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Iberia Plus is, you’ll be unsurprised to hear, the loyalty program of Iberia – a sister airline to British Airways. Just like the British Airways Executive Club, Iberia Plus uses Avios as its currency of choice but there are a few significant differences between the two that should make Iberia Plus very useful to Avios collectors.
Key Positives Aspects Of Iberia Plus Accounts
The fees and surcharges added to reward flight bookings made with Avios from an Iberia Plus account can be lower than the fees and surcharges added to reward flight bookings booked with Avios from a British Airways Executive Club account.
On a number of long-haul routes, reward flight bookings for travel on Iberia made with Avios from an Iberia Plus account can cost fewer Avios than a similar booking made for travel on British Airways.
Iberia Plus and the British Airways Executive Club have different peak and off-peak dates and this can sometimes make bookings during popular periods cheaper when they’re made through Iberia Plus and not the British Airways Executive Club.
Save On Surcharges With Iberia & Iberia Plus
One of the biggest criticisms leveled at British Airways Avios redemptions is that they can attract incredibly high “carrier surcharges” which make a lot of reward flights uneconomical or annoyingly expensive. On short-haul routes within Europe (where Reward Flight Saver flights are available) and on short-haul routes within the world’s various regions, British Airways Avios bookings can offer fantastic value. On long-haul routes, the search for value can be considerably harder and that’s where Iberia Plus comes into play.
Here’s an example of a British Airways Off-Peak roundtrip Business Class Reward Flight between London and Miami:
Now here’s an Iberia Business Class roundtrip reward flight for the exact same dates for travel between Madrid and Miami:
Let’s temporarily ignore the number of Avios needed for this booking (I’ll come on to that in a moment) and just focus on the surcharges. Where British Airways is charging £667 (~$900) in surcharges and taxes, Iberia is charging just £177 (~$240) – that’s £490 (~$660) less!
Yes, if you were originating in London you would have to buy flights to/from Madrid to save on the fees and the cost of those flights will have to be factored into the calculations. But with a saving of £490 (~$660) per person on offer, choosing to fly with Iberia out of Madrid will still be a much more economical option.
Iberia Plus Sweet Spot Redemptions
At this point, there are two things that you need to know:
- Iberia Plus and the British Airways Executive Club are both distance-based schemes so the number of Avios required to book an award is based directly on the distance of the fight(s) in question.
- Despite the fact that Iberia and British Airways share a frequent flyer currency, they don’t share the same reward charts – just because you need a certain number of Avios for an award through the British Airways Executive Club doesn’t mean that’s how many Avios you’ll need for a redemption through Iberia Plus.
Here’s the British Airways Reward chart:
And here are the distances the zones refer to:
- Zone 1: 1 – 650 miles (excluding North America)
- Zone 2: 651 – 1,150 miles
- Zone 3: 1,151 – 2,000 miles
- Zone 4: 2,001 – 3,000 miles
- Zone 5: 3,001 – 4,000 miles
- Zone 6: 4,001 – 5,500 miles
- Zone 7: 5,501 – 6,500 miles
- Zone 8: 6,501 – 7,000 miles
- Zone 9: 7,001+ miles
And here’s the equivalent Reward Chart from Iberia Plus showing where Iberia is more expensive (red) and where Iberia is cheaper (green) – link to Iberia Plus Tables:
Note: The table above shows the number of Avios you would need if you were flying on Iberia – if you book flights on British Airways via Iberia Plus you will be charged the number of Avios shown on the British Airways Chart.
Because Iberia and British Airways only share a few destinations, this limits the savings you can make by choosing Iberia over BA, but there are still some excellent savings to be had and the examples below will show:
Europe – Miami Business Class (Avios Band 6)
- British Airways will charge 62,500 Avios in either direction (125,000 Avios total) as shown in the example I gave earlier.
- Iberia will charge 42,500 Avios in either direction (85,000 Avios total) as shown in the example I gave earlier.
That’s a saving of 40,000 Avios on a roundtrip booking.
- British Airways will charge 75,000 Avios in either direction (150,000 Avios total)
- Iberia will charge 62,500 Avios in either direction (125,000 Avios total)
That’s a saving of 25,000 Avios on a roundtrip booking.
New York – Europe Business Class (Avios Band 5)
- British Airways will charge 50,000 Avios in either direction (100,000 Avios total)
- Iberia will charge 34,000 Avios in either direction (68,000 Avios total)
That’s a saving of 32,000 Avios on a roundtrip booking.
- British Airways will charge 60,000 Avios in either direction (120,000 Avios total)
- Iberia will charge 50,000 Avios in either direction (100,000 Avios total)
That’s a saving of 20,000 Avios on a roundtrip booking.
Los Angeles – Europe Business Class (Avios Band 7)
- British Airways will charge 75,000 Avios in either direction (150,000 Avios total)
- Iberia will charge 51,000 Avios in either direction (101,000 Avios total)
That’s a saving of 49,000 Avios on a roundtrip booking.
- British Airways will charge 90,000 Avios in either direction (180,000 Avios total)
- Iberia will charge 75,000 Avios in either direction (150,000 Avios total)
That’s a saving of 30,000 Avios on a roundtrip booking.
You’ll find fantastic Avios savings on Premium Economy redemptions too, and if you compare the cost of a premium cabin award between London and South America with the cost of the same cabin on Iberia (from Madrid to South America) you’ll find even more amazing savings.
Iberia Peak & Off-Peak Dates
Iberia Plus and the British Airways Executive Club both have peak and off-peak dates for award redemptions, but they’re not necessarily the same.
British Airways Peak & Off-Peak Dates for 2021:
Iberia Peak & Off-Peak dates for 2021:
The dates that stand out the most as potentially being useful are in October when a lot of European schools have vacations – British Airways has a lot of October dates marked as “Peak Season” while Iberia Plus has just 4 days in the whole of October on which travelers will incur peak season Avios pricing.
Do not make the mistake of thinking that the key here is to book flights with Iberia over British Airways – that’s not correct. What’s important is the currency that you use.
Booking a Business Class Iberia Flight using Avios from a British Airways Executive Club account will see travelers paying higher fees than if they’d booked using Avios from an Iberia Plus account.
Once again, here’s the roundtrip Business Class reward cost for travel on Iberia between Madrid and Miami:
Now here’s what those exact same flights would cost if you were to book them via British Airways using Avios from a British Airways Executive Club Account:
The number of Avios is the same, but British Airways will charge £219 (~$295) more in fees/surcharges just for booking the Business Class award using Avios from a British Airways Executive Club account.
Building Up An Avios Balance In Iberia Plus
If you have access to US credit cards, Chase issues an Iberia Plus credit card which earns Avios on everyday spending and comes with a number of benefits that can help a cardholder save on Iberia bookings (e.g. 10% off Economy and Business Class fares).
Also, Iberia Plus is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards in both the US ( at a rate of 1 MR point to 1 Avios) and in the UK (at a rate of 1 MR point to 1 Avios) so, if you have an Amex Membership Rewards earning credit card (like the Platinum Card or the Blue Business Plus Card), you can transfer in some points when you find Iberia Plus availability that works for you.
You can also transfer Avios freely between the British Airways Executive Club and Iberia Plus so if you have some British Airways Avios that would serve you better in Iberia Plus, you can move them over (I’ll show how that can be done in a post that’s coming tomorrow).
Be aware, however, that there are two catches to transferring Avios between British Airways or Avios.com and Iberia:
- You cannot transfer Avios from the British Airways Executive Club into an Iberia Plus account that is less than 90 days old.
- You cannot transfer Avios from the British Airways Executive Club into an Iberia Plus account that hasn’t yet had a transaction pass through it.
The transaction can be a points transfer from Amex Membership Rewards or you could credit a short-segment oneWorld flight to Iberia Plus just to get the account “active” – then you can transfer your Avios between accounts freely.
Using Avios out of an Iberia Plus account could save you money and could save you a considerable amount of Avios. If you collect Avios and don’t have an Iberia Plus account you should open one up right now (here) to get the clock ticking on the 90-day minimum age requirement discussed above and you should also look to credit a small number of Avios to your Iberia Plus account as soon as possible.