lose

            I guess I didn’t want to mess up travel arrangements prepaid/ getting to the airport, which is why I arrived so early

    • Tom Cook says:

      Took us 3months to get a compo payment of 15k avios for a rubbish flight.

  4. rams1981 says:

    OT thanks for the comments on Boston/Intercontinental. I am on 9th floor in a corner room so decent size with water view. Not sure if that’s a suite but big enough for me.
    Was given club access without asking. I’m a Spire Ambassador so that’s free breakfast throughout though same items available each day other than weekends when they have an omelette station (I’m with work so that just increases my lunch and dinner budget!). Looking forward to snacks/drinks this evening which changes every day.

    Need to ask about my 20 usd bar credit. Think that should be all my perks covered.

    • Out of curiosity what room did you book?

      • Would also like to know – I’ve got a stay coming up at Intercontinental LA (using Ambassador night + points + free IHG card night on separate stays that I’ve linked) and want to know if the room upgrades given for status will get you lounge access or not if you originally booked a basic room.

        • I’ve booked a stay at the IC LA using a similar mix of separate bookings for the same room type. Should I contact the hotel to ensure that the bookings are all linked, or will their systems do this?

        • Steve-B says:

          Room upgrades not guaranteed on reward bookings, but usually honoured if AMB. Likely to get lounge, although have noticed a growing trend where F&B credit being offered in lieu of lounge.

      • rams1981 says:

        It’s through work. They booked king bed with water view

  5. I suppose Norwegian will have some spare planes soon because they have cancelled all long haul routes from Sweden and Denmark.

  6. OT — I moved to the US recently and got myself a US Amex last month, but I still have a couple of UK Amex cards for the time being. I noticed today on my UK Platinum that one of my offers is for £25 off spend of £100+ at Bloomingdale’s. I wondered at first whether this was an online offer or whether they had a store in London I wasn’t aware of, but no: it’s eligible at “participating US stores” and the map shows nine of them near me, in and around L.A. Very surprising.

    Has anyone else got any experience of US offers appearing on UK cards for people in my situation?

  7. Voltron says:

    OT – Anyone tried buying a physical gift card from harrods online for the AMEX offer?

  8. rams1981 says:

    OT I tried to add groupon bought via Aer Lingus to my Aer Club account. I had read on here it was very quick. 24 hours have passed, did anyone else purchase and it take a while? It says there’s a 100k limit and one voucher type per account, is that enforced? I’ve tried putting through 2x35k so not sure if that’s the issue.

  9. Harry T says:

    OT:
    Another questions, apologies.

    I’m trying to get flights from Melbourne to Sydney after the F1 race on 15th March. Latest flights I can get are 18.30. Race this year finished at 18.10, so this isn’t ideal.

    Does anyone have experience booking these Avios redemptions? Are Avios flights likely to open up later or should I pull the trigger and pay the expensive cash prices now before they get worse?

    • While I’ve never checked Avios flights to Sydney at that time, every year Melbourne is PACKED during F1 – I don’t believe for a second Avios (or any other) availability will ever open up on the final evening!

      All things considered, I don’t think £120 is really that bad. (Especially as, if you value an Avios at 1p, the redemption would cost £80 anyway).

    • Mr(s) Entitled says:

      I did the overnight bus and went back to work the next day. Grim.

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