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


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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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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 😉

  4. 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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