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

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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 A330 350

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

or

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!

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.

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.)

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Comments

  1. Marcw says:

    Mind you – the opposite is true for short and medium haul flights. On all short and medium haul flights IbPlus charges a fuel surcharge (about 15-20€) while these are not charged when booked through Avios or BAEC, for the same flight, for the same amount of Avios.
    (The only exception Ithink are London flights, where IbPlus does not charge fuel surcharges – I reckon these are BA “encoded”?)

  2. Steve says:

    I found the opposite to be true (with regards to availability) when looking for a Madrid to Sao Paulo flight I could see a flight Heathrow – Madrid – Sao Paulo with the second leg on Iberia but when I went to IB.com it didn’t show it (nor when I tried to book just Madrid – Sao Paulo) no idea what was going on, I assume I could have called to book but found that flying Latam from Paris was cheaper anyway so did that instead.

    • That’s not a bug, that’s ‘married segments’ in action. Essentially you’re not buying MAD-GRU at all, you’re buying LHR-GRU. The fact that you need to change is irrelevant to the airline, your ‘fare’ (or in this case availability) is only valid between London and Brazil. That’s why you can’t see it – either on BA or IB – when you search for MAD. AA does this all the time too.

  3. Roger1* says:

    Yes, good reasons to book IB BUT there are downsides.

    1 IME IB’s clunky IT is even worse than BA’s. I’m currently locked out of my IB account. They wanted me to choose a new password. Part of this involved telling them my first surname – or was it the second? Can’t remember now. Anyway, I have just the one and failed.

    2 IME IB’s CS is far worse than BA’s. I was happy to find biz redemption tickets JNB-MAD-JNB. Unfortunately I needed to cancel. The Avios were returned quickly but only 2 of the 4 sectors’ cash refunds were made – the missing amounts are greater than the cancellation fees.

    For some reason, IB Spain referred me to IB Miami who know nothing about it. IB’s UK 020-contact number won’t help and my Spanish isn’t great, so I was using Google Translate.

    Everything went smoothly until human intervention was necessary.

    • Stewie says:

      IB doesn’t work well on chrome – use ie instead

      • Lumma says:

        Yeah, can’t log in on Chrome. I use safari on my MacBook for Iberia, the only thing is ever use it for

    • sunguy says:

      I spent near enough 4 days trying to book an all cash flight with IB .. it was nigh on impossible – I couldnt book via the website as the connecting flight in MAD was on the following day, I couldnt book via ba.com because it didnt recognise the destination as a BA destination, the BA call centre could only get BA seats and told me that there was no availability on 1 of my 4 flights….then came the IB call centre – they were a complete joke, the first guy cut me off, the 2nd agent transferred me to someone else who wouldnt help me because although I was silver with BA, I wasnt the requisite level with IB and refused to help/cut me off, then there were the 2 agents who claimed not to understand English (despite working on the English speaking line), I could go on, but Im sure we all have better things to do….

      Upshot was I booked the flights online with STA Travel….

      *IF* Iberia could have a website that was not woeful OR a call centre that werent completely useless, they could be quite a good airline! Just hope and pray you dont need any help from them!

      • Totally agree with you, the website and the call center are a complete and utter shambles!
        I’ve been trying to sort out reward seat availability from LHR to MAD with them recently (as there is an ‘offer’ on the website, but then when you try to book it does not exist) and have spoken to various different employees who don’t have a clue! Such a shame as the Business class on the A340 LHR-MAD is very good.

  4. Simon Barlow says:

    FWIW have booked two avios redemptions from Madrid to Havana for next March and had no issues. Previously did the same and had to cancel and no issues. there isn’t like for like as BA don’t fly to Havana, but more than happy to get to Madrid under my own steam and save hundreds of pounds in taxes rather than book London Madrid Havana on the one ticket

    • Roger1* says:

      I suspect a MAD-HAV-MAD booking is altogether simpler than a JNB-MAD-LHR-MAD-JNB (finding availability was difficult for us) and doesn’t have the potential of involving Miami. 🙂

      Good to hear you had no issues with your cancellation. Did you do it online or did you have to call? (Rob’s article reminded me that IB still owe me ££.)

      • Simon Barlow says:

        Called them and they were great. Agree my trip is straightforward which helps both with IT and personal contact.

  5. Rob, article a bit buggy. SUggest a rescan… 😉

    • If it looks buggy you are running Adblock and it is deleting phrases. You need to whitelist HFP.

  6. Cristian rivera says:

    Hi can any one help me I’m not sure.. I wat to book a reward flight on iberia but when I check availability on iberia Page is not showing availability seat but check on BA Page and show availability on a flight run by iberia but with flight number as BA.

    Can I call iberia to book this flight given them the BA flight number ? Even do is no showin on iberia web page ?

    Thank you .

    • In this case, no I doubt it.

      • Rob, just to let you know that there is zero availability for reward flights in Business or Blue class on Iberia metal ex LHR for any dates in 2018, very strange because from MAD-LHR most flights have reward seats available. There is a very generous offer being advertised on Iberia.com/gb at the moment to ‘get back 50% of the avios you use by booking your flight to Madrid from LHR with Iberia before the 3rd June’ so it’s frustrating no Business class ex LHR, only LGW on I2.

    • Hi Christian…
      I have the same problem trying to book a Business class reward flight from LHR to MAD via my Iberia plus account! All the flights for all months/dates in 2018 are showing ‘unavailable’ and only Y class can be booked from LHR which is very strange, I have even checked dates in November but nothing available. Only the LGW Iberia express flights show seats available in Business.
      There is definitely some problem on the website, but when you call IB they are just not interested… I have made phone calls to various departments but have just given up!
      Very frustrating because I am trying to take advantage of the offer on Iberia.com at the moment ie ‘Get back 50% of the Avios you use by booking your flight to Madrid with Iberia before 3rd June’.

  7. Corin says:

    OT – Does anyone know why Corfu isn’t available as RFS ? ty

    • the real harry1 says:

      Sometimes you need to use the right hand box when you are searching for Reward flights (the are 2 search boxes left & right). Or if there’s no pop up when you put in CFU, don’t worry, just leave it there & search

  8. OT – Advice needed…does anybody know why all the Business Class reward seats on IB from LHR to MAD are not available/blocked out for the rest of this year, on every date/every flight when trying to book with an Iberia plus account? It seems very strange…Y class is available and Business is available on Iberia Express from LGW, but the ex LHR flights all show ‘Unavailable’ when you try to book via Iberia.com. On ba.com the IB flights ARE available to book in Business class!
    I am trying to take advantage of the offer which is on the log in page of the iberia UK site…ie: ‘Get back 50% of the Avios you use, by booking your flight to Madrid with Iberia before the 3rd June’.
    Very frustrating that there are no reward seats ex LHR in Business to MAD, but fine to book Business on the way back MAD-LHR. Have contacted IB by phone, no joy and nobody can resolve the issue!

    • Is this a separate offer to the Iberia Regional/Express 50% off Avios redemptions from Birmingham and Manchester?

      • Hi…yes it’s a separate offer to MAD only from LHR but it does not work with Business class Avios redeptions from LHR to MAD despite being advertised in the offer. Go onto the main page of the Iberia.com/gb site and click on the details to get the full info. I was also sent a direct e mail with this offer from Iberia and they even give an example: London Heathrow to Madrid return in Business for 25.000 avios, get back 12,750.
        Sounds great…but all the Business class seats are not available for some unknown reason!
        I had checked every month up until December and you can’t book a Business class Avios redemption ex LHR to MAD on IB metal which is very strange.

        • Weird. I’ve got one booked for July, booked in April.

        • I just had a look. It seems there is zero availability from LHR to MAD, but there is availability from MAD to LHR on IB…weird.

  9. Roberto says:

    Flew IB business back from Miami this week and I have a couple of observations.
    (1) the staff are a little surly in a Spanish way – not as approachable and friendly as BA
    (2) the entertainment system is not a varied as the BA equivalent
    (3) the food and wines were very nice (or as nice as airline food can be)
    (4) the seat on the 330 was one of those “feet in a box” type seats and not as comfortable/wide as a 777 or 787 IMHO. My OH felt space was fine but she 5 foot 2 with tiny feet. We did choose the “lovers” seats which felt very private. They are rows 1,3 & 5 in the center of the plane. Row one was a little too close to the galley for a night flight as I felt that the light intrusion was too much and I have switch our next IB 330 flight from Boston to row 5.

    All in all it was an ok flight. I flew out LHR to New Orleans on BA (787) and I felt that it was a better experience all considered however the day flights often are.

    As a side note there is still no one world lounge in New Orleans ( & was offered no voucher flying AA business ) and the Flagship Lounge in Miami at gate D30 knocks spots off the BA/IB lounge and is well worth the 10 min walk.

    • Simon Barlow says:

      Thanks for this. Flying Iberia mad to Cuba next year in business and have selected row 3 – sounds like a good choice

    • xcalx says:

      Row 1 E & G for some reason has a smaller foot space than E & G further back. We now avoid row 1 in favour of row 3.

  10. dicksbits says:

    I’ve got an IB Plus account which has lay dormant for at least 6 years, Should I shut it down and reopen a new one as I have since moved address 18 months ago? It’s actually in a negative balance of -781 due to an error on their part.

  11. Sapiens says:

    I have flown MAD to a few Latin American destinations at peak time and saved many hundreds each time (saved £500 on just one round trip), relative to the EX-UK economy price and BA avios price.

    Have always flown to MAD the previous night, as one you consider time difference, same day UK-MAD-LatAm connections on separate tickets can be very tight.

  12. For anyone thinking that if u book Iberia flights from London to Madrid they might let u check through your bags to next Iberia flight is mistaken. They refused on our flights to Havana even though we were travelling business. Luckily had all hand carry. Another thing to consider is that for infants, they charge 10% of random prevailing cash price and cannot use points at all. Bizarre IT system.

  13. Robert says:

    Rob, thanks for this. You mentioning the IB account having to be active made me realise why it would let me transfer Avios over the other day. I’ll transfer some Amex points to resolve that…

    In respect to never booking IB flights on ba.com although very often is, it’s not always the case, and depends on the destination, country of departure, as well as peak/none peak times.

    Take for example a one way MAD-TLV in Biz on Feb 2nd. It will cost you 21,000 Avios regardless of where you book it, but will be €62 in taxes on ib.com but just £22 in taxes if booked on ba.com.
    On the other hand, try MAD-JFK on the same day, and while ba.com is quoting £195 in fees and charges, ib.com wants just €105. Avios amount is the same.

    One thing i will say is, ba.com is by far the better the more user friendly platform to book on. ib.com is truly horrible, if you can actually log into your account.

  14. Hmm, didn’t work out for upcoming trip to Lisbon. Availability in economy better with IB but in business better with BA. Also found surcharges were £32.50 for economy on IB vs £23.70 for biz with BA!

    Agree worth having an account open though.

    Enjoy your Bank Holiday, normal working day up here but amazing sunshine all weekend and am off to Berlin in July for the BH we get then instead 😉

  15. IndiaCharlie says:

    O/t I’m supposed to be flying PRG-LCY tomorrow. Booked CE avios one way (I know a waste on that route but no economy avail and silly prices bank hol w/end). I checked in today and have a boarding pass but the manage my booking section suggests the flight is cancelled 7338. Too late to call customer services now but tickets (well 1) are still avail in CE for £550. It wouldn’t put me out much to fly on weds, I’d prefer that with a free night in the radisson here than a 2 hr schlep back from lhr in rush hour. What are my options? If flight runs then I’ve been bumped – am I due EU compensation? Thoughts appreciated.

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