I was reading through our forum last week when I saw a comment from a HfP reader who was in the middle of a winter break in Doha.
He had flown from Madrid on Iberia and had paid just 68,000 Avios + £206 in taxes and charges for his return Business Class seat.
It tempted me to have a look around at what else was available.
Let’s start by saying that Doha is not everyone’s first choice for a Middle East winter break. It doesn’t have the breadth of hotels and resorts that you’ll find in Dubai – nowhere near – but it is approaching the level of Abu Dhabi.
If all you are looking for is somewhere warm with very high quality hotels, however, you could do a lot worse. The Museum of Islamic Art (image above) and the National Museum of Qatar (below) also let you tick off the culture box.
Iberia’s reward chart has a sweet spot
The Iberia reward chart – which applies whether you book an Iberia flight redemption for Avios on ba.com or iberia.com – looks like this:
It is very similar to the old British Airways reward chart, pre Reward Flight Saver, except for Zone 5.
As you can see, flights of 3,001 to 4,000 miles are just 34,000 Avios each way in Business Class on off-peak dates. This covers a lot of interesting routes, primarily Madrid to New York. You can fly from Madrid to New York, off peak, in Iberia’s Business Class for 68,000 Avios + £213 return.
Last year Iberia launched flights from Madrid to Doha, alongside a daily service from Qatar Airways. Whilst I didn’t pick up on this at the time, this route also falls into the 3,001 to 4,000 miles sweet spot. This is why Madrid to Doha, return, is 68,000 Avios plus £206.
You can use a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher on Iberia
Now that British Airways American Express Premium Plus companion vouchers are accepted on Iberia, this becomes even cheaper.
Two people can travel from Madrid to Doha using a 2-4-1 voucher for an average of 34,000 Avios + £206 each, return, in Business Class.
The Qatar Airways service is also a decent deal
Qatar Airways also has its own ‘special’ Avios redemption chart. As with Iberia, this is used whether you book on qatarairways.com or ba.com.
From Madrid, it costs 86,000 Avios + £162 return for a Business Class trip to Doha, off-peak. Again, you can’t sniff at that. You can’t use a 2-4-1 voucher on Qatar Airways, however.
Qatar Airways is also an excellent deal from the UK. A Business Class return flight from Heathrow to Doha is 86,000 Avios + £384 in taxes and charges on off-peak dates.
(This is £222 more than starting in Madrid. If you are not short of time, you could use the £222 saving to fly to Madrid and have a ‘free’ day and night there before heading to Doha.)
But don’t book British Airways ….
Whether you book Iberia or Qatar Airways to Doha, you’ll get a cheap deal.
The British Airways flights from Heathrow to Doha are substantially less attractive. The Reward Flight Saver price is a whopping 160,000 Avios + £350 per person.
Pulling down the Avios amount by using additional cash, the nearest option to the Qatar Airways price (which is 86,000 Avios + £384, remember) is 88,000 Avios + £800 per person.
This is before we start discussing the merits of the Qatar Airways lounges, seat, food, drink and servce vs the British Airways alternative ….
The BA option looks more attractive if you have a 2-4-1 voucher – but it’s still far poorer value than using the same voucher for a 2-4-1 on Iberia.
If you don’t have a huge Avios balance but want to try out a Business Class long-haul redemption, you could do worse than 68,000 Avios + £206 for an off-peak Iberia trip from Madrid to Doha – especially if you have a British Airways American Express Premium Plus companion voucher to use.
And, by a complete coincidence, next week we’ll be running a special series reviewing Iberia’s latest Business Class seat and the food and service ….. (EDIT: the Iberia A350 business class review is now live – click here)
How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (February 2024)
As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!
In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.
You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:
There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:
You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points. These points convert at 1:1 into Avios.
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 10,500 Avios.
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 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.
There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.
Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.