I think at this point we’re all familiar with the ridiculously generous promotion that Iberia offered, where you could earn 9,000 bonus Avios for every flight you booked on Iberia, up to 90,000 bonus Avios.
Many of us took advantage of this promotion, and booked 10 one-way tickets within Spain, costing about $30 each. 90,000 Avios for around $300? Yes please!
While existing Iberia Plus members have mostly already seen the bonus Avios post, some who signed up for new accounts have been running into problems. As I wrote about yesterday, Iberia is threatening not to credit some people their bonus Avios due to “booking inconsistencies.” In other words, they’re claiming that booking 10 one-way tickets is reason enough not to honor the promotion. To those receiving the email, I recommend standing your ground.
In my opinion Iberia is handling this promotion horribly (and I say this as someone who actually had their 90,000 Avios post).
What surprises me is how many people are suggesting that new members are greedy and don’t deserve the bonus Avios, and are saying that they should have known this wouldn’t work out.
I think it might be time to step back and look at this promotion big picture.
This Iberia Plus promotion is very different than a mistake fare
It’s one thing to act outraged if an airline is refusing to honor a $200 first class mistake fare, and they communicate quickly to say they won’t honor it. That’s reasonable enough. But I think it’s important to look at the timeline of events here:
- Iberia published a very generous promotion that was valid for several days
- The way Iberia published the terms, you got the Avios after booking rather than after flying
- Iberia repeatedly publicly confirmed that there was no need to actually take the flights to earn the bonus Avios
- Many of us assumed it was too good to be true, and someone in Iberia corporate communications even reached out to bloggers to say that the promotion was exactly as good as it sounded, while bloggers were writing about the possibility of booking cheap one-way tickets
- Iberia could have pulled the promotion early, but didn’t
- For the 10 days following the promotion, there were no communications suggesting they wouldn’t in any way honor the promotion
So was this promotion ridiculous? Yes. Do I have any clue what Iberia was thinking? Nope.
Having said the above, I’m not surprised by the current outcome, and it’s exactly what I predicted from the beginning. I expected they’d mostly honor the promotion, but would try to make it difficult for many. If anything, I’m surprised that many of us got our 90,000 bonus Avios without a fight.
Are people violating Iberia terms with this promotion?
Some suggested that members were violating Iberia terms by booking 10 back-to-back one way tickets.
I’ve read through Iberia’s contract of carriage, and see nothing that would address this in any way.
Then I read through the Iberia Plus terms & conditions, and I also see nothing, aside from the following generic disclaimer:
The Programme reserves the right to recall your card, cancel your account and hold you responsible if you make improper or fraudulent use of the Programme or do not comply with the rules and procedures contained in these General Conditions.
However, I think most of us complied exactly with what we were told by Iberia. There’s nothing in the general conditions addressing this, and Iberia even publicly stated that booking one-way tickets we had no intention of flying was permitted.
I’d say the one exception is those who created multiple accounts. Each member can only have one Iberia Plus account, so members who opened multiple accounts are actually violating the terms, so I think it’s reasonable for Iberia to request proper identification.
That being said, I’m not surprised there are problems
While I think Iberia is in the wrong here, I’m not surprised to see these problems. I think the promotion has worked better for most than we expected (many of us got our 90,000 Avios without issues).
While the problems don’t surprise me, I also think it’s unreasonable to blame consumers in any way here. Yes, the promotion was ridiculous. But Iberia kept doubling down on it. After publishing the promotion, they kept it live the entire time, their corporate communications reached out to confirm that people could just book 10 one-way tickets, all of Iberia’s communication channels continued to clarify that the promotion was real and that you didn’t need to take the flights, and even in the 10 days following the promotion, they did nothing.
Some suggested people who took advantage of this promotion were greedy, though I don’t see how that argument can be made for those who only had a single account (I agree it’s greedy if you made multiple accounts for imaginary people). It’s like a supermarket advertising something for cheap in their circular, walking into the store and seeing it priced that way, asking repeatedly if that’s actually the price, and then buying it.
I think the blame for this falls squarely in Iberia’s hands.