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Iberia quietly drops flights from Madrid to Johannesburg

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Iberia has suspended its Madrid to Johannesburg route from the end of August.

A Head for Points flagged in our comments yesterday that his booking – without him being notified – had been cancelled.  A search of the Iberia website shows no services after 31st August 2019.  I have found reference to the cancellation in the South African press, which cites substantial losses as the reason for the closure, but nothing published in Europe.

This is a big loss to Avios collectors as the route allowed you to reach South Africa with minimal taxes and charges (around £150 return in Business Class) compared to £570 on British Airways from London.

Unfortunately, Iberia is not (yet?) rebooking people.  Although, to be fair, they haven’t told anyone that they won’t be rebooked.  That said, they haven’t actually told the impacted passengers yet that they don’t have a flight!  ‘Manage My Booking’ does show the cancellation.

EDIT: The Iberia website for travel agents does mention the cancellation and includes this line: “The Commercial division will announce flexibility and relocation conditions for affected passengers.”  If you are ticketed on this route I would wait for Iberia to contact you.

PS. Our detailed guide on how to redeem Avios on Iberia is here – it is well worth a look as there are many ‘sweet spots’ and taxes are low.


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

Comments (98)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Brighton Reader says:

    Provisions of EU 261 apply here. It’s not a matter of Spanish Law but EU law.

    • Leo says:

      I thought they could cancel without rebooking if they gave enough notice?

      • Sam G says:

        Still need to reroute

        I read a nice turn of phrase about this situation on FT:- “sometimes the early worm gets eaten” – best to leave it a while and wait for rebooking guidelines to get set up etc

    • Anna says:

      Yes – you are entitled to a refund or re-routing, your choice, though it can be extremely difficult to get airlines to comply.

      • Lumma says:

        Especially if the airline is Iberia

      • Prins Polo says:

        With iberia, the rerouting is just hard to enforce. They cancelled my flight and said they can only reroute in another Iberia service. That’s it. You can tell them about your rights under ec 261 but the agent on the phone will just repeat what they already said

        • Anna says:

          This was my experience with BA. In the end I couldn’t be bothered fighting them as the alternative destination they offered suited my needs as much as the original one.

    • Lady London says:

      Personally if I was rebooked on this I would call them now. They imposed an impractical reroute on me when they rerouted my Christmas flights and wouldn’t budge from what they had decided. Things surely couldn’t be made any worse by trying to ask for a reasonable alternative scheduling or route that you can check ahead would work for you before your call? They could remain intransigent but it seems that’s what Iberia aee likely to do anyway. Regardless of your rights.

    • Harpo says:

      My experience of EC261 cancellation claim with Iberia was tough initially. Their customer services were ok with the re-route but stonewalled me once I mentioned 261. Felt like I was going round in circles before sending a notice before action letter addressed to Iberia at Waterside. This opened a dialogue with their City based solicitor and a prompt payment followed(in Euros into Revolut.)

  • Murray says:

    Off topic but is it possible to use Accor points towards the cost of a meal at an Accor hotel (i.e. the Sofitel) or is the only option paying for the room? Thanks!

    • ankomonkey says:

      The way I understand it, you can only use Accor points for a meal if you are a guest at the hotel at the time.

      • Lady London says:

        And if that is the case then it would probably only work if you put the cost of the meal onto your hotel room account ratehr than trying to pay it directly.

  • Anna says:

    It would be a lot more helpful if BA would announce a MAN-NYC or MAN-BOS route! The south is already very well served.

    • Evan says:

      But the article implies this is in response to JetBlue plans not the needs of the North West!

      • Anna says:

        Doesn’t stop me thinking wishfully though!

        • Mr Entitled says:

          There are direct flights to NYC, including Virgin. BA are unlikely to shift policy so perhaps the better option is to shift loyalty? With Virgin’s expanding tie-ups it should be looking more attractive than previously.

        • Anna says:

          Mr Entitled – there’s no way on earth we’d get up to 6 return redemption flights per year in J with Virgin to the US so we’ll stick with BA for now! I’m not really complaining, it would just be the icing on the cake to miss out the change at LHR.

        • Lady London says:

          British Airways has flirted with Gatwick over the years. They have put many routes there then withdrawn them. This will be another case like that. If it ever happens, that is.

          I agree with Rob’s view that it’s a spoiler for upcoming JetBlue transatlantic out of Gatwick.
          Methinks if British Airways did ever put the same routes back there as JetBlue is running, they would only last one season more than it took to drive JetBlue out of business there.

          I still remember what I believe you you did to Laker, British Airways.

    • Adam says:

      No the South East is well served. Those of us in the South West still have no flights to the US/Canada.

  • Callum says:

    Of all people, I would have thought you would have a rudimentary knowledge of EC261!

    There’s no ifs or buts, Iberia MUST reroute you if you request it.

    • Rob says:

      And bizarrely a friend of mine LITERALLY wrote the book on EU261 🙂

      • Dan says:

        Really, Rob!? I’m pretty certain (having a partner that’s a lawyer for the EU Commission) that no one person would be responsible for drafting a complex EU directive. I think Callum has a point, you should have mentioned EU621 rules in the article, no?

        • Rob says:

          By ‘the book’ I mean a big textbook on EU261 (search ‘Prassl’ on Amazon) and not the law itself 🙂

    • Lady London says:

      Practically speaking Iberia will flatly refuse. I have logs of literally 14 calls where Iberia agents just refused, said Iberia does not allow them to do this or even just hung up on me as soon as I said I was requesting to use my right to reroute.

      Iberia seems to instruct its staff to act illegally in that way. According to them you take the reschedule they give you or they will only refund.

      Really busy right now but I am planning to sue them under EU261. My desired outcome is that Iberia would get told by EU court to provision for their agents to act according to EU261 rather than denying passenger rights.

      • Alex says:

        Suing airline for breach of eu261 should not take more than 60 mins in total: 1. Call them to learn that they refuse. 2. Email them your demand so you have proof in writing. They either refuse again or ignore you. 3. Email again couple weeks later and threaten with legal action. 4. Reroute yourself and demand reimbursement via email. 5. When they refuse or ignore your demand- fill out mcol form and wait. 6. A month or two later – result. Done this before – the process itself is lengthy but doesnt take much effort.

        • Lady London says:

          I have kept notes of all phone calls, and am just before No. 3. Iberia did not leave me enough time to do anything other than rebook myself on whatever I could find available as they would not assist. So done 4. I like the other poster’s suggestion to send them a letter before action now to waterside. I didn’t know this was possible. Just takes me a while to do these things as I am totally overloaded right now.

          thank you for your very logically arranged list of things to do @Alex 🙂

        • Shoestring says:

          LL if you read just 1 thread on Flyertalk, read the EC261 Compo thread on BA board. I don’t have time for FT twaddle so have not signed up as a contributor, but I do dip into that thread very regularly as it has the capacity to earn me quite a bit of compo, I guess we’re talking 4x EUR600 etc

        • callum says:

          Shoestring – Everyone will get more than 14 days notice so you’re not due any compensation.

          Other people have said Iberia has rerouted them on BA, but if they’re refusing then I’d just wait. There’s loads of time, and if they refuse again later then you can just buy a new flight and sue them for costs – it’s a clear-cut regulation so will be an easy win (if Iberia even choose to contest it – their lawyers would be crazy to suggest they do so).

      • RIccatti says:

        The practice that Iberia instructs their staff to ignore and stonewall the law is not news.

  • Zane says:

    Most OT-is anyone else having problems getting results on Hilton app for HH Points? I’ve been getting cash only prices for a while now.

    • Peter 64K says:

      Just tried two random dates and random places and all ok.
      If you don’t have enough points in your account you may need to log out to check how many points are required.

      • Rob says:

        Yes, weird IT flaw. Not logged in means you see availability. Logged in often means you only see what you can afford.

        • Zane says:

          That would make sense as I used most of my points on a recent trip to NYC. I noticed that using only a small amount of points took the resort fee from my bookings which was a welcome surprise.

        • The Savage Squirrel says:

          Ooh. Cool tip!

        • Lady London says:

          Nice one Zane. Thank you!

  • Eric says:

    What would the situation be for those of us who booked a business flight on the Mad – Jnb route after the very cheap Avios promotion last year?

    • Anna says:

      As above, if your flight is cancelled you get a refund or re-routing as you choose. Doesn’t matter how you paid for the flight. However, a refund of avios going back into an account with a minus balance might just leave you with zero avios for your trouble, so personally I would insist on re-routing.

    • Nick says:

      Why don’t you wait and see what they offer?!

      They will rebook you, they just don’t know how yet because they can’t ask other airlines for their terms before it’s officially announced. I suspect their options for passengers will be BA via London or QR via Doha, possibly also AT via Casablanca. Once those airlines have offered space to IB and agreed their rates for doing so, they will then decide which options to offer to which passengers.

      This is standard ‘route cancellation’ stuff and is standard in the airline industry. Wait a week or so and it’ll all become clear.

      • Eric says:

        Thank you. Would any re-routing be offered in the same business class of travel?

        • shoestring says:

          sure – they can also offer a cheaper class ticket and if you accept it’s a voluntary downgrade so no combo

  • Christian says:

    Yeah this isn’t spanish vs uk law but just EU regulations which applies to all EU member states equally.

  • Marcw says:

    The announcement was on the 4th, but the system hasn’t been fully updated yet. You’ll be rebooked to a BA flight, but you cannot change origin / destination. Otherwise full refund. You can find more info on iberiagencias.com

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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