Seven Avios secrets you probably don’t know

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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 £156 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 £681 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 £383 of taxes! This is for the SAME Iberia flight which costs only £156 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 £156 of tax to fly to New York on Iberia compared with 100,000 Avios and £681 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 2020 peak and off-peak dates for BA and Iberia in this articleAer Lingus dates are in a PDF here.

This means that New York in Business Class can be as low as 68,000 Avios return on Iberia from Madrid (on an off-peak date) on the same day that British Airways 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 (£156) and London-NYC (£681) …..

… 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.  Whilst not covered in that article, the same applies to Air France services between Paris Charles de Gaulle and Singapore or Hong Kong on Qantas codeshare services (ie your ticket has a Qantas flight number on it).

… 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 Economy 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. 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 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.

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Comments

  1. OT: my wife booked me, my mother and child in one room for four night using Hilton Honours pts. My wife will not be checking in at all but I am down as a guest? Will it be okay for 3x of us to stay? Thanks

    • I had the same question when booking for my parents. Depends really on the hotel and how likely they are to look away. It is normally against the terms and conditions. You will be asked for a card authorisation for incidentals at some hotels despite points booking. Some suggest that you check in first alone, then bring in the other guest. Is there any reason why you can’t book the night yourself and put your mother as a 2nd guest? Then call hotel to add child. Your wife can transfer points to you for free via pooling points option.

      • KBuffett says:

        It may also depend on the destination country. Some countries by law are obliged to ID the named guest(s)

    • The Hilton T&Cs allow members to make award bookings for other people.

      If your wife (or any woman, or a man who can fake a woman’s voice) calls Hilton to make the booking, the agent will be able to put it in anybody’s name properly, so that the hotel will see you as the named guest. The hotel will also see you as having your wife’s status. This can only be done on full redemptions.

      If you book it online and just add your name, you will be able to check in, but the hotel would be expecting your wife to be there too. If this is in a country where ID is not required to check in, your mother could pretend to be your wife (as in a person with her name, not the person married to you!)

      However, even when hotels would not ordinarily ask for ID, they may sometimes ask for ID on redemptions, to prevent fraud where the person who owns the points did not authorise the booking.

  2. NigelthePensioner says:

    What about booking a Club Class BA flight from LHR to JFK on the Iberia plus site? This permutation seems to have been missed out? What taxes are due and how many Avios are required per leg?

  3. Thought the ‘all RFS tickets only cost £1 when cancelled’ trick might have made the list! Certainly surprised me!

  4. carmel flynn says:

    Hi
    If you fly from Madrid to New York on Iberian can you stop over a few nights s in Madrid then continue your journey ?

    • Maybe you are confused? Madrid to New York is direct. So in theory you could do a 500 day stopover in Madrid before flying to New York.

    • Yes. You’re making your own way to Madrid on a separate ticket. There is no protection between the tickets, so the ideal is to at least overnight in Madrid so that if your flight to Madrid is delayed you have some time to find an alternate route to Madrid. You of course also need to get a flight from Madrid on the return.
      You’re upping the inconvenience and incidental costs before after for the tax/fees and Avios savings.

      • Thank you Doug, I see what he meant now, so I was the one confused.

        • We’re all confused 🙂 You may be right anyway, it’s always hard to know what people are asking.

          But I think it’s a point worth labouring. When you book a ticket from you non-home airport, be it for £ or Avios saving, it’s completely separate from your ticket to get to that airport. If you initial flight is messed up, there’s no protection of the main ticket, you’re just a no show. Allowing 4 or 5 hours seems like a long time, but it’s nothing if you initial flight is cancelled or delayed and you’re scratching around for alternatives. Hence the love on FT for B2B (not possible with a Madrid start like this) or an overnight, and ideally not the last flight because that also opens all the risks of a short gap between initial and main flight.

          • Never, ever, had a connection problem in Madrid…..always get the first one out of Heathrow and then spend a few hours in the lounge….easy.

  5. I didn’t know about the Qantas/Emirates trick, however when I search the Qantas website it won’t show any flights from MAN, even though Emirates do fly from there 😩

    • Yet an internet search shows that QF8018 is in fact the Emirates service from MAN to DBX. How would I book this via Qantas to get Avios and tier points?

      • Some OTAs can pull them up, but it is more likely that you will need a travel agent to do it for cities not in the Qantas online booking system. It is frustrating. Note that, as with most codeshares, the cheapest deals are likely to be EK ticketed so it is most effective when booking flex or semi-flex travel.

    • Don’t forget to look at ex EU flights, I’ve flown Emirates from Warsaw to Aus, booked as Qantas using Expedia, it was half the price of the UK flight, and I earned the BA tier points and Avios

      • Thanks – but the dream is to fly direct from MAN and earn a decent amount of tier points!

        • Thanks, but that gives me an error message? I tried Skyscanner but it didn’t even come up with Qantas as an option! I wonder if it’s possible to book with Qantas by phone?

        • Anna, I am assuming you are looking at Sydney, if so flights are marketed as QF 8022, QF 8416, QF 8415, QF 8019

  6. Secret Squirrel says:

    The article is heavy on using Iberia to save avios, the only problem with this is many on here still are minus 90k points in their accounts. Oooppss….

  7. OT: still haven’t received my 25,000 Avios voucher from a Barclays Premier switch in October. It should have arrived by Dec 20th. Has anyone received them yet?

    • I don’t know if you’ve read previous comments but I think some people were having issues with whether or not the offer was targeted and having to contact Barclays re this.

      • I’ve been away for a while so I’ve probably missed these as I don’t necessarily go through every article, and the original post is unfortunately closed for comments. Thanks for the feedback!

    • Emailed them at the below address
      premierrelationship_bankingteam [at] barclays [.] com
      Very apologetic and sent the voucher code and link within a day, the avios were added to account within one day after adding code. Shame I had to chase, but couldn’t have asked for a quicker resolution once I did.

  8. In terms of better availability – when I try to find LHR to X on iberia.com it always shows me MAD-LHR-X – i.e. cannot find LHR-X redemption flights for any date. Am I missing something?

    • TGLoyalty says:

      It’s would be LHR-MAD-x as the better availability is for Iberia economy flights only.

  9. Rob, if you take the Madrid to NY route out does the return flight take you back to London via Madrid? Thx

    • TGLoyalty says:

      That would depend on how you book it.

      From my experience a routing like that would probably only be available via phone as I haven’t been able to see it online.

      • How much is tax+surcharge NY to LDN one way on BA?

        • A lot!

        • £400 at a guess, vs £20 at a guess on Aer Lingus and £75 at a guess on IB. BA overcharges on one-way tickets from the US. This is Business.

          • Lady London says:

            And USD5 or so if you have Delta or Virgin to use.

          • Lady London says:

            In other words BA is a ripoff.

            There are even cash return fares frequently available in both directions for substantially less than the so-called ‘taxes’ BA is charging ,- and taking big Avios off you as well.

          • Thank goodness they DO charge so much on one ways and returns originating from the USA though – Avios are more more readily available over there in massive quantities with regular 30%+ discounts on transfers from Amex, etc so if they had low taxes too the availability would be even worse. At least these costs put off a lot of Americans leaving a bit more availability for those on trips from the UK.

    • No. For cheap taxes you need to go into Madrid both ways. Don’t forget Aer Lingus too though.

    • Lady London says:

      It doesn’t always. If available you would normally see both via LON and direct to MAD options.

  10. Just to be clear: is it possible to book a BA flight from LHR to NYC on a BA plane for Avios with lower taxes as in your first example on Iberia website? Or only Iberia flights from Madrid?

    • I was wondering the same…

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Only on Iberia flights.

    • Only IB.

    • Start your journey in Inverness?

      • Lady London says:

        A travel agent (competent at ticketing – its a specific skill not all agents have to the needed level these days) could probably ticket it from INV Newquay Belfast or one of the other APD exempt starting points. Would be worth the booking fee. But mysteriously the airline websites have a good chance ofnot being set up to allow you to do this.

    • Lady London says:

      They’ve seen you coming and stopped that. As soon as you select a transatlantic BA flight within your booking even making it from Iberiaplus, something much closer to the BA native level of taxes will be landed into your booking.

  11. maccymac says:

    Slightly OT: Just earned my first ever BAPP companion voucher a couple of months after account opening. The app states “Start earning towards next year’s voucher from (renewal date)”… does that mean further spend until then will only earn avios and not go towards another companion voucher until the renewal date? Many thanks for your advice.

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