EDIT: The Avios partnership with Monarch ended on 4th January 2017 and you can no longer redeem for them. The partnerships with Aurigny and Air Malta will end on 1st April 2017 and you must book, but not necessarily fly, your redemption ticket by that date.
The “Avios Redemption University” series is a good starting point for beginners, although I hope everyone will learn something from them. Click 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.
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 has a grand total of 10 planes, carries c 2 million passengers per year and is State-owned.
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 but only in Economy.
Seats have historically been available on the scheduled routes from Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester to Malta. You do not tend to see redemptions offered on some of the Summer seasonal routes from smaller UK airports.
Economy flights cost 20,000 Avios return plus £51 to £69 of tax depending on your airport. Business class is not available. This compares to £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 via the Air Malta website Manchester to Malta in April 2016. Whilst certain weekend dates were pricier, I found seats as low as £127. Compared with 20,000 Avios plus £51 that is a very poor deal.
When considering ‘value per Avios’, though, remember that Avios bookings are refundable up to 24 hours before departure for a £35 fee. This makes them more flexible than a cheap cash ticket.
Ah, Monarch. I’ve never flown with them and I doubt I ever will. However, here is an old 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. They fly from Leeds Bradford, Manchester, Luton, Gatwick and Birmingham.
Leeds Bradford to Palma (7th-12th April 2016) is 15,000 Avios plus £88. A cash ticket was £150 for a ‘flight only’ ticket and £199 for an ‘essentials’ ticket which includes a suitcase and seat selection. Assuming that you would check in a suitcase – and Avios tickets come with one piece of luggage – it would have worked out at around 0.74p per Avios. That is not bad.
Finally, we have Aurigny, the little Channel Islands airline.
They fly to various Channel Islands destinations from Gatwick, London City, Bristol, Southampton, East Midlands, Stansted and Manchester. You can see a full list of routes by visiting their website and clicking on ‘Timetable’.
Availability from Gatwick seemed very good when I checked. There were six departures to Guernsey available (economy seats only) on 27th October for example. Coming back on 4th November, a return ticket would cost you 9,000 Avios plus £33 in tax.
These are not bad deals. A typical cash ticket for those dates would be £114. That is around 0.9p per Avios of value, which is good.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that you could get between 0.75p and 1.2p of value from some flights with these airlines. There may be some good deals here, especially for Head for Points readers who live in the UK regions.