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. Lady London says:

    Yes. With PP, definitely.

  2. jdoh28 says:

    Wow. I’ve used my 90k avios to book a return Madrid to Havana in business on dates I had previously looked at. £2k of flights for (essentially) £370!! Okay, the Iberia website didn’t want to accept payment from any of my cards and I had to call at least five times, but finally got through and I have tickets. One tip, if calling the Iberia line, then using the automated system, tell them you want ‘Iberia Plus Booking’ at the start of the call – saves wasting huge amounts of time. Will transfer some BA Exec Club avios to IB Plus to add to my 5k balance for GLA – MAD connecting flights!!

    • Is there still the IB express flight from EDI to MAD? Or easyJet from GLA. Will be a shorter day than going via LHR.

      • jdoh28 says:

        Thanks Cv3v – there are IB Express flights from EDI to MAD, but scheduled arrival is two hours before departure of MAD – HAV and that’s cutting things too fine for me. I’m thinking of bookending with a day/night in Madrid before going and another one on the way back. Flight prices with bags mean there’s not much difference between oneworld options and budget airlines.

  3. Brian Crawford says:

    “Avios demand for Iberia’s historical routes to places like Medellin […] was probably lower.”

    Not necessarily. I plan to use my avios exclusively for Medellin. Modern city, clean, efficient metro, always perfect whether, great base for travelling the rest of the country, very affordable, and incredibly lovely people. What’s not to love about Medellin?

    The fact that tourism to Colombia has grown more than 300% since 2006 I don’t think it’s that safe to make that assumption.

  4. xcalx says:

    Thoughts please.

    I have used the IB promo points for flights from MAD to MIA for next April.
    I have just finalised my November 2019 trip, I have MIA-MAD flights booked for 2 dates in November 5 days apart and have decided to return on the earlier date.

    Would the points for the pre promo booked November flight I cancel be ring fenced and disappear on 1st December. I would have a 2 day window to book my November 2020 flights so that could be an option if the consensus was I would lose the points.

    Noticed some short flights in US are only 11000 return with slightly higher taxes than If booked with IB eg MIA-TPA . (returns and non cancelable ) so only for fixed plans

  5. xcalx says:

    **booked with BA**

  6. G00NFACE says:

    I got all 90,000 Avios credited to my Iberia account. I already had 100 Avios in there and I saw a message on FT about being able to use CMA to transfer out Avios Promo points upto to the value you already had int he account, this was obviously only for a limited time until Avios closed this loophole.

    Well, I used CMA 500 times manually, extracting 100 points out each time, before I ran out of time. I managed to transfer out to an old BA Exec account I had, then merge in to my main account.

    Thanks HFP and the chaps/chapesses who found the loophole to allow me to get 50k Avios out in to BA.

    I used the rest of the points stuck in Iberia, once they closed the loophole, to book a shorthaul flight and hotel.

    Totally understand why people are annoyed at the U-Turn stunt Iberia pulled and I’ll be more cautious next time, but it worked for me this time 🙂

  7. Georgetrav says:

    Can I redeem the Avios for Qatar airway flights ? Is it a good choice ? It’s not very easy for me to get to Madrid from my city.

  8. Noel Andrews says:

    Just booked business class return Madrid to Buenos Aires for next May half term for my wife and I. She’s never been business and I’ve only done it once so a big treat for us.

    Coupled with an awesome home exchange that makes for a very cheap and epic trip 🙂
    Thanks for the help and the initial prompt! Just wish I’d done it for her too but thankfully had enough points stashed up to do the rest! 🙂

    204000 Avios and £396 for two business class flights bargain 🙂

  9. dealsandrewards says:

    trying to book flights from LAX to Madrid for thanksgiving week but the fees and taxes are extremely high! Cost about 85K avios + $465 fees for two economy. Any tips on how to bring down the fees? Thanks!

    • You can try 2 x one-way. You should also try AA services from the US which may be cheaper.

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