How to spend your 90,000 Iberia Plus Avios – as you can’t move them to BA (Part 1)

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If you took part in what was (effectively) Iberia’s “buy 90,000 Avios for £200” promotion two weeks ago, you should now have 90,000 Avios sitting in your Iberia Plus account.

Now comes the snag.  Despite what Iberia told me and other frequent flyer writers, you cannot transfer these Avios to British Airways Executive Club.  After the promotion is over, they have mailed the rules to everyone who took part – which happen to be different to what was told to us.  A lot of people won’t be entirely surprised by this.

I expect this situation to develop and I will return to it when the dust has settled a little.  Is it worth a long fight with Iberia over this?  Probably not.  You can EASILY use these Avios via Iberia Plus for more than twice what you paid for them.  If you can get 1p or more per point via flight redemptions, which is my usual target, you should be getting 4-5x what you paid.  The only things you can’t do, as you can’t move them to BAEC, is combine them with an existing balance at BA (but you can move BA Avios into Iberia to top-up) or use them with a BA American Express 241 or Lloyds Avios Rewards upgrade voucher.

The very worst case – which is actually a pretty good case – is that you redeem for hotel rooms at well over 2x your money.  Here are your options.

How to redeem Avios via Iberia Plus

This article is a long one, so let’s quickly summarise what you need to know:

When booking Iberia flights via Iberia Plus, taxes are lower and availability is better than if you book the same flights via BAEC

BA short-haul flights booked via Iberia Plus do not qualify for Reward Flight Saver, so taxes are likely to be higher

You cannot use a British Airways American Express 241 voucher or Lloyds Avios Rewards upgrade voucher when you book a BA redemption via Iberia Plus

Whilst Iberia has its own peak and off-peak calendar (see below), BA redemptions booked via Iberia Plus use the BA peak and off-peak calendar

Partner flights – except on BA – MUST be booked as a return flight when booked via Iberia Plus

VERY IMPORTANT:  partner flights – except on BA – CANNOT BE CANCELLED OR CHANGED WHEN BOOKED VIA IBERIA PLUS

OPTION ONE:

Redeeming Avios on British Airways via Iberia Plus

To be honest, there is very little to add beyond what I summarised above.  You will see the same British Airways availability as you would on ba.com and the same peak and off-peak dates apply.  You cannot use a BA Amex 241 voucher or a Lloyds Avios Rewards upgrade voucher.

You can book one-way rewards and you can cancel them for a refund if needed.

Your Iberia Plus number will automatically drop into the booking so you will not be able to select a seat for free if you have British Airways Executive Club status.  You will need to call BA or Iberia to change this over.  At one point you could, oddly, use ‘Manage My Booking’ on the Finnair or Qatar Airways sites to switch over frequent flyer numbers on oneworld bookings – I’m not sure if this still works.

If you want to use ‘Avios & Money’ to pay for your BA Avios flights with a combination of Avios and cash, you need to call the Iberia call centre.  You can only use ‘Avios & Money’ online on flights operated by Iberia, Iberia Express, Air Nostrum and Vueling.

Avios on Vueling

OPTION TWO:

Redeeming Avios on Vueling (and other non alliance partners) via Iberia Plus

Whilst I don’t want to focus on this, you can redeem Avios for Vueling low-cost flights around Europe via Iberia Plus.  This may not be a good deal due to the taxes and charges.

Iberia also has other airline partners that are not part of oneworld, such as Royal Air Maroc for flights to and around Morocco.   Avianca, Binter (Canaries), InterJet and Air Italy are also partners.  I don’t have any experience on redeeming for these airlines, and remember that your booking will be non-refundable and non-changeable.

OPTION THREE:

Redeeming Avios on Iberia via Iberia Plus

When an Avios collector in the UK looks for a long-haul redemption, British Airways is the obvious choice of airline. However, the taxes and charges can often be very high – up to £500 per Club World seat.  Taxes on Iberia flights are often a fraction of those charged by British Airways – although Air Passenger Duty will be added if your connecting flight from the UK is on the same ticket.

Iberia has been through a substantial restructuring since being bought by IAG, the parent company of British Airways.  16 new long-haul aircraft – 8 x A330’s and 8 x A350’s – have been delivered or are on order for delivery by 2021.  The first A350 was delivered just last week.

The Iberia route network used to be, erm, ‘eclectic’.  The good news is that the new destinations being added are places you would actually wants to visit such as Tokyo, Havana and San Francisco.  Avios demand for Iberia’s historical routes to places like Medellin, San Salvador and Managua was probably lower.

These are the non-European Iberia destinations (correct as of January 2018):

  • Africa – Algiers, Casablanca, Dakar, Malabo (Equatorial Guinea), Marrakech, Oran, Tangier, Johannesburg
  • USA – Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco
  • Americas exc USA – Bogota, Buenos Aires, Cali, Caracas, Guayaquil (Ecuador), Lima, Mexico City, Montevideo, Quito, Rio do Janeiro, San Jose (Costa Rica), Santiago, Sao Paulo, Asucion, Medellin, Guatemala, Panama, San Salvador, Managua (outbound via Guatemala, inbound direct)
  • Asia – Tokyo, Shanghai
  • Caribbean – Havana, Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic)
  • Middle East – Tel Aviv

All of these are flown from Madrid.  Note that some of the African routes are served with short-haul aircraft.

Iberia has no First Class.  The great news is that, over the last five years, Iberia has installed new fully flat seating across its long-haul fleet:

Iberia business class seat

I was lucky enough to fly it on a Madrid to London flight as you can read (and see) here.  Iberia runs a few London to Madrid services a week with long-haul aircraft and flat beds in business class because it needs the cargo capacity offered by the bigger aircraft.

How to price Iberia rewards on Iberia aircraft

Iberia has its own reward pricing chart with its own peak and off-peak dates (click to enlarge):

Iberia redemption chart

and

Iberia redemption Avios chart

This chart is NOT the same as the British Airways chart:

The charts are nearly the same, but not quite.

Let’s take New York as an example. Both British Airways and Iberia price New York as a Zone 5 redemption. However:

British Airways charges 100,000 Avios off-peak and 120,000 Avios peak for a Club World flight to New York

Iberia, as you can see above, charges 68,000 Avios off-peak and 100,000 Avios peak for a Business Class flight to New York

There are not many destinations which are served by both BA and Iberia so the opportunities for arbitrage are limited.  You also need to factor in the cost and time of getting to Madrid, although if you live outside London it is not massively more complex than changing planes at Heathrow.

I have split this article into two parts due to length.  Part 2 of our guide to redeeming Avios on Iberia Plus is here.

(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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How to spend your 90,000 Iberia Plus Avios - as you can't move them to BA (Part 2)

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Comments

  1. thanks for the overview

    if I buy 2 separate ib tickets lhr-mad and mad-xyz to save on apd, would ib still through check baggage to xyz?

    • No but no harm asking

    • U can try but I recommend making sure ur baggage is hand care only (to avoid checking in and out in the huge Madrid airport). I booked Iberia only tickets but was flat out refused check through at both London and Havana. Even if flying business class, even if flying pregnant and with 22 month old toddler. These ppl have zero sympathy.

    • In theory no, you might get lucky on the day but prepare for the worst.

      • Don’t get me started on this! Last year OH and son were on through tickets via LHR in CW, mine was 2 separate bookings. We arrived at the airport with 3 cases and the check-in woman started being awkward and saying we would have to collect and re-check one of the cases at LHR. I had to point out that OH and son were entitled to 2 checked bags each and I considered myself to be traveling with hand baggage only. The penny eventually dropped!

  2. VERTE TONOS MÁS TARDE says:

    Just transferred my 900,000( multiple accounts)Avios to BAEC.
    Not saying how or they might close the loop hole.
    This was a great deal 900,000 Avios for £2000.
    Adios amigos.

    • the_real_a says:

      There is a nasty stench of dead rats in the comments lately…

      • Spurs Debs says:

        It’s always the way Harry, these sites start out small and friendly with people sharing their knowledge and being respectful. As it grows you then it the odd troll and the entitled who think it’s their god given right to have every loyalty point available in the whole world just for themselves. When something doesn’t go their way they scream bloody murder it’s everyones fault but no personal responsibility taken by themselves. Then they get self entitled nasty and blame everyone else for “ forcing “ them to chase points. Expect lots of the next week if the Iberia promotion doesn’t go their way.

        • I don’t think anything didn’t go their way for this troll, they just think it’s funny and probably aren’t reading the replies anyway

    • jamie says:

      Sharing is caring!

    • Geoff says:

      It’s sounds clear enough they never even took part and are jealous of those of us who did.

    • I think you mean “TONTOS” (i.e. “stupid”) – otherwise your HFP handle reads “See you later, tones”, which doesn’t really make sense.

      • Lady London says:

        His fingers probably wobbled with excitement as he typed that.

        • londonsteve says:

          LOL. Actually, the nature of the original comment bought home to me just what a pleasant place this comments board usually is. You don’t find the usual array of keyboard warriors and trolls as you do in other forums, invariably seeking to pick a fight for no reason. Hat tip to the maturity of the HfP community that they didn’t respond to such a blatantly obnoxious comment with the kind of abuse it might otherwise merit. Totally agree that this individual has an axe to grind and neither acquired 900k Avios, nor managed to transfer them. Pure provocation.

  3. Hi Rob,
    The bonus Avios need to use before 1-Dec, it means that if I book tickets need to book and completed fly before 1-Dec? Or I can redeem flight for after 1-Dec?
    Besides of this, can Iberia Plus allow redeem ticket for other people or companion? thanks.

    • Genghis says:

      Can fly after 1 Dec. Yes, can book for other “beneficiaries”.

      • the real harry1 says:

        you need to add beneficiary details in to Your Card before you can book flights for them

        • Actually, you need to add before booking. When I was booking on Monday, I could just add them during booking process. There is a box to tick « add a companion ».

        • *don’t need

    • You can redeem for anyone if you add them to your friends list. Must book by 1 December, can fly whenever.

  4. RIccatti says:

    Things go from bad to worse with Combine My Avios.

    Yesterday it was not processing transfers from BAEC to Iberia (Avios get credited back to BAEC account).

    Today, CMA page from either BA.com or Iberia.com gives

    Error 404–Not Found
    From RFC 2068 Hypertext Transfer Protocol — HTTP/1.1:
    10.4.5 404 Not Found

    I was the person who told it was highly likely the Iberia knows and relies on the fact that Avios.com platform will be taken down in July 2018.

    • the real harry1 says:

      A senior person involved recently said that IB joining up with the ‘mother’ Avios platform was a long way down the road – more like July 2019!

      • Riccatti is your Iberia account active and at least 90 days old? Active means you’ve had Avios activity (not promo Avios) through i.e. Amex transfer, flying etc. Until it’s both active and >90 days you cannot use CMA.

      • RIccatti says:

        Guys, I was able to transfer BA and Iberia backwards and forwards — only a few days ago.

        On the day promo Avios were credited, Iberia website was completely down in the morning.

        After that all transfers stopped — that is for sure.

        Iberia clearly relied on the fact that Avios.com accounts will be closed down sometime in July (those who have link with BA be given BAEC account, and those who have Aer Club, well, they stay with Avios number). There is no CMA on Aer Club website, but there is CMA on Avios.com.

        IAG corporate IT clearly found way to disable transfers by Avios being bounced (debited from BAEC and then credit back to BAEC). So, Iberia Plus accounts get “isolated”.

        However, the conjecture now that there were so many requests that they took CMA off the web! The alternative conjecture is that they are updating CMA not to even bring the option of transferring from Iberia.

        There were past IT issues with CMA playing up under different conditions (Household accounts, BAEC to Iberia Plus only) but this is something new.

        • the real harry1 says:

          It was a straight from the horse’s mouth confirmation from the top IB Avios guy that IB are far from ready to join the mother Avios platform, so timing won’t be this year even

    • KevMc says:

      I am getting this on avios.com and BA.com, which is annoying as I need to top up my Ib account to grab the redemption I’m after. I have made an MR transfer instead, so hopefully the flights are still available by the time those points hit.

      • KevMc says:

        It has come back up and I have been able to transfer from BA to Iberia to nab a couple of off peak business flights from MAD-MAX and MEX-MAD-LHR during Feb half term.

        Total was 195,500 avios + £437, or 15,500 avios and about £900 as I like to see it.

        Even if you add in the extra 15,000/£35 it will cost us to get to Madrid, it is still a bargain. The equivalent flights with BA from London would have been 300,000 avios and about £1100, so we’ve still go plenty of avios left over for a summer trip next year

  5. karen green says:

    I am disappointed with Head for points on this occasion as you reassured that we would be able to transfer the points. I have bought enough for my flights to use with my Lloyds voucher and now they are useless. Be careful what you promise as I have been mislead by you

    • Rob only repeated what Iberia told him, what more could he do?

    • Spurs Debs says:

      No one promised you anything, you took a gamble and apparently you lost.

      • Some people need to blame others when they take a gamble. The word ‘promised’ like Rob runs Iberia. Lol

    • They are not useless… I booked two nights in a hotel in Berlin cash price was £700 so at £200 for flight cost net gain £500. You can use on hotels for all of 2019 so have plenty of time to redeem even if you have no travel plans yet

    • Bagoly says:

      There were plenty of warnings, and you are very unlikely to be suffering a loss, just not such a gain as you dreamed of.
      Assuming full or close to 90,000, just switch to an Iberia long-haul destination, and if necessary, transfer across some BA avios, or buy the missing from Iberia (pay partly with cash at EUR1.2 per avios)
      If only 18,000, take a very cheap return from UK to Spain.

    • I have to agree with the others on this. We ALL knew this was a punt TBH. I went for 5 flights I.e. 45K points because that was what I was prepared to gamble. I’ll redeem for hotels as I had no plans for flights. My actual redemption should leave me £100 up so not earth shattering. But hey better than nothing. The points “game” is just that. A game. You win some you lose some. You still have opportunities to benefit from this even if you don’t get exactly what you want. Who’s to say exactly what you wanted would have been available anyway.

      • New Card says:

        Let’s wait and see but (in the worst case scenario) if, having said the points would be transferable, they have actually taken down CMA at the same time as crediting the points then that is a fraudulent misrepresentation. It is not in any sense a “game” – it is a contract and real money has been spent in reliance on what Iberia said. It’s possible this is all just an IT screw up but if not I would not hesitate in issuing an MCOL claim.

        • New Card says:

          I see – clearly Rob/HfP are not to blame, they just passed on what was said to them!

        • Marcw says:

          I think It was clear from the T&C that the Avios had to be used in Iberia Plus (I mean, an IbPlus promotion is not gonna tell you to use your Avios in BAEC).
          What they’ve said to Rob and other bloggers is actually irrelevant. I guess the only downside, is a lack of credibility from Robs side.

          • Contractually, yes, it is irrelevant what I was told. It is in writing from the marketing team though.

        • Marcw says:

          Sorry, I should clarify that Rob hast lost some credibility from Iberia, not that we (as readers) have lost credibility from Rob/HfP

        • New Card says:

          What Iberia said is not irrelevant. The claim would be for misrepresentation, not breach of contract.

    • I don’t disagree with you. My original article said that IB was not trustworthy. IB then called us up to complain and told us in writing that the Avios were transferrable to BA. Similar emails were sent to other sites. I’m not sure what else I could have done in the circumstances. If you push IB they don’t have a leg to stand on – alternatively do a chargeback via your card company on the flights.

      • RIccatti says:

        That’s actually fun.

        Iberia spokesperson complains about “not trustworthy” comment.

        After that, Iberia does exactly that — tinkers with IT to make it impossible to do what they promised to stay in place.

        I bet they complaint about “not trustworthy” even stronger now.

      • marcw says:

        FYI: from the “Combine my Avios” T&Cs: “12. We reserve the right to stop, suspend or limit ‘Combine my Avios’ at any time without notice. We may refuse to allow use of ‘Combine my Avios’ by any Member in relation to any or all transactions at our sole and absolute discretion.”

        By joining BAEC/IbPlus/etc… you agreed to these conditions.

  6. My points came through exactly 10 days after I booked my 10 flights. I used the points to book a hotel for one of my upcoming trips. The cash rate for the hotel was £900+ so I feel like I got exceptional value from my points. I am grateful to Rob for highlighting this promotion – it was a really good one. One question, how do you plan to take up the issue of misinformation with Iberia regarding the transfer of points to BAEC?

  7. Malibu Stacey says:

    I was able to transfer my 90,000 miles to Avios.Com. I didn’t have a balance in Iberia before the promotion. I intend to receem them before 1 December anyway but I don’t think there would be any availability on the flights I want (BA) if I had to wait for the return leg to open up.

  8. Malibu Stacey says:

    I was able to transfer my 90,000 miles today Avios.Com. I didn’t have a balance in Iberia before the promotion. I intend to receem them before 1 December anyway but I don’t think there would be any availability on the flights I want (BA) if I had to wait for the return leg to open up.

  9. Jim Bunce says:

    Morning Guys,

    I received this email yesterday from Iberia, I joined Iberia Plus the day, I purchased flights to take advantage of the 9K Avios. I’m just glad I sat down with pen n paper and worked out, on different days my 10 flights. I will supply all the details they require, I’m guessing, this is standard procedure for new accounts, but equally, with this level of interest from Iberia, I’m betting they may refuse any Avios on flights that will overlap, thankfully, all my 10 flights are on different days.

    Thanks for ALL the info you pass.

    Jim

    Dear customer,

    Thank you for your interest in the Iberia Plus programme.

    It is a standard requirement of our programme to check the registration details for your Iberia Plus account. To help us do this, please email a copy of the official identity document you used for registration to [email protected]. The subject line of the email must include your Iberia Plus number in order for us to process it and you must send it to us by 31 July (GMT+2). If the documentation is not received before this date, we will be unable to register you for the Iberia Plus programme and you will not have access to any of the associated benefits.

    If you took part in our recent 9,000 extra Avios promotion for the purchase of tickets at Iberia.com, please attach a copy of any tickets purchased during the period and send it to us by 31 July 2018 in order to collect your Avios.

    Once we have verified your identification and proof of ticket purchase we will award the Avios due—as per the campaign terms and conditions—to your account.

    Kind regards and we hope to see you on board again soon.

    The Iberia Plus team

  10. Marcw says:

    Iberia doesn’t fly anymore to Malabo and Cali.

  11. pauldb says:

    I’m pretty sure you do get offered avios&money options for BA redemptions online.
    Maybe also worth noting that the lost benefit of RFS is likely to be less (or zero) flying to the UK than from the UK. So if you book lots of shorthaul, do the ex-UK legs through BAEC and the inbounds with your 90k.

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