Yes, there are some lesser known Avios airline redemption partners out there! This is part eight of a thirteen part trip report from my travels to the UK, Malta, and Mallorca. This trip report includes my Monarch Airlines flight from London Luton (LTN) to Mallorca (PMI) using Avios.
- Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Newark (EWR)
- Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Newark (EWR)- London Heathrow (LHR) on Delta SkyMiles!
- Star Alliance Business Class Lounge: Terminal 1, London Heathrow
- Lufthansa Economy Class London Heathrow (LHR) – Munich (MUC) – Malta (MLA) – Frankfurt (FRA) – LHR
- Lufthansa Senator Lounge Munich – Terminal 2, level 4, departures G, opposite gate G28
- Lufthansa Business Lounge B Frankfurt – Terminal 1, departure area B (Non-Schengen)
- The Westin Dragonara Resort, Malta
- Monarch Airlines Economy London Luton (LTN) – Palma de Mallorca (PMI) – LTN using Avios!
- Beach House by Meliá, Magaluf Beach in Calviá
- Le Méridien Piccadilly, London, UK
- Radisson Blu Edwardian, Guildford, Surrey, UK
- Hilton London Paddington, London, UK
- SkyTeam Lounge London Heathrow (LHR) Terminal 4
- Delta Airlines BusinessElite London Heathrow (LHR) – JFK
Week two of work in London was ending and I once again decided to redeem some points for a short beach holiday. Monarch is one of several non apparent Avios partners. You won’t find them listed on BA or Iberia’s website, as there are actually three separate Avios programs (BA Avios, Iberia Avios, and plain old Avios) each with their own set of partners. Avios.com is part of the legacy UK based Airmiles program which allows members to earn points for grocery shopping at Tesco, filling up at Shell, signing up for a credit cards (of course), and several other daily activities. I looked to them for my trip to Malta (as one of their unique partners is Air Malta), but there was no availability and I ended up redeeming UA miles instead. easyJet and Ryanair certainly would have been options for this trip, but while they are discount airlines, their last minute pricing was horrendous. They wanted about GBP 460 ($707) for a roundtrip flight while BA & Iberia wanted over $900 in economy. Points to the rescue! Monarch, a leisure / charter airline based in the UK, is also a plain old Avios.com partner and had availability on direct flights for 7,500 points and $27.50 in taxes (notice how no BA flights appear).
Who are their partners? Avios.com has a great “airlines we work with tab” which list out the partner redemption carriers including: Air Malta, American, Aurigny, British Airways, Flybe, Iberia, and Monarch. What’s the catch? Well, you need to sign up for a Avios.com account which is separate from your other Avios accounts. You also need a UK address to do this…perhaps you have a friend in the UK or have a “stay” planned at a local hotel? Once signed up you can search for award availability without having any points in your account. When it comes time to redeem points for an award, you’ll have to use the combine my Avios function (which you might have experience with from Iberia’s program in order to obtain lower taxes). The combination can take up to two weeks, but I was able to call into Avios.com customer service and speed the request up a bit (in my case 48 hours). There is absolutely no fee associated with moving your points from one Avios program to another and you can move them back at any time.
OK, on to the trip report. Let’s just say Monarch got me there, it wasn’t fun and it wasn’t pretty. One of the worst run airlines I’ve flown in ages. The outbound flight was delayed for almost two hours with absolutely no announcements, no information, and no updates from the gate agents (outsourced), their website, or the airport monitors. I was told I had an aisle seat, but upon boarding I had a “window” seat. I’ll call it a window, but it was actually a middle seat as the seat next to me was a backwards facing crew seat. No window and no aisle! As this is a leisure / charter airline, there were numerous crying babies as well as small kids running around the cabin. We ended up arriving about 1 hour and 35 minutes late.
The return was even worse. According to the airport monitors the flight was on time. However, as we got within 30 minutes of departure there was still no staff at the gate and no plane outside! Once again, no announcements at the gate, on the website, or via the airport monitors. At 15 minutes after departure time, an Iberia leased agent made an announcement that the flight was delayed. No anticipated departure time except that it would be at least an hour. This time the total delay ended up being 2 hours and 20 minutes with absolutely no communication. I ended up estimating my own departure time by searching the status of the arriving jet to see how late it left the UK. If you need to be on time, I’d avoid Monarch. However, the majority of the flight was on their way to or home from a 7-10 day holiday…so no worries from them. The baggage policy is a lot more relaxed than the other discount carriers (multiple bags are OK as long as they are within the weight requirements, though no one was weighing carry-ons at PMI). If you want to reserve a seat, that will be GBP 5 and you can’t check in online without reserving a seat…
Nice and small Luton Airport…
Hologram security agent and the ability to purchase priority access while in the security line…
Absolute chaos when boarding…no groups or order at all. Monarch has their own Gold & Silver members but there was no special boarding for them either…
Harrods Hangar (behind easyJet)
My non window non aisle seat…
Regular rows on the A321…
Interesting window prior to the first row…
Wifi for in-flight shopping and entertainment (not working)
In-flight purchase menu…
Ultimately, I got to and from my destination and only spent $27.50!
Interested in using your miles for a flight but can’t find availability? Consider using Juicy Miles for award booking assistance!