Here is an interesting little quirk which caused great excitement when it hit the US frequent flyer blogs yesterday (the original source was German site YHBU). This isn’t surprising given that – as I wrote recently – British Airways charges substantially higher taxes and charges on Avios redemptions if you start in the US.
If you live in the UK this news isn’t so exciting, but it is still worth knowing about – if it survives the US publicity it got yesterday.
As we all know, the taxes and charges on British Airways long-haul redemptions in Club World and First Class are around £575 per person. The taxes and charges for Economy (World Traveller) flights are around £375.
This is the quirk:
If you book a British Airways Avios redemption to North America via the Iberia Plus scheme, and you include a leg in Economy, the entire flight prices with the Economy level of ‘carrier imposed surcharge’.
Here’s an example:
Manchester to Boston via Heathrow, booked via ba.com, with all flights in Business:
100,000 Avios + £633
Manchester to Boston via Heathrow (same flights), booked via iberia.com, with the domestic flights in Economy:
108,000 Avios + £393
Unlike the British Airways website, the Iberia site allows you to mix and match seat classes for each flight.
That said …. this isn’t necessarily so easy to pull off.
You need to book via Iberia Plus. In order to move Avios from British Airways Executive Club to Iberia Plus, your Iberia Plus account needs to be 90 days and to have ‘earned’ 1 Avios. You can’t open one now and immediately take advantage.
Iberia Plus does not give ‘free’ domestic connections, unlike British Airways Executive Club. In the example above, you are spending an extra 8,000 Avios in order to save £240. This is obviously worth it but does reduce the saving.
If you want to use a British Airways Executive Club 2-4-1 voucher, or a Lloyds credit card upgrade voucher, you can’t do this as those cannot be booked via iberia.com
If you live in London, you will need to travel to Manchester or another UK regional airport with BA connections to start your trip. You MUST do this or the entire flight is cancelled. Coming home, if you are on hand baggage, you could risk skipping the last leg.
In case you’re wondering, there is no benefit in booking a one-way from London to the US and then a one-way from the US to, say, Manchester. The higher taxes and charges imposed on one-way bookings cancels out your savings.
Iberia allows you cancel British Airways Avios redemptions for a refund of the Avios and taxes. This is NOT the case with other Avios bookings made via Iberia Plus – if you make a Qatar Airways redemption and cancel it, you lose everything.
Of course, if:
you live near a BA regional airport, and
you don’t plan to use a BA Amex or Lloyds voucher, and
you don’t mind spending 8,000 – 9,000 extra Avios because Iberia Plus doesn’t give free UK domestic connections, and
you want to fly to North America
….. then this may work out well for you.
PS. Remember that you can save far bigger sums on the taxes and charges on Avios redemptions to North America by booking on Iberia and flying from Madrid. Details are in this HfP article. Madrid to New York, return, in Business Class, has taxes and charges of just £159 when you book on Iberia via Iberia Plus.
How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (September 2022)
As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!
In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.
You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:
There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:
You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.
EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.
Run your own business?
We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,000 Avios.
You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.
There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.
Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.