Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

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

Links on Head for Points may support the site by paying a commission.  See here for all partner links.

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?

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, 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.

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (February 2024)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points. These points convert at 1:1 into Avios.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,500 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers Read our full review

You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

American Express Business Platinum

Crazy 120,000 points bonus (to 9th April) and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

Huge 60,000 points sign-up bonus (until 9th April) and free for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

Comments (10)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Jason says:

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

    • snz says:

      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.

    • Rob says:

      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

  • Chris says:

    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

    • Rob says:

      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.

      • N says:

        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.

        • Rob says:

          Odd … I was working off the list on the depart box where they don’t appear! Will fix.

          • N says:

            They do seem to have been to the Iberia school of website programming

          • Rob says:

            It is a bit sad. Especially when you can buy airline reservation website software ‘off the shelf’ these days!

  • Fenny says:

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

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.