Norwegian is back at it again, but not with a new route this time. While the general trend in the industry is going toward decreasing loyalty program returns, Norwegian is going against the grain. They’re one of the only low-cost carriers to offer a rewards program, and it’s actually decent. I’ve written about some of the best values that the program offers before.
As far as frequent flyer benefits go, Norwegian Reward is clever. They reward you after your sixth, twelfth, eighteenth flight with them, etc. After your reach the first milestone, you’ll get a 2% Cashpoint boost, increasing your returns. After that point, you can choose which perks you’d like from the following list:
Each perk lasts for 12 months after you’ve chosen it. While I wouldn’t necessarily like the industry to embrace this layout, customization is valuable and can help airlines provide customer-friendly, yet cost-saving elite benefits, given that they’re provided in steps and are chosen by each member.
So, last week Norwegian announced its next attempt to increase loyalty: offering free flights and upgrades to frequent flyers.
Quoting the press release:
Free Long-haul tickets
Norwegian Reward members who fly at least 20 round trips (40 one way flights) and have at least 3000 CashPoints earned on flight tickets by 31 December 2017 will receive a free return flight to any one of Norwegian’s 13 long-haul destinations from Gatwick.
Flights are redeemable in January 2018 with a valid travel period throughout the entire year of 2018.
At first I read this as meaning you need to fly 40 one-way long-haul flights, which is crazy. However, this works for all Norwegian flights. If you’d fly Oslo – London – New York roundtrip, you’d have two “roundtrips” and already be 1/10 of the way to getting a free flight.
In the above example, it could make sense to connect in London just for the increased segments, right? Well, the stipulations also require minimum earnings of 3000 Cashpoints. Given that economy tickets earn 2% Cashpoints for your first six flights, and 2% more for each additional six flights you take, you’d need to spend 40,000 Norwegian krona ($4,950) by December 31st in order to qualify.
Meanwhile, Flex tickets earn 20% Cashpoints. These tickets would require 15,000 Norwegian krona ($1,850) spend on tickets for the same period. Assuming a LowFare+ ticket (which is what you get under the promotion) costs $400 roundtrip, that’s an 8% return on spend on LowFare tickets and 22% return on Flex tickets. However, keep in mind you’d have to be able to find and take 40 one-way flights for the prices above to earn such a high return.
Meanwhile, they’re also offering free upgrades, per the press release:
Free upgrades to Premium
The loyalty programme is also offering members who fly at least 10 round trips (20 one way flights) on flexible tickets in 2017 a free upgrade to Premium on any long-haul route.
Passengers flying Premium benefit from a spacious cradle seat with more than a metre of legroom, complimentary meals and drinks and free lounge access at select airports including Gatwick.
Members can book the lowest available economy fares for long-haul travel at any time of the year in 2018* and upgrade to Premium free of charge.
Note that you have to fly 10 roundtrips on flexible tickets. Looking at the cheapest Flex tickets from London to Nice, for example, you’d pay five times more than for regular economy.
Flying the above itinerary ten times would make you qualify, but requires a spend of £3,480 ($4,500)
The price difference between LowFare economy and Premium from London to Los Angeles is £340. That upgrade would get you almost a 10% return on spend for the £3,480 required to earn it. Since there is no minimum Cashpoint requirement for this offer, I consider it more worthwhile. However, I still wouldn’t go out of my way to take advantage of this promotion.
It’s nice to see Norwegian trying to offer their frequent flyers more in return for their loyalty. Unfortunately, this promotion really is only for their super frequent flyers. I can’t imagine many people fly with them this often, but if you do, consider if you can optimize your upcoming travels to take advantage of this.