10 things to know about Iberia Avios
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It’s normal that UK-based travellers are more versed in British Airways Avios than Iberia Avios. But using Iberia Avios can offer a lot 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 (and vice versa)
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 prerequesites 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 check this before attempting a transfer).
There are two ways to transfer points between your accounts. The most direct way is to go through British Airways Executive Club. Once your Iberia Plus account is eligible for British Airways transfers, log in to your British Airways Executive Club account and click on the “Combine my Avios” tab under “Manage my Account.” You’ll have to confirm you want to combine accounts, then enter your Iberia Plus number and information. Finally, you’ll be taken to a page showing your linked accounts where you can then decide how many Avios to move and in which direction, as you can also move Iberia Avios to British Airways, too.
An alternative option is to move your Avios using Avios.com.
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? The main reasons is that you’ll spend less on taxes and fees. For example, booking an Iberia flight from Madrid to New York in October on Iberia.com costs 34,000 Iberia Avios + €135,64 (£116/$159).
The exact same Iberia flight booked on BA.com costs 34,000 BA Avios + $279.65 (£205/€238).
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 50,000 Avios plus $625.89 (£459/€530) in taxes.
If you need to make a stop in London anyway (because you live in other parts of the U.K.), you may as well get yourself to Madrid instead of London. You’ll save hundreds of pounds in doing so as per the aforementioned example. Even if you have to spend some extra money on a low-cost carrier flight and hotel night in Madrid, you’ll still end up saving money.
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 aren’t 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 U.K. than you would for an Iberia flight. It’s important to note 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’s chart.
Some of the best redemptions can be found 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 A350 or A330). This is also the redemption rate for flying to/from Boston (BOS) or New York (JFK) and Madrid (MAD).
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)
|Off Peak||Peak||Off Peak||Peak||Off Peak||Peak||Off Peak||Peak|
** These Zone 1 Avios awards are not available for flights to, from or within the U.S.
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 6,250 points in a year or 12,500 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, four free upgrades per year 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 Iberia 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 such as British Airways or Cathay Pacific.
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)
- 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 Amex Membership Reward points to Iberia Avios
Amex Membership Reward points transfer 1:1 to the Iberia Plus programme. And, keep an eye out for transfer bonuses that may offer you a certain percentage more when you transfer Amex points to Iberia Avios. 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 Amex Reward points is through a card like The Platinum Card from American Express UK. Although the annual fee certainly will set you back a bit at £575, you’ll earn 60,000 Amex Reward points after spending £6,000 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.
10. You have to call to add an infant onto tickets booked using Iberia Avios
If you’re planning on travelling with an infant less than two years old on your lap, you can’t add them to your Avios ticket when booking it online. You’ll have to call Iberia to add your baby to the ticket, and you should be prepared for long wait times. The price for the infant ticket is a percentage depending on the ticket’s original price plus some taxes and fees, and you aren’t allowed to use Avios to pay for their ticket.
Note that the cash rate for an infant on Avios tickets can add up, especially if you’re using Avios for long-haul business class redemptions. And you won’t know the exact price of the infant ticket until yours is fully booked and you call and speak to an Iberia representative, so be prepared for surprises and variations in pricing.
On a recent redemption from Madrid (MAD) to Miami (MIA), my ticket cost 42,500 Avios in business class (Zone 6 off-peak) — and my infant’s, a whopping €600. Likewise, on a redemption from Santo Domingo (SDQ) to Madrid (MAD) in business class my ticket cost 42,500 Avios (Zone 6 off-peak) and my infant’s ticket cost just €160. I was told by the Iberia phone representative that roundtrip tickets for infants incur fewer taxes and fees than one-way or multi-city hops, so take all of this into consideration if you’re looking to travel with an infant in your lap on a ticket purchased with Avios.
Featured photo by DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images.
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