Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Planning a trip to New York in Business Class? Save a fortune in Avios and cash by flying Iberia

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There was a lot of discussion on Head for Points last week about Virgin Atlantic’s decision to raise taxes and charges on its Upper Class flights to the US to a crazy £1,196. The airline quickly backtracked and the fees are now back to ‘only’ £996 return.

For those who hate paying large fees but want to travel in comfort, it is worth reminding you how to save a huge sum in Avios and cash when heading to New York in Business Class, by flying Iberia.

Remember that you can now use a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 companion voucher on Iberia. This means that you can fly Business Class to New York for just 34,000 Avios per person, return.

Planning an Avios trip to New York? Save a fortune with Iberia

How to redeem Avios via Iberia Plus

This article is a long one, so let’s quickly summarise what you need to know:

  • when travelling to the US East Coast, the number of Avios you need is substantially lower with Iberia – from just 68,000 Avios return in Business Class
  • if that wasn’t good enough news, taxes and charges are lower and availability is better than if you book on British Airways
  • following relatively recent changes, you can now get this pricing when booking at ba.com – there is no need to move your Avios into an Iberia Plus account and book via the Iberia website
  • Iberia has its own peak and off-peak calendar which can work in your favour, as UK school holidays are often off-peak
Planning an Avios trip to New York? Save a fortune with Iberia

Why should you redeem Avios on Iberia long haul?

When an Avios collector in the UK looks for a long-haul redemption, British Airways is the obvious choice of airline. However, the Avios and/or taxes and charges can often be very high.

To New York, for example, an off-peak Business Class flight from Heathrow is 160,000 Avios + £350 in fees. This is a LOT of Avios, even with a 2-4-1 voucher. You can choose to use fewer Avios, but the cash component shoots up quickly.

Avios and/or taxes on Iberia flights are often a fraction of those charged by British Airways – although Air Passenger Duty will be added if your connecting flight from the UK is on the same ticket.

Business Class seating on Iberia is now excellent

Iberia has been through a substantial restructuring since being bought by IAG, the parent company of British Airways.  It has gone from being a joke, if we’re honest, to one of the more impressive European carriers.

Rhys recently tried out the new A350 Business Class seat on a trip to Bogota – click here and see below. It’s a very good product, although only on a few aircraft so far. That said, the older A350 seat isn’t bad either.

Iberia has no First Class.

Planning an Avios trip to New York? Save a fortune with Iberia

If you want to try Iberia Business Class but are short of Avios or time, it runs a few London to Madrid services each week with long-haul aircraft and flat beds in business class. This is because it needs the cargo capacity offered by the bigger aircraft. Finnair does the same between London and Helsinki.

How cheap are Iberia redemptions to the US East Coast?

Iberia has its own reward pricing chart with its own peak and off-peak dates (click to enlarge).

This pricing applies even when you book Iberia redemptions via ba.com.

Iberia redemption chart

and

Iberia redemption Avios chart

Compared to British Airways pricing (based on the pricing before Reward Flight Saver was introduced), there are substantial differences in the 3,000 to 4,000 mile zone which covers the US East Coast.

Iberia, as you can see above, charges 68,000 Avios off-peak and 100,000 Avios peak for a return Business Class flight to New York.

Before Reward Flight Saver came in, British Airways charged 100,000 Avios off-peak and 120,000 Avios peak for a return Club World flight to New York. This has now increased to 160,000 and 180,000 Avios, albeit with far lower taxes – and the old pricing is still available if you want it.

You need to factor in the cost and time of getting to Madrid, although if you live outside London it is not massively more complex than changing planes at Heathrow.

Travelling to the US West Coast?  This isn’t as straightforward.  London to San Francisco is a Zone 6 flight, for example, whilst Madrid to San Francisco is Zone 7 as it is a longer trip.  You need to do the maths and also compare the taxes.

Of course, Iberia also has plenty of destinations that you can’t reach with British Airways, such as Bogota which Rhys visited on his review flight.

Planning an Avios trip to New York? Save a fortune with Iberia

Show me some actual numbers ….

Here’s a screenshot from ba.com showing Madrid to New York in Business Class:

The cost, on off-peak dates, is 68,000 Avios plus £215.

If I was using a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 companion voucher, the average cost per person would be 34,000 Avios plus £215, return.

This is not necessarily easy, of course.

  • from the UK, you need to fly to Madrid. However, if you are not based in London you will be taking a connecting flight anyway and the saving probably justifies not flying direct from London.
  • the London to Madrid flight cannot be booked on the same itinerary as the Madrid to New York flight or you will be obliged to pay UK Air Passenger Duty at the long-haul rate.
  • since you will have separate tickets, Iberia is not obliged to look after you if you miss your long-haul flight – although if you fly Iberia from London, it is very unlikely they would abandon you if the delay was down to them

Conclusion

If your mind is pondering a short break in New York or elsewhere on the US East Coast, don’t forget the exceptional Avios value offered by Iberia.

The saving on taxes and charge is HUGE compared to 160,000 Avios + £350 on British Airways, or 95,000 Virgin Points + £996 on Virgin Atlantic.

In return for a detour via Madrid – which is not necessarily a hardship – you can save a substantial amount in both Avios and taxes and charges on your way to New York.


How to earn Avios from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (April 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:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £20,000 Read our full review

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

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £15,000 Read our full review

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.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

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

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points and a huge range of valuable 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 10,500 Avios.

Capital on Tap Business Rewards Visa

Huge 30,000 points bonus until 12th May 2024 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 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

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.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and FREE for a year 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.

Comments (112)

  • Michelle Chesterton says:

    Am I missing something? I thought the 241 companion voucher could only be redeemed on economy seats. Does Iberia let you use it for Premium Economy and Business class seats as well?

    I’m planning on flying to Rio and/ or Buenos Aires in the next couple of years so it would be amazing to get a good deal with Iberia but ONLY if it’s Premium or above. Way too far to be flying Economy!

  • Bob says:

    So I must be doing something wrong – I’ve logged into ba.com, said I want to use my amex premium plus voucher, put in MAD to JFK, but it keep trying to route me MDA-LHR-JFK even when I choose no stopover. Not sure how to make it pick the Iberia direct flight?

    • Rob says:

      Look for random dates in 10 months when it won’t be booked up, just to prove it works.

  • Chris says:

    For the BA 241 voucher, do you have to fly out from the UK? Or can you use the 241 out of Madrid?

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