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As I reminded readers on Thursday, last Friday was the deadline by which all Avios earned in the incredibly generous Iberia Plus summer promotion had to be used. No one was 100% sure what would happen at this point so a lot of us were waiting to see what would transpire.
It turns out that Iberia was as good as its word.
Iberia had told us two things:
- Any unused Avios from the promotion would be forfeited and removed from our Iberia Plus accounts on 1 December 2018
- Transfers out of Iberia Plus would not count as “using up” the Avios so anyone transferring promotional Avios out of their Iberia Plus account would see their account debited an equal number of Avios on 1 December.
So what happened?
I had 5,000 Avios left over from the promotion and I considered moving them across to the British Airways Executive Club to see what would happen…but I didn’t.
5,000 Avios is an insignificant number of Avios to me so, as didn’t know just how draconian Iberia’s measures would be when it came to dealing with people who transferred out their promotional Avios, I decided to let them sit in my account and wait to see what happened.
Sure enough, on Saturday the 5,000 promotional Avios were clawed back leaving me with a zero balance in my Iberia Plus account.
More importantly, we rapidly started getting reports (via Flyertalk) from travelers who had transferred all their promotional Avios to BA.
It was soon apparent that Iberia was sticking firmly to what it had said:
Iberia was debiting Iberia Plus accounts with the same number of Avios that had been transferred out and, in most cases, this has left people with negative Iberia Plus balances (as had been suspected).
But not everybody has seen their accounts behave in a way that may be expected – there’s at least one report on Flyertalk of Iberia being seemingly incapable of distinguishing between promotional Avios and Avios earned in the normal course of things.
FT members “casomers” reported the following:
- He had a healthy Iberia Plus account balance (on top of the 90,000 he had earned from the promotion).
- He spent 85,000 of his promotional Avios
- He then transferred all but 7,000 Avios out of his Iberia Plus account
As of Saturday Iberia hadn’t touch his account even though he was (rightly) expecting to see 5,000 Avios clawed back:
24 hours later things had gone very wrong:
Rather than just debiting his account the 5,000 Avios that had remained unspent from the promotion it looks like Iberia has deducted a full 90,000 Avios.
Base on this one data point (yes, I know that’s dangerous) it’s possible that Iberia’s systems are using a last in, last-out accounting methodology and, if that’s the case, we can expect all hell to break loose amongst Iberia Plus members – there could be a lot of people seeing their Iberia Plus accounts debited when no debit should be forthcoming.
Has anyone else got any data points to support or refute this idea?
As of now we don’t know what further action (if any) Iberia will take against those who failed to use up their promotional Avios and who transferred them over to BA.
I don’t believe Iberia has the ability or the authority to try to claw back any Avios that were transferred over to British Airways Executive Club accounts but who knows what other action(s) may be possible?
I suspect that a lot of people who are now sitting on negative Iberia Plus balances don’t much care about their accounts so there probably isn’t too much Iberia can do them (any attempts to blacklist individuals would almost certainly fail)….but that’s not going to be everybody’s situation.
If you actually care about your Iberia Plus account (because you use it for tactical low-charge Avios redemptions) a negative account balance is going to be a nuisance going forward and, if you haven’t already spent all the Avios, it may be prudent to redeposit them into Iberia Plus to get your account back to zero.
The big issue now is to see what happens with people like casomers who appears to have had a lot of Avios incorrectly debited from his and his wife’s accounts. Assuming this isn’t an isolated incident I’m expecting to see a significant number of very annoyed Iberia Plus members appear on various message boards and blogs over the next few days and I don’t see this being resolved in a timely manner.
Anyone else care to share their experiences with Iberia Plus over the weekend?