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. I really don’t see Norwegian using these slots. Can they even afford to buy them? And I understand the rule is they can’t lease or sell them on unless they have used them for 2 seasons. And given th issues they have had with their fleet they might struggle with the 80% use or lose rul.

    Also they won’t have any economy of scale as they would be setting up shop there from scratch so aren’t going to improve their bottom line.

    I bet they never thought they would get them but bid for the sake of it just to show willing.

    • Shoestring says:

      I thought the slots were free?

      • Not sure. Not entirely clear to me if this allocation is free or not.

        Be pretty bad for an airlines to apply for free slots and then be able to lease / sell them without using them.

      • They are free. If they get to keep them for 2 seasons (so, summer of 2020 and 2021) then they can sell them (and the airport gets nothings). Guess who created these rules? Yep, the airlines.

    • Slots cannot be bought or sold. Slots rights can be leased from another airlines (temporary and permanently).

      For slot allocation regulation, this is an interesting, didactic and intuitive IATA video:https://www.iata.org/policy/slots/Pages/index.aspx

      All slot controlled airport follow the same procedure.

      • While the current law is based indeed on the IATA rules, what really matters is this EU legislation about slots. Check “Regulation (EC) No 793/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 April 2004 amending Council Regulation (EEC) No 95/93 on common rules for the allocation of slots at Community airports” to avoid including links here.

  2. OT: A whole bunch of excellent new amex offers this morning including TfL 10%. Others include £10 credit on £50 at J Lewis and Debenhams, £30 on £100 at Harrods, 15% Lakeland for £65, £2 on £5 at Upper Crust.

  3. OT Sainsbury’s: Slots now released for online grocery shops on Monday 23 December, the last delivery date before Xmas. I found most slots already gone at 5am. Might be similar stories at other supermarkets.

    • Website for me says 23rd December slots only available from the 3rd December

      • Just booked my parents for 4pm 23rd. Might depend on region, whether they are delivering 24th in some areas?

        • Shoestring says:

          yep booked 3 slots yesterday, 1 just before Xmas and 2 between Xmas & New Year

          could be a few people like me, booking too many slots to get a bit of flexibility, cancel unwanted later

          • I feel discrimination here lol

            Latest booking date for me (Brighton) is Sunday 22nd that’s logged in and out of my account.

          • Probably staggered release by region to manage website traffic. They might mix it up again for new year and Brighton folks will get their booze in first.

          • Mikeact says:

            Cancel slots ? Bit like cancelling my Avios double bookings I suppose !

          • I doubt Harry is paying £35 to cancel a supermarket slot 🙂

          • It’s called greed and gluttony – deadly sins by the way, double punishment during holy periods like Christmas

          • Shoestring says:

            delivery #1 arriving 8am the morning after we fly out to our place in the sun; #2 will replenish supplies after a few days; #3 will be cancelled (but it might be #2)

            just don’t fancy supermarket shopping on my hols

  4. OT: Looking for advice on what to do in 3 days in Kuala Lumpur in February and for hotel recommendations. From what I’ve seen even luxury hotels are relatively inexpensive, so we might push the boat out a bit after a month in less-than-flash places.

    • Shoestring says:

      https://www.melia.com/en/hotels/malaysia/kuala-lumpur/melia-kuala-lumpur/index.htm

      Can you get rooms there for cheap on the Melia points deal?

    • Go to see Batu caves on city outskirts- make sure you go when they open at 0630 or so otherwise the 200 plus steps up aren’t much fun when temp gets up later in day- also it’s empty up there apart from priests prepping for the day.
      Eat at street food market up behind Bukit Bintang
      Petronius Towers best from outside only.
      Get the train from airport to KL Sentral unless arriving late at night. Traffic is brutal.

    • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

      Mandarin Oriental is worth a look, especially for its pool.

      Hilton is a decent option if you want a good connection to the airport.

    • I’m a fan of the Mandarin Oriental – awesome service matched with an excellent location. It’s close to the tower, and their mall and there is a nice park right next to it. It has a lovely pool to cool off in after being the heat.

    • Roberto says:

      We generally stay at the shangri la. A balance of quality, location and price..

    • another vote for the Mandarin Oriental.

    • Hotels in KL are excellent. For that reason I would still recommend a budget price on a 4* and enjoy spending saved cash on something else. Surely you are going to visit KL , not a hotel.

      • Yes, agree, we use the Millennium, right opposite the Towers. Book a club room, or just pay for lounge access at reception. Nice food and drinks on balcony.

    • The Hilton sentral is the best Hilton we’ve ever stayed at. Easily beats several Conrad’s. Executive lounge was incredible vs the European rubbish.

      • Yes, stay at the Hilton, assuming it’s £50-60 a night. The suite we were upgraded to there, from a basic room on a part redemption, was absolutely phenomenal. Even without an upgrade the rooms and service are very good, as is the location.

    • Same rule as other cities in Asia, chose a hotel thats near to an LRT station. Traffic in city centre can be very busy, and walking in the heat and traffic can be hard work. A lot of the hotels in the Bukit Bintang area are linked up with an air conditioned elevated walkway.

      The hotels around KLCC park are well located – park, LRT station, airport train, and walkway into Bukit Bintang area.

      Personally, I would pick a 4 or 5 star hotel as they are great value there and the service is excellent.

      One of the big things in KL is food – almost all Asian food is well done there, and very cheap compared to the UK. Find an Indian shop that does banana leaf.

      In the countless times i have been to KL i have never been in Petronas Towers, its much better being outside in the park, especially in the evening.

    • Some ideas for KL that I shared with a colleague –

      Opium Bar/Restaurant – Changkat Bukit Bintang – In all honesty, this whole street Changkat Bukit Bintang is great for nightlife. Felt really safe and clean and everywhere was really nice to go and eat/drink. Food and drinks at Opium are excellent.

      In the same street as Opium, there were plenty of places for Foot Massage. We went for the best one we’ve ever had in our lives after eating and drinking at Opium. It was a small place, very cheap, and we had like a 45 minute treatment – great value and very relaxing! Don’t think this is the exact place, but Google Maps has a place called D’Care Foot Reflexology.

      Taps Beer Bar – went here for Food and beers – not the best place, to be kept in reserve if you want to find a place that serves good beer, this is the one, food ok, not disgusting, but just ok.

      La Boca Latino Bar – Somewhere I wanted to go, but never got the chance – well reviewed.

      We stayed at the Traders Hotel Kuala Lumpur – There was a Sky bar on the rooftop of the hotel which was (inside with big open windows) but a decent place if you’re nearby. Surreal drinking with loud music playing next to an indoor swimming pool! Had a Petronas Towers View suite. Great value for money and includes Executive lounge access. You could conceivably eat your entire evening meal in the lounge and a good selection of alcoholic drinks. Excellent view of the Twin Towers from here.

      Batu Caves – Good place to go and see a historical Religious site – easiest access by Train from KL Sentral Station (we got an UBER there and then the train back). Be careful of the monkeys!

      Menara Tower – Weather was bad when we went to go up to the top of this one. It’s a toss up between here and the Petronas Twin Towers, but I wanted to go up this one and have a view of the towers rather than be looking out from the towers

      KL Butterfly park – If this is your thing you can go and walk around the gardens and be in a confined space with all of the butterflies (takes maybe an hour) – relatively inexpensive

      KLCC – “City Centre” a big shopping mall underneath the Twin Towers. No bargains to be had here, mostly designer shops at UK prices. Just outside (behind) the mall underneath the Twin Towers there are some dancing fountains (Lake Symphony) that have displays throughout the evening (possibly the daytime, but best seen after dark). There are some great photo opportunities out the front of KLCC Mall for pictures of the twin towers, they’re simply massive!

      Brickfields – “Little India” area – some good food, sights, smells, colours to experience here

      • Great memories of some of those places. We had to stay at Traders one time, as couldn’t get a room at the Millennium. Rooftop bar, lounge food and booze really good. We were late for club entry, but they left a great selection of club food, bottle of red and white in our room for us.
        Service levels really good in KL and Asia generally.

  5. How long does it take for the points + bonus points to post to your account? Is it instantaneous?

  6. Metopes says:

    Plat travel insurance question, will I be covered for everything if the holiday was purchased (on another amex) before I got the card?

    • Should be fine (only saying *should* as I’m no lawyer, but they don’t seem to mess about).

      The charges must be made to “your consumer and small business cards issued by American Express in the UK, excluding corporate cards and any American Express cards issued by bank partners”.

      Potentially it needs to be your own card account, not a supp amex on your partners (albeit then they might be a valid claimant).

    • On a quick browse of the terms I would expect this to be valid. But ask them!! -if you do have problems claiming later I’m not sure “a dude on the internet said it would be fine” would cut it

  7. I know I should know this by now, but do purchased IHG points count towards status? I’m fairly close, so buying 7,000 would let me give the curve a well deserved break for the rest of the year.

    • No, unfortunately they don’t. I buy a couple of hundred thousand every year.
      I think the ones that you can buy when you book a room do though, the ones where you get so many extra included with a particular room rate.

      • Thanks for the reply. Hopefully I’ll just about squeeze the spend through before the cutoff. Good to hear you’re getting good value from the points.

  8. OT: Does anyone know if AMEX will be doing their Xmas pop-up for Platinum Cardholders in Covent Garden this year? We’re due a trip to London and wouldn’t mind someone else wrapping my presents again 😛 usually would have heard by now.

  9. Galley FM at Norwegian says the LHR slots are for MCO.

    • Any thoughts on why this would work for them? A holiday destination, no meaningful connecting traffic. A history of BA running spoilers on any route they feel challenged on. If they run those routes out of Gatwick they have possibility of connecting traffic from Scandinavia, an established base and reduced threat of BA. This seems odd to me.
      Virgin, having a laugh, as usual all bluster and no outcome.

      • It will work better than New York though, because they will struggle to attract business travellers with three flights per week – and possibly at bad times too, since it is unlikely heavily attractive times would be available via this slot process.

      • Spaghetti Town says:

        Isn’t MCO the busiest airport in the world without LHR service?

        Now i might be lying in saying that, but it’s certainly up there.

        • It’ll certainly feel that way if you ever find yourself queuing at security without TSA PRE.

        • Charlieface says:

          No a quick look on Wikipedia says Jakarta is at the moment, owing to Garuda’s merry-go-round schedule changes. Otherwise you’re right.

  10. OT: Is the proposed HSBC Mastercard transfer bonus live?

  11. youngtraveller says:

    any idea who will take up air New Zealand slots?

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