Something I never knew: VERY low-tax AA redemptions with Avios from Spain

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We have written many times about the financial benefits of booking long-haul Avios redemptions on Iberia, and via Iberia Plus and not British Airways Executive Club.

Taxes are a fraction of what you would pay to fly a similar route on BA direct from London, and comparing like with like the Iberia flights have lower taxes when booked on their own website.  This HFP article is a good introduction to redeeming Avios on Iberia.

There is an extra tweak to this topic that I never knew, however.

You can also get very low-tax American Airlines business class redemptions out of Spain.

How low?  How about £73 return in Business Class?

Avios to book American Airlines

Here are your options, based on booking the flight on the Iberia website for a return Business Class flight on American Airlines:

Madrid to Miami – 150,000 Avios + £77.20

Madrid to Dallas-Fort Worth – 150,000 Avios + £77.20

Madrid to Philadelphia – 100,000 Avios + £77.20

Madrid to New York – 100,000 Avios + £77.20

Barcelona to Charlotte (Summer only) – 150,000 Avios + £72.50

Barcelona to Chicago (Summer only) – 150,000 Avios + £73.60 

Barcelona to Philadelphia (Summer only) – 100,000 Avios + £73.60

Barcelona to Miami – 150,000 Avios + £73.60

Barcelona to New York – 100,000 Avios + £73.60

The best way to find days with availability is to use the American Airlines website.  You don’t need to log in or even have an account.

Go to the booking page, select ‘Redeem Miles’ and then click ‘Advanced Search’

Under ‘Options’ make sure you select ‘MilesAAver’ / ‘Business’ / ‘American Airlines’

On the results page, toggle ‘Number of Stops’ to ‘Non-Stop only’

Select ‘Show full calendar’

Look for days where the mileage is priced in blue.  If you don’t see any dates in Blue, there are no dates with Business Class MileSAAver seats.

When you find dates with availability, plug them into the Avios search engine and it will show the seats as bookable.

Here are a few things to remember before you book.  The first one is the most important:

American Airlines redemptions booked via Iberia Plus are non-refundable and non-changeable.  I cannot stress this enough.  You will lose all of your Avios.  The only Avios redemptions that can be changed if booked via are those on Iberia, British Airways, Air Nostrum and Iberia Express.  The only exception is if you are on a multi-leg flight and one leg is on Iberia with an IB flight code.  If there is any risk that you might need to cancel then book via instead and swallow the higher taxes.

There are no off-peak dates when you book with American Airlines.  Iberia has an off-peak / peak chart for its own aircraft (see here) so, on off-peak dates, you might get a better overall deal booking on Iberia if they fly the same route.  Madrid to New York on Iberia is only 68,000 Avios in Business Class off-peak, for example.

American Airlines uses a very broad fleet on aircraft, seats and configurations.  Be clear about what you are getting before you book.

In order to move your Avios from BA to Iberia Plus, your Iberia Plus account must be 90 days old and have earned 1 Avios (an Amex Membership Rewards transfer for 1000 points will do it).  If you have trouble getting ‘Combine My Avios’ to work, read this HFP article.

Don’t waste your time trying to book these flights on  British Airways will add substantial surcharges.  (Of course, AA flights are not bookable on anyway at the moment due to a ‘temporary’ IT issue!)

Overall, though, there are some great deals here if you are prepared to take the time to travel via Spain in order to save.

(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. filipino_chino says:

    Yes be-careful which aircraft you select, i flew AA from DFW to AMS and i was shocked how old it was! Drop down monitor between 20 people or so… so everyone had to watch the same thing, radio was rubbish… service was the same. The aircraft looked like it was one i used to fly in when i was about 15 flying charter from Manchester to Banjul, which had never stopped being flown!

    Flying out from LHR to LAX, it was a beautiful aircraft…

    • David says:

      I think the best thing to do is avoid any AA flight operated by a 757 or 767 ! They are shoddy 80’s throwback Cabins, awful !! The new 777-300 are lovely, and most 777-200’s are acceptable ! Basically… check the aircraft !! 😉

      • Nick_C says:

        The J cabin on AAs long haul 767s has been refurbished and is perfectly acceptable. 1-2-1 flat bed seating, and no scrambling over other people to get out of your seat. No IFE. They give you a tablet on long haul (Samsung, not Vallium!)

      • Andrew says:

        The old 757’s now only run the Hawaii route. The long haul are all now lie flat beds, still don’t like having a tablet as a watchable device though.

      • Curious says:

        Are the EDI-USA direct flights on shoddy aircraft then?

    • Never seen a drop down screen in business.

  2. Lumma says:

    Do these have to be return flights or can they be booked one way?

  3. AA are well known for altering their flights.

    I would say that there is a high probability of it changing, especially if you have a connecting flight, giving you the option of a refund.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Or a re route on a preferable flight / departure or destination..

  4. Nigel says:

    Dublin and Amsterdam are the classic cheap start points for international flights AND you can get to both places pretty cheaply from most regional airports. When you factor in the cost of flights to Spanish cities and back to the UK, there is precious little left worth bothering about in the difference of the costs of taxes.

    • Lumma says:

      Madrid and Barcelona are also very cheap places to get to though, despite being further to travel, so i certainly wouldn’t rule thus out.

      • Not cheap from Glasgow. I don’t think there’s a direct flight to Madrid

    • wobbly wings says:

      I’ve done this a few times. If you have the days you can easily do couple of days for free in BCN or Mad out of the surcharges saved.

      • Colin MacKinnon says:

        From Scotland, Madrid is a fabulous connection point. Easyjet and IB Express flights.

        On the way back from Argentina once, I thought we’d go BA via LHR to get home well before the 6pm Easyjet from MAD-EDI. Because of poor viz at LHR, we got home after the Easyjet flight!

        But choose IB when you can, one of the best biz services around.

        • Easy and IB Express from EDI to MAD ain’t cheap (in order to save overall)

          Theres no J on IB EDI-MAD either (instead there’s awful tight seating)

        • Brian W says:

          You mean from Edinburgh? Not Scotland.

  5. Frenske says:

    If you booked a non-refundable flight with Avios but you need to cancel it for a legitimate reason. Does the travel insurance cover the value of the Avios?

    • Jonathan says:

      No, never heard of a travel insurance policy that recognises the value of Avios. I’ve used Avios a few times to book last minute travel when I’ve missed a flight and cash fares were higher than policy limits and the only solution was to use minimum possible Avios with maximum cash element which was refundable.

      • Genghis says:

        Doesn’t Plat?

        • Genghis says:

          Section 1.2
          For the benefits under this section to apply transport and/or accommodation must have been Purchased in full using:
          I. the Card;
          II. American Express Membership Rewards® points; or
          III. Any travel rewards programmes provided the taxes
          and/or surcharges have been Purchased using the Card.

        • Genghis says:

          Remembering “card” effectively means any Amex issued Amex if you follow the definitions through.

      • Mark2 says:

        Travel insurance included with Lloyds Platinum account specifically covers Avios but not 241 voucher.
        Which Avios bookings are not cancellable? Do you mean very last minute?

        • Darren says:

          The bits in red in the article.

        • Jonathan says:

          My understanding was that this refers to cover for hotels/meals and replacement flights if you booked travel using Avios. Ie. They will get you home or buy a replacement outbound flight if your plans are disrupted but they won’t refund you the Avios (or a cash value in lieu) if you for example cancel & don’t travel.

      • Don’t know if it is still on the soon to be defunct Avios Travel website but the travel policies on there with Rock used to cover Avios on cancelled trips. If you met the criteria for a cancellation claim Rock would purchase back your Avios from the company. They obviously didn’t cover other frequent flyer schemes.

  6. wobbly wings says:

    Is the copay element actually lower than booking them directly on Or is this just for the agios rich and aamiles poor?

  7. James A says:

    Hmmm what about QR from Spain on

    • Michael C says:

      I looked into that last year, couldn’t see any goodies.
      I have, however, had some good prices from Singapore Airlines on BCN-SIN direct.

  8. xcalx says:

    Customer service is another thing to consider, I have only had good experiences with them until now. Had the MAD-MAN flight of a MIA-MAD-MAN cancelled and is now leaving a day later. Phoned the 02036843774 they cant alter IB avios booking (have in the past) gave me 0034913742442 rang it a few times a day now for a week and no answer.
    Anyone got a IB to deal with changes.

  9. Hello says:

    OT sorry: anyone know whether we are likely to see another bonus Heathrow Rewards promotion on Apple purchases at Dixons any time soon?

    • Tim Cook says:

      yes, before the new Apple gear arrives (which basically means its a bad time to buy)

  10. Related but slightly O/T. I am currently in posession of two Lloyds vouchers one of which I need to use by the end of June. I have enough avios points and about 80k amex points and am trying to find the most effective way of combining the two vouchers (for a return trip with the wife) with a trip to the Maldives and Sri Lanka. Getting between the two is easy but getting to/from the Maldives and Colombo in a cost effective manner without jumping multiple planes is somewhat more difficult.

    My options to get to Male are via either Dubai, Colombo, KL, Singapore, Hong Kong. Any suggestions?

    We could use the voucher to round trip to Dubai. Then use Emirates from Dubai – Male – Colombo – Dubai. However that’s a lot of additional flying and interchanging. Plus economy ticket is £600 pp.

    Alternatively, voucher to Mumbai and back, fly Mumbai-Colombo-Male-Colombo-Male – but feels a bit long winded.

    • Check holidaypirates for deals which you can factor in your planning

    • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

      I’d be tempted to just book a UL cash fare and avoid all the plane hopping. Even UL economy was pretty good when I did it.

    • Pawel Siewko says:

      2 years ago we book cheap tickets with Air Pegasus to Doha and use Avios to get to MLE
      Next year we will use AA points 20000one way economy from Europe to Male

  11. James says:

    Wish I could transfer QMiles to Iberia 🙁

  12. Guy Griffiths says:

    Sorry OT. Quick one for Rob or anyone else.

    Had a flight cancelled out of Heathrow on Sunday night under the pretense of “bad weather” despite all other flights that night departing without problem along with the actual weather being clear and sunny (staff were actually embarrassed when the reason was announced)

    BA are have tried the “we are not liable for bad weather” angle despite all other flights departing ok and arriving at the destination ok. I’m guessing there would be an obusdman or something, does anyone else have experience of this?

    Thanks in advance.

    • You make an EU261 claim and, if refused, you can escalate.

      We flew back 2 hours late from Zurich last night. Cabin crew made an announcement blaming it on bad weather. Captain then came on and said that the reason was that there were no tugs at Heathrow to push back the plane, the slot was missed and there was a 90 minute delay whilst they waited for a new take-off slot to come free ….. nothing to do with the weather at all.

      • Guy Griffiths says:

        Thanks Rob, coincidentally this was to Zurich too.

        Do you think this is a deliberate ploy to just weed out anyone who is not willing to put in the additional work to claim? I couldnt think of another reason. Either way another negative mark on BA

        • the real harry1 says:

          Of course. 90+% of people (with legit claims) will drop their claim when they are told (falsely) by BA that their claim is invalid because of XYZ BS

        • Did you check the weather at the Zurich end to make sure it wasn’t the reason?

        • I was in Zurich, weather was fine!

      • the real harry1 says:

        That wouldn’t be adequate justification for a cancelled flight leaving LHR to be denied EC261 compo – it’s called knock-on effects and BA is a big enough concern to make alternative provision for the outgoing flight from LHR if the incoming flight (into LHR) is already delayed.

        Ie they should switch in another plane, another crew if necessary.

        All part & parcel of running a big airline out of LHR – no extraordinary circs.

    • the real harry1 says:

      Sounds like knock-on effects from bad weather elsewhere – this is NOT an acceptable reason for an airline to get out of EC261 obligations, google ‘EC261 CAA’ for the full picture.

      There’s also an active forum EC261 on Flyertalk, describe your case with a bit more detail and you will get a good response.

      In short, sounds like you are entitled to compensation. Or you could have insisted on being re-routed FOC (also with competitor airline if more convenient for you) and received duty of care food/ drink/ hotel/ comms until your new flight.

      • Guy Griffiths says:

        Cheers Harry.

        There were no other flights as it was the last one and they did put me up in a hotel. However I still had to take a half day off work due to late arrival which obviously has opportunity as well as monetary costs attached.

        Just had a quick read and seems that there is a good chance appealing (c.50% with BA) so lets see how that plays out.

        • the real harry1 says:

          One thing they won’t ever pay out for is for consequential losses – no chance here, I’m afraid.

          But go for the rest.

        • James says:

          Ask for proof. You can gain the METAR reports for LHR and ZRH which will give you the weather for the two airports. There was forecasted high risk of CB activity in the LTMA for the afternoon. There was no demand vs capacity restrictions due to weather on Sunday which compulsory cancels flights. The BA720 was due to be operated by G-EUPE which arrived at 17:38, 53 minutes late from Figari. BA756 BSL, BA958 MUC and BA916 FRA were also cancelled and due to depart at similar times.

    • With the absolute greatest of respect – and I’m not one to shy away from a good BA-bashing – but the weather in the LTMA has been atrocious the last few days, with thunderstorms and other weather patterns causing havoc to flight routings, even though it might *look* clear at the airport terminal. So it is reasonable to expect weather-related delays and cancellations, and demanding compensation isn’t necessarily fair on BA. You might get lucky, but equally you might want to think twice about claiming through legal means unless you’re absolutely certain it wasn’t weather-related and you have proof (or think it might be reasonable to get it).

      • the_real_a says:

        If i was to get caught on the m25 due to bad weather – and this caused me to miss check in, do you think BA would be gracious enough to refund my ticket? After all it would be reasonable in such scenarios for BA to expect people to be delayed on motorways. The last few years has seen BA as a cost saving move, fob off even genuine complaints. So i’m in the camp ‘screw em they would to you…

        • Brian W says:

          + 1 x 1000

        • Lady London says:

          Plus other airlines’ flights were still taking off.
          I don’t think it’s just British Airways that seems to be not telling the truth about the reason they choose to cancel a flight. For a while I got the impression that Swiss liked to cancel the second-to-last flight out of Zurich, such was the regularity with which it was announced to be cancelled “due to bad weather” when other airlines flights to the same destination were still taking off and so did the last Swiss flight approximately 1 hour later… but with half a load of passengers presumably having combined the two flights due to the “bad weather”.

  13. OT, but can I self-refer from Amex Platinum to the SPG card? Does anyone know the referral bonus for this? Thanks!

    • Robman says:

      Yes, I have done exactly this about two months ago. I received 18,000 MR points for the referral, the same as for any referral from Platinum.

  14. @Rob – I just cancelled my BA AMEX card with a view to getting the BAPP card in 6 months. Do you think the BAPP will be around long enough for me to get it in 6 months and hit the minimum spend (will likely take me most of the year to do so) for 241?

  15. where2travel says:

    Slightly off-topic but I was amazed to book ex-MAD to Australia (in J) last week using AA miles to find the taxes/fees were just £54 per person.

  16. barry cutters says:

    OT – but maybe someone can help .

    AMEX gold .i spent £15k in 2 months , but th 10k points bonus hasnt been added to my account.
    Called today and was told i need to finish year and pay the £140 then it would be added.
    Anyway around this – otherwise im better cancelling and joining again in 6 months.
    No upgrade to plat offer at the min either apparently . 🙁

    • Genghis says:

      Not seen you around recently cutters. Hope all’s well.
      That’s correct. The bonus posts just after anniversary (and that’s why I don’t do it). Upgrade Gold charge->Plat still working as of a month ago for me.

      • barry cutters says:

        cheers – will follow link.
        Good thanks – i had a few long work trips in europe in the spring which took its toll so took a few months off to recover and renovated a couple houses ready for students in sept.
        Also had a month in vietnam . Back at work now and back on the weekly commute to Basel so should have plenty of time to keep up with current -miles- affairs .
        Thanks for the link – will apply immediately

        • Polly says:

          Bet Vietnam was good. Did you cover most of the country in your month? Fascinating country..we hope to go back as weather was awful when we went last year esp Halong bay. Rain and mist all the way up north.

      • What about plat companion card- is there a link?

    • Polly says:

      Worth upgrading anyway to Plat. The 20k bonus should appear once you do the spend. Then refer yourself for another card type and get a further 18k MRs.

      • the real harry1 says:

        Yep Plat upgrade link working fine 2 weeks ago. From Plat you could refer self + 1, both to SPG cards, which gets 36K on the referral. The SPG cards get 11K each, one cardholder can send the Starpoints to the other = 22K + 5K bonus if you send them to Amex (permanent 25% bonus on 20K sent to Amex). Or keep the Starpoints for hotels I guess, good with the Marriott link these days.

        • Benylin says:

          By +1 do you mean supplement card? I never see the 5k earnt for supplement, do I just try it anyway?

        • Genghis says:

          Give it a go

        • the real harry1 says:

          2 different cards with different main cardholders, eg self + significant other, stretching it I suppose also self plus mum/ dad/ bro/ sis etc (with their consent) – some families are close-knit enough to say OK to this provided you the points guy take all the card responsibility

        • the real harry1 says:

          You might have a mate who would give this the OK for a few pints, if you don’t have a significant other. Provided there’s no chance of you not paying off the card (because you’re mates, after all), the only downside for them is a temporary dent on the credit report. Must be same address, though (SPG points transfer between SPG a/cs).

  17. ChrisC says:

    When you wrote ‘taxes’ you really meant ‘fees’ like carrier surcharge and international surcharge which aren’t taxes at all.

    Because accuracy matters.

  18. Hilary Robinson says:

    I would appreciate advice on two business class rewards flights one way
    New York to either Birmingham uk or Heathrow UK in September
    Have a considerable amounts of points for platinum Amex
    Moderate amount on Iberia plus ,British airways .various avios pockets etc.
    Mid comfort upwards
    Thank you
    Will appreciate your advice

    • Mark2 says:

      suggest that you consider Aer Lingus BHX via Dublin for low tax and pre customs and immigration approval

  19. Iberia has the most restrictive partner award booking policies I’ve ever heard of. Not only do they only allow return trips, the return trips are non-changeable and non-refundable, not even within 24 hours of booking, which is a violation of U.S. law.

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