Avios drops 3 redemption partners – Monarch, Air Malta, Aurigny – starting next week!

Avios (as in avios.com and not British Airways Executive Club) has, with no communication to members, announced on a quiet corner of its website that it is dropping three airline redemption partners.

This kicks in from next Wednesday!

What is happening?

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

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

These redemptions are with avios.com, not British Airways Executive Club.  To book them, 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.

These partnerships are now being wound down.

Monarch – ending 4th January 2017

This one comes with surprisingly little notice.  The ability to book Avios redemption seats on Monarch will end on 4th January 2017.

Tickets booked before that date will remain valid.  Existing bookings can be cancelled.  The Avios website also says that bookings can be ‘amended’ although I don’t see how that can be possible because there will be no redemption availability showing in the booking system to allow a flight change.

I’ve never flown Monarch.  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 ….

Monarch flies from Leeds Bradford, Manchester, Luton, Gatwick and Birmingham.  Their website is here.

I ran some pricing examples on Monarch and the value per point was not dreadful.  Leeds Bradford to Palma is 15,000 Avios plus £93.  A cash ticket for dates in May, which had redemption availability, was £131 for a ‘flight only’ ticket and £185 for an ‘essentials’ ticket which included 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 0.61p per Avios.  That is not great but better value than, say, a wine redemption.

Aurigny – ending 1st April 2017

Aurigny flies 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 is good.  For a random midweek date in June 2017, there were six departures to Guernsey available (economy seats only) and a return ticket would cost you 9,000 Avios plus £35 in tax.

These are OK deals.  A typical cash ticket for the dates I checked was £99 return.  That is around 0.72p per Avios of value.

Air Malta

Air Malta – ending 1st April 2017

The Air Malta partnership will also end on 1st April.  Tickets booked before that date will remain valid and can still be cancelled if necessary.

This was always a bit of an odd partnership.  When it was launched, BA did not fly to Malta and so it filled a gap in what was presumably seen as a core target market for Avios customers.  British Airways launched its own flights to Malta a couple of years ago which meant that this partnership became less valuable.

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 from Gatwick cost 20,000 Avios return plus £55 of tax.  Business class is not available.  This is poor value compared to the British Airways flights which, on off peak dates, require 17,000 Avios return plus £35 of tax.

Conclusion

There is currently a lot of ‘tidying up’ being done at Avios.  We have seen various redemption options dropped (see this article) including theme park tickets, sporting holidays, Eurostar tickets and the ability to earn and redeem Avios on package holiday bookings.  We now have the loss of three airline partnerships.

My best guess is that this is all in preparation for the full merger of the various schemes on the avios.com platform.  Aer Lingus AerClub was launched on this model – if you want to redeem your points, you are diverted to avios.com to do so.  The same will presumably soon be true for British Airways Executive Club and Iberia Plus members.

In order to do this, Avios needs to drop partnerships which would conflict with these airline partners.  Eurostar conflicts with BA and I doubt BA would want Executive Club members to be able to redeem for it directly.  Earning and spending Avios on package holidays conflicts with BA Holidays.  Redeeming on Monarch, Air Malta and Aurigny conflicts, on some routes, with British Airways.

At some point we should start to see benefits from this move.  Royal Air Maroc, for example, is adopting Avios as its currency which should bring extra reward availability to Morocco and, via connections, into parts of Africa not served by British Airways.

In the short term, though, redemption options will get worse before they get better.  This is especially bad news for flyers outside London who will see a sharp drop in the number of flights on which they can redeem their Avios points.

You can learn more about the airline redemption changes on avios.com here.  You will note, with irony, that the slogan on the page is ‘Giving You Choice’.

Thanks to James.

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Comments

  1. Let’s hope they fix the bid that stops you booking anything but economy on flights from Manchester etc via Lhr before this merger happens!

  2. Avios.com has always seemed the week link in the whole Avios family. The amount of times I have had to phone up as different parts of the website were down or were showing seats were there compared to BA but actually they weren’t and the website made it up. Anyone also noticed recently when you have phoned up that the staff seem clueless and need to be talked through what they need to do?

    • the real harry says:

      Not wanting to pick an argument but exactly the opposite!

      It’s a pleasure to phone avios.com CS as they pick up promptly and deal with the issues straight away, which beats the BA phone lines hands down. Plus Live Chat is always prompt as well, & BA doesn’t even offer this.

      Having said that, it’s generally better to book flights via BAEC as the T&Cs are more generous.

      • I’ve certainly experience what Paul describes, Avios.com agents who are very stuck in a certain mindset – dating back the AirMiles days and can’t get their head around people who travel in a different way to what they personally anticipate.

      • I am not wanting to argue either. However I recently had a furious experience that I phoned Avios.com for a Flybe redemption flight as the cash price was high but it showed as a reward flight but would not book online. The person whilst pleasant could not book it and said that I might be able to book it through BA and to give them a call. I did that and after a near 20 minute wait the same person picked up the call, supposedly now working for BA. When I asked they said they now did both lots of customers. I then explained that I had had to wait to get through on the BA number and why couldn’t they of helped in the first place. The person simply said it was a different system. Not very customer service focused and a waste of my time. Oh and they could still not book the flight!

      • Would you be good enough to remind us of the differences, thanks.

        • the real harry says:

          First thing that springs to mind is that BA refunded the APD when the rules changed for 12YOs/ 16YOs – whereas avios.com would not saying RFS fee did not include APD!

          there are other good reasons but I’m off to read in the sun )

        • I’ve had great experiences with avios. I’ve booked five lloyds redemptions, and they’ve had to combine avios from avios and BA family accounts, where I’ve never had enough avios in my account (as opposed to the family account). Might take a while but not a problem. Booked LA three weeks ago this way

    • the_real_a says:

      I sure that the majority of the agents do not deal with complex multiflight mixed cabin redemptions every day, so some level of checking time spent on the phone is to be expected as long as in the end it is processed correctly. I just dread the moment these call centers are enhanced to India.

      • …. which will be about 3 months time, given that consultation notices are out as a precursor to firing most of the UK staff.

        • 900 jobs in Newcastle on the line is a horrendous start to 2017. The spokesman for BA said “the review of its call centres is to ensure it is using the latest technology to deliver effective customer service”. I don’t think anyone quite believes that…

        • On the upside, you could pull some blinders with the BMI call centre in India because they really didn’t have a clue where anywhere was! Your chances of persuading them that Frankfurt is in the UK and therefore a valid place to start a 241 redemption will be far higher than they are with the Newcastle staff ….

        • That’s a real shame for them, on a selfish note I always found the BAEC staff in Geordieland a pleasure to engage with, even when I knew more about the process than them, pleasant folk who deserve to keep their Jobs in Blighty.

        • Lady London says:

          The unfairness to the very good and hardworking Newcastle staff is the first reason why I won’t be flying BA anytime I have another choice this year.

          The second reason is that this will inevitably be followed by the call centres moving to India or somewhere equally incompetent and impossible to deal with. After my last truly horrendous experience with British Airways’s so-called Customer Relations department in India, which had me in tears in my 50th minute on the phone to them. The call went on for a total of about 80 minutes when the British Airways call centre finally realised they had misunderstood completely the subject of my call…. Well, I am trying not to actively avoid BA but every new announcemente from BA seems to make flying them harder.

  3. Linking everything back to a single avios.com account is going to cause a real problem for people who are established in multiple countries. Currently, they might keep their Avios.com account in the UK (for tesco, etc), their BAEC account in the USA or somewhere (for local partnership offers), plus their IB+ account in Spain, or somewhere else, etc.

    People who are established enough in different countries to have credit cards in each of them (etc) should be ideal customers for a TRAVEL orientated loyalty scheme (i.e. they probably travel back and forth a lot), but IAG are going to make the BA mistake and shun them.
    Only allowing local partners in one country, and blocking credit cards / shopping partners crediting from other countries.

    • The Avios IT is very poor, that is my main concern. We saw this with the massive delay to AerClub, the fact that partner transactions won’t actually post until some random date in 2017 and the fact that anyone with a certain password format cannot actually link their UK Avios account. Moving the entire oneworld booking process onto their system is likely to be chaotic.

      • I have never had a problem with Avios IT or CS although I use it a lot less than others (the same with BA come to think of it).
        Iberia IT, on the other hand, is a complete nightmare at least from the Avios viewpoint taking forever to add points to accounts. I have never tried to book a flight would not expect it to be better, although I may be surprised.

  4. I won’t fly Monarch again after they let somebody board and sit next to me who didn’t have a passport or boarding pass. Queue a(n extra) two hour delay while they got the bomb-sniffing dogs on.

    • the real harry says:

      we had an EJ flight a couple of years ago where there were too many people on board

      turns out some dame had missed her flight the day before but STILL managed to get on board with yesterday’s boarding pass & also checked in hold luggage

      Luton Airport

  5. As someone whose local airports are Leeds & Manchester Monarch was perfect..

    Used them for going to Dalaman, Malaga & Gibraltar

    Even less chance,of me using London Airways

    • MAN is my local airport so I only ever use ‘British’ Airways for long-haul 2-4-1 redemptions.

      In fact, my entire BA strategy is: ‘Fly Qatar’.

      • Rumour has it that BA is taking over the American routes from Manchester and will also be introducing weekend flights using spare planes from City Airport.

        • Any idea of timings Rob? Looking at next 241 hot for Xmas 17… which reminds me should we not know the Jan 18 peak dates soon as we are approaching T-355?

    • ankomonkey says:

      Was availability to Dalaman easy or difficult? I have been checking BHX-DLM for some time and found no reward availability since T-365. From my limited experience (one route on particular dates), the partnership seemed to have ended months ago…

    • the_real_a says:

      I cannot imagine the Monach take up was great. If you are happy to fly Monach then you are certainly OK with Ryanair and Easyjet. Both would usually come in considerable cheaper than the tax element except in the usual last minute situations.

  6. As we’ve previously discussed, one of the strangest things about the Air Malta “tie-up” was that Air Malta knew nothing about it! Indeed they once emailed me asking for details on it 🙂

  7. I’m far from a fan of Monarch, but I’ve got to say the avios value is usually a joke…

    Booked a MAN-TLV one way next Oct half term the other day. The cash price was £103 each. If I’d have used avios it would have been 12500 avios and £118 in tax. Yes avios include a bag – but that would mean saving £13 by burning 12500avios! That has to be one of the worst value redemptions ever!!

  8. there’s a certain irony about the short notice of the Monarch withdrawal.

    Who is the CEO of Monarch? One Andrew Swaffield, the very same person who managed Airmiles for BA. I guess he has useful inside knowledge of FF plans!

    As for a combined Avios programme, I would love to be able to earn Avios when in South Africa. The SA scheme has some useful earning opportunities, for now at least.

    • You can, can’t you? I remember earning in the South African scheme when it kicked off. I can’t remember if I gave my UK number or opened another account though …

      • This is all a huge mess at present. I’m currently considering making video explaining it all. There is far more of a mess with Avios than anyone who only lives in the UK would ever believe.

      • I opened up a separate account with them, and very useful it has been too. Now, if only I could transfer between BA, Avios.com etc., that would be fantastic.

      • What I don’t know is whether I can swipe my UK Avios or BA EC card at the checkout. It’s worth a try on my next visit.

        Otherwise, I checked the T+Cs. These days, you essentially need a SA Identity: address including country (SA is the only option), ID number (it’s a SA thing but passport OK)., etc. Can join via BP or PicknPay cards but they need to be BA-verified.

        Earnings are good: 1 Avio per 10 ZAR spend, doubled at BP and PicknPay. 2 Avios per 10 R grocery shopping is good, roughly 1 Avio per £1.2. Oh, Lew Geffen Sothebys offer 2 Avios per 100 R on property sales. For SA users, there’s an ABSA/Avios credit card, though account charges of 60 ZAR per month make it look expensive to me. I didn’t check c.c. earnings.

        • I use it as a completely separate scheme, which is essentially what it is. No combine accounts is possible, and when I last tried to input my BA number, it was rejected, likewise my Avios.com number which also got lost in translation I guess. To avoid any potential problems I didn’t chase up my few missing miles with Avios.com.

  9. Is seems that unless you live around London you are at an increasing disadvantage! Any chance of an update to Favourites No. 10 for us northern Avios users?

    • Yes, I know – once we get past 1st April I will update those articles (which, handily, will give me some ‘filler’ for when we are away over Easter!).

  10. OT: just joined Aerclub and linked account to avios. Anybody any idea when we get the 250 bonus avios? Thanks.

    • I signed up the day I got my invitation (07/12) and no points yet…. I emailed them about when points would post late last night, no response yet…

  11. OT

    I’m trying to book some pay with cash, upgrade with Avios flights to Toronto next May. If I select this option it says £1457+48,000 avios, yet I could book these exact flights in WT+ for £689. If I purchase these WT+ flights can I just upgrade them for 48k avios in manage my booking after purchase?

    • I believe so but if not, or the availability suddenly, disappears then you can cancel your WTP seats within 24h of booking them.

  12. OT

    Can someone remind me the cut off date for being refunded 1000 Avios as a result of BA no longer serving food on short haul routes.

  13. Thanks for the reminder Rob. Just booked BHX-BCN for June cruise with Monarch. £185+30K for 2 of us Adios compared to Ryanair £400. And I can cancel and rebook if the price falls. But with so many Avios and no sign of being able to use them on L/H BA I’m always looking at outlets.