If you are looking to redeem for Avios points for flights to South America, you may end up redeeming on BA’s sister airline Iberia. With its flat bed seating now in place and new aircraft coming on stream, Iberia is a perfectly good option these days. The only downside is that you cannot use a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher on Iberia.
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’.
When you book an Avios reward 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
However, if you want to move your Avios to Iberia to book on iberia.com, 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.
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. You DO pay surcharges when booking via ba.com.
Here is an example, looking at a return Avios redemption between Madrid and Montevideo:
Book Madrid – Montevideo – Madrid in Business on ba.com and pay 102,000 Avios and £462 of taxes on off-peak dates next February
Book Madrid – Montevideo – Madrid in Business on iberia.com and pay 102,000 Avios plus £171 of taxes for the same dates
That is a ludicrous £291 saving per person!
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.
Be careful to ensure your luggage is checked through
My example flights are ticketed from Madrid without a London connection on the same ticket. This is to save Air Passenger Duty. If your flight was ticketed as London – Madrid – Montevideo then you would be charged an extra £150+ in UK Government Air Passenger Duty for long haul business class. Booking London – Madrid on a separate ticket means that you only pay short haul Air Passenger Duty and even that is wrapped into the £35 Reward Flight Saver fee.
You should look to book your Heathrow to Madrid flight on Iberia if starting in London as that maximises your chances of the check-in staff at Heathrow checking through your baggage. Under the new rules, BA will no longer check through baggage when flights are on separate tickets on different airlines.
Iberia also has better availability for its own members
There is one other reason why you should book Iberia redemptions at iberia.com and not ba.com. As I showed in this article, Iberia Plus has far better business reward availability than is offered to BA and other partner airlines.
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.
(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.)