Because you can book redemption flights on Iberia via ba.com, the vast majority (99%?) of British Airways Executive Club members who want an Iberia long-haul flight do it that way. They are making an expensive mistake.
When you book a long-haul Avios redemption flight on Iberia, you actually 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. If you have an Amex card with Membership Rewards, transferring 1,000 points across may be the easiest way to ‘activate’ your account. Buying Avios via Iberia also counts.
Why would want you want to mess about with all this? Very simple – you do not pay BA’s surcharges on Iberia redemptions when booked via Iberia Plus.
Here is an example, looking at 25th February for a one-way flight from Madrid to Santiago in Chile, a non-BA destination:
Book IB6833 from Madrid to Santiago in Business on ba.com and pay 60,000 Avios and £294 of taxes and charges
Book IB6833 from Madrid to Santiago in Business on iberia.com and pay 60,000 Avios plus £77 of taxes and charges
That is a ludicrous £217 saving – per person! And that is just for a one-way flight.
On ba.com, the charge is mistakenly shown as £156 but when you click through to the payment page it adjusts to £294.
Note that this ONLY applies to booking Iberia flights on iberia.com. If you book a British Airways flight on iberia.com you pay the same fuel surcharges as at ba.com.
(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 £35 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. You can sign up to e-rewards via Iberia to earn 750 Avios in order to ‘activate’ the account. If you don’t, you won’t be able to get an Iberia account up and running and short notice if you need one.