Seven Avios secrets you probably don’t know

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This isn’t our usual style of article, but I ran a version of it between Christmas and New Year last year and it went down well.  I thought I’d give it another outing whilst the news flow is thin. 

If you are at work today you probably have enough spare time on your hands to click through all the links, which is what you need to do if you want to know more about any particular statement.  The comments below are deliberately brief.

(Think of this as your end of year HFP quiz.  If you don’t answer ‘Yes’ to all seven statements then you haven’t been paying full attention!)

So …. did you know …..?

Avios banner

… that the tax on Iberia redemptions is 60% lower if you transfer your Avios to Iberia Plus and book via their website?

Iberia Plus does not charge the full range of airport taxes and fuel surcharges imposed by

Let’s look at Madrid to New York in Business Class, return, on Avios. Iberia, when you book on, will charge £163 in taxes and charges.

A BA redemption from London to New York (via on a BA plane) on the same route in Club World costs £668 in taxes and charges! That is, by any stretch, a big difference. It makes it well worth heading to Madrid to start your trip if you are price conscious.

More interestingly, if you try to book the Iberia Madrid to New York flight on using BA Avios, it will charge you £402 of taxes! This is for the SAME Iberia flight which costs only £163 of tax on using Iberia Avios.

You can save a lot of money by moving your Avios to Iberia Plus and booking Avios redemptions on Iberia from there.

that the Iberia Plus redemption chart has certain quirks which make some redemptions exceptionally cheap?

The Iberia Plus chart is in this article.  It is ALMOST the same as the BA chart, but not quite.

The difference is most pronounced in Band 5.  Business Class flights on Iberia to Band 5 (which includes New York) are 68,000 Avios return off-peak and 100,000 Avios peak.  British Airways redemptions in Band 5 are 100,000 Avios return off-peak and 120,000 Avios peak.

Would you buy a separate ticket to Madrid if you could use 68,000 Avios and £163 of tax to fly to New York on Iberia compared with 100,000 Avios and £668 on tax with BA from London?

… that British Airways, Aer Lingus and Iberia have different off-peak dates which leads to arbitrage opportunities? 

British Airways Executive Club, Aer Lingus AerClub and Iberia Plus do NOT share the same table of peak and off-peak dates, especially around half-term school holidays in the UK.

Aer Lingus, for example, doesn’t have an October and February peak season during the UK half terms.  The April peak season is also one week shorter and there’s also no peak season towards the end of May / early June.

You can see the 2019 peak and off-peak dates for BA and Iberia in this articleAer Lingus is in this article.

This means that New York in Business Class can be as low as 68,000 Avios return from Madrid (on an off-peak date) on the same day that BA wants 120,000 Avios return from London (because BA treats it as a peak day).  And that is before you factor in the difference in taxes between Madrid-NYC (£163) and London-NYC (£668) …..

… that you can earn Avios when you fly on Emirates as long as you book a Qantas codeshare service?

I got my wife to test this out and it works fine as this article shows.

The same trick also lets you earn Avios when you fly KLM between Amsterdam and Singapore on the Qantas codeshare.

… that you can earn Avios when you fly United Airlines – even though it is a Star Alliance member – by crediting your flights to Aer Lingus AerClub?

I genuinely expected this feature to go away when Aer Lingus AerClub was launched but, for now, it is still there.

… that there is more Avios availability on Iberia flights if you move your points to Iberia Plus and book from there?

There is always better Economy availability for Avios flights on Iberia if you book via  This is because Iberia Plus has two levels of Economy reward pricing and only shows the cheapest level.  There are also times when Iberia Plus shows better Business Class availability on Iberia than does – it isn’t clear why this is the case.  Don’t rely on what shows you if you want seats on Iberia.

… that Aer Lingus redemptions have lower taxes if booked via BA on the phone than via the site?

You can book Aer Lingus redemptions online via ( is still ‘open’ for anyone who opens an Avios account via Flybe, AerClub or Vueling Club).  There is some jiggery pokery going on with the taxes, however.  If you keep your Avios in British Airways Executive Club and ring them to book – it can’t be done online – you will pay a lot less.  Anecdotally, does seem to have better availability though.

Make sure you read Head for Points regularly if you want to keep up to speed with tips like these.

(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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    Seems to be a very short Qatar Sale from Milan MXP atm. Just looking at MXP BKK from £1136pp. Seems to be aimed at MXP to BKK only though. Full availability Oct And November 2019. Would suit us as we can hop anywhere from there. Just wondering whether to press pay or wait for a better one in Jan if it comes at all. Know AY is often around that price, but this gets the Tier Points to Silver.

  2. IB first timer says:

    Anyone having difficulty transferring from Iberia to BA? I’ve got a BA HH account and it doesn’t want to let me transfer.

    If I’m able to transfer the other way, from BA to IB, I’d top up the points to get a RFS to Europe for a friend. Can I do that? Do IB have RFS?

    • You’ll need to open a new account. This means going to, opening a new account, logging it at using these new details and then moving the Avios from IB to and then from to BA (or vice versa).

      • IB first timer says:

        Thank you! Just saved some Avios that I thought were going to be lost! What a palaver but thank you none the less!

  3. May I please ask what is the best and ‘cheapest’ way to activate my Iberia Plus account?
    I have read in your thread, that somebody was offering the suggestion of using to activate my newly registered Iberia Plus account.
    I am wondering if there might be other options of activating my Iberia Plus account?
    Many thanks.

    • Yes, that, but also transfer 1000 MRs from your plat or gold card.

      • MRs if you have them, or do a minimum transfer of hotel points that have IB as a partner (Accor and Melia definitely work)..

        • Thank you, Polly and Stu N!
          I had accor and melia points – but I think they have both expired as they were one-off stays! Will persevere, as I am having trouble with registering with!

        • Accor is fiddly for small amounts. Melia doesn’t always work online but if you use the contact form and give them your Iberia account number they will do it for you within a few days.

    • Move some hotel points, move some Amex MR points, credit a BA or other oneworld flight, credit an Avis car rental …

  4. Avios tip No. 8

    Burning Avios from an APD tax exempt airport saves you £££

    Just burnt 130k Avios 2x Lloyds Vochers and less than £1000 for 2 adults return Club World flights to Florida including Club Europe connections.

    Pretty pleased with that, Cash fare is at least £2260 each for the same date, it was £2420 from non APD exempt Airport

    So (2260-490)*100/65000= 2.72p/Avios

    • ps this booking means I’m postponing the Oz/NZ trip I was considering for another time.

    • But would you really have paid £2260 each? No ADP is great, but if you have to position that adds time and cost. Once I’m positioning I’d sooner ex-EU, and earn TP to maintain status.

      • The Real John says:

        TripRep likes the “bragging rights” that come from making these hypothetical savings

        • lol, Don’t we all ? 🙂

          Even Rob has been guilty of sharing such hypothetical gains.

          I’ve never bought a business class ticket purely with cash so its all relative

        • They are not hypothetical in my case though, unless we are talking about F – since I’ve never paid for a F ticket.

        • Shoestring says:

          yep I love my bragging rights & that’s just 5p/ point on RFS T-355 vs peak pricing

        • Haha – my best recent hypothetical one was ANA F LHR-HND return for 120k VS miles + £400. £10k ticket so 8p/mile in theory lol

        • 🙂 I got a theoretical 9p / avios on a single Spanish domestic over the summer. But I’d rather have walked instead of paying cash for the flight.

    • which airport or airports are APD exempt?

  5. O/T my Hilton credit card has an expiry of Jan 2019. Will I be receiving a new one or is that it?

  6. is that means we should always store the Avios at Iberia and redeem it from there rather than BA? Is there any advantage with BA redemption since they charge your higher tax etc.?

    • For me, the ability to use a BA 241 voucher.

      • Shoestring says:

        IB can be quite ‘nasty’ about expiring your Avios. Many a tale of IB too quick to expire points despite not 36 months inactivity. Also, meaner than BAEC in terms of deciding on what constitutes a/c activity, such as burning Avios with a reward flight.

        So keep the points at BAEC.

        But diarise to keep IB a/c live by doing a points earning activity at least once every 12 months.

        • Anyone know what IB are like for inactive accounts being reactivated? Just had a look at my last earning was in 2016. Did a CMA in May this year and been sitting at zero balance since then. Presumably CMA didn’t keep account active (it normally doesn’t) so thinking of doing 1,000 MR transfer in then CMA across just to make sure my account is still flagged as active – anyone noticed any problems doing this?

        • TGLoyalty says:

          MR transfer counts as activity.

    • Lady London says:

      Often reported issues with bookings on Iberia apparently include :-

      – Partner redemptions can’t be changed apparently. Except flights on BA, IB I think. So if you have even one flight included in your trip that’s not flown on BA or IB metal and BA or IB flight number, I think you lose the ability to request any refund or change to any flight on the booking. Others who know more, may correct me. Btw: this will apparently also apply in case of Iberia rescheduling. Even a big reschedule by Iberia. According to Iberia.

      – Also beware sometimes Air Nostrum, Vueling also (owned by Iberia) kicks off this can’t be changed or refunded rule..

      Accidentally having one of the above non-IB non-BA flights within your booking can land you with this problem.

      – Iberia apparently does not always state things clearly in terms and conditions that it later claims apply. And on the 90,000 promotion Iberia has ‘form’ for trying to change the t’s and c’s after people bought on the promotion based on the conditions published at the time of the promotion. This is unethical and I think not legally valid as well. So be very very careful.

      – Iberia customer service s t i n k s. I’ve had 2 amazingly good agents in over 16 calls to Iberia. I mean, s t i n k s. Absolutely appallnig. Really bad. Did I say terrible?

      So if you get into any bother with Iberia, even if it’s not your fault, see above. You will struggle.
      Based on that Yes, I would book Iberia for the sorts of transatlantic differences in avios and taxes required that Rob is quoting. But I’d be hard pushed to use my avios in Iberia for anything less than the huge differences in avios and tax than Rob mentions. YMMV.

  7. Lady London says:

    PS I got 7 out of 7 on these!
    Clearly I have too much time on my hands… 🙂

    This just goes to show how much useful information Rob has given to all of us..

  8. Wonder if anyone can offer assistance.
    I used my 90k Iberia gained in the promotion to book a trip from Madrid to Tokyo. The flight leaves Madrid at 13:00
    If I risked it by getting a BA flight from London to Madrid the same day I.e the 06:20 gets into Madrid at 09:40 am I anymore covered because of the fact the flight from Madrid to Tokyo was booked with points?

    • No. You are only covered if the whole journey is on one ticket.

    • The streets says:

      I flew the day before because I didn’t want to risk it…. then my flight ended up being 3 and a half hours late! I was so close to getting the eu payout

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Isn’t Madrid in the 3hr window? Or do you mean the onward international?

        Tbh I like the relaxing day before and night in hotel start to my ex-eu’s.

        • The streets says:

          I was on the Shanghai flight scheduled to leave at 12.05 but didn’t take off until 15.30. I don’t think I have any rights to a claim?

        • Shoestring says:

          It’s arrival time (doors open to airbridge) that matters

    • If its the first flight of the day for that aircraft its not going to be delayed coming in, so worth checking if its possible and also history of delays for that route, if your going from LHR then they will have alternative aircraft available incase of technical issues hopefully…

    • I’d always leave an overnight just in case personally. Upcoming OSL-LHR-SIN-SYD trip, could have booked EDI-OSL with a 5h time gap, but went for night before. Subsequently BA moved OSL-LHR hours earlier (causing major issues with the booking as the TA didn’t seem to process the flight change alert properly!) and then Norwegian moved their flight hours later, so would have ended up arriving in OSL hours after the LHR flight had left! Thankfully as I opted for the day before I’ve just ended up with less time for sight-seeing – given I’ve been to Oslo before I may well just stay at the airport hotel overnight.

      Of course if issues with Norwegian this also gives me time to try and find an alternate routing! On the way back I’ve left less time as no long-haul F ticket in jeopardy!! Could be a right PITA if Norweigan do go under though, could end up flying SYD-LHR-OSL-LHR-EDI!

  9. Why do people keep stating that is closing? It’s never been closing and made clear that it would continue. Rob has discussed this numerous times.

    All Avios Travel Rewards Programme accounts are now closed as planned but you can still utilise using your Aerclub, Vueling or FlyBe account. The website still offers the CMA service that so many of us use as a work around for the dodgy BA / IB offerings to move Avios around. You can book still book reward flights on using your Aerclub, Vueling or FlyBe accounts, this was always going to be the case.

    Lloyd’s Card Avios earnings are now being sent to your BAEC accounts as many have confirmed, albeit the delivery time is taking a few days longer than it did going into your old Avios account. lives on as planned, Avios Travel Rewards Programme accounts are no more!

  10. We are a family of 2 adults and 2 kids. I am just about to earn my first 2 for 1 and my husband has the Lloyds upgrade voucher so that will sort out 3 tickets. Is it possible to buy a ticket for my child using Avios in my Iberia account if taxes are showing lower for the same flight. Also, does the 2J seats availability apply to Iberia too i.e. If I book the 2J seats, will that show zero reward availability for J seats in Iberia. Just trying to find a way for us four to fly in J in the same flight. Also, if I book PE using my Iberia, would I be able to upgrade using my Avios if there is availability? If there’s a better way for us 4 to travel together, please advise.

    • I know what you’re saying re the taxes but you’re taking a big risk trying to book so many tickets separately. What’s the destination? I would seriously suggest booking the 3 tickets together via BA and having your OH make the booking simultaneously unless you are quite confident that 4 J seats will remain available. I’ve no idea what the IB policy is for booking lone children, especially on a reward flight, it may well only be possible by phone.

      • Just by way of example, I booked 2 J seats from BOS back to the UK at the beginning of the year, then immediately rang to book a third seat but in the meantime either the availability had gone or avios doesn’t have the same inventory. Either way I couldn’t get the 3rd seat and had to cancel the other booking, fortunately it was within the 24 hours so no fees.

        • Thanks Anna. If I book 2 J seats using 2 for 1, will I be allowed to book a 3rd J seat using Avios or did you mean book the 3rd ticket paying full price. We haven’t decided on the destination yet and want to remain flexible but would like it long haul like Seychelles or the Far East.

      • If there are 3 award seats available, you can book them all and use your 2 4 1, you will pay 2 lots of avios and 3 lots of taxes and fees. You need to do some research on your preferred destinations – more frequent flights plus larger planes generally = more award seats. Have you searched on BA redemption finder to see if there are ever 4 seats available to the Seychelles? I’m guessing these are relatively hard to come by, but another option would be to book 4 J seats to the middle east and get connecting flights from there. There may well be more services to destinations like Bangkok and Singapore which might work as a Far East holiday. Also if you’re travelling outside school holidays (I don’t know how old your kids are) you are going to have a lot more choice and be paying less avios.

  11. I’m a bit confused about the Lloyds upgrade voucher in its new configuration: Am I right to assume that the bookings are now handled through BA? Or can I use it for an IB booking as well (and take advantage of the potential lower cost ex MAD)?

    • Has to be booked over the phone through BA metal only.

      • Thanks for the quick reply Anna. Has there been a change to the T&Cs? I used one about 3 months ago to fly TFS-LGW via MAD one way which was all IB (3909, 3714) – booked it through the “old” Avios phone number. Does that mean they shouldn’t have let me do it and I just got lucky?

        • You might have got lucky, I always thought it had to be a BA service (i.e. not even a codeshare). But let us know if you manage to do it again!

  12. Rob, I have about 6,500 Avios sitting with Iberia which are due to expire next week. I have tried to move them to my BAEC account but I have been unable to do so – I keep getting an error message telling me that I have to login again. When I do login, I immediately get the same error message.

    I don’t speak Spanish so, and because of various problems, I need to be able to resolve this problem by email. How do I get my Avios transferred to me?

  13. Steve O'Hara says:

    Do you get charged a fee for booking over the phone instead of online?

    • not if what you are doing cannot be done online.
      I.e. booking using a lloyds voucher cannot be done online now, so they won’t make any extra charges for phoning.

  14. Bridge Player says:

    Has anyone else had problems with their Avois Miles which were sitting in an Avois account not being transferred to BA Executive Club.
    Having 73,000 and 46,000 in each account – Avois is now ‘closed’ but no miles have appeared in my BA Exec Account.
    I suspect there is an IT glitch – has anyone else had to tackle this problem?

    • 99% certain that they failed to spot your BA account and have opened a 2nd one for you. Quick call will track down the new account and get it merged with your existing one.

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