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While British Airways holds the dubious honor of having unquestionably the worst IT systems of any of the major airlines (they’re a disgrace), its sister airline, Iberia, has its share of IT problems too and that’s led me to believe that two issues that I’ve been having with my Iberia Plus account were down to IT incompetence. It turns out, however, that assumption may only have been partly correct.
I’ve had two major issues with my Iberia Plus account in the past year.
The first issue was that Iberia Plus kept telling me that I wasn’t eligible to buy, gift, or transfer Avios…
…and then a few months ago, the website started to give me error messages when I tried to log into my account.
Getting anyone at Iberia to look into this was a fruitless task but because I didn’t really need to use my Iberia account, I put these issues to the back of my mind.
Recently, I started planning a trip to South America and because using Avios from Iberia Plus can be an excellent way to travel from Europe to Brazil and Argentina very economically, I decided to tackle the issue of my failed logins.
Thanks to a number of Google searches and without any help from the utterly useless Iberia “service center”, I discovered that at some point in the recent past, Iberia changed the format of Iberia Plus passwords from a pin number to a regular style password without telling anyone. This, apparently, could be the source of my issues.
Attempting to reset my password from the desktop site turned out to be a pointless exercise as I just kept getting more and more error messages, but a reset request from the Iberia app yielded an email which then allowed me to set a new password in the new format.
Now that I had changed my password to a format that Iberia was happy with and now that I could log into my Iberia Plus account again, I was hopeful that the error I was seeing when attempting to buy Avios would have gone away. No such luck. The error was still there.
Today, because I had to write an article about the (potentially) very good Iberia Avios sale that runs into next week, I decided to try to work out what was going on.
My train of thought was a simple one: I decided that this couldn’t possibly be a general system error that everyone was seeing because it has been going on for over a year – the issue had to be specific to my account.
I knew that if this had been a new account, the reason for the error would probably have been to do with the fact that the account wasn’t at least 90 days old and hadn’t had at least one transaction pass through it (the Iberia Plus requirements before a member is allowed buy or transfer Avios)…but this isn’t a new account.
My Iberia Plus account has been open since 2012…
…and I’ve had a number of transactions passing through this account in the past (most notably the bonanza that was Iberia’s promotion back in 2018).
As far as I could tell, there was no reason for my account to be excluded from Avios sales and Avios transfers but the facts spoke for themselves – I was locked out.
I checked the Iberia Plus terms and conditions and apart from the usual warning that the program will expire any unused Avios after 36 months of inactivity, I couldn’t find anything in there that could shed a light on my issue.
Eventually, after failing to find any logical explanation for my plight in the terms and conditions, I decided to test out a theory.
I knew that Iberia recognized that my Iberia Plus account was older than 90 days because I could see the age of my account online, but I wondered if Iberia had decided that because my account had not had any qualifying activity since 2018, it no longer qualified for Avios purchase and transfers. Did I need to have some new activity in my account to get my privileges back?
There was one obvious quick way to test this so I initiated a transfer of points from my Chase Ultimate Rewards account to Iberia Plus to see what would happen.
Because transfers from Chase to Iberia Plus are instant, the 1,000 Avios that I had just generated were in my account by the time I had logged out of Ultimate Rewards and logged back into Iberia Plus and, a few clicks later, I could see that my right to buy, gift, and transfer Avios had been restored.
At this point, I’m not 100% sure what to think about what I’ve just discovered.
Is it the case that not only will Iberia expire any unused Avios after 36 months of inactivity but that it will also, at that time, mark an account as dormant and require a member to generate some new activity before they get their right to buy and transfer Avios back? Or did something odd happen to my account thanks to yet another Ibeira IT glitch?
While I couldn’t find anything in the Iberia Plus t&cs that says that the right to buy and transfer Avios will be withdrawn from accounts that are dormant for 36 months, I suspect that this may actually be the case and that this wasn’t a glitch.
I’ve now put a note in my calendar for May 2025 to remind me to check that I’ve had some eligible activity in my Iberia Plus account so that I don’t accidentally get myself locked down again.
Had this been just about any other airline, I’d like to think that I would have figured this out a lot quicker but because it was Iberia (an airline whose’s website is legendarily buggy), I spent a lot of the past year assuming that my account was fine and that the issue lay with the IT systems behind Iberia Plus. Lesson learned!
Did any readers know about this?