This week was the end of one of the best travel deals out there – using 4500 British Airways Avios to book any short-haul flight on any oneworld airline. This was typically done by North American users flying on American (and previously US Airways). But as of this week, short haul flights that have either their origin or destination in North America cost 7500 Avios one-way
Transferring British Airways Avios to Iberia Avios
If you didn’t burn through all of your British Airways Avios, there is still an option to use Avios on short-haul flights: IBERIA Avios. Iberia is also a member of oneworld, and they are actually owned by the same parent company as British Airways.
You can transfer British Airways Avios to Iberia Avios, as long as the following 2 conditions are true:
- Both accounts have been open for 90 days, and
- Both accounts have had SOME activity in them (crediting flights, transfers from Amex, etc)
So if you don’t have an Iberia account yet, you might want to go ahead and open one to get that 90 day clock started. If your accounts meet both criteria, under Manage My Account, you can choose “Combine Avios”
Using Iberia Avios for short haul flights
Like British Airways, Iberia has a distance based award chart, and like Alaska Airlines partner redemptions, they have a different award chart for each partner. It is not quite the same as the British Airways chart and has a few important differences
- Important Difference #1 – These are ROUNDTRIP prices, and you MUST book a roundtrip ticket if you’re flying on American.
- Important Difference #2 – These distances are on the TOTAL (roundtrip) distance, and include connections. So if you don’t live in a American Airlines hub, you don’t have to pay 4500 Avios for EACH leg of the connection
- Important Difference #3 – Unlike British Airways, Iberia does NOT partner with Alaska Airlines, so you can’t use Iberia Avios on Alaska operated flights
The taxes and fees are a little higher with Iberia, but still fairly reasonable. Think ~$20 for a roundtrip ticket.
Finding Iberia award space
You can use Iberia’s site to find awards on American – you’re looking for “Blue Class”. Here’s an example of Cincinnati to New York
You can see that this hits a “sour spot” (the opposite of an award chart sweet spot). Whereas with British Airways, the 589 mile one-way fell right on the edge of the Zone 1 (4500 Avios) boundary, now the roundtrip of 1178 miles falls into Zone 3, which costs 17,000 Avios (nearly twice as much). Still, there are some cases where this will be useful, for me particularly if I want to connect somewhere through somewhere closer like Chicago. Flying Southwest is also still an option for short-haul flights – I’ve found Southwest flights as low as 2,500 points one-way. American and United also have awards for less money on short-haul flights, and American even has the Reduced Mileage awards.
You can transfer American Express Membership Rewards directly to Iberia, but you can NOT transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards directly to Iberia (you’ll have to do it by way of British Airways Avios, so it’s still doable, just takes an extra step)
What say you? Did you know about using Iberia Avios to book short-haul flights in North America now that British Airways has raised their prices?