Iberia Adds More Low-Tax Avios Flights To Madrid-LAX Route

One of the big oddities in the miles & points world is the fact that Iberia charges lower taxes on Avios redemptions than British Airways charges for the exact same flights. Both airlines share a parent company and both companies use Avios as their loyalty currency so this discrepancy is puzzling. More on this later but first on to the main point of this blog post.

Iberia Adding Flights To Madrid – Los Angeles

Iberia’s latest schedule shows that it plans to increase frequencies on its Madrid – Los Angeles route for the summer season. During peak season, in summer 2015, Iberia flew the route a maximum of 4x/week but summer 2016 will see the route flown daily.

Iberia doesn’t fly the route during the winter months but, from 30 March 2016, will start operating the route 3x/week before increasing the frequency to 5x/week, then 6x/week and eventually 7x/week:

  • From 30 March: 3x/week (Tue, Wed, Thur)
  • From 26 May: 5x/week (Tue, Wed, Thur, Fri, Sat)
  • From 6 June: 6x/week (Mon, Tue, Wed, Thur, Fri, Sat)
  • From 3 July to 28 August: Daily

The frequencies begin to drop off again after 28 August 2016.

The schedule will be as follows:

IB6171 MAD 12:45 – 16:15 LAX
IB6170 LAX 18:20 – 14:20+1 day MAD

[HT: airlineroute.net]

Iberia’s Aircraft: Madrid – Los Angeles

The route will be operated by a combination of Airbus A340-300s and  A330-200 and it’s the latter that’s interesting in this case.

I posted about Iberia’s new Airbus A330-200 aircraft last week (Fly Iberia’s New A330-200 Business Class From 9,000 Avios) and it’s these new aircraft that the airline will be flying (on certain days) between Madrid and Los Angeles.

The aircraft will carry a total of 288 passengers and will be equipped with Iberia’s latest “Business Plus” seat:

Iberia A330-200 New

Fortunately Iberia only has one type of Airbus A330-200 so, if you see one scheduled for a flight you’re considering (or are on already), you know you’re scheduled to get the new aircraft.

Low-Tax Avios Option

As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, Iberia charges lower taxes on Avios redemptions than its sister airline, British Airways. The problem is that you can only use Avios from an Iberia Plus account to book Avios redemption on Iberia.

You can move Avios from a British Airways account into an Iberia Plus account if your Iberia Plus account meets the following criteria:

  • Iberia Plus account is at least 90 days old
  • Iberia Plus account has had some activity in the past (a transfer from Amex Membership Rewards classifies as “activity”)

An example of the low-tax option that Iberia offers:

Iberia has Economy Class availability for the Madrid-LA route on 28 July:

iberia-economy-class-flight

…and the cost comes to 25,000 + £91.30 ($132) in taxes and fees:iberia-economy-class-avios-cost

But the exact same flight on the British Airways website costs 25,000 Avios + $190 in taxes and fees – almost $60 more.

british-airways-iberia-economy-cost

The difference is even more marked when it comes to Business Class redemptions.

Iberia has a single Business Class seat available for an Avios redemption on 4 August….

iberia-business-flight

…at a cost of 62,500 Avios + £99 ($144) in taxes and fees:

iberia-business-flight-avios-cost

While the British Airways website shows the exact same flight at a cost of 62,500 Avios + $247 in taxes and fees. That’s over $100 more for exactly the same flight.

british-airways-iberia-business-avios-cost

Bottom Line

New Iberia routes or increased frequencies on Iberia routes are always good news for the miles & points collector….especially if you’re an Avios captive like many flyers in the UK.

Avios are still probably best used for short-haul flights (especially if combined with the Reward Flight Saver option in Europe) but, if Avios is the currency you hold the most of, it’s good to know how to spend them with the least out-of-pocket cost to you – and this is one such example.