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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 points from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (January 2022)

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

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses.

There are special sign-up bonuses on both of the BA American Express cards until 28th February 2022. The bonus on the free card is doubled to 10,000 Avios and the bonus on the Premium Plus card is increased from 25,000 Avios to a huge 40,000 Avios.

British Airways BA Amex American Express card

British Airways American Express

10,000 Avios for signing up (SPECIAL OFFER) and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending ….. Read our full review

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

40,000 Avios (SPECIAL OFFER) and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 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

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 30,000 Avios.

30,000 Avios is a special offer which runs to 4th February 2022.

Capital on Tap Visa card

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

30,000 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa for a limited company Read our full review

You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 45,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

45,000 Avios is a special offer which runs to 28th February 2022.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

45,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios 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.

(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)

  • Steve says:

    Is there an ongoing requirement to keep your Iberia plus account active once you have made an initial “ activation “ credit of avios ? annually etc ? To stop the account becoming dormant.

    • Rob says:

      You need some transaction every three years, yes.

      • Steve says:

        Many thanks, now living in spain, with uk businesses, are there any sites where you can find out how to credit your Iberia account with avios in spain ? They don’t appear to have many offers here..

    • ChrisBCN says:

      Earn or spend once every 36 months

      • Steve says:

        Many thanks, now living in spain, with uk businesses, are there any sites where you can find out how to credit your Iberia account with avios in spain ? They don’t appear to have many offers here..

        • ChrisBCN says:

          There’s nothing much I bother with, aside from using Amex/Iberia Icon for spending. There’s a list of partners for earning on the Iberia site. Opportunities are indeed low!

  • jonty says:

    It’s such a rare treat to see Mexico City included in North America (which is where it is) rather than South or Central America (where it isn’t)

    • Bagoly says:

      True, but I was surprised when my Mexican client contact referred (in English) to Latin America meaning only that which is further south of Mexico, whereas to me that does include Mexico.

  • Briandt says:

    Ex Madrid works a treat….we’ve done North America twice now.
    +RFS to connect, never had a connection problem, despite a small risk, but always get the first flight out of Heathrow.

  • Mikeact says:

    Ex Madrid works a treat….we’ve done North America twice now.
    +RFS to connect, never had a connection problem, despite a small risk, but always get the first flight out of Heathrow.

    • Doug M says:

      It works until it doesn’t. I do (did?) ex-EU but you really need to be aware of the risks, and thinking 4 hours or similar is fine just doesn’t work as soon as anything goes wrong. If the first flight is cancelled how long until the next one.
      @Original Nick. Overnight buys you some thinking time, but if your overnight starts with the last flight of the day that brings risks too. You have to be aware and accept it can all go wrong.

      • Bagoly says:

        Agreed.
        Cancellation (pre-Covid, due to a hospital admission) was a complete nightmare on Iberia. Forget online or email (although I did send an email to use in a subsequent claim in case I never did get it cancelled before the flight left).
        Half way through the 20 ‘phone calls to reach someone who could do it, I even resorted to twitter which didn’t work either.
        And that was with looking up all ideas and ‘phone numbers on the relevant FT threads.
        I had a week before flying to do the cancellation, and it took five days.

    • Mike says:

      Mikeact did you go on holiday with Briandt ?

      • Mikeact says:

        Yup, my son and wife. He left us over there to meet up with friends and first time we carried on up to Alaska.

  • The Original Nick says:

    A night in Madrid is always the safer bet.

  • Neil says:

    Still don’t expect to be able to allocate a seat on the Iberia sector booking this way, well not online anyway. Booked RIO/MAD/LHR on Iberia.com in business class, IB coded flight RIO/MAD and BA coded MAD/LHR, IB ticket number, but no way to allocate seat online or even see seat map. Says to check BA who of course say Seatmap available at online check in! Have checked the usual work rounds, RJ,QR,AY websites but no seat map visible.
    One thing I did notice was that Brasil must have strong consumer laws as the price and miles was the same on IB.com and BA.com, but went with IB as thought more chance of allocating seat, how wrong I was.

    • marcw says:

      You need to find the actual PNR for the BA flight – it’s not the same for the whole itinerary. It’s not that straightforward to find regardless.

  • TOBIAS L says:

    But what if you only have status on BA and not Iberia? I’ve had frustrating experiences with staff at MAD trying to get into a lounge using my BA FF # as the ticket was on IB Plus # which has nothing.

    Any way around this?

    • Henk says:

      Tobias L Yes – create a beneficiary in your Iberia account in your own name with your BA details, and book the Avios ticket in that name.

  • Alex Sm says:

    Two questions:

    1) I still have a negative balance on my Iberia account from a widely publicised cheap Avios offer from a couple of years ago. Will they “expire” after three years of inactivity?

    2) I had an Avios number from EI/BE accounts and wanted to use it with Vueling but Vueling added a new number automatically and I can’t change it now. Is there any other way to merge accounts?

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