I am off to the US again for a week in July. I am trying to put together an interesting itinerary that maximises my flying and hotel experiences whilst minimising the cost.
(I have a fantastic outbound lined up. As I will already be in Germany, I have a Frankfurt – Zurich - Boston flight lined up. This lets me do a morning in the Lufthansa First Class Terminal, the afternoon in the Swiss First Class Lounge and then a Swiss First Class flight over to the US. Once in a while, you really appreciate a day like that! But more on this in a few weeks time.)
Coming back, availability is tight so I am looking at all the options. And one of those options is taking Iberia from New York to Madrid.
When you book a flight on Iberia, you have two options:
You can book it via ba.com – Iberia availability shows up alongside BA availability, as both airlines are in the oneworld alliance and you can use your Avios on all oneworld carriers
You can book it via iberia.com
Iberia – which has the same parent company as British Airways – also uses Avios as its loyalty currency. And, if you have an Iberia Plus account, you can freely transfer Avios back and forth from BA to Iberia using ‘Combine My Avios’.
However, there are two conditions:
You can only transfer in or out of Iberia Plus accounts which are 90 days old
You can only transfer in or out of ‘active’ Iberia Plus accounts. This means that the account has ‘earned’ an Avios directly – ie you have credited a flight, hotel or car hire to it, or done some other activity to earn an Avios. (Does buying 2,000 Iberia Avios count? I don’t know the answer to this one.) If you have an Amex card with Membership Rewards, transferring 1,000 points across may be the easiest way to ‘activate’ your account.
Why would want you want to mess about with all this? Very simple – you do not pay fuel surcharges on Iberia redemptions using Avios when booked via Iberia Plus.
Here is an example, looking at 24th July for a one-way flight from New York to Madrid:
Book IB6250 from New York to Madrid in Business on ba.com and pay 40,000 Avios and £298 of taxes
Book IB6250 from New York to Madrid in Business on iberia.com and pay 40,000 Avios plus €68 (£58) of taxes
That is a ludicrous £240 saving – per person!
(In any event, you should NEVER book a British Airways or oneworld Avios flight at iberia.com, because it is non-refundable. Book at ba.com and you can cancel it for a £25 fee.)
This is why, if you don’t have an Iberia Plus account, you should open one. It will start the 90 day clock ticking before you can transfer in or out of it. If you don’t, you won’t be able to get an Iberia account up and running and short notice if you need one.