Avios changes 7: big Avios savings (up to 43%!) on long-haul when you redeem on Iberia

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Executive summary: post April 28th, you can make SUBSTANTIAL business class savings to certain cities, especially on some BA peak dates, by redeeming your Avios on Iberia via Iberia Plus rather than on British Airways

Key link: ‘Club Changes’ page on ba.com, ‘Club Changes’ page on iberia.com

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Here are the other articles in this series you may have missed:

1. Understanding the new tier point rules

2. Understanding the new earning rates

3. Understanding the new spending rates

4. What is an Avios point worth after April 28th?

5. Exploiting the ‘no repricing on date changes’ rule

6. Why are off-peak upgrades now more expensive than peak?

8. Partner redemptions may be cheaper if booked on iberia.com

9. What will happen to airline partner earning rates?

10. Are you a winner or a loser overall?

British Airways Executive Club and avios.com are not the only programmes undergoing substantial change.  Iberia Plus, which also uses Avios as its currency, is changing too.

As usual with Iberia, it is doing things in a different way.  This opens up some interesting arbitrage opportunities for you.

Full details of the changes to the Iberia scheme can be found here.  In summary:

  • the changes start on March 1st, two months before the BAEC changes take place, for miles earning and from April 1st for miles redeeming
  • Iberia will move to a similar peak and off-peak redemption structure but with different peak dates
  • Iberia will adopt a different reward chart to BAEC and avios.com

For tickets bought after March 1st and credited to Iberia Plus, Avios earning will have the same structure as British Airways Executive Club, eg 250% of miles flown for flexible Business Class ticket and a 50% bonus for a mid-tier member.

What we do NOT know yet is how many ‘Elite Points’ you will get for each flight.  The table will not be published until March 1st.  It might turn out that you can earn status more quickly by crediting British Airways flights to Iberia Plus.  I will look into this further when we know more about their Elite Points structure.

Is it worth redeeming for British Airways flights via iberia.com?

No.  This PDF document shows the redemption rates for BA flights booked via Iberia.  The redemption rates and the table of peak dates are the same as those used by British Airways Executive Club.

Add in the fact that BA redemptions booked via Iberia are non-refundable and non-changeable and there is no reason at all to use Iberia Plus to redeem on British Airways.

PS.  Here is a handy tip – the PDF document above shows the BA peak dates for January to March 2016.  This information is not on ba.com.

If both BA and Iberia fly to the same long-haul city, is it worth redeeming on Iberia via iberia.com?

Oh yes.  Big time.

Here is the Avios redemption table for Iberia:

Iberia chart PNG 2

Let’s take a look at New York as a typical Iberia long-haul route which is also served by British Airways.  New York is Zone 5.

This is what a return business class redemption will cost:

British Airways flight:  120,000 Avios + £508 at peak, 100,000 Avios + £508 at off-peak

Iberia flight: 100,000 Avios + £137 (€183) at peak, 68,000 Avios + £137 (€183) at off-peak

Wow.  Big difference.  You can save 32,000 Avios and £371 in charges by getting yourself to Madrid (for cash or Avios) to connect.

It can be even crazier though.  BA and Iberia have different definitions of ‘peak’ and ‘off peak’.  Let’s say you want to fly to New York for October 15th – October 19th which is half-term for UK state schools.  These are peak days with BA, requiring 120,000 Avios + £508.  Iberia Plus treats those as off-peak days, however, so you only pay 68,000 Avios + £137.  That is a huge difference – you save 52,000 Avios (43%) and £371 per person with Iberia!

Taking Los Angeles as another example, a business class Iberia reward will be 85,000 or 125,000 Avios depending on season.  British Airways will charge 125,000 or 150,000 Avios – and the taxes will be £300 more expensive.  Would you buy a ticket to Madrid in order to save £370 and 25,000 – 65,000 Avios per person?

A key feature of Head for Points after April 28th will be a calendar comparing peak and off-peak dates with BA and Iberia!

Remember that Iberia is starting flights from Manchester and Edinburgh to Madrid this year which will give those in the regions an easy option for connecting.

Booking partner airlines via Iberia Plus may also be cheaper – but will be non-refundable

British Airways will be using the ‘peak’ part of the BA reward chart for redemptions on partner airlines such as airberlin.

Iberia, to confuse matters, will be using a totally different chart which is in the PDF document above.

Click for the next article – Partner redemptions may be cheaper if booked on iberia.com

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  1. Do Iberia have a pay cash and upgrade with avios option?
    I always find the WTP upgrade to Biz class with avios to be the best way to use them

    • Yes. Upgrades are shown in the table. In the case of Iberia it is upgrades from economy since they don’t have premium economy. I suspect (as is the case with BA WT to WT+ upgrades) that it is not available with the cheapest fare buckets though.

  2. There might be a small error on the Iberia redemption table for full economy fares (band 6) in peak season. 375,000 miles is quite a lot 🙂

  3. Very interesting indeed. Though I’d be interested in an article studying the before/after situation with Iberia itself.

  4. Pommyboi says:

    Can someone check my maths are correct???

    If 2 of us wanted to go to Sao Paulo in May 2016 in Business it looks like it would be better value to go with IB than use my 2-4-1 and go with BA. Obviously I need to factor in cost/hassle and potential risk of transferring via Madrid as well

    BA to Sao Paulo Off peak 192000 avios (up from 140k) plus 2-4-1 and £1050 taxes etc
    Iberia to Sao Paulo off peak 204000 avios and £270 taxes etc for 2 people

    Does that look right? If so I look forward to trying out Iberia service after years of only flying BA.

    • No, but in a good way.

      London to Sao Paulo seems to be 5,863 miles. That is a Zone 7 redemption. Offpeak is 150,000 per person and peak is 180,000 per person (where did you get 192k from?).

      However …

      Madrid to Sao Paulo seems to be 5,192 miles. That is a Zone 6 redemption which would make is 85,000 return at off-peak and 125,000 peak. The Iberia option is therefore (for 2) 170k – only 20k more than BA and you save a fortune in tax and you save your 2-4-1 for another day (perhaps Club Europe to Madrid!).

  5. Anyone know where I might find an Iberia route map? Can’t seem to find one and wondering what direct flights they have from Madrid to the USA?

  6. Has anyone got any experience booking Vueling flights with Iberia Plus Avios? I can book dublin to Barcelona on Iberia.com. Would much rather get BHD – BCN instead.(belfast flights start in May) but belfast doesn’t even appear in the list unless you choose One World and then you only have the BA option via Heathrow. Would this be a phone – only booking?

  7. Iberia puts a new perspective on travel now with these changes. We never considered it before and always liked the 241, however those taxes bite! Far better to have a nice overnight in Madrid both ways, little inconvenient but a beautiful city. Their club class seems to win votes too!

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