Category

Iberia

Using Avios To Get To Europe On Iberia Without Fuel Surcharges

Last week I talked about the British Airways Card and how Avios are awesome if you use them for domestic flights on American Airlines.

Link To British Airways Card

Not only is the British Airways Award Chart distance based, it is also CHEAPER than if you used American Airline Miles for the same domestic flights.

That being said, not everyone wants to fly exclusively in North America and perhaps would like to use their Avios to go to Europe.

For anyone that has tried to use their Avios on British Airways to go to Europe, they know first hand what a TERRIBLE deal it is because of British Airways fuel surcharges and London airport taxes. Those 2 things can make a British Airways “Award Ticket” more expensive than just buying a Revenue Ticket.

Well with merger of British Airways and Iberia last year, and the subsequent creation of the “Avios” point, some interesting “loopholes” have formed.

The primary one that is the most fascinating is the ability to transfer your British Airways Avios over to Iberia, and avoid any silly British Airways fuel surcharges.

Transferring Miles To Iberia

Before transferring British Airways Avios to Iberia Avios, you first need to have an Iberia Plus Account. If you do not have one, the link to create one is below.

Link To Iberia Plus Account

IMPORTANT: Before you can transfer Avios between Iberia and British Airways, your Iberia account has to be open for 3 months!

So even if you don’t have any immediate plans to book Iberia flights, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND opening an Iberia Plus Account now, so as to start the clock on the 3 months! Also don’t forget to add your new Iberia account to AwardWallet!

Once you have created your Iberia Plus Account and the 3 months have passed, if you want to move Avios from British Airways to Iberia, simply log into your British Airways Account and click on “Manage My Account”. There you will see an option to “Combine My Avios”.

Clicking on “Combine My Avios” will take you to the site below.

When I was trying to combine my Avios, I was having issues using the Firefox Browser, so I switched to Chrome and it worked without issue.

To combine your Avios, simply enter in your Iberia Plus information and follow the prompts.

Why Iberia > British Airways

Given that British Airways and Iberia merged last year, to most normal people, you would think that booking an Award Flight with Avios on British Airways would be the exact same as booking an Award Flight with Iberia.

That is not the case!

To showcase this difference, I randomly picked some dates for a flight to Madrid from Chicago. Of course you can use your Iberia Avios to go anywhere OneWorld flies, so don’t think you have to limit yourself to Spain or only Iberia planes.

British Airways

I first searched BritishAirways.com and found availability for a direct flight on Iberia from Chicago to Madrid.

This flight doesn’t stop in London, so you avoid the high London airport tax which is good!

While it is only 40,000 Avios for the flight (which is a great deal), there is also a whopping $590.02 in taxes, fees, and carrier charges!

If you expand the taxes part and look into it deeper, you find out that British Airways has tacked on a $496 fuel surcharge!

This is basically free money for British Airways since Iberia is the one flying the plane!

Iberia

Since most people don’t know about the Iberia & British Airways merger, I am sure there are people that will pay $590.02 & 40,000 Avios for the above “Award Ticket” because they don’t know any better.

However if you go to Iberia.com and search, you can find the same exact flight for 40,000 Avios & $172.30 in taxes and fees!

That is a difference of $417.72!

So simply by running 2 searches (one on BritishAirways.com and one on Iberia.com) and transferring 40,000 British Airways Avios to Iberia, you can book the EXACT SAME FLIGHT on Iberia.com and save $417.72!

While this example was just for Madrid and solely on an Iberia plane, if you use Iberia’s Award Search engine, you can find flights to Europe on AA, OpenSkies, etc that DO NOT have any fuel surcharges.

Different Award Inventories

Another interesting thing I noticed, and also a great reason why you should make an Iberia Plus Account NOW, is that although AA, British Airways, and Iberia are all OneWorld Alliance Partners, they all have different Award Inventory.

This isn’t exactly breaking news since Star Alliance does the exact same thing for some of the Premium Cabins on Lufthansa and Asian Airlines.

What is shocking is that Iberia and British Airways have different Award inventory, even though they are owned by the same company!

Just like how if you move Avios from British Airways to Iberia, you can save $417.72 on fuel surcharges, similarly by using Iberia over British Airways to search for Awards, you get access to different inventory.

For example, when Alitalia screwed up my ticket to Madrid last month, I was scrambling to find a new Award Ticket.

The Award Availability was terrible, so I ended up trying to find flights thru London on either Iberia or AA (to avoid the British Airways fuel surcharge), and then planned to take an onward flight to Madrid.

On AA, I could find an Award Ticket to London but then no Economy space going onward to Madrid on Sunday, February 10.

No Economy availability seemed really odd since there was so much Business availability open!

I did a quick search on British Airways to double check and the same thing happened!

There was absolutely no availability to Madrid on Sunday, February 10!

Out of curiosity, I also checked Iberia.com and to my surprise, there was full availability for Economy tickets from London to Madrid!

I don’t know why British Airways and Iberia do this but as a Customer it is good to know that when British Airways says there is no availability, that might not be the entire truth…

At a minimum, hopefully this convinces everyone to at least open an Iberia account because apparently Avios are valued completely differently when they are in one Airline’s account instead of the other!

Recap

The British Airways Avios frequent flyer program can basically be summed up like this: British Airways Avios can be an AMAZING VALUE, as long as you aren’t redeeming your Avios on British Airways!

As silly as that sounds, when you look at how expensive British Airways fuel surcharges are, it is almost as if they are purposely doing that so as to deter their Customers from redeeming their Avios on British Airways.

What makes this situation worse, is that outside of the fuel surcharge, the Avios distance based formula is actually pretty lucrative.

As you saw above, you can get from Chicago to Madrid for only 40,000 Avios (compared to 60,000 on United or American) + $172, which is a great deal!

 -Parag

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