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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 from credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (August 2021)

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

There are two official British Airways American Express cards:

British Airways American Express card

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and a companion voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

BA Premium Plus American Express card BAPP

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

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

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

Nectar American Express

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

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

We also recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card:

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company 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.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for our latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios this month from offers and promotions.)

Comments (39)

  • anon says:

    Are you no longer gold? A Gold Priority Reward may have been a better option.

    • John says:

      I seem to remember that Raffles dropped to Silver??

      • Rob says:

        Yes, Silver – I simply have no need to book cash tickets these days. I don’t think I earned a single tier point last year!

        • signol says:

          Apart from the LAN flight – unless that was the year before!

        • Alex W says:

          I’ll get my tiny violin out!!

        • Alan says:

          I’ve found the HNL sale too appealing! On Maui just now, 600TP balance just a few days into new BAEC year. Will end up with 1200TP and about 45k Avios for £1,234 plus travel in biz to JFK then F thereafter 🙂

  • Adam says:

    Would a Gold Priority Reward not have worked?

    15,000 Avios + £17.50, which would have used an extra 1,750 Avios but saved £11 and the connection.

    Was it within 30 days?

  • Nick says:

    Neat trick thanks for posting, but depending on when you needed the seats a cash ticket would have been reasonably cheap and direct?

    I’m surprised no ba.com availability used it several times no issue from Lisbon always get the dates and times I want. What about Porto isn’t there a new service from there (granted means travelling from Lisbon)

    • Rob says:

      It would have been around £280 for 2 x one-way on easyJet including a case. This was one of those instances where there was no flexibility on dates or times unfortunately.

  • Corrine says:

    sorry OT, I’ve lost my Iberia Membership No 🙁 I have sent them 2 emails asking for them to help by sending or emailing me my number and they haven’t replied to either email. Any have any ideas what else I can do ? thank you !

    • harry says:

      [email protected] ?

      always gets a quick response for me

    • avidsaver says:

      Have you not received any promotional emails from Iberia recently? I’ve had several and they all carry my membership no on them. Worth a look.

    • harry says:

      Can’t you just use the search facility on your email provider?

    • idrive says:

      Corrine, it usually takes them a few days to reply: [email protected] if you are basic.
      I would say 7-10 days it what you have to wait.
      They will probably ask you to send a copy of your passport via fax or email together with a form with all your details!
      Otherwise try calling the UK phone line 02036843774

      • Corrine says:

        Thanks for your help! I have re-emailed both emails addresses. I’ll wait 10 days then try calling. Sadly I lost all my emails and word/excel documents, lesson learnt to back up regularly !! Slowly recovering missing bits n pieces – good way for a clearout tho lol !

        • Genghis says:

          That’s certainly an extreme way of clearing things out! Depending on what operating system you’re using, have a look at Time Machine for Mac or Windows Back up for Windows (along with use of something like DropBox).

    • xcalx says:

      If you have an awardwallet account you can find the info needed there.

  • Mikeact says:

    Is the ‘Combine Avios’ counted as activity with Iberia Plus ?

  • VP says:

    Worth pointing out that while Blue Class tickets incur a Euro 25 fee for any refunds or changes, there are no such charges for Economy Class tickets so you do get more flexibility.
    Also, if someone uses Cash+Avios regularly while booking reward ickets, Iberia offers much better value in Economy than BA site. However, because of no RFS, this does not work from London or airports with high taxes.
    For ex: for Off peak
    OSL – LHR: BA site: 2150+£44 (cost of avios – 0.80p)
    Iberia: 1950+£39.5 (cost of Avios – 0.66p)

    • harry says:

      how are you calculating ‘cost’ of avios?

      do you mean ‘value/ point’ vs cash airfare? – in which case, airfares are not fixed, so you might get far better value than 0.8p

      • VP says:

        well in this case the Off peak OSL-LHR price is 6500 Avios + £9.5 so the avios cost on this route is fixed. Ofcourse, if you take some other route then the values may change again but the point is if the taxes are less than RFS limit of £17.5, then Avios+Cash gives better deal via Iberia than BA

  • harry says:

    in my case it was because I was trying to send from IB to a household a/c @ both avios.com & BAEC – you can’t do that.

    Once I split the avios.com HH a/c into singles – which only takes a couple of days – I could transfer to avios.com.

    If you can’t transfer TO IB, and IB is a single a/c, this probably means your details don’t match.

    Or you’re maybe getting the IB a/c number wrong – you don’t need the ‘IB’ bit.

    • Lawro says:

      Harry-do you know if the avios.com HH had the same 6 months between changes rule as with BAEC HH accs?

      • harry says:

        No, sorry – only changed the avios.com HH a/c once.

        However – I do know the BAEC doesn’t really enforce the 6 month rule. I dissolved ours then set up another one a few days later.

      • TimS says:

        Avios HH account is different to BAEC one. you can make changes (eg add or remove individuals) to BAEC HH accounts but Avios HH account is a simple in/out.

        ie individuals don’t join/leave an Avios HH account. The Household (as a whole) IS the account.

        • Lawro says:

          Thanks. Specifically my query was whether I would need to wait 6 months after opening the avios.com HH acc to dissolve it?
          I guess will give it a go and find out.

          • Lawro says:

            That is my plan to be honest. Good way of transferring between accs but don’t want to have them tied up for 6 months…do you remember how long it took from sending in the form to the avios being reallocated?

  • xcalx says:

    Another quirk when booking with IB is the varying award availability.

    EG last night I was looking to book some flights from MIA-MAD-LHR-LBA doing the usual check longest route first. MIA-MAD showed no IB availability in business on the date I required, however when I checked MIA-LBA business seats opened up for the MIA-MAD IB flight.

    Booked 2 x MIA-MAD business MAD-LHR-LBA econ for 53000 avios and £102 each. off peak

    • VP says:

      Good to know. Thanks.

    • zsalya says:

      I have had the same the other way round.
      MEX-MAD showed availability in Business (on iberia.com but not ba.com)
      MAD-TXL showed availability.
      But MEX-MAD-TXL showed no availability.
      I used Avios for the longhaul and paid cash for the shorthaul.

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