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How to open up extra Avios economy reward seats via Iberia Plus

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Most of us – including myself, as I will explain – forget that Iberia Plus members have access to substantially more Economy Avios seats on Iberia flights than ba.com shows.

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

Iberia A330 350

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.

What iberia.com shows as ‘Economy Class’ reward availability on Iberia flights is NOT available via ba.com.  You can only book them via iberia.com for a 50% premium to the usual Avios price.

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.


How to earn Avios points from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (August 2022)

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

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

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

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

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

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways BA Amex American Express card

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.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

American Express Amex Gold

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

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

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points, £200 travel credit and an unbeatable set of travel 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 10,000 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,500 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa for a limited company 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.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

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.

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits 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 (39)

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

  • george says:

    Thanks, Raffles. Where were you with this great piece last year when I ended up using double avios, flying norwegian to gatwick (yak!) and paying an arm and a leg for a BA HBO fare (only to pay more for a bag I needed to bring the last minute) when I was doing my weekly commute to Spain last summer…))

    • Genghis says:

      Is that “yak” for LGW or Norwegian? I’ve flown with Norwegian a few times and as a budget airline I think they’re rather good.

  • Simon Schus says:

    Hi all,

    I know that cancellation rules for IB reward tickets are mentioned above. I also thought I’d chime in that the 24 hour fee/penalty-free cooling off period on reward tickets is implemented differently with IB, at least according to the Serviberia agents I spoke to last year.

    They told me that you can’t use a penalty-free 24 hour cooling period to cancel a reward seat booking after having paid for the ticket. Instead, apparently, you can phone up Iberia to hold a reward ticket for 24 hours in advance. So, if that is correct, it is a 24 hour fee-free hold rather than a 24 hour fee-free cooling off period.

    Obviously, this might differ in reality but it certainly chimed true with how I had to deal with a ticket last August.
    Simon.

  • jane says:

    great timing as I was just looking for Avios availability for October to the Canaries and struggling. Now I just need their website to stop being down so I can actually search.

  • Andy says:

    Are these only available for Iberia flight numbers? I’m looking at a flight back from Athens – it’s showing cash fares on IB (for BA flight numbers), but no results for an Avios search.

  • Chocci says:

    Slightly off track, but are the redemption seats booked on BA and Iberia Plus the same redemption seats, e.g. if we were looking for 4 seats, and booked 2 via BA (which is showing only 2 seats remaining), would there will be seats available on Iberia Plus?

    • Rob says:

      It is the same availability for everything except Iberia Economy, where you will see a few more seats on iberia.com

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

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