Who Is Iberia Good For?
Iberia Plus is a reward program that many casual awards travelers don’t consider, but should. Iberia and British Airways are actually one and the same. But like the Air France/KLM/Delta relationship, Iberia/British Airways operate their flights and their frequent flyer programs somewhat independently.
Iberia used to have a strange redemption system that used a different miles value than most (i.e., you used to earn something like 10 or 20 points on short domestic flights), but since the airline merged with BA in 2010, things have taken a much more useful turn.
Directly through the BA and Iberia websites, or through the overall program site, Avios.com, you can instantly transfer points between the two programs, as long as you have had an account with each program for at least 90 days. So go sign up now if you haven’t already!
You can then turn around and use those points to book BA flights, using the Iberia Plus program. This is one of the best ways to get BA flights without those well-known and much-hated BA fuel surcharges.
- Madrid-Barajas International Airport
- Barcelona El Prat International Airport
How Can You Use Iberia Miles?
Iberia Avios are redeemed according to a distance-based award chart, like British Airways. This can provide substantial savings over zone-based award programs, particularly on short hops, but also by maximizing the high end of each distance range category.
One of the important partnerships Iberia has is with Vueling, a new Spanish airline that offers a very classy product think Virgin America, with a Spanish high-design twist. Vueling is a great alternative for quick European city hops.
In some cases, Iberia award tickets price out to more miles for the same route than the British Airways Avios redemption. In some cases this is a routing issue, but the two airlines do use slightly different award charts. Still, Iberia’s higher award price is more than made up for by the fact that its fees and surcharges are a fraction of those charged by British Airways.
Like its sister airline, Iberia makes its awards also available in Avios + money options. This allows you to buy additional Avios at a low rate when you don’t have enough, or when you want to save your Avios for another occasion.
- 72-hour hold on award itineraries
- Distance-based awards
- Avios can be transferred directly to a British Airways account
- Avios expire with 36 months of inactivity
- No stopovers permitted
- No changes permitted to tickets that contain a leg with a oneworld partner
- To upgrade a cash fare with miles, customers must call; no upgrades are available online
- The English version of the Iberia website is very limited and glitchy
Best Value Awards:
Though they may not be available to the destination you need when you want to go, Iberia’s 50-percent-off awards are the single best way to use Iberia Avios. When these come up, you can travel between the U.S. and Spain for just 40,000-50,000 Avios roundtrip in business class (only available on Iberia planes, not BA).
Worst Value Awards:
Iberia consistently prices awards on American Airlines between the U.S. and Europe higher than British Airways. For flights between the U.S. and Europe, it’s best to save Iberia Avios as a means to fly BA while avoiding paying high fees to fly on their planes, or to get to Spain or other destinations served directly by Iberia.
The Good Stuff: Upgrades and Elite Status
Upgrades with Avios are only available on tickets booked in economy Y, B or H fare classes. To upgrade a cash fare with Iberia Avios, customers must call; no upgrades are available online.
Iberia Plus Elite Levels and Perks
Each level below includes the perks of the previous level unless otherwise specified.
- Silver: 25 percent bonus miles, business class check-in, increased baggage allowance, oneworld Ruby status, priority boarding
- Gold: Fast-track VIP access, VIP lounge access, double miles, VIP parking, oneworld Sapphire status
- Platinum: Two complimentary upgrades per year, instant 22,500 Avios advance when needed, airport to city center limo transfers, oneworld Emerald status
Associated Credit Cards
Since Iberia is a foreign carrier, it’s no surprise that it doesn’t market a cobranded card in the U.S. But thanks to the Avios connection, you can get the British Airways Visa Signature® card, which is available in the U.S., and transfer your Avios to Iberia when you need them.
The current bonus is outstanding. Earn up to 100,000 Avios: earn 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening. Plus earn an additional 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $20,000 on your purchases within your first year of account opening. While the minimum spend is quite big, it might be worth getting the card during the promotional period just to get the bonus points right away in case you need to use them soon. No other card, cobranded or otherwise,
The card comes with:
- 3 Avios per dollar spent on BA
- 1 Avios per dollar on all other purchases
- Chip technology
No foreign transaction fees
- $95 annual fee