As the news is always fairly quiet over a Bank Holiday, we are taking the opportunity to run a few ‘how to’ articles, starting with this Iberia tip.
If you are looking to redeem Avios for flights to Central or South America, you may end up booking BA’s sister airline Iberia.
Iberia has an intriguing list of long-haul routes which cover places ignored by British Airways. This includes Guatemala, Cuba, Panama, San Salvador, Montevideo, Bogota, Cali, Lima (Summer only for BA), Medellin and Quito amongst others.
Iberia is also worth considering if you are willing to route via Madrid to lower your taxes on redemptions to North America and Asia – places such as Tokyo, Los Angeles, Boston, Mexico City, New York, San Francisco etc. The massive tax savings available are covered in our ‘Avios Redemption University’ article on Iberia here.
With its flat bed seating in place and new aircraft coming on stream – the first A350, with a ‘2nd generation’ flat bed seat is due in a few weeks and I will be trying it out in July – 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 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’.
(OK, that is easier said than done. Transfers between BA and Iberia are famously ‘buggy’. Most people find it easier to use avios.com to pull in points from BA and then push them off to Iberia. On Wednesday I showed you how to retain access to avios.com even when your Avios account has been closed.)
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 £485 of taxes on off-peak dates for September
Book Madrid – Montevideo – Madrid in Business on iberia.com and pay 102,000 Avios plus £183 of taxes for the same dates
That is a ludicrous £302 saving per person – over £600 for a couple!
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.
The £150 APD saving comes at a price though. Iberia will not through-check your bags from the UK if your trip is on two separate tickets. You would need to collect it in Madrid and re-check it, giving yourself enough time to do so. Is this worth a chunky APD saving? Up to you.
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 often 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.)