9 things to know about Iberia Avios
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It’s normal that UK-based travellers are likely more versed in British Airways Avios than Iberia Avios. But using Iberia Avios can offer quite a bit of value and save you money. This isn’t a full-on guide with every detail on the airline currency, but rather a starter guide for those looking to expand their horizons beyond BA.com for some new and different redemptions. Read on to discover some useful information that may help you maximise Iberia Avios for your next trip.
1. You can transfer British Airways Avios to Iberia
Avios are transferrable between British Airways and Iberia (and Aer Lingus), meaning if you don’t find the redemption that you want on BA.com, check Iberia. If you find what you’re looking for, transfer the points. These are the regulations for transferring points from BA to Iberia:
- Both accounts must be open for a minimum of 90 days before you can transfer.
- You need to have at least one Avios-earning transaction in your Iberia account (like a flight segment, hotel or car hire).
- Your name, birthdate and email on both accounts must be exactly the same (make sure to amend this before attempting a transfer if they don’t match).
If your account meets the requirements, you can use Avios.com to transfer the points. For a step-by-step guide on how to do so, click here.
Even if you don’t plan to transfer points at this time, you may as well set up your Iberia account so that if you later want to add a transaction or pass the 90-day mark, you’ll be ahead of the game. Note that your points will expire 36 months after the last use (and transferring doesn’t count).
2. You’ll spend less in taxes and fees using Iberia Avios
You can book Iberia awards on BA.com. So why bother transferring the points? For a number a reasons, actually, the main one being that you’ll spend less in taxes and fees. For example, booking an Iberia flight from Madrid to New York in November on Iberia.com costs 34,000 Avios + €107 (£95).
The exact same Iberia flight booked on BA.com costs 34,000 Avios + $265.28 (£213).
As you can see, using Iberia to book your ticket will save you quite a bit in taxes and fees. And, if you book from London to New York on the same dates on BA in Club World, you’ll pay $490.36 (£393) in taxes.
If you need to make a stop in London anyway (because you live in other parts of the UK), you may as well get yourself to Madrid instead of London. Considering you’ll save almost £300 in doing so as per the aforementioned example, paying for a low-cost carrier flight and hotel for a night in Madrid will still allow you to come out on top.
3. Iberia’s peak dates match the Spanish holiday calendar
This can be especially helpful for those adhering to the British school holiday calendar. Many BA peak dates are not peak dates on the Iberia calendar, meaning that you could pay tens of thousands more Avios for a BA flight on peak dates in the UK than you would for an Iberia flight. It is important to know that British Airways does use Iberia’s peak and off-peak calendar for its Iberia redemptions, but you still may pay more in taxes and fees if you book via BA.
4. Iberia uses a distance-based award chart slightly different from British Airways
Iberia’s distance-based award charts look similar to British Airways at first glance, but when given a closer scan, there are a few select sweet spots that differ from BA. Iberia has a chart for both peak and off-peak redemptions.
Some of the best redemptions can be round in Band 5, which include the Chicago (ORD) to Madrid (MAD) business-class awards for just 34,000 Avios off-peak (and you’ll get to fly in Iberia’s relatively new A350).
Looking at the British Airways award chart below, a ticket to fly from London (LHR) to Chicago (ORD) booked on British Airways (Zone 5) costs 50,000 off-peak, not to mention the much heftier price tag on taxes and fees.
(distance in miles)
British Airways award chart.
5. You can earn Iberia Plus (and Oneworld) elite status
The Iberia Plus elite status programme has the following tiers: Plata (Oneworld Ruby), Oro (Oneworld Sapphire) and Platino (Oneworld Emerald). You can read through the detailed benefits of each tier here, but elite status offers travellers perks like free baggage, lounge access, fast-track security, points bonuses and for the highest levels of status, free upgrades and limousine service.
In order to gain status, you’ll have to earn a certain number of elite points for flying Iberia and other Oneworld partner airlines (and Vueling): 1,100 points (or 25 routes) in a year for Silver, 2,250 points (or 50 routes) in a year for Oro or 12,500 points in a year or 6,250 points in two years for Platino. The full table of elite points per route and fare class is listed here, but expect to earn anywhere between 15 points (discount economy within Spain) to 700 points (full-fare business class between Madrid and Latin America) per route.
Once you earn 125.000 Elite Points after signing up for the Iberia Plus programme, you’ll get Infinita status, which gives you Platino (Emerald) for life. Once you hit 200,000 Elite Points since you signed up for the Iberia Plus programme, you’ll end up with Infinita Prime status which also gives you Platino (Emerald) for life coming with added perks like guaranteed Avios availability and two Iberia Plus Oro statuses to gift, among other benefits.
Note that you don’t have to reach a certain amount of elite spend to earn elite status on Iberia like you would on American Airlines. And, the ‘year’ for earning elite status begins on April 1 until March 31 the following year.
6. You can’t use your Avios to fly first class on Iberia
This is because Iberia doesn’t have first class. But, you can use Avios for economy (turista), premium economy (turista premium) or business class. And, if you’re desperate to fly in first class you can use your Iberia Avios to fly first on a partner airline, instead.
7. Don’t give up on Iberia.com website redemptions
Iberia’s website is not a TPG UK favourite. It’s flaky and finicky, and the Avios redemption section doesn’t always work right, erroring out or bringing you to a dead page. Sometimes, it can be hard to find the page you’re looking for, or act fussy even when creating an account. Don’t give up.
Once you’ve created an account and are logged in, you can search here. This search page, which can be hard to locate on the website, is different from the booking flights page or the Avios calculator page, and it should look like the screenshot below.
Once you begin messing around with the Avios award search page, it will get easier. If the award search function doesn’t seem to be working, try again in a few hours, or tomorrow. Sticking with it will eventually pay off when you save hundreds of your hard-earned Avios and pounds.
8. Iberia Avios are refundable (with a small fee)
Iberia states that in the case you need to change or cancel a ticket booked with Avios you can — but the following fees and rules apply based on your fare class:
- Blue Class: Changes and refunds are allowed through the Iberia Plus Service Centre up to 24 hours before the flight and with a penalty of €25. No refunds are allowed after the flight and no partial refunds of segments not flown.
- Full Economy: Changes and refunds are allowed without a penalty.
- Premium Economy: Changes and refunds are allowed through the Iberia Plus Service Centre up to 24 hours before the flight and with a penalty of €25. No refunds are allowed after the flight and no partial refunds of segments not flown.
- Business: Changes and refunds are allowed through the Iberia Plus Service Centre up to 24 hours before the flight and with a penalty of €25. No refunds are allowed after the flight and no partial refunds of segments not flown.
9. You can transfer your Amex Membership Reward points to Iberia Avios
Amex Membership Reward points transfer 1:1 to the Iberia Plus programme. It may take up to four days for your points to transfer, so take that into consideration if you’re planning to snap up a timely redemption.
When we tested a transfer here at TPG UK, though, the points had moved to Iberia Plus within 24 hours, so it is possible you’ll get them sooner than the four days stated.
The best way to earn these points through a card like the The Platinum Card from American Express UK. Although the annual fee certainly will set you back a bit at £575, you’ll earn 30,000 Amex Reward points after spending £4,000 in the first three months. For a full review of the card, click here.
TPG UK values Amex Membership Reward points at 1.4p per point, helping you to calculate if your Iberia Avios reward is a good deal based on the ticket cash price and points price.
Featured photo by DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images.