You can now book Iberia premium economy awards using AA miles: Here’s how
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For the past few months, American Airlines has steadily been adding the option to book premium economy awards on its partner airlines, starting with British Airways in October 2019 and Air Tahiti Nui in December 2019. Today, AA added the option to use your American Airlines AAdvantage miles to book premium economy awards on Spanish airline Iberia.
This adds a third option for flying premium economy across the Atlantic using your AA miles. But, importantly, this option lets you fly premium economy while avoiding the high fees that British Airways charges on its own flights and the sometimes extraordinarily-high award pricing that AA uses on its own flights.
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This is another piece of good news after American Airlines eliminated its close-in award booking fee on Jan. 16. That means that in addition to now being able to book Iberia premium economy awards, you won’t have to pay a $75 fee for booking within 21 days of departure.
Award chart for Iberia premium economy awards
As part of adding premium economy awards on British Airways, AA added a premium economy award chart to its partner award chart, and the newly-added Iberia premium economy awards will price based on this chart.
The most relevant line on the award chart for these new Iberia awards is going to be premium economy awards between the U.S. and Europe — which cost 40,000 miles one-way on either Iberia or British Airways. That’s a reasonable 10,000-mile premium to the economy award price of 30,000 miles each way, especially considering premium economy paid flights can sometimes be double economy prices.
At current TPG valuations, 40,000 AAdvantage miles are worth $560. That means you’ll pay around $1,120 worth of miles to book a round-trip on Iberia premium economy between the U.S. and Europe.
For reference, here’s the entire American Airlines AAdvantage partner award chart for awards to or from the U.S.:
If you need to earn more AAdvantage miles to book your premium economy award to Europe, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® is currently offering a 50,000-mile sign-up bonus after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Plus, you and up to two guests get access to AA’s Admirals Clubs when you fly American Airlines.
Searching Iberia Premium Economy award availability
Now that Iberia premium economy awards have been added to American Airlines’ system, you can search and book these awards right on AA’s website. However, you will need to use the new award searching tool, as the old award searching tool doesn’t show premium economy awards.
It’s important to keep in mind that all Iberia award availability may not show on AA’s website. Several of us at TPG have run across this issue when trying to book Iberia awards. The good news is that you can still book these awards over the phone, but AA hides them from the website. As an American Airlines spokesperson confirmed when we asked about this issue in December 2019:
The last available award seat will not display on aa.com to avoid double-booking, but will display for partner carriers who use a different GDS [Global Distribution System] and for AA Reservations. In these circumstances, customers who are unable to book an award online can call Reservations for support.
So, if you aren’t seeing award availability on the date that you want, you might want to check award availability another way. You can search for award availability right on Iberia’s website or (AA and Iberia partner) British Airways’ website. However, you’ll need to log into an Avios account before you can search award availability on either website.
Other ways of booking Iberia premium economy
Just because you can book Iberia premium economy awards with AA miles doesn’t mean that you should. If you’re flying from an East Coast airport served by Iberia nonstop to Spain, it’s probably going to be better to book using Iberia’s Avios.
Don’t worry if you don’t have any Iberia Avios. Iberia is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards (1:1, instant transfer time), American Express Membership Rewards (1:1, 48-hour transfer time) and Marriott Bonvoy (3:1 with a 5,000-mile bonus for transferring 60,000 points, 24-hour transfer time).
During off-peak dates, you can fly nonstop from Boston (BOS), Chicago (ORD) or New York-JFK and Spain for just 25,500 Avios each way in premium economy. That’s a significant discount to the 40,000 miles that AA is going to charge for the same flight.
Even during peak dates, the cost for booking premium economy award on these routes using Iberia Avios increases to just 35,000 Avios each way — which is still less than the 40,000 miles AA is going to charge.
However, you’re going to want to book Iberia premium economy awards using AA miles if you have a connecting flight — whether that’s inside the U.S. or intra-Europe — as Iberia charges by the flight.
What Iberia premium economy is like
Iberia launched its brand new premium economy product in April 2017, and I was one of just three passengers who were able to book the surprise inaugural flight.
The main reason for many passengers to choose premium economy over economy is the extra space, and Iberia delivers 37 inches of pitch with a slimline-style seatback which leaves plenty of legroom. The seats have a substantial recline, but — as TPG’s Lori Zaino points out in her review of Iberia premium economy — it doesn’t feel claustrophobic when the passenger in front of you reclines.
In past flights with Iberia, service has “perfected the art of average.” However, Lori was much more impressed by the service and the catering options in Iberia premium economy on her most-recent flight.
Related: When is premium economy worth it?
What’s next for AA partner premium economy awards
With the addition of Iberia, you can now book premium economy awards on three AA partners using AAdvantage miles. Hopefully, American Airlines will add premium economy awards on additional Oneworld partners such as Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines and Qantas.
In confirming the addition to TPG, an AA spokesperson said that the airline is “actively working to provide even more opportunities to book award travel in premium economy through additional partners in the near future, and we will share more information as available.”
Featured photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy.
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