For the last couple of weeks I have been pondering a problem. I had to get two people back from Lisbon within a 4-5 hour window on a fixed day. My usual options had come to nothing:
no Avios reward seats on BA via ba.com
no Avios reward seats on Iberia via Madrid on ba.com
no well-priced low-cost airline cash tickets
no economy reward seats on BA or Iberia available via BA On Business (I don’t have enough OB points for Club Europe)
TAP Portugal did have seats but the times were not great and I don’t have many Star Alliance miles – I am protective of my Miles & More balance! Star Alliance redemptions inside Europe are also notoriously bad value.
I had been juggling these and various other options, including using some spare Emirates Skywards miles for easyJet seats!
And then, yesterday afternoon, I suddenly remembered about Iberia Plus ‘Blue Class’ and ‘Economy Class’.
What is the difference beween Iberia’s Blue Class and Economy Class?
Iberia splits its allocation of Avios reward seats in Economy into two buckets – ‘Blue Class’ and ‘Economy Class’.
Blue Class is an allocation of discounted Economy redemption seats, the equivalent of ‘Saver’ level seats on other airlines. This is the availability that ba.com shows if you try to book Iberia flights on there.
You must have an Iberia Plus account and using ‘Combine My Avios’ to move your points across from BA or avios.com to Iberia.
I logged into my Iberia Plus account and, voila, I could do it. By booking ‘Economy Class’ seats I could book an Iberia flight, via Madrid, from Lisbon that was not available via ba.com.
What did it cost me?
The standard price of a one-way flight from Lisbon to London via Madrid, one way in Economy, is 11,000 Avios in ‘Blue Class’ which gets you an economy seat.
If you book both legs in ‘Economy Class’ then you pay a 50% premium. In this case it would be 16,500 Avios one way.
For the seats I wanted, only the Lisbon to Madrid leg was in ‘Economy Class’. The longer leg was available in ‘Blue Class’. This meant that the total cost was 13,250 Avios per person – just 2,250 more than if ‘Blue Class’ had been available all the way.
The one-way taxes were £28 per person because Iberia does not have Reward Flight Saver.
It would obviously have been a lot cheaper if I could have booked the British Airways direct flight. That would have cost just 7,500 Avios each way plus £17.50 of tax. Those seats were not available however.
How can this benefit you?
There are a few cases where Iberia Plus Blue Class seats could help you:
if you are looking to fly Iberia from the UK to Spain in Economy and cannot see availability on ba.com, look at iberia.com as well
if you are looking to fly Iberia long-haul from Madrid and cannot see availability on ba.com, look at iberia.com as well (in any case, you should ALWAYS book long-haul Iberia redemptions on iberia.com instead of ba.com because you do not pay fuel surcharges)
if you are looking to fly somewhere on BA where a diversion via Madrid would not be totally stupid, and you cannot find Economy BA availability, look at Iberia Plus instead. There are plenty of routes where this may make sense – Morocco, Portugal, Turkey, Greece, potentially Italy. Your trip will take longer than flying direct but if you are keen to use points it may be your only option.
In this case, Iberia’s extra Economy Class availability allowed me to solve a tricky problem and saved me at least £175 in cash.
In summary ….
If you cannot find reward availability on ba.com for an economy flight which you could sensibly route via Madrid if necessary, remember to check out iberia.com as well. Those extra ‘Economy Class’ seats may be just what you need.
PS. Remember that, in order to move Avios into an Iberia Plus account, it must be at least 90 days old. It must also have some ‘activity’ on it. You can get this by crediting a oneworld flight, hotel stay or car rental, moving some hotel points across, using e-rewards, moving some American Express Membership Rewards points etc.
(Want to earn more Avios? Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)