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A clever Avios trick to unlock extra Iberia business class seats

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I wrote an article last year pointing out that Iberia has better business class reward availability via its own website than you can book via ba.com.

Coupled with the fact that you pay lower taxes on Iberia redemptions when booked via iberia.com vs ba.com, it is a no-brainer to book your Iberia redemptions on their own website.

Luckily it is fairly easy to do this:

You need to have an ACTIVE Iberia Plus account.  This means that it must be 90 days old and have ‘earned’ 1 Avios point.  Transferring 1,000 Amex points, or crediting a BA flight, hotel stay, car rental etc is the easiest way to do this.

You can then use ‘Combine My Avios’ on ba.com to move your Avios points over to Iberia to book.  The transfer is free and instant.

If you get an error message on ba.com, do the transfer from avios.com.  Log into your avios.com account, do ‘Combine My Avios’ from ba.com to avios.com and then do a second transaction from avios.com to iberia.com.  This will work 99% of the time.

As I said, Iberia has better business class availability on its own website than it makes available via ba.com.  However, there is a little trick you can use to make Iberia’s business class availability even better.

Unlike BA, Iberia applies ‘married segment’ logic to its reward availability.  This means that it holds back a proportion of its reward seats for people who are connecting via Madrid and not starting their trip there.

In simple English:

You will often see better Iberia reward availability if you search for a city beyond Madrid.

Here is an example:

New York to Madrid on 25th April – there is no reward availability in Business Class on the two daily Iberia flights (click to enlarge):

iberia-married-segments-1

However, let’s search for New York to Jerez, via Madrid, on 25th April.  Business Class reward seats are suddenly available!

iberia-married-segments-2

Taking advantage of this is not easy, of course:

It only makes sense when travelling TO Europe.  I doubt anyone would want to fly UK to Jerez to Madrid to New York.

It only works if you are travelling with hand baggage since you will probably be getting off the plane in Madrid and picking up a flight back to the UK.  If you had checked bags, they would be sent through to Jerez (or wherever) which is not what you want.

You will be paying a few extra Avios for the trip because you need to pay for the leg to Jerez or wherever you choose – although the Iberia website lets you book this into Economy which keeps the cost down.

That said, this is still a clever little trick to keep up your sleeve if award availability looks tight.


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 (35)

  • Matthew says:

    I had the same with UIO-MAD no business availability but as soon as I added London to connect it showed up two for UIO-MAD-LHR which was perfect!

  • Andy S says:

    won’t you get into trouble for not taking the final flight ?

    • Mikeact says:

      This is an old chestnut that has been discussed for years, the short answer is no.

      • Alan says:

        Generally I wouldn’t advise it on paid tickets but this is a redemption so lower risk.

  • xcalx says:

    “It only works if you are travelling with hand baggage since you will probably be getting off the plane in Madrid and picking up a flight back to the UK.”

    Or just book to the UK. I have done this a few times. added MAD-LHR-LBA to the MIA-MAD flight bags checked through to LBA

  • Gibbooo says:

    OT:

    Morning Rob, morning all, wife and I have tried to claim the 1000 avios compensation (BOB change) through the link you provided. Both have had a reply : sorry we are unable to help you. Please contact you executive club number.

    Any clues??

    Thanks 🙂

  • BrianDT says:

    Two more OT’s, same subject.

  • Robert says:

    “It only works if you are travelling with hand baggage since you will probably be getting off the plane in Madrid and picking up a flight back to the UK.”
    You could just ask for your luggage to be checked throughout to Madrid only.

    • Rob says:

      Too risky. I had a massive fight with Thai years ago about short checking bags and BA has told agents not to do it.

      • Steve says:

        Got caught on this last year, flying BOS-LHR-MAN (an AA award flight, thanks Rob 🙂
        I wanted to skip the last leg to try the new AA Arrivals lounge in T3 but staff in BOS absolutely refused to short check the bags. I was devastated!

        • PalCsaky says:

          What would happen if you just asked in the arrivals for your bag because you decided not to fly onwards to Manchester?

          • Rob says:

            It would already be on the other plane. Would take a long time to get it back.

  • @mkcol says:

    Or choose to start & finish somewhere not too far out the way which has good connectivity to many UK airports, such as BCN?

  • Lumma says:

    Interesting. I’m actually looking to book Boston to Malaga via Madrid in May, so this could make it easier to get the business redemption I want. There’s availability now on the flight I want but I need to wait for the next Tesco points to come through.

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