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An interesting trick to cut your ‘taxes and charges’ on BA 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 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.

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Comments

  1. Shoestring says:

    Not sure going to Manchester could ever be worth £240 saving.

    • No backlash yet! The north hasn’t arisen yet ????

      • Erico1875 says:

        Shift dan t pit dunt finish till 6.30 !

      • I was mildly offended, then I remembered that the monthly mortgage payment on my 4 bedroom house is £550 and immediately felt better.

        • I laughed out loud at that one 🙂

        • Anna, FaF. Thanks for that one.

          Feel sorry for young folks trying to afford to buy near the capital.

          Of course the other trick here is to fly via Inverness, to avoid all taxes. Plus get to breathe a few good lung fulls of clean air as a bonus.

        • ????

        • I’ll leave my opinions on Manchester out of this, but if we’re specifically talking the Airport then £240 to avoid it may well be a price worth paying.

        • “I’ll leave my opinions on Manchester out of this, but if we’re specifically talking the Airport then £240 to avoid it may well be a price worth paying.”

          +EMA +STN (MAG properties which are just as bad!).

    • In the spirit of northerner-bashing, are us London-dwellers still subsidising their free domestic connections? For some reason I thought BA now made them pay for the extra flights, but doesn’t sound like it from the article.

      • Genghis says:

        Avios price of connections on LH included (not pricy taxes delta). SH not included now.

        • Colin MacKinnon says:

          No extra avios, but:

          Money: Extra taxes and fees so much that it is often cheaper to buy a same day change ticket for the return and change time when you land at LHR.

          Convenience: you can’t change the avios domestic flight within 24 hrs. So the last time I flew DEN-LHR-GLA (in F and on a 241) and BA changed the GLA flight time 5 mins so as I would miss the minimum connection time, I had to wait 4 hours in LHR – even though the DEN flight was 60 mins EARLY ! Sorry sir, we can’t move you to the flight we removed you from because you have an avios ticket.

          Convenience: we now fly down the night before because LHR is so busy that a sparrow farts and everything goes down the tubes. So I might make the connection, but my luggage doesn’t!

          Convenience: BA IT so crappy that the “free” flight can add £250 to the ticket price to get the return domestic you want compared to others on offer that day. Yet the difference in fares for cash bookings on the same day is less than £30!

          Other than Denver, we usually now fly Easyjet to Madrid and start from there.

  2. This has been the case for ages. The key is that IbPlus alows mixed class bookings.

  3. Dublin to the US on Aer Lingus also saves on fees.

  4. Just a note I booked a reward seat in Club World yesterday for next October and the taxes and fees came to £1306.88 when I queried this the agent said it was fuel duty increases .

    Last week I also booked a First redemption with my 2-4-1 and it came to £1189.22.

    I asked about the Lloyds Avios reward voucher and the agent said when you qualify you will be given a number to book it will not appear on your BAEC account like the Companion voucher.

    • £1306 for only one seat?! Is that ex-US?

      • I think they mean for 2 persons

        • Jill (Kinkell) says:

          I booked using 241 from INV to IAD and return from ATL (CE and F) for next Sept and my fees and taxes ….oh, sorry @Neal. Carrier imposed charges,….were £865. No APD from Inverness, but nevertheless, I hope the agent didn’t get her sums wrong!

  5. That explains why it was so much cheaper to book with Iberia when I was flying from JFK to Vienna via Heathrow. Definitely one to consider if you have to get to a European airport, rather than a UK regional one.

  6. Does it definitely not work with BA?

    I add an ET leg to my CW flights to avoid the APD (booked via Avios), and I thought that reduced the carrier surcharge too. Maybe I just miscalculated though.

    • I’m sure I’ve made a mixed class award MAN-LHR-USA. I had to call but unless things have changed very recently I think it can be done to avoid taxes. Of course I had to forgo the 35 minutes of sheer luxury in the CE domestic legs!

      • You can split travel classes by using the stopover facility during an online booking, but I’ve never checked whether it affects the taxes.

  7. Londoner says:

    I gave you a heads up on this several months ago, you could’ve been the first one with this Rob.
    Taxes went from around 447 gbp to 150 gbp or so for a CW redemption OAK to CPH via LGW if the LON-CPH part was in economy. That’s a pretty good saving for sitting back a few rows for 2 hours.

  8. Just a question. Do you think BA Amex 2-4-1 booking is possible via the Iberia website? Starting point from Manchester is still a UK starting point. Any ideas as to how this done? Someone has suggested using the stopover facility. Could I do that with 2-4-1 booking even if I have to call?

    • Genghis says:

      No

    • Can’t be done.

    • Your 241 voucher is in your BAEC account and not your Iberia account.

    • Remember though that booking with Iberia can work out substantially cheaper, to the point where it’s almost as cheap as using a 2for1 with BA even if you start at Heathrow. we used our 90K Iberia promotion avios on a booking yesterday, LHR-MAD, MAD-ORD and LAX-MAD-LHR.

      In total for 2 of us with all legs in business class it came to £480 plus 206K avios, off-peak. The equivalent with BA using a 2for1 would have come to approx. £1150 plus 112.5K avios, off-peak. Ignoring where the bulk of the avios came from, and valuing them at 1p each the effective cost of the Iberia flights come to an extra £265 for two of us, but:

      *No need to spend £10K on a BAPP, or pay the annual fee (£195)
      *No seat selection charges which could add ~£400 to the BA booking
      *Direct aisle access to all seats

      OK, it does take longer to get there and we will need a night’s accommodation in Madrid for the outbound so all-in-all I’d say it’s about even.

      If you’re starting from a regional airport that offers direct flights to Madrid and you want to fly somewhere on Iberia’s long haul network then it’s likely to work out somewhat cheaper. You can even use part miles, part cash if you don’t have all the required avios, albeit you generally end up paying a bit more than 1p/avios (the best I saw was £20 for a reduction of 1,900 avios on the outbound to Madrid).

      • In fact with some dummy bookings it looks like the BA charges would have been more like £1270 for the open jaw…and I realised I slightly over-calculated the Iberia avios which was actual 204K. So effective extra cost only £125 for two of us.

      • I stumbled across the savings by accident and have booked something similar. We have friends outside Boston and want to experience “The Fall” in New England next year.

        In the Iberia promotion last year I got 90,000 avios and my wife 9000. After some transferring from BAEC to Iberia on both our accounts I booked: MAD-BOS *2 for 68000 avios and £186 and my wife has booked LHR-MAD for 13000 avios and £65 on IB. We are going a couple of days early to spend some time in Madrid on the way out..

        I have yet to book BOS-MAD-LHR * 2 which will cost 81000 avios and £152. Being on 1 PNR it gets round the luggage interlining problem.

        Total cost – assuming 100,000 avios cost £200 in the promotion and the rest of the avios at 1p each – then LHR-MAD-BOS return was £632/each. J to/from MAD-BOS and Y to/from MAD-LHR. J all the way cash is approx £2500/each

        • Just on the Fall in Boston: we were there last week and it was only just beginning.

        • Mark2 – yes thanks for that – we have been studying the “Fall Maps” with keen interest! We will be heading North initially and later returning to the Boston area.

  9. 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.

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

    • 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?

        • 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 🙂

        • Is her role relocating because of Brexit?

        • 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.

  11. 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.

  12. Duck Ling says:

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

  13. 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

      • 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.

  14. 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?).

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

    Which is a shame.

  16. 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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