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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.

Avios wing 6

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.


British Airways BA Amex American Express

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (September 2021)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

There are two official British Airways American Express cards. Both have increased sign-up bonuses until 2nd November 2021:

British Airways BA Amex American Express card

British Airways American Express

10,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and an Economy 241 voucher for spending ….. Read our full review

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

40,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points, such as:

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

The 30,000 points bonus on Amex Gold runs to 9th November 2021. The 60,000 points bonus on The Platinum Card runs to 2nd November 2021.

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:

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company Read our full review

You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies. This card has a limited time offer of 60,000 Avios when you sign up:

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

60,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for our latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios this month from offers and promotions.)

Comments (55)

  • Rob MC says:

    I did the opposite and booked a flight with Iberia from Miami- Lon via Madrid. Taxes were around £105 and 70,000 miles. Miami-Mad in business and to London in economy.

  • s says:

    My Manchester Commute is a 10 min walk in the city centre, London mates suffer on the tube 🙂

    • Rob says:

      I used to walk to work into the City for 10 years from the desolate wastelands of Wapping. I am currently contemplating moving the HFP office to Victoria so I can start walking again, since the two main reasons for running HFP from an office in the City are gone / going.

      • Genghis says:

        What are the two main reasons? Poppie’s isn’t closing, is it?

        • Rob says:

          My wife won’t be working around the corner from 2019 and Anika is doing more from home so I seem to be spending an hour a day unnecessarily commuting in and out. We will see. More news on Wednesday 🙂

        • Crafty says:

          Is her role relocating because of Brexit?

          • Rob says:

            No, the lure of a huge voluntary redundancy package worth a number of years salary ….

      • Lady London says:

        St.James’s sounds better, p/e seemed to have decamped there a while back adter mainstream City seemed to have decamped to Docklands. Maybe Victoria is trendier now. How about Pimlico if you get stuck? Some very quirky businesses seem to hide out there.

  • Mikeact says:

    Just to reiterate the Iberia benefit. Thanks to their promotion a few months back and moving a few Avios over, we’ve managed to get two lots of Business Class seats, first pair to S America and second pair to N America. Even including RFS seats to get to Madrid, the amount saved was amazing. Both flights, we’re out on the first BA service to Madrid as the connections are late afternoon. OK, so we’re taking a chance getting to Madrid same day, but off season, and haven’t yet experienced any connection problems in the past whether Amsterdam or Paris.

  • Duck Ling says:

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

  • bobby says:

    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.”
      https://www.oneworld.com/ffp/lounge-access

      • Anna says:

        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.

  • john says:

    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?

    • Rob says:

      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?).

  • jimmy says:

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

    Which is a shame.

  • 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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