Week two of work in London is over and I once again decided to redeem some points for a short beach holiday…on Monarch Airlines to Mallorca. Yes, 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 last weekend 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. easyJet and Ryanair certainly would have been options for this weekend, but while they are discount airlines, their last minute pricing is the worst. They wanted about GBP 460 ($707) for a roundtrip flight this weekend and 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 partner and they had availability on today’s flight for 7,500 points and $27.50 in taxes (notice how no BA flights appear).
You need to sign-up for a separate Avios account and use the combine my Avios function (which you might be familiar with to obtain lower taxes on Iberia’s site), in order to make a booking with your BA points. Note that there is no fee associated with moving your points from one Avios program to another. I plan to do a full post on some other cool redemption opportunities and the specifics of the transfer process later this week, but for now check out Head for Points post – Which Airlines Can I Use Avios Points On?
Remember, for both Iberia and the generic Avios site, you need to have had an account for 90 days before you can move your BA Avios. The transfer link for either program can be found here (sign into BA.com first).
Hotel-wise, I’m loving Melia’s unbranded Beach House , which just opened on June 12th. It’s very similar to Melia’s ME hotels (which are essentially W’s) and all restaurants and bars are managed by Nikki Group of Nikki Beach. In fact, the front desk mentioned that the hotel plans to switch over to ME branding for next summer. This too was an award stay – some orphan mas Rewards (Meila Rewards) points and a Hotels.com Welcome Rewards certificate (free upgrade included in the booking). Full details and trip reports on the hotel and the Monarch flights coming up!