An interesting trick to cut your ‘taxes and charges’ on British Airways Avios redemptions

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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 recentlyBritish 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, with all flights in Business:

100,000 Avios + £633

Manchester to Boston via Heathrow (same flights), booked via, 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

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.

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  1. Duck Ling says:

    If only the Iberia Platinum AMEX had the 2-4-1 voucher that the same BA card has. 🙁

  2. Question: This also brings the taxes down for First flights. If this was booked as domestic economy and First to NYC and back, what lounges would be on offer with no status? I’m guessing no access in MAN for example on the outbound sector, but all First lounges after that?

    • Genghis says:

      Bear in mind OW lounge rule:
      “Connecting between oneworld marketed and operated flights:
      First and Business Class customers connecting on the same day of travel, or before 6am the following day, can access the lounge when travelling between an international long haul (a oneworld international long haul flight is defined as an international flight marketed and operated by any oneworld carrier with a scheduled flight time longer than 5 hours) and an international short haul or domestic flight (and vice-versa).
      Lounge access will be determined on the international long haul ticketed flight (either First of Business Class) regardless of the ticketed class of travel on the international short haul or domestic flight.
      You must be prepared to show your boarding pass or itinerary showing travel in First or Business class on the international long haul flight, in order to access the lounge before your international short haul or domestic flight.”

      • Even so, you wouldn’t be missing that much in BA’s Manchester lounge. It’s a pleasant enough space to spend time before a flight but the food offering is just meh.

  3. Does this work with the economy part at the other end? I.e. you fly LHR -> JFK in CW then JFK on to XXX in the US in economy, before reverse for return?

    • You can’t book American Airlines flights on Iberia via the online booking system, I tried yesterday. It might work if you call Iberia to book. Problem is that adding an AA domestic flight would make your booking non-refundable I think (double check – a BA flight is refundable, an AA flight is NOT refundable, what happens with a mixed booking?).

  4. Looking at OMAAT this appears to be an error which will be quickly fixed.

    Which is a shame.

  5. Damien Keegan says:

    Hi! So the bread knife and I are off to the Caribbean on Sunday, tried to u/g with avios from WtP to C/W outbound, but couldn’t as it was a package. However, cash u/g inbound was mega cheap! The strange thing is on the seat map we have (BA Bronze) for the aircraft we are due to fly out on shows that it is one of the refurbed 777 that aren’t supposed to be on our route until 2019? LGW -BGI. Anyone got any ideas as there are only 3 available seats left, none of which are together…

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