Don’t panic: Iberia devalues some off-peak awards to the US, still a great deal

May 11, 2021

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Iberia has long offered excellent business class award pricing between the U.S. and Madrid (MAD) on off-peak dates. Travellers flying to or from the East Coast of the U.S. can book one-way tickets for just 34,000 Iberia Avios one-way, and flights from the U.S. West Coast are a great deal too.

On Monday, Iberia raised the cost of award tickets to/from a handful of cities, including Chicago-O’Hare (ORD) and Los Angeles (LAX), effective immediately. Thankfully, the price increase isn’t too bad and, frankly, they were a long time coming.

Let’s take a closer look at this change and why it may not be so bad after all.

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Iberia raises award prices from Chicago and LA

An Iberia Airbus A321 on the runway at Barcelona airport
(Photo by J.Thort / Shutterstock.com)

Iberia has a distance-based award chart where you pay more Avios for longer flights. Further, it offers lower pricing on off-peak dates. Here’s a look at the award chart:

Distance (miles) Off-peak economy Peak economy Off-peak premium economy Peak premium economy Off-peak business class Peak business class
0 – 650 4,500 5,000 9,000 10,000
651 – 1,150 7,500 8,250 15,000 16,500
1,151 – 2,000 10,000 11,000 20,000 22,000
2,001 – 3,000 11,000 12,500 21,250 31,250
3,001 – 4,000 17,000 20,000 25,500 35,000 34,000 50,000
4,001 – 5,500 21,250 25,000 31,750 43,750 42,500 62,500
5,501 – 6,500 25,500 30,000 38,250 52,500 51,000 75,000
6,501 – 7,000 29,750 35,000 44,250 61,250 59,500 87,500
7,000+ 42,500 50,000 63,750 87,500 85,000 125,000

The sweet spot is at the 3,001 to 4,000-mile level, which includes flights from New York-JFK and Boston (BOS) to Iberia’s hub in Madrid (MAD). Until recently, this tier included Chicago-O’Hare (ORD) to Madrid, with off-peak business class awards pricing at 34,000 Avios one-way. This is despite the flight being 4,202 miles long.

Further, the airline priced flights from Los Angeles (LAX) to Madrid in the 4,001 to 5,000-mile tier, so business class cost just 42,500 miles one-way. In reality, the flight is 5,845 miles long.

That ended this week. The airline now prices one-way awards from Chicago to Madrid at 42,500 Avios, while Los Angeles departures will set you back 51,000 Avios. This no-notice pricing change was first reported by Inside Flyer and is reflected on Iberia’s website.

Related: A review of Iberia’s business class on the A350, New York to Madrid

LAX to MAD Iberia award ticket
(Screenshot courtesy of Iberia)

Inside Flyer notes that flights from some Central and South American cities have gone up in price too. For example, Mexico City (MEX) to Madrid used to cost 42,500 Avios in business class but moved to the 51,000 Avios tier. Lima (LIM) and Santiago (SCL) to Madrid also went up in price.

MEX to MAD Iberia award ticket
(Screenshot courtesy of Iberia)

Thankfully, New York-JFK and Boston awards remain unchanged and can still be booked for 34,000 Avios one-way on off-peak dates.

My take on this devaluation

Business class on Iberia’s Airbus A350. (Photo by Christian Kramer/The Points Guy)

Unfortunately, Iberia devalued its off-peak business class sweet spot, but it’s not surprising.

Iberia has undercharged for tickets from Chicago and Los Angeles for years. This devaluation simply corrects pricing on these routes, in line with its award chart. As Gary from View From The Wing said, the airline never requested additional miles from travellers who have taken advantage of this mispricing over the years.

Frankly, I’m surprised it took Iberia so long to correct pricing on these routes — especially the large pricing discrepancy from Los Angeles. These flights are still a great deal, even at the increased pricing. Redeeming 51,000 Avios for a business class flight from the West Coast to Spain is far lower than many loyalty programmes require.

For example, booking the same tickets with American Airlines AAdvantage costs 57,500 miles regardless of where you depart from in North America. So, you still save 15,000 points by booking Chicago to Madrid with Iberia Avios instead of American miles.

Of course, I would’ve liked Iberia to give notice before making this change, but I find it hard to be mad, given this was seemingly a glitch on American’s website.

Why did the airline choose to correct pricing now? It’s hard to say, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the airline sees a large influx of award bookings after news broke that the EU will start allowing U.S. tourists this summer.

Airlines are still recovering from the pandemic and need ways to reduce liabilities where they can. This is a small way for Iberia to do that, and I much prefer a small pricing correction to a full-blown no-notice devaluation.

Bottom line

Off-peak Iberia awards from Chicago and Los Angeles now require more Avios but remain cheaper than programmes like AAdvantage. Thankfully, flights from the East Coast continue to require just 34,000 Avios in business class Ultimately, this evaluation is a correction of a pricing error and the devalued routes are still a great deal.

Feature photo by yllyso / Shutterstock.com

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