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Why you should NEVER book Avios flights on Iberia via ba.com

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If you are looking to redeem Avios for flights to Central or South America, you may end up booking BA’s sister airline Iberia.  With British Airways announcing the closure of the Lima route last week, its own coverage has become even thinner.

Iberia has an intriguing list of long-haul routes which cover places ignored by British Airways.  This has included – although we can’t be sure what routes will return post-coronavirus – Guatemala, Cuba, Panama, San Salvador, Montevideo, Bogota, Cali, Medellin and Quito amongst others.

How to book Iberia Avios redemptions

Iberia is also worth considering if you are willing to route via Madrid to lower your taxes on redemptions to North America and Asia – places such as Tokyo, Los Angeles, Boston, Mexico City, New York, San Francisco etc.  The massive tax savings available are covered in our ‘Avios Redemption University’ article on Iberia here.

With a growing fleet of A350s – which I reviewed here – and decent business class seating, Iberia is a perfectly good option these days. 

The only downside is that you cannot use a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher on Iberia.

Using Avios on Iberia

Iberia uses Avios as its loyalty currency.

If you have an Iberia Plus account, you can freely transfer Avios back and forth from BA to Iberia using ‘Combine My Avios’.

(OK, that is easier said than done.  Transfers between BA and Iberia are famously ‘buggy’.  Most people find it easier to open an Aer Lingus or Vueling account which lets you log in at avios.com.  You can then use your Aer Lingus or Vueling avios.com account as a middle man to pull in points from BA and then push them off to Iberia, or vice versa.)

How to book Iberia flights with Avios

How to book Avios flights on Iberia

When you book an Avios reward flight on Iberia, you have two options:

You can book it via ba.com – Iberia availability shows up alongside BA availability, as both airlines are in the oneworld alliance and you can use your Avios on all oneworld carriers

or

You can book it via iberia.com

However, if you want to move your Avios to Iberia to book on iberia.com, there are two conditions:

You can only transfer in or out of Iberia Plus accounts which are 90 days old

You can only transfer in or out of ‘active’ Iberia Plus accounts. This means that the account has ‘earned’ an Avios directly – ie you have credited a flight, hotel or car hire to it, or done some other activity to earn an Avios.  If you have an Amex card with Membership Rewards, transferring 1,000 points across may be the easiest way to ‘activate’ your account.

Why would want you want to mess about with all this? Very simple – you do not pay carrier surcharges on Iberia redemptions using Avios when booked via Iberia Plus.  You DO pay carrier surcharges when booking via ba.com.

How much money do I save booking Iberia redemptions on iberia.com instead of ba.com?

Here is an example, looking at a return Avios redemption between Madrid and Montevideo:

Book Madrid – Montevideo – Madrid in Business on ba.com and pay 126,000 Avios and £499 of taxes on off-peak dates for October

Book Madrid – Montevideo – Madrid in Business on iberia.com and pay 102,000 Avios plus £187 of taxes for the same dates

That is a ludicrous £312 saving per person – over £600 for a couple!

Note that this ONLY applies to booking Iberia flights on iberia.com. If you book a British Airways flight on iberia.com, you pay the same fuel surcharges as at ba.com.

Iberia Avios redemptions how to book

Be careful to ensure your luggage is checked through

My example flights are ticketed from Madrid without a London connection on the same ticket.  This is to save Air Passenger Duty.

If your flight was ticketed as London – Madrid – Montevideo then you would be charged an extra £176 in UK Government Air Passenger Duty for long haul business class.  Booking London – Madrid on a separate ticket means that you only pay short haul Air Passenger Duty and even that is wrapped into the £35 Reward Flight Saver fee.

The £176 APD saving comes at a price though.  Iberia will not through-check your bags from the UK if your trip is on two separate tickets.  You would need to collect it in Madrid and re-check it, giving yourself enough time to do so.  Is this worth a chunky APD saving?  Up to you.

These savings are why, if you don’t have an Iberia Plus account, you should open one. It will start the 90 day clock ticking before you can transfer in or out of it. If you don’t, you won’t be able to get an Iberia account up and running at short notice if you need one to book a redemption.


how to earn avios from credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (March 2021)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.

Until 9th April 2021, American Express is running the biggest sign-up bonuses ever seen on a UK payment card.

You will earn 100,000 Membership Rewards points on American Express Business Platinum (apply here) and 50,000 Membership Rewards points on American Express Business Gold (apply here) which is FREE for your first year. Points transfer 1:1 into Avios. Here are links to our reviews:

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

100,000 points sign-up bonus – SPECIAL OFFER TO 9th APRIL – and a long list of travel ….. Read our full review

Amex American Express Business Gold card

American Express Business Gold

50,000 points sign-up bonus – SPECIAL OFFER TO 9th APRIL – and free for a year Read our full review

Here are your other options. There are two official British Airways American Express cards:

British Airways American Express card

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and a companion voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

BA Premium Plus American Express card BAPP

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points, such as:

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

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

If you have a small business, we especially recommend Capital On Cap’s Visa card which comes with a generous bonus worth 10,500 Avios:

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company Read our full review

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for our latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios this month from offers and promotions.)

Comments (27)

  • Simon says:

    The first time I booked flights from Rio via MAD on BA.com there was a glitch in the system and IB wasn’t advised of the ticket number and although BA showed it at HK, it had been cancelled in IB. Thankfully a phone call from BA to IB resolved and reinstated the booking. Other bookings done since then via BA.com, I now always call a few days later to get the IB PNR and check that all is in order. I also called IB to do seat assignment.

  • Paul says:

    The BA avios to Iberia avios is never easy and the system is very buggy. However the rewards are worth the hassle. Madrid -JFK saved a fortune on points and taxes. I was due to repeat the exercise this year MAD to Rio and Returning Quito-MAD. Good news all the points and cash flowed back without any input from me( I did try but getting through was dire near impossible) . However trying to get the points back to BA where I am silver and keep an eye on them is proving not possible using the current system….

  • Paul says:

    Is it same as BA in that buying a PE class can be upgraded to Biz at good value using Avios? Also, if I book LHR-MAD-GIG but have a 2 day stopover in Madrid is the APD at the reduced rate or is it still at the expensive UK rates?

  • David says:

    It’s always worked very well for me (admittedly with hand-luggage only) 1) LHR-MAD-LHR using RFS then 2) MAD to/from BOG, GIG and UIO; especially since many IB MAD-Latin America routes operated twice daily, once early pm once late-night, making connections relatively easy. It was also better to use BA LHR-MAD, as they (unlike IB, which arrived at MAD T4) arrived at MAD T4S, saving transit time.

  • C says:

    Iberia are offering 25% off gift vouchers. Might be useful for someone
    https://www.iberia.com/gift-card/?language=en&market=GB#!/configuration

  • Prins Polo says:

    IB website is unbelievably glitchy. I recently gave up on the savings after multiple attempts and decided to use BA Avios for IB flights – at some point my time is just not worth it…

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