How Santiago shows up the crazy disparities in Avios pricing – with taxes from £42 to £604!

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On Saturday I ran an article on how and why you should book long-haul Avios Business Class redemptions on Iberia via Madrid.

I used New York as an example of how you can get great deals with Iberia (on some days, you’re comparing 68,000 Avios + £155 of taxes on Iberia from Madrid vs 120,000 Avios + £667 of taxes on BA from London!).

A reader recommended I take a look at Santiago in Chile as another example of huge pricing disparities.  This route is especially interesting because it also lets you compare a partner airline (LATAM) with very low taxes.

Let’s assume that you want to go to Chile.  Even if you DON’T want to go Chile, keep reading because the same principles apply to other Iberia routes such as the six in the USA, Tokyo, Shanghai, Johannesburg etc.

Option 1:  Fly British Airways direct from London to Santiago

Santiago is in Zone 8 on the British Airways Avios reward chart.  British Airways is being generous here, because the flight is 7,228 miles and it should technically be in Zone 9 and priced the same as Sydney!  You pay:

175,000 Avios + £588 of taxes off-peak (see screenshot below)

210,000 Avios + £588 of taxes peak

How to book Santiago with Avios

Option 2:  Fly Iberia direct from Madrid to Santiago, booked on ba.com

Even though we are booking this flight on ba.com, it still prices off the Iberia Avios reward chart because it is an Iberia flight.  Santiago is in Zone 7 on the Iberia Avios reward chart.  Iberia is also being generous here, because the flight is 6,649 miles and it should technically be in Zone 8.

102,000 Avios + £604 of taxes off-peak (see screenshot below)

150,000 Avios + £604 of taxes peak

You also need to add in the cost of getting to/from Madrid on a separate ticket.  You won’t save anything in taxes but the Avios saving is chunky.  However, don’t book this, because …..

How to book Santiago with Avios

Option 3:  Fly Iberia direct from Madrid to Santiago, booked on iberia.com

Let’s be clear here.  This is the IDENTICAL flight I just priced above in Option 2, except that I am booking it on the Iberia website instead of the British Airways one.

102,000 Avios + £162 of taxes off-peak (see screenshot below)

150,000 Avios + £162 of taxes peak

This is an astonishing saving of £442 per person in taxes and charges!  The ONLY difference is that you are booking the Iberia flight on iberia.com instead of ba.com.

How to book Santiago with Avios

Option 4:  Fly LATAM direct from Madrid to Santiago, booked on iberia.com

Finally, here is an option with a partner airline.  LATAM is a very respected airline and a oneworld alliance member, with a good business class product.  You can check out its website here.

This is what you pay to fly with LATAM.  Remember that, as a partner airline, all dates are priced as peak dates:

175,000 Avios + £42 (see screenshot below)

You also need to add in the cost of getting to/from Madrid on a separate ticket.  You also need to remember that this ticket is non-refundable because Iberia does not allow changes to redemptions on partner airlines outside BA and Iberia.

How to book Santiago with Avios

Which option is best?

As I said earlier, this article isn’t really about Santiago.  It is more about highlighting the huge differences in taxes and charges if you can fly with Iberia instead.

Of course, you can’t use a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher on Iberia, LATAM or any other partners.  You will need to pay BA’s taxes and charges.

Even then …..

On a peak British Airways day, two people using a 2-4-1 voucher will be paying 210,000 Avios + £1,176 in taxes and charges to fly from Heathrow to Santiago.

If you DON’T use the voucher, you could either pay 350,000 Avios + £83 on the LATAM flight from Madrid to Santiago, or 300,000 Avios + £324 on the Iberia flight from Madrid.

I would see all three of those options are roughly equal, but of course you’d still have your 2-4-1 voucher for another BA trip.

PS.  How do you move Avios from British Airways Executive Club to Iberia Plus?

Here is a quick reminder of how it works:

You need an Iberia Plus account, which you can open at the Iberia website

Your Iberia Plus account MUST be 90 days before it will accept transfers

Your Iberia Plus account MUST have earned 1 Avios before it will accept transfers – the easiest option is moving 1,000 American Express points into it, but you could also credit a hotel stay or a BA or other partner flight or a car rental etc

In theory you can then use ‘Combine My Avios’ on ba.com to do the transfer

If you get error messages, you need to use avios.com as an intermediary.  Log in at avios.com, go to ‘Combine My Avios’, pull the Avios from BA and then push them to Iberia

If you no longer have an active avios.com account, go to this page of the Aer Lingus website and open an AerClub account.  You can log in to avios.com using those details.

(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. Iberia-business-class-service-sucks says:

    The Avios cost may be a little higher if your Iberia account still has a negative balance after transferring out promo earnings…

  2. Alex W says:

    If you can get an off peak date then Iberia is the clear winner there. Another reason for people in the regions to avoid Heathrow.

  3. Lewis says:

    What do avoid redemptions out of Inverness cost. Trying to work out if it’s worth the three hour drive

    • Spurs Debs says:

      Do a mock booking and it will tell you.

    • Polly says:

      Think you save roughly £150 in APD taxes pp. worth the drive.

    • Andrew says:

      Depends on where you are going, and obviously you can’t spend Avios, but savings of over £500 on APD is also available on Loganair flights from DDE on routes that they code share with Emirates.

      https://www.loganair.co.uk/connections-from-dundee/

      I’m intrigued about the future options of an overnighter to IOM or the Channel Islands once Flybe and Virgin sort themselves out.

      • yorkieflyer says:

        or perhaps more temptingly from Newquay to Heathrow

        • Shoestring says:

          I don’t think we established if Newquay-Heathrow is just no APD on that leg or if the connecting SH/ LH flight is also free of APD.

          I *did* try to check it for obvs reasons (Newquay is just down the road for me) but it looked like the concession on APD was just for the hop to LHR (or Gatwick as was).

    • Keith says:

      The journey I’m taking in a couple of weeks was booked as Business from Inverness to Heathrow then First Class Heathrow to Johannesburg. We saved £172 pp booking from Inverness.

      • Shoestring says:

        Nice place to look around for a few hours, Inverness. When my parents lived at the top of Sutherland (in my student days), I often had to hang around waiting for my train to Lairg, then onwards with the connecting post bus.

  4. Booked MAD-PVG in J with IB for 88 pounds and 59500 (cheeky IB moved PVG to the same zone as TYO, but still a good deal thanks to the 90k promotion!).
    Also not so off topic: Does anyone know how much time do I need to have for transit in Madrid airport? I can either fly STN-MAD with Ryanair for 26 quids or LHR-MAD with BA RFS. My flight to Shanghai leaves at 1220 and whilst the Ryanair and BA positioning flights lands at 1000 and 0940 respectively. My concern is BA uses the T4S terminal, which is the same one for my Shanghai-bound flight, whereas the Ryanair one uses the T1 terminal. I also saw the ‘Passenger link bus with boarding pass’ mentioned on the airport website – which presumably will take me from T1 to T4S without going to the landside. I will be traveling HBO so it should work for me.

    Has any one done T1 to T4S transit? If yes how much time would you suggest to leave for headroom. Would appreciate the wisdom from HFP thinktank. I have a non-EEA passport if it make any difference.

    TIA
    Tony

    • RIccatti says:

      Non-EU document is even more reason to transit within T4S: after exiting the plane and walking, there will be sign to security point — after which you go floor down to departures zone.

      But landing 10 am having departure time 12:20 is cutting it close. DO NOT do T1 arrival.

      • Shoestring says:

        Yep you’re seriously risking your main flight #2 with just a 2 hr gap – not many travel insurance policies would cover you if you missed it if flight #1 is delayed. Iberia will just laugh & shrug shoulders.

        • RIccatti says:

          Yep, true that. Iberia will just laugh — even if you arrived on delayed Iberia flight (on different ticket).

    • RIccatti says:

      Spanish border document check is usually a very fast sight of the document, but have to account for walking distances and long elevators down/up in Barajas.

    • TokyoFan says:

      I had a T4S-T4S transit of 50 minutes last Sunday and managed it as well as having lunch and a beer in the lounge 🙂

    • RIccatti says:

      AENA website says “The bus route for non-Schengen passengers is run on request.” Translated from Spanish, I would read it “if a bus driver available”.

      In case of any problem — you will be directed to landside transit, go out, wait a bus to T4, go through security and taking train shuttle to T4S.

      One point of booking business class is to be able to enjoy the lounge on departure — even with BA option there is only about 1h20min time… given inbound flight doesn’t delay.

    • Tony – go the night before and have a leisurely start to the day

      • Polly says:

        Yes, always our advice too. If possible, position the day before. Even for ex Dublin LH departures. Just not worth the stress of unconnected missed departure.

    • Ralphy says:

      Strongly recommend you DO NOT book separate tickets for the same day. Not worth it if there is any delay out of London, for any reason.

      We follow this mantra and it recently paid off for us flying to, oddly enough, Santiago.

      I needed a connecting flight to Madrid from London, having booked Madrid to Santiago using Avios from that crazy “book up to 10 flights” Iberia promotion. The Santiago leg was around midday from memory and I could have gotten the first flight out of London in the morning to Madrid, but I flew the day before.

      My wife was on a paid ticket with Latam, LHR-SCL, so flying the day after me and we would meet at the gate in Madrid.

      After I flew out to Madrid the weather closed in for that winter storm at the end of January and I got a text from her telling me her flight to Madrid for the next day was cancelled!

      BA put her that night on a direct flight to Santiago and she arrived before me, which was amazing.

      But, the point of my story is that, with a paid flight to Madrid connecting to an Avios flight, had I booked these for the same day I would have been royally stuffed.

    • roberto says:

      Madrid airport has some pretty cheap hotels with free shuttles. I would invest some of those savings into a nights accommodation to be on the safe side.

      • Brian says:

        Or stay in Madrid itself and have the evening there! Plenty of time to get to the airport in the morning.

    • Thanks all, much appreciated. Will go one night before then.

      • Very sensible – you could also be hit by schedule changes that would cause problem same-day. I could have booked my EDI-OSL positioning flight earlier in the day before OSL-LHR-SIN-SYD in F. Thankfully I opted for the night before. In the ensuing months BA cancelled their afternoon flight and moved it to the morning. Norwegian then moved their flight from morning to afternoon – suddenly what would have been a 4h gap became a -2h one! Very glad I’d booked the Park Inn Oslo for an overnight!!

  5. Netxu says:

    And if sonebody wants to fly in economy or PE, there is another option:
    BCN-SCL direct flight (LEVEL airline, operated by Iberia), PE flights booked on avios.com:
    76,500 Avios + 38£ of taxes off Peak
    105,000 Avios + 38£ of taxes Peak
    This flight is 6.924 miles and it still falls into band 7. Taxes are higher if the same flights are booked vía Iberia.com

  6. Is it still the case that non-Iberia flights booked with Iberia aren’t refundable so you’d not get the Avios back if you cancelled? Might have changed but used to be the case for LATAM..

    • RIccatti says:

      Yes, partner award booked via IB — non-refundable.

      • Polly says:

        That’s what puts me off using IB, plus their awful CS.

        • I was so pleased when the news hit that we could transfer the Iberia promo avios out to BA. Using Iberia CS is painful and it’s put me off ever wanting to fly them.

      • RIccatti says:

        I exercised honour and used miles to book the famed JFK-MAD on Iberia.

        I had tried online to book JFK-MAD-LHR award but IB website did not bring the option. Separately JFK-MAD and MAD-LHR were available (all Iberia). I have called the Iberia Plus call centre and asked them to book the whole journey: they experienced the same problem.

        I was advised to make separate bookings (online), which I have done, and the agent annotated Booking 1 to request JFK station to allow for the luggage to be checked through. On arrival to JFK instead of a note on Booking 1, I have found an Edict of Expulsion which the whole collegial Council of the Supreme and General Inquisition could not have worded better prohibiting me, the checkin agent, the station to check the luggage through under any circumstances. It seems some of the supervisors reviewed the note and issued a prohibition without caring to notify the passenger (myself).

        The aforementioned Edict was read to me to the letter and Spanish accent.

        Food/service on those flights to the US were abysmal — I have left many dishes and entire breakfasts untouched. Apparently, several pieces of sweet? bread can serve as a main dish of the breakfast.

        Business Class seat was so-so — if I travel to South America, might have endured IB Business product given the alternatives (but LATAM better seats/food and BA at least direct). But to North America — no.

        Therefore, I do not value Iberia business experience much above economy, and anyone will have more enjoyable journey in Virgin PE or front of AA (or Norwegian) than Iberia Business.

        • Marcw says:

          Iberia has married segments awards: 2 one-way does not guarantee connection availability.

    • Correct.

  7. Mikeact says:

    We’re off soon, 204000 Avios plus £ 320, as Rob points out. Real bargain. Out of Heathrow on first RFS to connect late afternoon in Madrid.

  8. Steve says:

    BA in taking the piss with taxes / surcharge shocker. Also a slight apples / oranges comparison as not identical flights but still a really good reason to consider all options before booking.

    • Easier comparison if you live in the regions and connect to Heathrow.

      • Hence why I’m trying out a CE/CW combo from Inverness later this year

        • Does anyone outside the HfP community define the UK as London + the regions? It seems such an odd way to talk about our country.

          • We treat it as ‘places which are within reach of an airport BA flies from’ vs ‘everywhere else’!

  9. Also I have heard that LATAM provide Tier Points on redemption tickets.

    I can not say if this is 100% every time however I have received 90 Tier Points on my LATAM redemptions (To Brazil) every time and a google search suggests it is common.

    • Was that in business class? I’ve never been able to find a Latam business class award seat on either BA or IB’s website.

  10. Joe Green says:

    Any recommendations for the best redemption for my BA 2 for 1 I want to fly economy or business for cheapest taxes return from LHR. I know about RFS but it doesn’t save a chunk of avios really.

    • marcw says:

      Your attitude is wrong. You should go to placer where you want to go. Then you have to figure out how best loyalty programs (Avios) fit in there.

      • Agree that logic doesn’t make sense to me so can’t help with advice!

      • The Savage Squirrel says:

        This. Flying is still sitting in a steel tube in the sky. Might as well make it as affordable and as pleasant as possible but it’s still just a means to and end. The best business class seat on earth is about equivalent to a hostel (OK maybe the Residence is up to a Yotel); the best flight food ever is still equivalent to a very mediocre restaurant serving reheated pre-prepared food just with posh wine, If you’re really not bothered where you go then don’t fly at all, visit somewhere near where you live and have a nicer experience.

    • Moscow, £50 tax, mainly long haul planes

      • Was about to say the same – Moscow – 17000 avios +£100 in Business if off peak. And from there you can get to Leningrad very easy.

        • PS Even if it is not long haul plane , the business class seat will still be flat bed (it’s ex bmi A321 plane), that I like more than old BA seat.

    • joe green says:

      Maybe I phrased that wrong its by no means that I want a business flight experience. I have a few hundred thousand Avios and a 2 for 1 that expires this summer. Economy is fine for me. I don’t care where I fly because I am 32 and want to see the world so just working out where makes sense to go when i’m flying on a 2 for 1 and want to limit my taxes. My thinking is I want to spend as much avios as possible but as little hard earned cash.

      • marcw says:

        In that case,,,, forget about BA (excepto HKG to London). Search for Cathay Pacific, LATAM awards and IB awards from Spain. Malaysia Airlines could be iteresting as well, but availability is limited.

      • Grant says:

        You’d be better off using the paid version of http://www.rewardflightfinder.com and using the ‘I don’t know where I want to go’ tab. Fill in the details and it’ll show you reward availability with taxes and charges for a load of destinations.

        Also think about Ex INV and JER to save on APD. If you are Avios rich you could use some on a positioning flight.

    • Nick_C says:

      Look for a redemption heading East in First, back in Business.

      First Wing check in and Concorde Room at Heathrow. Free seat reservations outbound.

  11. Richard M says:

    I have recently booked something similar to Tokyo travelling via Madrid. On the outbound, to avoid being clobbered for Business Class APD, I have booked the LON-MAD and MAD-TYO as separate sectors, with an overnight in MAD. On the return however, the difference in Taxes and fees is negligible and I have booked TYO-MAD-LON as one booking, cutting out the faff of collecting my baggage and checking in again, giving me a same evening arrival back in London instead of a second overnight in MAD

    • Dimitri says:

      To avoid this trouble, I just paid for one way from London and booked an avios flight back. Surprisingly I found the outbound one way with Virgin very cheap on a travel agent website.

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