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How to use Vueling to fly to Spain with Avios from the UK regions

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British Airways is often known as ‘London Airways’ to its detractors, and for good reason.  For a number of years now, BA has not operated a single flight from a UK regional airport that went anywhere except London.

As far as Avios collectors are concerned, any redemption flight on BA from the regions means a change of plane, usually at Heathrow. 

To be fair to BA, they do not penalise flyers from the regions – a redemption from Manchester – London – Hamburg costs the same in Avios as London – Hamburg.  However, the extra couple of hours added to your journey time is not always welcome, especially if travelling with children.

(Of course, many Avios collectors with BA status or who redeem for Club Europe flights are happy with a long layover in London, as it allows them to hit the free food and drink on offer in the Heathrow lounges!)

There are, however, some opportunities to fly from the UK to Spain from the regions.  This is because, in April 2013, International Airlines Group, the parent of British Airways, took full control of Spanish low-cost airline Vueling for €123m.

Unlike Iberia, Vueling is profitable.  Oddly, despite being based in Madrid, Vueling will NOT be merged into Iberia but will be run as a third leg to the company alongside BA and Iberia.  That said, if you buy a paid ticket on Vueling, you can only earn Avios in Iberia Plus and not British Airways Executive Club.

Vueling is a bit like easyJet, with a low cost structure and, more importantly, a low paid crew.  It is possible that BA’s operations at Gatwick will be transferred to Vueling, possibly with it operating as a BA franchise in BA colours.  This would massively reduce costs and allow it compete better with easyJet.  Another option is that more of Iberia’s short-haul operations will be transferred across.

Spending Avios on Vueling

There is one key thing you need to know about Vueling and Avios points.

At present, you can only earn Avios and spend Avios on Vueling via Iberia Plus.

This means that you need to have an Iberia Plus account as well as a BA or account, and you will need to move Avios into it from one of the other schemes.  However:

you cannot move Avios into Iberia Plus until the account is 90 days old, and

you cannot move Avios into Iberia Plus until the account is ‘active’, ie has earned at least 1 Avios.  This can be done with an Amex Membership Rewards transfer, crediting a BA or oneworld flight, crediting a hotel stay or car hire or even buying 1000 Iberia Plus Avios.

These are the routes currently operated by Vueling from the UK:

  • Edinburgh to Barcelona
  • Cardiff to Barcelona, Majorca, Alicante, Malaga
  • London Gatwick to Barcelona
  • London Heathrow to Florence, A Coruna, Bilbao, Galicia, Majorca

You can no longer book Reward Flight Saver fares on Iberia or Vueling.  However, even with full charges, the fare should still be fairly modest.  Redemption tickets allow you to bring a free suitcase, which is not the case (sic) with the lowest Vueling cash fares.  (You can also get a free suitcase by booking on the Iberia website – you pay slightly more but less than the cost of paying separately for luggage.)

One more tip – you should look up the Vueling timetable before trying to book, as the antiquated Iberia Plus website will throw up an error message if you search for flights on days when flights do not operate.


How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (September 2023)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,500 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers Read our full review

You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

EDIT: Applications for this card are temporarily suspended due to IT issues with the British Airways On Business SME loyalty scheme.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

Comments (20)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Ann says:

    Raffles, We earned a whole 7 points for our Iberia Plus by getting sandwiches at a Repsol garage in Spain:) The account is over 90 days and I think this would entitle us to do any transfer, perhaps an opportunity if readers are ever over there.

    • John says:

      Ann, thanks for the tip. Naive question but do you just present your Iberia plus card at the repsol garage when you pay to earn the points?

      • Ann says:

        Sorry for the delay in replying.
        Yes you just hand it over. But check that it shows on your receipt as another purchase didn’t go through. Don’t think some of the assistants know what it is:(

  • Flyoff says:

    Raffles your comment about not getting an allowance for a free suitcase is true if you book on the Vueling website. If you book on the Iberia website as a code share flight you do get 1 piece of hold luggage. In my experience the price on the Iberia website is marginally more but a lot less than a fare inclusive of hold luggage.

  • sandgrounder says:

    Although not operated by BA, the franchise flights to BLL and GOT from MAN deserve a mention. When you look at the cash prices, these are two of the best value short-haul Avios redemptions available.

    • Rob says:

      Agreed. I did mention these in the Reward Flight Saver piece the other day.

      • Kipto says:

        Is it possible to fly to Barcelona on vuelling using Avios and then use Avios to fly using Iberia to one of the Canary Islands as Vuelling doesn’t fly direct to the Canary Islands from the Uk. Would that then generate higher APD as the journey originated in the uk ? If so, would a separate booking for each journey prevent this ?

        • Rob says:

          APD is distance based, but driven by the capital city of the country visited. Since the Canaries are Spanish, APD is theoretically the same whether you fly to Barcelona or the Canaries.

          • Lipton says:

            Thanks raffles, is there much difference in the APD from uk to Canary Islands than from mainland Spain to Canary Islands ?

          • Rob says:

            None, because the Canaries (I assume) counts as Spain and so both options get charged at the UK-Spain rate.

      • sandgrounder says:

        Long may they continue- Mrs S has family 20 mins from BLL 🙂

    • Andy says:

      Do they still do MAN-GOT (which I believe then flew onto Aarhus)? I did it in May last year and the flight was quiet on the way there (12 passengers) and practically empty on the way back (4 passengers). I don’t think it’s listed on the Avios travel map anymore so I presumed the route has been cut. Pity though, Gothenburg was lovely, and the flights would have been about £500 each otherwise.

      • sandgrounder says:

        Dummy cash booking for this month works OK.

        • sandgrounder says:

          …but not one for next year. MAN website says it runs until Oct 2014 though, so not sure. Hope GOT is still running, I do want to go there for a weekend.

  • onlysuites says:

    A pity non Londoners cab’t get IB to add in domestic flights in the UK for free.

  • MrMarf says:

    Hi Raffes, I have just spoke to an Avios agent and unfortunately the MAN GOT direct route is no longer available. Less options now for us northerners.

    • Rob says: or agent? You cannot book Sun Air via, I guess, because it is a partner only of BA.

      • MrMarf says:

        That was speaking to Avios agent, not BAEC. I checked for availability on BA but have found nothing so far.

  • sandgrounder says:

    Try 24th-27th of Feb on both and as an example, it prices up fine. According to the Sun Air site, the current timetable is only valid until 29th of March 2014. This matches the availability online, both cash and reward. This is true for all of their routes as far as I can see, so no immediate danger of discontinuation.

    On the flights have the white background rather than the blue for true BA.

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