Seven Avios secrets you probably don’t know

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This isn’t our usual style of article, but I ran a version of it between Christmas and New Year last year and it went down well.  I thought I’d give it another outing. 

If you are at work today you probably have enough spare time on your hands to click through all the links, which is what you need to do if you want to know more about any particular statement.  The comments below are deliberately brief.

(Think of this as your end of year HFP quiz.  If you don’t answer ‘Yes’ to all seven statements then you haven’t been paying full attention!)

So …. did you know …..?

Avios banner

… that the tax on Iberia redemptions is 60% lower if you transfer your Avios to Iberia Plus and book via their website?

Iberia Plus does not charge the full range of airport taxes and fuel surcharges imposed by ba.com.

Let’s look at Madrid to New York in Business Class, return, on Avios. Iberia, when you book on iberia.com, will charge £159 in taxes and charges.

A BA redemption from London to New York (via ba.com on a BA plane) on the same route in Club World costs £537 in taxes and charges! That is, by any stretch, a big difference. It makes it well worth heading to Madrid to start your trip if you are price conscious.

More interestingly, if you try to book the Iberia Madrid to New York flight on ba.com using BA Avios, it will charge you £368 of taxes! This is for the SAME Iberia flight which costs only £159 of tax on iberia.com using Iberia Avios.

You can save a lot of money by moving your Avios to Iberia Plus and booking Avios redemptions on Iberia from there.

that the Iberia Plus redemption chart has certain quirks which make some redemptions exceptionally cheap?

The Iberia Plus chart is in this article.  It is ALMOST the same as the BA chart, but not quite.

The difference is most pronounced in Band 5.  Business Class flights on Iberia to Band 5 (which includes New York) are 68,000 Avios return off-peak and 100,000 Avios peak.  British Airways redemptions in Band 5 are 100,000 Avios return off-peak and 120,000 Avios peak.

Would you buy a separate ticket to Madrid if you could use 68,000 Avios and £159 of tax to fly to New York on Iberia compared with 100,000 Avios and £537 on tax with BA from London?

… that British Airways, Aer Lingus and Iberia have different off-peak dates which leads to arbitrage opportunities? 

British Airways Executive Club, Aer Lingus AerClub and Iberia Plus do NOT share the same table of peak and off-peak dates, especially around half-term school holidays in the UK.

Aer Lingus, for example, doesn’t have an October and February peak season during the UK half terms.  The April peak season is also one week shorter and there’s also no peak season towards the end of May / early June.

You can see the 2018 peak and off-peak dates for BA and Iberia in this articleAer Lingus is in this article.

This means that New York in Business Class can be as low as 68,000 Avios return from Madrid (on an off-peak date) on the same day that BA wants 120,000 Avios return from London (because BA treats it as a peak day).  And that is before you factor in the difference in taxes between Madrid-NYC (£159) and London-NYC (£537) …..

… that you can earn Avios when you fly on Emirates as long as you book a Qantas codeshare service?

I got my wife to test this out and it works fine as this article shows.

… that you can earn Avios when you fly United Airlines – even though it is a Star Alliance member – by crediting your flights to Aer Lingus AerClub?

I genuinely expected this feature to go away when Aer Lingus AerClub was launched but, for now, it is still there.  The points are not actually posting at the moment due to the ongoing Aer Lingus IT crisis, but you should expect them eventually.

… that there is more Avios availability on Iberia flights if you move your points to Iberia Plus and book from there?

There is always better Economy availability for Avios flights on Iberia if you book via iberia.com.  This is because Iberia Plus has two levels of Economy reward pricing and ba.com only shows the cheapest level.  There are also times when Iberia Plus shows better Business Class availability on Iberia than ba.com does – it isn’t clear why this is the case.  Don’t rely on what ba.com shows you if you want seats on Iberia.

… that Aer Lingus redemptions have lower taxes if booked via BA on the phone than via the avios.com site?

You can finally now book Aer Lingus redemptions online via avios.com.  There is some jiggery pokery going on with the taxes, however.  If you keep your Avios in British Airways Executive Club and ring them to book – it can’t be done online – you will pay a lot less.  Anecdotally, avios.com does seem to have better availability though.

Make sure you read Head for Points regularly if you want to keep up to speed with tips like these.

(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.)

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  1. I’m sure Rob will have covered this, but what is an accurate method of determining the distance of a route ?
    I guess you can use great circle mapper but does this produce results which match the airline’s own calculations / banding ?
    Has someone done the hardworking already and created a bunch of routings with distances we can all access ?
    Such as all band 5s from Madrid 🙂

  2. Aer Lingus And United – can you book reward flights on Aer Lingus using United miles?

  3. the headline is a bit daily mail-ish. The tips have been on this site before so regular readers probably know them, so for them the headline is a bit of an insult.
    Let’s hope we don’t get “the six airlines who’s names you pronounce wrong” and “can you spot the suitcase hiding in this photo”.

  4. I have been paying attention, 7/7 ????

  5. Jonathan says:

    Thanks Rob, you’re right, I didn’t know these or at least had forgotten!

  6. Hi – his is fortuitous as I have an Avios Q. I have a friend who is having Avios problems. His christened name is (for example) David John Smith and has always been known as John (it’s a Norn Irish thing apparently).

    He has a BAEC account in the name David Smith and an Avios.com/ Aerclub account in name John Smith. No idea why. All the other details match (address, passport/API, DoB, email). His main account is Aerclub but the BAEC one has a few tens of thousands of Avios in it, however he can’t transfer between them. Presumably this is the name issue?

    So, would it be possible to change the names on both to his full name then combine my Avios will work? If so, is it a simple phone call to both, or is it more complicated than that?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Your friend can do this easily online. He just needs to login to his ba executive account and then fill in the form on this link: https://www.britishairways.com/executive-club/contact-executive-club/supporting-documents

      • Thanks, will suggest that. Will see if there is something similar on Avios.com/ Aerclub, probably best he has his full name on both anyway.

    • It’s quite a common issue where someone goes by their middle name.

      Then you have the issue where that middle name John go as Jack, maybe Ian or Iain, then there are the Jocks…

      The police once came to my door asking for my help finding a former colleague by the name of “jack” – they’d run through the police database and could find no trace of him ever existing. They were completely dumbfounded that someone could go through their entire working life using “Jack” concurrently with signing their “real” name.

      • Which pretty much proves FB’s newer (it wasn’t originally so) requirement to use your “legal name” isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.

  7. the real harry1 says:

    8. The absolute easiest way to get Avios for 0.8p is when you are buying a redemption flight – check out the Avios + money options, stacks up for Economy & Premium Economy but not for Business.

    Not exactly a secret but it seems there are a lot of deniers out there 🙂

  8. Question: Would it be possible to move miles & more miles to United and then on to AerClub?

  9. Remember that United have minimal taxes, as far as I know. So if you’ve got United miles, you can just use them for low-cost mileage redemptions, unless you particularly want to fly Aer Lingus to Dublin.

  10. Thanks for this reminder. I read HfP every day, but had still forgotten about the Iberia route. I’m looking to fly from Vienna to NYC in April, so going via Madrid is no more inconvenient than via London.

  11. OT: I’m about to buy next year’s annual rail season ticket between Cambridge-London. If I use my Amex Gold, will I get double MR points? Thanks!

  12. Very OT – Has anyone booked a club carslon free friday night via the promotion and now seen a charge on the booking, my booking is now showing £189 a night! thanks J

  13. I used like Iberia for awards but the recent problems I’ve encountered trying to get avios refunded after a canx have put me off for good. It took eight weeks and numerous calls/emails to get someone to do it because you can’t cancel online.

  14. Rob. I thought QF and EK had severed their alliance……or am I misremembering a future event? Thanks!

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Still going strong and being extended I believe. Quantas will fly their own flights via Singapore rather than Dubai in future though.

  15. O/T Apologies if this has already been posted elsewhere but Emirates Skywards have just updated their sporting events with some European games. I have one happy son having just bagged a couple of Real Madrid v PSG tickets and there were other games to pick from. Even Arsenal if you must! Now to work out whether I use Avios for the flights or go for a cash fare.

  16. Brian Crawford says:

    People need to know about the changes to the Iberia Plus programme!

    In order to transfer avios to Iberia Plus you need to not only have an Iberia Plus account that’s older than 3 months, but you also need to have earned or spent avios through your Iberia Plus account. It used to be one or the other but now it’s both and that much isn’t found on their website.

    I only just found out about this after trying to move avios to Iberia Plus to purchase flights. I was able to transfer my AMEX gold points to Iberia Plus (another warning: that takes 4 business days to get credited to your account) but when I went to transfer avios I was unable to. I called them up and that’s what they said.

    Earning avios through Iberia Plus in the UK is very limited (pretty much your only option is to rent a car with Avis) so it’s either that or purchase a flight with Iberia and claim your points that way.

    • the real harry1 says:

      easy enough to buy on Ebay through IB Plustore to get a point

      there are plenty of Ebay UK sellers who sell internationally, ie also on Ebay (Spain)

      you can just buy a £2.80 book (delivered) to earn your minimum points

    • It has always been both as far as I was concerned. If you look back at any of the old articles on here you will see that. I admit that these rules have never been published anywhere and what I wrote was just based on heresay (plus what I found when my Mum earned some Iberia Avios).

  17. I “activated” my Iberia plus account by spending 14 euros in flight, easy option if you use Iberia.

    Though this is the first time I heard about having to spend Avios with IB+ To activate your account. I have a small amount of Avios in mine so I might try and send it back.

  18. Iberia kindly credited my account with 50 avios as a gift this week. Does anyone know if this will suffice to activate the account? I opened it in July but have, as yet, not managed to credit anything to the account myself.

    • the real harry1 says:

      should work

      or just buy that £2.80 book though Plustore/ Ebay (Spain) 🙂

      your Ebay (UK) sign on credentials work fine for the Spanish Ebay

  19. Isabel Friedlander says:

    I tried booking Emirates and asked the agent to use the Qantas codeshare. The response was that I’d have to pay the Qantas price for the flight which was obviously more !!

    • Yes, it is usually more expensive on leisure tickets unfortunately. No difference on fully flexible pricing though.

  20. Vasco Alves says:

    “… that you can earn Avios when you fly United Airlines – even though it is a Star Alliance member – by crediting your flights to Aer Lingus AerClub?

    I genuinely expected this feature to go away when Aer Lingus AerClub was launched but, for now, it is still there. The points are not actually posting at the moment due to the ongoing Aer Lingus IT crisis, but you should expect them eventually.”

    Urgh, if I’d known this, I wouldn’t have credited them to Lufthansa. 🙁

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