If you’ve read the blog for even a week, you know that I love me some British Airways Avios. Yes, it’s a distance based award chart, and there are hefty fees to fly British Airways metal on longer flights, but there are still some killer redemptions.
I’ve used my Avios for short haul domestic flights on American Airlines more times than John Cusack was in an 80′s chick flick. A few months ago, I wrote about intra international flights with Avios, and of course, flying Aer Lingus to Ireland via Boston for 12,500 one way in economy or 25,000 in business (it’s a great way to avoid the fees of flying directly into London, too). But I realized that I haven’t written on another gem yet – using Avios for flights on Iberia.
And, like Aer Lingus, Iberia has minimal fees compared to British Airways. Iberia is the largest Spanish airline and is based in Madrid, so it’s great for flights to and from Spain. Bam. Here we go:
Iberia and British Airways are friends
You can combine your British Airways Avios with your Iberia Plus Avios. I like it. However, you must have had your Iberia Plus account for over 3 months and have some current account activity, or you will see this message:
Nobody wants to see this happen, so if you don’t have an Iberia account – sign up for one now. Do it. And once it’s been 3 months, you can show account activity by buying Iberia Avios, transferring from a hotel loyalty group, or by transferring American Express Membership Rewards points directly to Iberia Avios.
Here’s how to combine your British Airways Avios with your Iberia Plus account.
Log in to your British Airways account, click on “manage account” and then “combine Avios.” Simple enough.
You will then be directed to the page where you can combine your Avios. Just select Iberia and enter in your account info.
That was easy. Remember, the only nuisance is that you have to have your Iberia account for 3 months, and show some activity before you combine your Avios. Let’s float along.
Iberia award flight examples
I found the Iberia site easier to use than the British Airways site, but that says very little. To begin looking and booking on Iberia’s site, log in to your Iberia Plus account, click on Iberia Plus and “flying with Avios” under redeem miles. You will then be directed to the award search page (I did most of my searches on ExpertFlyer to find availability before heading to the Iberia site).
I did a random search from Madrid to Miami on October 16th.
I found “Blue Class” availability for 25,000 Avios and $133.70 one way. Blue Class is Iberia’s discounted economy cabin, so when flying economy, it’s what you will be hoping to find. When I searched for the same flights on British Airways’ site, the results were 25,000 Avios and $262.60.
That’s a difference of nearly $130, or almost double the cash. Ok, but I think we can do better.
Let’s take a peek at New York to Madrid and see what we can come up with.
Ok, now we’re starting to heat things up. You can fly New York to Madrid one way in “Blue Class” for 20,000 Avios and $75.73. I like it. Now, let’s see what the same flight on British Airways’ site would cost.
Going through the British Airways site, it would cost you 20,000 Avios and $272.20. That’s a difference of almost $200, and $400 for a round-trip flight. Now the savings are adding up, but let’s take a peek at business class seats. I know, what’s with all this economy talk?
Heck yes. You can travel NYC to MAD for 40,000 Avios and 68.83 euro or $88.61. Are you starting to like Iberia as an option yet? You should be. Let’s see how this same flight would price out on British Airways (dot) com.
Ouch, the same flight would cost you 40,000 Avios and $452.20. That’s a difference of $363.59 one way or $727.18 roundtrip. Now we’re saving some coin. And while Iberia’s business class isn’t the world’s greatest, I’m sure it will get the job done.
Let’s do one more example. We have time – I need a break from watching Arrested Development, anyway. Ok, so we’re in Madrid and want to get to London. Is British Airways or Iberia the way to go?
Through Iberia, you can fly MAD-LHR for 7,500 Avios and $45.61 in “Blue Class” economy or 15,000 Avios and $45.61 in business class. The flight is right under 3 hours, so picking economy should be fine as long as you’re not a diva. Intra euro biz class is nothing special, anyway. Now let’s see what British Airways has to offer.
It’s actually a little bit cheaper ($20ish) to fly Madrid to London via the British Airways site. You can fly the route one way in economy for 7,500 Avios and $22.50, or 15,000 and $27.50 in business class. Plus, you can fly on BA metal.
Ways to earn Avios
It goes without saying that Avios can be extremely valuable and used in an variety of ways, so collecting them should be a part of every rewards traveler’s quest. And don’t worry – one of my favorite things about Avios is how easy it is to accumulate them.
1.) There’s the co-branded British Airways Visa Signature® Card from Chase.
2.) Membership Rewards and Ultimate Rewards both transfer into British Airways. And there’s a LTO 35% bonus when you transfer Membership Rewards to British Airways now.
There’s a handful of cards that earn Membership Rewards and Ultimate Rewards, so it’s easy to top of your Avios account. The best public offers to earn Membership Rewards are: The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN that has a LTO offer of 50,000 points after spending $5,000 in 3 months. Also, the Mercedes-Benz card has an offer of 50,000 points after spending $3,000 in 3 months, but the $475 annual fee isn’t waived.
These offers are ok, but I would hang around for a LTO Amex offer through the CARDMATCHTM tool, or a one day offer like the 75,000 Business Gold offer we just saw a couple weeks ago.
For earning Ultimate Rewards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is the best personal card, and we all know that the Ink Bold® Business Card & Ink Plus® Business Card are the best Ultimate Rewards business card options.
Combining your British Airways Avios with your Iberia account opens up another possibility of getting to Europe without the hefty fuel surcharges BA will hit you with. Flying business class on Iberia offers the best savings, and is probably what I will do when I find the time to head to Madrid. Can’t wait for that trip. It’s going to be epic.
Because it’s so easy to accumulate Avios, knowing the best ways to maximize Avios is a necessity. Just like brushing your teeth, unless you’re British of course.
I hope this helps as you look for ways to redeem your Avios and find award flight gems.
(tip of the cap to Robert from this FTG post)
[Disclaimer: I do receive a referral credit for most of the cards mentioned in this post. Thanks for supporting the blog if you decide to apply!]
— Geoff Whitmore