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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 …..?

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… 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 ba.com.

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

A BA redemption from London to New York (via ba.com 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 ba.com using BA Avios, it will charge you £402 of taxes! This is for the SAME Iberia flight which costs only £163 of tax on iberia.com 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 iberia.com.  This is because Iberia Plus has two levels of Economy reward pricing and ba.com only shows the cheapest level.  There are also times when Iberia Plus shows better Business Class availability on Iberia than ba.com does – it isn’t clear why this is the case.  Don’t rely on what ba.com 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 avios.com site?

You can book Aer Lingus redemptions online via avios.com (avios.com 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, avios.com 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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Comments

  1. Is it possible to make a redemption booking on Iberia originating in Manchester on a single PNR (e.g. MAN- MAD-MIA?) The extra convenience of being able to do this would probably be the deciding factor in using this route.

    • I have tried this before. It is possible on Iberia.com however the taxes increase substantially. If you don’t want the hassle of checking in luggage again I imagine you can book one person all the way through with higher taxes and the other as two separate tickets with low taxes, then put the luggage in the name of the single PNR passenger?

      • Yes I was thinking that, or book one passenger all the way through on a cash booking with 2 pieces of hold baggage. The booking system takes a bit of tinkering with, you have to make sure you pick days with a feasible MAN connection on Iberia then try to find availability which again seems very hit and miss! I know people on here have warned about the Iberia website…

        Also they seem to have a huge number of “peak” days, even if some of their off-peak are better for UK travellers!

  2. Great article. Is it possible to open an Iberia Plus account and transfer a portion of my BA avios into it, or would I have to transfer my entire avios balance?

    • Yes you can transfer as many as you like, and transfer them back again. Note that people have issues doing this. Sometimes you need to transfer your Avios to Aer Lingus first and then onwards.

      • Shoestring says:

        It’s never a problem transferring Avios BAEC—>IB (provided you used the same ID details to set up the a/cs). The reverse direction IB—>BAEC is only usually problematic if you have a household a/c @BAEC, in which case the AerClub workaround will sort it out.

        • Yes Squills.
          HHA is the problem. Have tried every way to shift avios from the great Avis car rental steal, with no success- stop laughing!!
          Will leave them there for the time being….. 🙂 .

        • If you have an aerclub account, you can log into Avios.com with the same details and use “Combine my Avios” there. Tested this just before Christmas and it works despite Avios.com allegedly being closed.

          Iberia account has to be more than 90 days old and have earned >1 point though.

    • Doesn’t the IB account have to be open for 90 days before you can transfer avios in and out?

    • The Original Nick says:

      @John, yes but your need to earn Avios into your IB account and then wait 90 days before you could use them. Easiest way is to open an account, then transfer some MR points over AFAIK. I think Harry (Shoestring) may have some other ways of crediting to activate the account though.

      • Yes. And its one of the reasons Rob mentions it frequently. That all hfp readers should keep an Iberia account up and running…

      • Shoestring says:

        Yep there’s an easy workaround with the IB portal—> Ebay.es, to earn a couple of points. Normally only Spanish addresses can get the Ebay Avios points credited. So before buying, you go to your UK Ebay a/c and change the home country in your address ID to Spain (this won’t affect your delivery address).

        Then logged in to IB & using the IB shopping portal, buy your Ebay item from ebay.es – it’s the same ID credentials as you log into your UK Ebay a/c. Many UK sellers sell internationally so with luck it’ll be the same item, same seller, same price as on UK Ebay. Plenty of secondhand £2.80 books out there. Buy. Switch back home country to UK at your leisure. [This is how UK Ebay a/c holders can use the 10-15% off codes normally limited to (say) USA a/c holders etc.]

        Easiest by far & quickest is to credit 1000 Amex MR points to IB, though! You can always shift them back to BAEC later.

        • And it works well.
          The key however, is that it is vital that your details are identical on both the Iberia and BA…..many have come unstuck on this one and wonder why they have a problem.

        • It also works without swapping uk address for spanish.

        • The problem often arises (from experience) when you put your second name into the second last name slot in Iberia as Spanish people usually have two last names.

  3. Rob, do you know if anyone has explored how these different tax positions come about? The difference between tax on BA and Iberia out if Madrid as an example seems odd. I would have thought the Spanish government charge the same APD style tax regardless, or is there some influence from being ticketed out of different territories? VAT differences are likely negligible I’d have thought.

    • BA just adds extra surcharges (fuel). Taxes and fees are equal.

    • Remember the UK APD is much higher than most other countries – so when booking an Iberia flight ex-Spain the local tax element is quite low

      As mentioned BA tacks on lots of fuel surcharges to any bookings made out of BA Exec Club, which is quite ridiculous

    • The main difference is the APD. We are doing LHR-MAD and on a separate PNR, MAD-JFK in April. If this was a combined itinerary, it would add around £330 more.

    • BA makes up its own surcharges, Iberia makes up its own surcharges.

  4. Liz Forrest says:

    Can you explain to me about getting Avios with United please ?
    All new for me, thanks

    • See the linked article 🙂

      Basically, open an Aer Lingus Avios account and credit to that. Aer Lingus is a United partner.

  5. Aer lingus is a partner, so put your aer club no in and you earn avios.

    • Exactly Liz, they traditionally took forever to post, but mine (and others reprtedhere) from 18 months ago posted 8 weeks ish ago

  6. Wetboy1uk says:

    The problem i have is that i have an iberia account i cannot remember the log in details for but no matter how many times i message thwm through their online aystem i have never once had a reply.

    • Are you using the reset your PIN facility? You just need your Iberia Plus number for this.

      • Wetboy1uk says:

        I cant find my iberia number which i why i need to contact them. Even after i have recwived an email saying they have my message and will respond i get nothing. They areabsolutely useless

        • Shoestring says:

          Did you go for the cheap IB 90K Avios offer? Your ID number is on all the flight confirmations – also on your a/c set-up emails.

        • Yes apparently your IB Plus number will be on any emails you’ve had from them.

    • I would avoid using Google Chrome for anything Iberia related. Their website doesn’t seem to like it at all

  7. The Original Nick says:

    I was on an IB flight MAD-LHR on the 767 in November and whilst waiting for our slot over passenger information came some ” join IB Plus and you’ll get 1000 avios. I already had an account but my friend didn’t so I though I’d join him up there and then via the IFE screen. I couldn’t find nothing on there about the 1000 avios so I asked the cabin crew to see if they had a paper version with the info on. The woman said she knew nothing about it but I said I knew what I heard so she went off to her manager who then said he knew nothing about it and had no control what is recorded on the system to automatically announced. I joined my friend up anyway and put in the flight number which was asked for and took a screen shot. I may take it up with IB. I couldn’t believe any of the cabin crew knew nothing about it.
    Anyway, it was a good flight and I wouldn’t hesitate in flying them again.

    • … except IB doesn’t have any 767s (and hasn’t had a boeing at all for over a decade!), so you instantly negate every point in your story by starting with a glaring factual inaccuracy 😂

      • The Original Nick says:

        @Nick, what is your problem? I meant the A340.
        99% of comments on here are helpful, but yours….

  8. Seven reminders, I got 10/10 !

  9. ThinkSquare says:

    In my experience, BA redemptions also have lower tax if you call the avios.com call centre rather than booking online. The agent said it was something to do with combining taxes for multiple legs.

    • That sounds like the tax adjustment when you add on a return leg by phone – I’ve always paid the same tax on redemptions whether it’s been via BA or avios.com.

  10. pommy ray says:

    great stuff.
    now that avios.com has changed who is the best site for availability now as ba used to offer less reward seats than avios.com for some reason?

  11. Sorry Rob, got to pull you up on “UK half terms”.

    Scottish term dates tend to be different to English half-terms. In 2019, for example:-

    February Half Term:-
    Edinburgh – 11th -15th
    Oxford – 18th to 22nd

    May Half Term:-
    Edinburgh – 20th May Only
    Oxford – 27th May to 31st May

    Summer Holidays:-
    Edinburgh – Break up 28th June, return 14th August
    Oxford – Break up 24th July, return 3rd September

    October Half Term:-
    Edinburgh – 14th-21st
    Oxford – 28th – 1st November

    This means that there are opportunities for travellers to take advantage of the variances. Every year in August, good friends drive up to his parents just outside Glasgow and spend a few days with them before jetting off to somewhere sunny. Then another few days on return, then the 5 hour drive back to Oxford.

    • So do flights from Scotland get cheaper from August 14th? That would be an interesting option as English schools often start the autumn term between September 5th – 7th. We love Scotland as well so would happily have a couple of days up there either side.

      • Very interesting – EDI to AGP on August 17th next year is half what it costs to go from MAN. One to bear in mind for the future!

        • I have family with school age kids in NW England – they often fly from Edinburgh or Glasgow instead of Manchester or Newcastle at time the English schools are off but Scottish schools are in – saves an absolute fortune.

        • Within England the half terms are often different – the only one that is always the same is May half term, because of GCSE and A-Level exam dates having to fall in term time (otherwise the school would be unstaffed). October and February half terms often fall during consecutive weeks for neighbouring LEAs.

        • Haha yep – happens a lot up here, a work colleague is off to Disney with his family next summer and they’re flying from Manchester for a massive saving! Seems pretty common in the other direction too 🙂

          Most bank holidays totally different across Scotland too but pricing tends to follow the English ones so can work out well if your local holiday is at a different time – also less chaos on the roads!

      • RussellH says:

        Could well be earlier than 14 Aug. I often started term on 11 or 12 August, though that was 1980-1999.
        And February, we had no break at all until the 1990s – and then at most just a Fri and the following Mon.
        October holiday (never referred to as ‘half term’ – it was the tattie holidays) went up from one week to two weeks in about 1990 or so, though in Angus it had always been 2 weeks, as it was a major potato growing area.
        Other differences were Easter – ALWAYS first two weeks in April. It made no difference when Easter actually fell – and Christmas – we often closed at midday on 24 Dec.
        Things were always a bit different north of Edinburgh and Glasgow!

    • Oxford only 5 hours from Glasgow, someone’s got a heavy right foot.

      • Private schools also have different half terms to state schools, if we’re being pedantic. I think my kids get 4 weeks additional holiday over state school kids.

    • Sometimes the Easter holidays can run over 4 weeks in the same area, I know people with kids in different schools and 2 completely different holidays to manage!

      • Some schools deliberately mismatch holidays in an attempt to allow parents and staff to book cheaper flights. Other schools try to synchronise (my school always tries to synchronise with our feeder primary schools), in order to avoid Anna’s friends’ situation (2 kids, each with 2 weeks off, spread over 3-4 weeks, creating a childcare/holiday booking nightmare).
        The rights and wrongs of all of the above aside, it’s worth bearing in mind that your kids’ school holidays might not coincide with peak dates for BA.

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