Iberia’s Devalued Avios Program Has A Bright Spot

Yesterday I posted about the devaluation to British Airways’ Executive Club program, which kicks in for bookings made as of April 28, 2015.

There’s another Avios program

What makes Avios quirky is that they’re not just issued by British Airways, but also by Iberia. Except Iberia has a separate loyalty program, Iberia Plus.

The British Airways Executive Club and Iberia Plus programs are virtually identical, and you can even transfer Avios between them.

Iberia Plus devaluation

Not surprisingly, Iberia’s program is being devalued as well. On the mileage earnings side, the changes are virtually identical.

And on the redemption side they’re very similar as well — Iberia is introducing peak and off-peak awards, and for travel on partners their award charts match.

The timing of Iberia’s changes are odd, though. You’d think they would match British Airways’, but instead:

  • Iberia Plus earnings changes kick in March 1, 2015
  • Iberia Plus redemption changes kick in April 1, 2015

The bright side of the Iberia Plus devaluation

Interestingly under the new program Iberia Plus has a separate award chart for travel on their own flights.

To recap, here’s the current Avios redemption chart:

Avios-Chart

Here’s the new British Airways Avios redemption chart (valid for travel on British Airways and all partner airlines):

New-Avios-Redemption-Chart

And while Iberia has the same chart for partners, here’s the new Iberia Avios redemption chart for travel on Iberia:

Avios-IB

While there was basically no good news with the new British Airways award chart, there is some good news here.

  • Off peak business class awards that span a distance of 3,001-4,000 miles go from 40,000 Avios to 34,000 Avios
  • Off peak business class awards that span a distance of 4,001-5,500 miles go from 50,000 Avios to 42,500 Avios

In practice this means that eight months of the year you’ll be able to book:

  • Boston or New York to Madrid for 34,000 Avios in business class
  • Chicago, Los Angeles, or Miami to Madrid for 42,500 Avios in business class

Best of all, keep in mind that Iberia doesn’t impose fuel surcharges for redemptions on their own flights, and that you can transfer points freely between the two Avios programs (as well as directly from American Express Membership Rewards).

Here’s the peak season award chart for travel on Iberia:

Iberia-Peak-Season

Bottom line

This in no way neutralizes the suckiness of the overall devaluation, but it is a bright spot. Being able to redeem 68,000-85,000 Avios for roundtrip transatlantic business class without fuel surcharges is great.

(Tip of the hat to Alex K)

Comments

  1. @Gary – can you still transfer freely btw iberia and BA? from IB to BA specifically. or perhaps not on household accounts?

  2. any quick tutorials on how to switch between the two? new J class on Iberia has gotten decent reviews (similar to Alitalia, I believe)

  3. There is actually the main Avios program in addition to the Iberia and BA parts (not available for Americans with US based addresses) where you can redeem Avios with Air Malta, Aurigny, Flybe and Monarch for other destinations in Europe from the UK.

    Good post. Thanks. Oh and I would fly Iberia Business over coach on another airline across the Atlantic. Iberia is a great option for cruise ship connections in the Med.

  4. A few things to add. Your IB account must be at least 90 days old in order to transfer in or out Avios. Also, to transfer Avios INTO IB from BA, you will need to have at least 1 Avios in your IB account.

    Quick question Lucky, I was under the impression that transferring Avios between IB and BA would be free, but according to their website under Iberia Plus account management, they have pricing table for ‘Transfer Avios’. Is this only applicable if you transfer your Avios to another person’s IB Plus account?

  5. Well, you are already being penalized by having to fly Iberia metal so better be with less Avios. ­čÖü

  6. @Ben – Thanks for the hat tip! Quick note on Chicago- for some reason Iberia puts it in the Band 4 category even though it’s over 4000 miles. Just booked one at 40k points a couple weeks ago. Hopefully it stays in that band and I’ll rebook at 34k.

    @Poyntee
    Regarding availability I’ve noticed tons more availability using IB Avios than BA Avios or AA miles. They are definitely keeping more seats open for their own program anecdotally.

  7. This is good news if you’re able to find award space in J. I had been monitoring ORD-MAD availability for MAR-JUN and had found so few seats available that I quit paying attention. Also, I was hoping that the same deal came back this year as last January but it never did (40k for round trip in J!).

    Anyway, if you can find availability in J I would say it’s one of the better routes across the Atlantic and for 85k from ORD or LAX it’s an excellent redemption of Avios. I flew it last year on the award sale in one of their new A330’s as well as a refurbed A340 and I was impressed with both rides. Was funny because the A340 looked like all the paint was faded and peeling off from the exterior but then when I walked into the cabin it was pristine. Was a good experience all around and I wouldn’t hesitate to fly them again with or without an award sale.

  8. @Seth – I’ve been using Iberia’s site. No great options for calendar search, but it’s pretty straightforward otherwise and doesn’t require the points to be in your account. Just did a spot check against EF though (forgot IB was on there) and it looks like it matches exactly, so that’s definitely easier.

    @AC – Just randomly checked ORD-MAD for a few weeks in June and see 2 seats 6/7, 6/9, 6/11, 6/14, 6/15, 6/16, etc. Actually some of those dates have 2 business seats available on each flight, so 4 seats TATL arriving within 90 min of each other is pretty good.

  9. Hi Lucky,

    Mostly unrelated, but for someone without any previous oneworld miles, where would you recommend crediting Iberia flights? I have a decent number of Delta and Southwest miles (previous common flights were to/from Chicago, Paris and DKR, plus a TON on MDW-EWR). I’m moving in a month and will probably be based in Chicago (near MDW, not ORD), Boston, or New York. Should I make an American AAdvantage account? I’ve got somehwere in the 5k-10k miles of Iberia flights coming up.

  10. @gary, LAX-MAD is not year round so you may want to check your dates. Anyway IB doesn’t release much award seats between LAX-MAD. I checked few months ago and IB only released 8 award seats in next 11 months.

  11. @ Daniel Peake — I don’t agree with it, but I suppose the reason would be to maximize branding for each company and create more loyalty. Even though Iberia is part of IAG, presumably the individual airlines still have somewhat different goals.

    And hey, it means Iberia redemptions without fuel surcharges for us, so it’s not all bad news. ­čśÇ

  12. @ Daniel — No, Emirates isn’t a partner. They partner with oneworld, and then have a few random partners, like Royal Air Maroc.

  13. @ Stvr — It’s a fully flat staggered hard product. And transatlantic is all about the hard product, in my opinion. I’d fly them in a heartbeat.

  14. @ Brad — With the Avios program you pay on a per segment basis, so you’d pay more Avios for that additional segment, yes.

  15. @ PS — Definitely American AAdvantage, in my opinion. Unless you have a need for shorthaul redemptions, in which case crediting to BA Avios wouldn’t be a bad choice.

  16. @ Matt — Seems to be a pricing anomaly. Routes don’t follow the distance based zones 100%, and this is one of those exceptions.

  17. Matt

    The current Avila pricing chart is valid until April 1st…. We still have a couple of months for Bussiness class at 40000. Also I think that in the current Iberia zone chart ORD is in the same bucket as NYC and BOS regardless of the distance. Funny edge is that I recevied from Iberia plus a mail kind of suggesting… Book with your avios now…their value will go down

  18. Matt

    The current Avios pricing chart is valid until April 1st…. We still have a couple of months for Bussiness class at 40000. Also I think that in the current Iberia zone chart, ORD is in the same bucket as NYC and BOS regardless of the distance. Funny edge is that I received from Iberia plus a mail kind of suggesting… Book with your avios now…their value will go down

  19. For us Europeans there are some interesting options on Iberia (post-April 28th) like these (off peak dates):

    MAD – SJU (San Juan) for 34,000 Avios one-way in Business Class

    or

    MAD – GIO (Ecuador)
    MAD – GRU (Sao Paulo)
    both of which are 42,500 Avios one-way in Business Class

    Pretty good value.

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