Avios Redemption University – Lesson 12 – How to redeem on Air Malta, Aurigny, Monarch and Flybe

EDIT:  This article has NOT been updated to reflect the Avios changes which took place on 28th April 2015.  A revised version of the article will be published on Head for Points in late May.

The “Avios Redemption University” series is a good starting point for beginners, although I hope everyone will learn something from themClick here to see the other articles.

When the Avios scheme was launched in late 2011, avios.com brought in a range of new airline partners alongside BA, Iberia and American Airlines.

As per this page, it is a little known fact that you can redeem Avios on Air Malta, Flybe, Aurigny (the Channel Islands airline) and Monarch.

The first thing to note is that these redemptions are with avios.com, not British Airways Executive Club. You need to open an avios.com account and use the ‘Combine My Avios’ function to move Avios from BAEC into avios.com. There is no charge to move your Avios and you can reverse the transaction if required.

Air Malta

Air Malta has a grand total of 12 planes, carries c 2 million passengers per year and is State-owned.

Air Malta

As with all of these partner airlines, you can seach for Air Malta flights using the standard avios.com reward booking site. If there is availability, it will show up. (And there is not a huge amount of availability in the system, so be prepared to be flexible.)

There is a very good blog called MaltaPoints, which is a good starting point for hotel and flight information. Tom, who writes it, also reads and comments on HFP, and he took a look at the redemption offerings for me.  When he looked at this deal for me last year, he found seats from Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester to Malta.

He could not find seats on seasonal UK departure points, nor could he find flights from a 3rd country to Malta.

Economy flights cost 20,000 Avios return plus £39 to £57 of tax depending on your airport.  Business class is not available.  This compares to (said Tom) £129 to £299 return for a cash ticket, depending on the time of year.

At the high end of this range, if you could find a seat, you would be getting 1p per Avios of value, which is impressive.  More prosaicly, I priced up Manchester to Malta on 23 January for the 7-10 March weekend.  For cash, it was £130 compared with 20,000 Avios plus £39.  This works out at 0.45p per Avios, which is not great.

When considering ‘value per Avios’, though, remember that Avios bookings are refundable up to 24 hours before departure for a £25 fee. This makes them more flexible than a cheap cash ticket. (The Avios rules do say that partner airline bookings have the same cancellation rights as BA redemptions, but do double check the rules which are shown during the booking process.)

Flybe

Flybe has a bad reputation in miles and points circles because of their artificially high taxes.  The small print of their own rewards scheme actually warns you that 100% cash tickets may be cheaper than the taxes charged on a ‘reward’ seat.  I was therefore not hopeful when I started checking Avios availability – but I was surprised.

Flybe has a huge route map – there are few parts of the UK they do not cover now.  You can see it here.

I picked Birmingham to Stuttgart as a random route, from 19 to 26 March.  A cash ticket was £154.  An Avios ticket for 9,000 Avios plus £59.  That is over 1p per Avios of value – an impressive deal.

I then checked Durham Tees Valley to Jersey in July – a niche route with just one flight a week.  I tried various dates when I knew there were flights, but no Avios seats were to be found.  This is despite the fact that cash tickets were actually cheaper than the Birmingham to Stuttgart example.  You cannot be certain, therefore, that you will always be able to find what you want.

Monarch

Ah, Monarch.  I’ve never flown with them and I doubt I ever will.  However, here is a trip report from a US blogger who redeemed Avios to fly from Luton to Mallorca with Monarch.  It does sound like fun ….

Finding Monarch availability was difficult.  In theory, they fly from Leeds Bradford, Manchester, Luton, Gatwick, East Midlands and Birmingham.  My attempts to find any seat from Leeds Bradford failed, for example, so there may be restrictions on certain routes.

Manchester to Gibraltar, out 21 April and returning 28 April, was 15,000 Avios plus £80 in economy.  As at 23 January, a cash ticket was £165 for a ‘flight only’ ticket and £215 for an ‘essentials’ ticket which includes a suitcase and seat selection.  Assuming that you are only getting a ‘flight only’ ticket, it would have worked out at around 0.5p per Avios.  Not great.

Aurigny

Finally, we have Aurigny, the little Channel Islands airline.

They fly to various Channel Islands destinations from Gatwick, Bristol, Southampton, East Midlands, Stansted and Manchester.  You can see a full list of routes by visiting their website and clicking on ‘Timetable’.

Availability seemed very good when I checked.  There were six departures available (economy seats only) on Monday 2 June for example.  Coming back on Monday 9 June, a ticket would cost you 9,000 Avios plus £30 in tax.

These are not bad deals.  A typical cash ticket for those dates, priced on 23 January, would be £98.  That is around 0.75p per Avios of value, which could be worse.

Conclusion

I was pleasantly surprised to see that you could get between 0.75p and 1p of value from some flights with these airlines.  I was honestly expecting to be getting around 0.5p all of the time, when in reality only some of the examples I checked came out at this level.  Especially for HFP readers who live in the UK regions, there may be some good deals here.

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Comments

  1. Hi Raffles

    It may work out better doing a one way from the Channel Islands, as the taxes are much cheaper going to the UK, than flying from the UK.

  2. Could the Channel Islands flights be combined with BA flights reducing overall taxes for long haul BA business class redemptions?

    • Yes, it should work. I’m pretty sure you’d need to ring Avios to do this, but as long as they can put the Aurigny flight and the BA flight on the same ticket (with a stopover in the UK of less than 24 hours), then the Air Passenger Duty will automatically disappear.

      Most people do the BA Jersey flight into Gatwick when playing this game, but if you live nearer Southampton then an Aurigny into there (driving to Heathrow the next day to pick up your long haul) may be more convenient.

      • Can you break it down into simple steps please?
        Is this right
        1. Ticket one fly Southampton to say Guernsey. Ticket 2 Guernsey back to Southampton then less than 24 hours later Heathrow to New York.
        2. Does the return have to be New York Heathrow Southampton Guernsey?
        Sorry for the blonde questions!

        • Zoe

          As far as I’m aware you have to remain in transit to avoid the tax.
          You can do it via Gatwick.

        • Yes, that is right. However, it MUST all be one ticket. A comment above implies that avios.com is not willing to do this.

          You MUST also take the first flight from Guernsey, if you don’t you long haul is cancelled.

          Coming back, you do not need to take the last leg. However, to stop them tagging your bags through, try to book the last leg from a different airport (eg if flying into Heathrow, book the last leg from Gatwick or Southampton or City.)

          This works from anywhere outside the UK, though. You could book Amsterdam London Bangkok, for instance, doing an Amsterdam trip the day before.

          A couple of year ago I went to New York via Budapest. Flew to Budapest, flew back same day, went home, slept, then went down to Heathrow the next day to fly to the US.

          The reason the Channel Islands is popular is that you can still use an Amex 241 voucher from Jersey, whilst you can’t from Amsterdam.

          • Sorry, please can someone explain the benefits of doing this? I’ve just checked – a return to New York in First costs 120,000 avios and £406 from jersey, or £526 from London. That’s not a huge saving for the inconvenience.

            Am I missing something? It just doesn’t seem worth it to me.

            Oh, and on Monarch. I’ve flown with them once. I won’t be doing it again. Unannounced 5-hour delay at Barcelona, no apologies, just a voucher to get a drink in the airport cafe. Dreadful airline, how they are still in business is beyond me.

          • None, that is the benefit – £120 per person. It would be nearer £180 for Asia.

            The cost of flying to Jersey is 4,500 Avios plus £17.50. It depends how desperate you are to save £102.50!

  3. I’ve used Monarch a few times to Gibraltar & Dalaman from Manchester. It is slow finding availabilty. Never found anything from Leeds

    The charges are still £35 but they automatically add in hold luggage £45. There is no de-select button. You have to pay the £80 then phone up Avios and tell them you don’t want hold luggage, they then refund you the £45 which is a bit of a pain.

  4. Thanks for the compliments Raffles.

    Mercifully, the tax is not too bad on the Air Malta 20,000 Avios redemptions. However, the obvious “game changer” is that, as you have previously reported, from 30 March 2014 British Airways will fly to Malta. Call me a zealous patriot if you wish, but I’d far rather fly to Malta with BA at 20,000 Avios + £35 return, than Air Malta at 20,000 Avios + £39-£57 (plus your readers are much more likely to have elite status benefits with BA than they are with Air Malta).

    There’s also better reward flight availability with BA. That said, BA flies to Gatwick only, whereas Air Malta (as far as Avios reward flights are concerned) flies to Gatwick, Heathrow and Manchester, so there may be some sense in an Air Malta booking, if you can find a flight on avios.com.

    • gnarlyoldgoatdude says:

      Both BA or Air Malta on Avios are cheaper than spending Air Malta’s own KMiles, although as you’ve said, availability of Avios on Air Malta is flaky.

  5. Raffles,

    I specifically asked Avios a couple of months ago whether 2 rdemptions (Flybe and BA) could be placed on one PNR and after a 15 minute wait was told that would not be possible. Repeated question a week later and was given same answer. Do not know how that would affect APD but obvious difficulties if miss connecting flight due to lateness/cancellation.

    I see no reason why they should be on 2 PNR’s as both redemptions and perhaps you could raise this with Avios in case it is just lack of knowledge on part of the agents.

    Re Aurigny, it has been their longstanding policy that they do not interline with any airline but this may change with the withdrawal of Flybe from the Gatwick route and the purchase by them of a 119 seater E95 to service that route from 1 April.

    • Thanks, very interesting. Re APD, it makes a huge difference. Flying Guernsey Gatwick Bangkok means zero APD compared to almost £200 for London Bangkok. For a family of 4, the saving from hopping over to the Channel Islands for a day trip the day before their holiday is huge.

  6. Air Malta will also be doing a Glasgow flight for the summer season, not sure if this will qualify for redemption or not.

  7. I flew ZB from LTN to GIB for cash and it was absolutely fine, departed on time, arrived early, half the price of BA. I did live in Elstree at the time so preferred LTN when leaving home at 4am.

    • Flying via the Channel Islands from regional airports to gatwick/heathrow would negate the requirement from going to Dublin to get Aer Lingus to North America then? to save on taxes , albeit you would have to pay for an additional flight instead of just the one to Ireland ? The Maths would have to make it worthwhile. Raffles. Views?

      • No, because it only kills the APD and NOT the BA fuel surcharge.

        Roughly:
        Aer Lingus Dublin to New York in business, £80 tax
        BA London to New York in Club, £500 tax
        BA Jersey /Amsterdam to New York in Club, £350 tax

        • With a family of four that may make it worthwhile if you can get the jersey flight cheap but hold charges apply with cheaper airlines making savings smaller.

          • Singing Dwarf says:

            But if there is a problem with the Jersey flight – and for some reason you do not arrive in time to make your onward connection back to London – you could be stuffed?

            Raffles – have you ever done a post on travel insurance and whether policies cover you for the loss of Avios if you are unable to travel?

          • No, travel insurance and airline miles is a complex topic with a reliance on small print and I wouldn’t want to put myself in the position of offering advice which people may rely on.

            You would be stuffed if something went wrong with the scenario Kipto outlines, but I think you would only do it if you had an overnight stop in London inbetween. It is less of an issue with BA as they are legally liable to protect your onward flight if your BA flight from Jersey is delayed.

  8. I’ve flew Monarch TFS-LGW a while ago, and it was not that bad, I booked the extra-legroom seats at the front of the plane, did the A-C trick and was successful (the B seat in between us was the only empty seat in the plane), and with my tablet to watch a movie and food bought before boarding, the experience was comparable, if not a bit better than flying British Airways World Traveller Plus.

  9. I’ve flown Monarch a couple of times and they aren’t really any different to any other LCC.

    Most of the complaints I see against various LCCs, including Monarch, are not unique to the individual airlines – it just so happened that it took place while you were on a Monarch or Easyjet or xxxxx flight, so the people declaring that they refuse to fly a certain airline because of it are only inconveniencing themselves! That link to the Monarch review for example doesn’t seem that bad to me – I’d hardly call standing in a long queue “chaos” like he described it was!

    I think the trouble is, many people still aren’t used to the “no frills” concept. They are aware they are getting on a budget carrier, but they still hold unreasonable expectations of service quality etc.

    • Agree with this completely. Adopt the mindset that you are flying with a bucket and spade carrier and generally you will be fine. Also, nobody minds too much if you have toddlers in tow. Unlike walking into a longhaul F or C cabin on LH or LX when you almost want to downgrade to Y immediately!
      On another not, did I read somewhere that BA now lets you change the rtn flight on a redemption ticket even after you have flown the outbound leg?

      • Yes, you have been able to change the return after flying the outbound for a year or so.

        No-one minds kids in long haul Business. During school holidays when we fly there are usually 7-10 kids in a 72 seat Club World cabin.

        • Thanks for the info. Yes, never had a problem on BA or any Gulf or Asian carriers!

      • dannyrado says:

        Great, First longhaul LX with the little one in a few weeks, sounds like it should be fun. Rather like when we flew TK to HKG with her, oh, if looks could kill….

  10. erico1875 says:

    As Callum points out, Monarch are pretty much the same as any other short haul airline. For short haul, it really doesnt matter to me which airline I fly with. Price is the dictator and all my Avios spending is RFS.
    Punctuality is their weakness though.I dont think I have ever had a Monarch flight thst didnt have a couple of hours delay

  11. What's the Point says:

    OT (but Avios related) ref the recent promo for Triple Avios on AMEX Currency exchange, here is the response to my email about when the Bonus Points would post

    Thank you for contacting us at TravelMoneyNow regarding the Avios promotion.
    You will see 2 separate amounts of Avios added to your account, the first award will show 1 Avios per £1 exchanged (within 40 days), the second award is the bonus (additional 30 days), and you will see double Avios.
    Please see the below Terms and Conditions:
    Standard Avios will be will be credited to the members account within 40 days of the transaction; Bonus Avios will be awarded within 30 days of the standard award. The award, collection and use of Avios is governed by the BAEC Terms and Conditions available at ba.com and the Avios UK Travel Rewards Programme Terms and Conditions which can be found at avios.com.
    If after 70 days you do not see the Bonus Avios please contact us and we will investigate.

  12. Flew last week with monarch LGW-INN return, and have to say both the flights were 30mins early. No problems whatsoever with boarding or on-board service. The hard product isn’t great, seat pitch very tight and the seat itself had seen better days – it had virtually collapsed and desperately needed an new cushion. They did want something like £70 for 5kg extra baggage, unbelievably that was pre-booked and not an at-the-airport price!

  13. PalCsaky says:

    Is there a way of putting 2 reward flights on the same ticket? I’m specifically looking at flybe from Birmingham to Stuttgart and airberlin from Stuttgart to Majorca. Both show availability on avios.com and ba.com respectively but the layover time is only 1.5hr and I’m worried that I could miss the airberlin flight if flybe are late. Cash tickets for the same route are also available so I’m guessing the two airlines interline luggage. Any advice would be appreciated.