Cheap 2021 travel: Fly to Europe in business class starting at just 34,000 miles each way
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
Iberia's off-peak awards are by far one of the cheapest ways to fly to and from Europe in business class. You'll pay just 34,000 Avios each-way when you book on these dates, making it nearly half the cost of comparable business class awards on other airline partners.
Plus, Iberia offers a great business class product on its A330 and A350 aircraft. In a recent review, TPG's Christian Kramer gave its A350 business class a 76/100, noting that the seat was spacious, the food was decent and the service was efficient. So even if you're booking on pricier on-peak dates, you can look forward to a solid flight across the Atlantic.
There is currently wide-open, business-class award space in early 2021 between Iberia's U.S. gateways in Boston (BOS), Chicago-O'Hare (ORD), Miami (MIA) and New York-JFK and its hub in Madrid (MAD). Most of this is for off-peak dates too, making it easy to score a deal — and spring is a great time to visit Europe to enjoy warming weather and avoid the summer crush of tourists.
Let's take a look at what we're seeing.
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Should you book travel now?
Before we discuss the available award space, I want to address the elephant in the room: booking travel during the coronavirus outbreak. International travel is still largely restricted around the globe, so now is not the time to book a European adventure for this summer. That said, we've seen incredible award space for flights departing early next year, giving you an opportunity to plan future trips well in advance.
There are a couple of risks involved with booking future travel now, though. The first is that it may not be safe to travel by the time you're set to depart. The virus' spread has shown signs of slowing parts of the world, but there's no way to tell when countries will reopen their borders for tourism.
With that in mind, make sure you understand the change and cancellation policy of the airline whose miles you're booking with. In a worst-case scenario where the virus' spread doesn't slow, you could be forced to cancel your ticket and pay a cancellation fee. Researching this ahead of time keeps you free from surprise change fees if your airline's coronavirus fee waiver isn't extended.
Keep your airlines' financial state in mind too. Airlines have been hit hard by the coronavirus-fueled travel downturn, with some major players already filing for bankruptcy. If your airline were to go completely out of business, your miles and award ticket could be deemed worthless. Only transfer miles and book tickets with airlines that you're confident will survive the coronavirus pandemic without going belly-up.
Iberia award space to Europe
As discussed in the intro, we're finding a ton of open award space in early 2021 from a handful of Iberia's gateways on the East Coast and from the Midwest. Much of this award space is on off-peak dates too, so you can use it to book a ticket from the east coast for just 34,000 Iberia Avios one-way.
The airline hasn't officially announced off-peak dates for 2021 yet, but you can find dates with off-peak pricing when searching for award tickets on Iberia's website. Use the airline's 2020 off-peak dates as a jumping-off point for finding awards at this price — we've found that almost all the dates listed as off-peak in 2020 carry over to 2021.
Here's a look at all the award space we're finding between March and May of 2021. All the dates below have award space for at least two passengers, but solo travelers may be able to find even more dates. You can find award space of your own using your favorite Oneworld search tool.
Boston (BOS) to/from Madrid (MAD)
- March: 1, 3, 6, 8, 10, 13, 15, 17, 22, 24, 27 and 28-31
- April: 3-29
- May: 2-29 and 31
- March: 1, 3, 6, 8, 10, 13, 15, 17, 20, 22, 24 and 28-31
- April: 1-2, 4, 6-30
- May: 2-31
New York-JFK to/from Madrid (MAD)
- March: 1-31
- April: 3, 5-15, 17-22 and 24-30
- May: 2-9 and 11-31
- March: 1-25 and 29-31
- April: 1-2, 4-16, 18-19 and 21-30
- May: 3-26, 28 and 30-31
Chicago-O'Hare (ORD) to/from Madrid (MAD)
- March: 1-4, 7-10, 13-15, 17, 20-24 and 26-31
- April: 1, 3, 5, 7-8, 10-16, 18-19, 21, 25-27
- May: 1-27 and 29-31
- March: 1-14, 16-19, 21-27 and 29-30
- April: 5-23 and 26-30
- May: 1-31
Miami (MIA) to/from Madrid (MAD)
- March: 1-27 and 30
- April: 1-2, 7, 9-13, 17-22, 25-26 and 29
- May: 2-6 and 8-31
- March: 1-31
- April: 2-22, 24-26 and 28-30
- May: 1-2, 4-7, 9, 11-29, and 31
How to book
You'll generally score the best award price by booking with Iberia Avios, especially for nonstop flights. You can transfer points to Iberia from American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy. Note that you can also move points from British Airways Avios to Iberia Avios — as long as your account details match, they've been open for at least 90 days, and are both active. You can book Iberia award tickets on the airline's "Book with Avios" page.
Here are the award rates you'd pay for the nonstop flights out of (or into) the above gateways:
- BOS/JFK: 34,000 Avios off-peak, 50,000 Avios peak
- MIA/ORD: 42,500 Avios off-peak, 62,500 Avios peak
Alternatively, you can book these tickets for 57,500 AAdvantage miles each way. While more expensive than Iberia on off-peak dates, it can be a good deal if you have AAdvantage miles you're waiting to redeem. You can find and book Iberia award tickets on AA.com.
Note that American could also be a good option for connecting to another destination in Europe. Iberia uses a distance-based award chart, so when you add a connecting flight, it'll require additional Avios. For example, a one-way, business-class flight from Miami to Stockholm (ARN) via Madrid booked through Iberia Plus would set you back 62,500 Avios on off-peak dates. That exact same itinerary would be 57,500 AAdvantage miles:
Regardless of whether you book through Iberia or American, you'll pay just over $220 in taxes and fees for a round-trip, business-class ticket booked with either of these programs. This makes Iberia a great way to avoid British Airways' huge fuel surcharges when flying to Europe, especially if you're sitting on a pile of Avios.
When paying the taxes and fees on your award ticket, be sure to use a credit card that earns additional points on airfare purchases and offers travel protections in case anything goes wrong, such as The Platinum Card® from American Express, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
Earning transferable points
If you don’t have enough points to jump on this deal now — or you want to be prepared when one comes up in the future — the best strategy is to earn transferable points. With this in mind, you may want to consider adding one of the following cards to your wallet:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards points after you use your new card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first six months of account opening, though be sure to check the CardMatch Tool to see if you're targeted for a 100,000-point offer (offer subject to change at any time).
- American Express® Gold Card: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases on your new card in your first six months, though be sure to check the CardMatch Tool to see if you’re targeted for a 75,000-point offer (subject to change at any time).
Whether you book on or off-peak, this open award space offers a great way to fly to Europe in early 2021. You'll fly on a new plane with a recently refurbished business class seat, which is sure to help you arrive in Madrid refreshed. Before you book though, make sure you understand the risks of booking travel during the coronavirus outbreak.
Feature photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy.)