Over Easter, I will be answering a number of the reader questions that were submitted via this article. If you didn’t take part this time, don’t worry as I will be re-running this feature in the Summer. Feel free to expand on or critique my answer using the Comments section below!
Today’s question is from Jim who asked:
“Hi, I’d like to know if it’s possible to use Avios to fly from regional airports where BA has no presence. For example, being based in East Anglia my closest option is Norwich and the next best is Stansted. Getting to LHR or LGW is essentially a three-hour plus trip plus all the hassle of traveling so I`d much prefer to stay local.”
Jim touches on an important issue for Avios collectors outside the M25. British Airways does not run any regional flights to any destination except London, and there is a lot of wasted time flying Manchester – London – Berlin if you can get an easyJet flight direct instead.
Luckily, there are some options available.
Vueling offers flights from Cardiff and Edinburgh which can be booked via Iberia Plus, if you transfer your Avios points across using ‘Combine My Avios’.
Sun-Air runs a couple of services to Scandinavia from Manchester. (The photo above is a Sun-Air flight, operated as a BA franchise in BA colours.) Finnair also runs a Manchester-Helsinki service. These can be booked via ba.com.
Since airberlin joined oneworld, you can also use Avios on their services. I have mainly focussed on airberlin’s long-haul services on Head for Points, but they also fly from Manchester (EDIT: now cancelled, see Comments).
Aer Lingus flights from Ireland to the UK can also be booked – but only by telephone – as an Avios redemption, although once you’ve factored in the telephone booking fee and the full taxes it is unlikely to offer good value.
There are also some options for redeeming with avios.com airline partners. These are Air Malta, Aurigny (the Channel Islands airline), Monarch and Flybe. To redeem on any of these airlines, you need to move your Avios from ba.com to avios.com via ‘Combine My Avios’. The only way to see what routes are available is to look on the relevant airlines website and then try to plug those routes into avios.com and see if any seats come up.
(EDIT: Air Malta flies from Manchester as well as London, click for details.)
Be wary of redeeming for non-BA European flights, though. They are not eligible for Reward Flight Saver (except Sun-Air) and so you need to pay full taxes and charges. This may mean that you are getting poor value for your Avios.