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 them. Click here to see the other articles.
Malaysia Airlines joined the oneworld alliance in September 2013. This means that it is possible to book flights with them using your Avios points.
Malaysia offers a decent option for getting to Kuala Lumpur, and from there you can easily pick up a connection (either for cash on a local carrier like Air Asia, or on Malaysia with Avios) to elsewhere in the region. Here is the Malaysian route map if you want to look at the options for connections.
If you want to go to Singapore, which is just over 100 miles away, you can even get a bus – there are plenty of local operators – or a train.
Malaysia also flies to Australia and New Zealand, so this strategy can help you get down to that part of the world with lower taxes. (It also flies to the Maldives, but that is a very expensive trip in Avios compared to flying directly on BA from London. It would give you an interesting ‘two centre’ holiday however.)
From Heathrow, they are flying brand new A350’s with impressive business and First Class seating.
You may remember this fascinating post from last year where I looked at redemptions which are excellent value for money because they fall into ‘sweet spots’ in the Avios pricing chart. Malaysia Airlines has two such redemptions.
Let’s remind ourselves of the Avios pricing chart:
Let’s put this into practice where Malaysia Airlines is concerned.
London to Kuala Lumpur is 6,593 miles. A return flight in Business Class will cost you 140,000 Avios points plus £483 tax.
However, Malaysia also flies to Kuala Lumpur from Paris (with A380’s) and Amsterdam (with Boeing 777’s).
Paris to Kuala Lumpur is 6,492 miles. That just pushes it into the cheaper pricing band. A return in Business Class will cost you 120,000 Avios points – 20,000 per person fewer than ex-Heathrow – and the tax is just £322.
Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur is 6,363 miles. This means that your Business Class seat will also be 120,000 Avios, and the tax is even cheaper at £270.
Starting and ending your trip in Amsterdam rather than London will save you 20,000 Avios and £213 of tax per person! If you live outside London, flying to Amsterdam from, say, Manchester rather than to Heathrow will not even extend your travel time.
You will need to get to Amsterdam, of course, but that will only make a dint in the saving. You would, of course, also need to build in a decent gap in Amsterdam in case your inbound flight was delayed.
Whilst you can’t use an Amex 2-4-1 voucher for a redemption on Malaysia, they add a lot of extra flexibility for trips eastwards from London. And if you do head out to Kuala Lumpur, I can recommend the Four Seasons Langkawi if you’re looking for an excellent beach resort. Some people, if staying for a week, mix in a few days at The Datai down the road.