Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Seven Avios secrets you probably don’t know

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There is a lot more – a heck of a lot more – to the Avios frequent flyer scheme than most people think.

If you are a new reader who came to HfP today as part of your Summer 2021 holiday planning, this article runs through seven interesting Avios quirks which you may not know about.

So …. did you know …..?

Seven Avios secrets you don't know

…. that the tax on Iberia redemptions can be 66% 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 £133 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 £667 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 £403 of taxes. This is for the SAME Iberia flight which costs only £133 of tax on iberia.com using Iberia Avios.  Booking on ba.com simply means that BA has whacked on a £270 ‘carrier surcharge’ for the privilege.

You can save a lot of money by moving your Avios to Iberia Plus and booking Avios redemptions on Iberia from there.

We explored this topic in more detail in this article on booking Iberia redemptions on Avios, published last week.

…. 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 £133 of tax to fly to New York on Iberia compared with 100,000 Avios and £667 on tax with British Airways 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 2021 peak and off-peak dates for British Airways, Aer Lingus and Iberia in this article.

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 (£133) and London-NYC (£667) …..

Avios secrets

…. that you can earn Avios when you fly on Emirates as long as you book a Qantas codeshare service?

Qantas is the only British Airways partner where you earn Avios and British Airways tier points on codeshare flights on non-oneworld partners.

(A codeshare is when your flight has a Qantas flight number but is actually operated by a different airline.)

I got my wife to test this out and it works fine as this article on earning Avios on Emirates 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.

…. 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.  This article explains how to earn Avios when flying United Airlines.

We may see the end of this arrangement in 2021 because Aer Lingus has just received approval to join the British Airways and American Airlines transatlantic joint venture.

…. 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.

This article explains how Iberia ‘Blue Class’ Avios pricing works.

…. 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 your Aer Lingus redemption flights – it can’t be done online – you will pay a lot less.  Anecdotally, avios.com does seem to have better availability though.

You can learn more about booking Aer Lingus redemptions with Avios in this article.

Again, we may see the end of this loophole in 2021 as Aer Lingus joins the British Airways and American Airlines transatlantic joint venture.

Make sure you read Head for Points regularly if you want to keep up to speed with tips like these.  You can subscribe to our daily or weekly newsletters via the links at the top and bottom of this page.


how to earn avios from credit cards

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

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

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 (16)

  • Sunshinecoast says:

    Any idea when this loophole may end? I used it last year and want to do the same for Aug 2022, but can’t book until Sep 21. We were hoping to go this August but just no point now 😔.

    • Mikeact says:

      Which loophole?

      • Sunshinecoast says:

        The Aer Lingus cheap taxes from Dublin.

        • Mikeact says:

          Maybe book now for Sept 2021, and then in Sept , call, and see if you can change the date to Aug 22. Or if computer says no, then cancel the booking and start/think again ….particularly the Madrid option which is what we would do. Keep a close eye, on here, regarding AerLingus formal date for joining the JV. Once the date is formally announced, you might want to think about booking pronto, taking on board terms of any cancellation costs etc.

  • Sellers says:

    Product*

    • Rob says:

      We have reviewed it (albeit on short haul) if you search our flight reviews. Seat better than Club World, probably worse than Club Suite. Food has never been IB’s strong point but then look at the nonsense BA is dishing up at present …

  • Chris Heyes says:

    OOOoooo Hope this doesn’t mean the end of our long weekends away to New York, a week round Madrid area, weekend in New York
    with the very occasional jump ship at Heathrow lol
    I’m hoping 1) either Brexit wont stop it 2) BA wont pull the plug
    Not sure how many more years it will continue

  • Susan says:

    That even dragon’s teeth rare destinations such as NZ are relatively easy if you use 2 non-BA airlines and the partner chart.

  • Peter K says:

    Weirdly this article earlier said 5 comments but I could only see 3. Now it says 6 comments but I can still only see the same 3 as before.

  • Alex Sm says:

    OT but Iberia/Avios related. I asked earlier this week but no one replied so will try my luck once again here:

    1) I still have a negative balance on my Iberia account from a widely publicised cheap Avios offer 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?

    • Rob says:

      1. How are we meant to know?!
      2. Worth a call to Avios to ask. However, is it necessary? I have both Lingus and Vueling accounts and I can use either to go IB / avios / BA or vice versa.

      • Alex Sm says:

        1) I thought maybe there were precedents from the past!
        2) maybe you are right actually – it does not hurt to have two accounts just in case, rather than one number across all Avios accounts anyway.
        thanks for your reassurances!

  • Mikeact says:

    The multi carrier mileage option is far better than the standard partner options, assuming you have lots of patience etc etc that is.

  • cinereus says:

    I don’t think “arbitrage” means what you think it does.