Redeeming Avios on new partner Meridiana – where can you go?

As I wrote yesterday, Italian airline Meridiana has just relaunched its loyalty scheme as Meridiana Club – and is using Avios as its loyalty currency!  Read the previous piece if you missed it to get the full story.

Part of the arrangement is that British Airways Executive Club members can now redeem on Meridiana.  At present you need to ring but I understand that flights should be available online later in the year.

So where can you go?  Here is the English-language Meridiana website.  They say:

Today Meridiana offers a wide range of flights and leisure type destinations: with regard to the national and international short and medium haul scheduled flights, from the main Italian airports, it is possible to reach Sardinia (Olbia, Alghero and Cagliari), Sicily and Naples as well as major holiday destinations in the Mediterranean or in Egypt such as the Canary Islands, Greece and the Red Sea while the principal long range destinations, mainly serviced from Milan Malpensa and/or Rome Fiumicino, are the Maldives, Mauritius, Kenya, Zanzibar, Madagascar, Cuba, Santo Domingo and Brazil.  The airports of Olbia – Costa Smeralda, Cagliari, Catania, Naples and Verona with Milan and Rome are the airports of reference in Italy.

What does this mean in practice?

Meridiana

Short haul Meridiana routes from London

These appear to be Meridiana’s routes from the UK:

Gatwick to Cagliari (which BA will restart from Gatwick next Summer)

Gatwick to Naples

Gatwick to Olbia

Don’t choose Meridiana if you have a lot of luggage – the cost of a 2nd suitcase is £57 each way!

I will talk about taxes in a minute.

Long haul Meridiana routes

Would people seriously consider connecting in Italy onto a long-haul operated by Meridiana?

Good question.  It certainly won’t be due to the terrible online reviews of their punctuality or a desire to try their business class seat, which looks like this:

Meridiana business class

They run an 18-seat business class cabin, with entertainment provided by handing out iPads!

This seems to be the long-haul network:

New York JFK to Catania

New York JFK to Olbia

New York JFK to Palermo

Dakar to Milan

Fortaleza (Brazil) to Milan

La Romana (Dom Republic) to Milan

La Romana (Dom Republic) to Rome

Maldives / Male to Rome

Maldives / Male to Milan

Mauritius to Rome

Mauritius to Milan

Mombasa to Rome

Zanzibar to Rome

Mombasa to Milan

Zanzibar to Milan

The Meridiana website also mentions departures to Cuba but I haven’t tracked this down yet.

What about tax?

The taxes number is, to put it mildly, all over the place.

A Head for Points reader was quoted a crazy £191 yesterday in tax for a return flight in Business Class from Gatwick to Cagliari!  And yet:

Gatwick to Cagliari, booked on meridiana.it, shows taxes of £36 in Economy and £49 in Business

Gatwick to Cagliari, booked on Expedia, shows taxes of £183 in Economy and £196 in Business which matches, stripping out Expedia’s fee, what our reader was quoted. 

Gatwick to Cagliari, booked on Expedia but as a BA codeshare (still on Meridiana) shows £79 tax in Economy (would not price in Business) 

Using the ITA fare price tool, it is clear that there is a massive fuel surcharge of £147 built into the Economy fare from Gatwick to Cagliari.  For some reason the Meridiana website builds this into the base fare and does not show it under charges.

Given these charges, it is very unlikely that you would be looking to redeem your Avios on the short-haul routes from Gatwick.

Ironically, on long-haul, it is not so bad.

Milan to The Maldives, in Business Class, shows a fuel surcharge of €240 and total taxes and charges of €286, or £232.

British Airways would charge around £550 in taxes – should you be lucky enough to find seats.  That said, once you have stripped out the cost of getting to Milan and the substantially poorer seat and facilities, it doesn’t represent any real saving.

All in all it is a bit disappointing.  Unless there is a major change in the tax situation I cannot see Meridiana becoming a serious part of your Avios thinking.

(Want to earn more Avios? Click here to see our latest articles on earning and spending your points and click here to see our list of current Avios promotions.)

Reminder: British Airways American Express bonus offer ends May 21st
Credit & Charge Card Reviews (23): TSB Premier Avios American Express & MasterCard
About Head for Points

We help business and leisure travellers maximise their Avios, frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty points. Visit every day for three new articles or sign up for our FREE emails via this page or the box to your right.

Comments

  1. What is the best way to get to the Maldives, from the UK, using Avios?

    • In First Class.

      Sensibly, being a route with limited availability, whatever route you can get availability on must be good enough. The least cost in Avios would be the direct option.

      You could consider getting to DOH either directly or paying to get there from a nearby airport and then take QR to Maldives.

    • Cheapest – BA using a 241, but availability tricky

      Alternatively – Qatar, Malaysia (A380 from LHR now) or for the very long way round Cathay via HK

  2. Not sure but I don’t believe Zanzibar or Madagascar have been accessible with avios up till now do perhaps not fair to be completely dismissive. Okay not great to New York bit it’s not like you’re short of options to travel that route anyway

    • I’m still waiting for proof that these destinations actually exist, given they are not in the flight booking system! They could be closed routes, or charter routes not bookable by the public.

      • Zanzibar and Mombasa are showing as destinations from both Rome and Malpensa for me. There’s also Fortaleza from Malpensa, and La Romana from Rome.

  3. Shame I can’t go anywhere from Genoa. I’m here until the end of the week, so I could have swanned off elsewhere!