Why you should NEVER book Avios flights on Iberia via the ba.com site

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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 A330 350

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.)

Bits: Dublin Airport opens US preclearance lounge (with photos), South African Airways sale
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  1. Off topic: How strict are the Check in agents on not booking Luggage through on separate tickets. (ea: Heathrow – Madrid – Madrid – South America)

    I am off to San Diego from Manchester (via London), what are my chances on them not booking my luggage through?

    • harry says:

      I’m following comments on this on FT. For BA-BA or IB-IB seems to be quite good chances. For BA-IB I haven’t seen any comments but you’d assume similar discretion would be used – Raffles cautions against this in the article and that makes perfect sense IF your Madrid —> onwards flight is IB, and you can get an IB ticket on the positioning flight (instead of BA).

      For non-IAG + BA/ IB, pretty much abandon hope all ye who enter here if you’re travelling out from UK. BA agents have been instructed not to join them up/ interline. Travelling back, the agents abroad seem to use their common sense/ good service attitude more readily and often join up/ interline 2 different PNRs/ bookings.

      • Pug106 says:

        Need to activate our Iberia accounts after finally opening them last week. I don’t have any membership reward Amex at the moment as have closed them to start clock ticking before applying again. If I booked one day’s car hire on each account but didn’t use the car, would that work to activate account pls?

        • harry says:


          What about Vinoseleccion? The wines are not too expensive ie about £6-7/ bottle & good enough quality to be worth every penny. Google headforpoints vinoseleccion for the 400 bonus point offers

    • Peter Taysum says:

      I flew NCL LHR MAD VLC all reward flight saver with Avios, but NCL LHR on a different PNR; the system would do it for LHR/LGW but I wanted to sip my Napoleon Brandy (but my lips did get wet) and preferred an extra flight to a coach… BA checked me through, though I have status (gold) thanks to headforpoints. In future I would do it through the call centre, worth it even if they charge (I think free for Gold).

  2. Concerto says:

    What is the point of this non interline issue? I haven’t been affected by it and am unlikely to be, but it seems petty and pointless.
    In the article, can I assume that IB flights booked through IB Plus are actually refundable? Or are all IB issues award tix non refundable?

    • Concerto says:

      Also, not sure whether to credit an upcoming FRA-MAD-TFN trip to IB or BA. Tier Points are of no interest to me whatsoever, I stopped playing that game, just looking for the most lucrative accrual. The trip is in Business, BTW.

    • Raffles says:

      Yes, IB bookings can be cancelled ok.

  3. mark2 says:

    Ignoring the charges, 102,000 Avios seems remarkably few for a return flight from Madrid to Montevideo.
    On BA, CW London to Buenos Aires requires 87,500 each way.

    • Raffles says:

      Remember that Madrid to New York off peak is just 68,000 Avios return. Because BA and IB use different peak day calendars, there are days when LHR NYC is 120k peak and MAD NYC is 68k off peak – and £300 less in charges.

  4. Matthew says:

    Don’t forget there are some great deals to be had using Avios travelling Iberia off-peak in Band 6. It’s just 42,500 avios each way (MAD to LIM for example) in Business plus minimal tax.

  5. O/t again: I didn’t realise that ba avios flights are only flexible until 24 hours of departure of FIRST flight in the itinary, so you can change return if taken the outbound. Another reason (as well as Robs taxes trick), to book as o/w’s

    • Raffles says:

      Not true, unless I am getting things mixed up. As of a few years ago you can change other segments. I did it once on the return leg of a German flight.

      • I’m away at the moment, I tried to do it online and got a ring the call centre pop up. I checked the terms and conditions which state:

        All permitted changes are subject to capacity limitations and must be made a minimum of 24 hours prior to the scheduled departure of the first flight in the Reward travel itinerary.

        Admittedly I didn’t both trying to call tho, and now I leave tonight so within 24 hours…

        • Ah … are you talking about BA or IB redemptions? BA flights booked via ba.com can be changed after you’ve flown the first leg, can’t comment on partner bookings or iberia.com bookings.

          • Yes ba bookings. Will be booking as o/w from now unless have a voucher to use

  6. blackberryaddict says:

    One other trick on the Iberia bookings is that wile you might want to book the outbound on separate tickets, you can book the inbound all the way to London (or wherever you are going). There is no inbound APD, and this means that you are on one ticket, with the added protection if you miss your connection, and your bags will be checked through as well. You can also book mixed class itineraries on IB, so even if there is no business class on the MAD-LON sector, you can still book economy, or even the discount economy tickets.

  7. Isabel says:

    Does one get tier points of booking an Iberia flight ?

  8. rams1981 says:

    OT what’s the best use of a small balance of AMEX points? eg Virgin only allows points to be transferred in batches of 500 so if you are left with 465 points what is the best use of them?

    • Genghis says:

      Nectar points?

      • Yup. Carlson has no minimum and Hilton has a very low one but obviously only useful if you already have a balance.

      • Mark T says:

        I call them Nectar Nothing Points, I ceremonially cut up my card when I banned any loyalty cards with regularly less than 1% benefits from having a slot in my wallet.

        • rams1981 says:

          thanks all. Will use Hilton for most and the odd 15 points to Nectar

        • Brian says:

          Actually, Nectar will give you a return of more than 1%. Not only do they have occasional promotions (like the current one, whereby you get 2 pizzas or 2 cinema tickets for 1000 points, i.e. the equivalent of £5, which is great value by any standards), but they also hand out bonus points like confetti. I get a much better return for my weekly shopping via Nectar, thanks to these offers, than I would at Tesco, which I primarily use for gift cards.

        • Fenny says:

          I redeemed 1000 nectar points in Argos last week and got 600 back via a British Gas promotion. They don’t have as many uses for me as Tesco points, but odd things like this mean that I collect them. Redemptions like pizza and coffee are effectively free food/drink. If I didn’t have an unlimited card, I’d swap them for cinema tickets, as CC points are more valuable as airline miles.

    • Michael says:

      I had a small sum like that left over and when I rang to cancel the agent offered to transfer them through to Virgin, rounding them up to overcome the minimum transfer restriction. This was proactively offered by the agent on the phone.

  9. rams1981 says:

    OT balls! Virgin change their account numbers for you when your status changes it seems. So I’ve done an AMEX transfer to an old account number. Anyone done this before, will it matter?

    • Doesn’t matter.

      • rams1981 says:


        • David2910 says:

          OT. Virgin credit cards: took out both black and white versions for myself and partner in recent deal. Hit the min spends for the 35k bonus combined each. Will can the white cards now. Question: is it worth cancelling the black cards (even with the sign up fee sunk)? Ie is there the six month grace like amex issued cards after which sign up bonus is available again? Or is this a one sign up bonus per lifetime card? Related query: is there seasonality for sign up bonuses? (So I shouldn’t can it until six months prior to likely bonus time). From reading all Raffles’ recent posts it looks like MBNA may be completely off the sign up bonus bandwagon.

          OT2: anyone see on IB recently the 20k avios sign up for swiss credit card ‘cornercard’? Couldn’t see anything on the t&c about domicile requirements. Noting that at 220CHF fee it’s marginal today anyway at something like 84ppa (despite seemingly no spend minimum) but I haven’t seen anything on here or FT about it. Just putting it out there? An easier, meaningful batch of avios perhaps then some of the other options at that rate. (And not many CC options generally available these days)

          • David2910 says:

            OK i just noticed that the cornercard Iberia 20k (double) bonus ended Friday, so I’m slightly behind the times. But there were other options on their website if I recall correctly for I think a BA card. And in any case the double bonus might come up again down the line

          • Cornercard was for Swiss residents only

          • Genghis says:

            I’d keep the black cards open for remainder of year as sunk cost. You never know you might actually use them again. Unless it leaves too much unused credit or you’d like it elsewhere? There’s no real possibility of churning MBNA issued cards. There are reports of cancelling and getting a bonus a few years later on reapplication but these are few and far between.

          • Louise says:

            I cancelled a black and then reapplied two months later with a Gatwick clubhouse signup offer of 32,000 on first spend and got the points!

  10. OT – if you hold Amex Plat can you refer someone for Amex Gold?
    If so how? I thought I’d seen a link before, but can’t seem to find one. It’s driving me mad, I’m 95% sure I’d seen it – or am I imagining things?

    • Andrew* says:

      Pretty sure you can – but it comes through as plat recommendation and they can scroll down to select gold…

      • roberto says:

        This is correct.

        • Yes just done it for a friend – we are platinum and he got a platinum referral – told him to apply for gold and we got the 9k pts at the weekend.

    • mark2 says:

      I have just done this the other way round.
      You used to be able to choose the card on the referral, but it has been improved.
      The email or link will go to the application for the same card that you hold. In the top right hand corner it says ‘Apply for a different card’ and gives them the choice,

  11. Thanks – that’s helpful

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