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Don't panic: Iberia devalues some off-peak awards, still a great deal

May 10, 2021
7 min read
Iberia planes at MAD airport
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Iberia has long offered excellent business class award pricing from the U.S. to Madrid (MAD) on off-peak dates. Travelers flying from the East Coast can book one-way tickets for just 34,000 Iberia Avios one-way, and flights from the West Coast are a great deal too.

Today Iberia raised the cost of award tickets to/from a handful of cities, including Chicago-O'Hare (ORD) and Los Angeles (LAX), effective immediately. Thankfully, the price increase isn't too bad and, frankly, they were a long time coming.

Let's take a closer look at this change and why it may not be so bad after all.

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Iberia raises award prices from Chicago and LA

(Photo by J.Thort / Shutterstock.com)

Iberia has a distance-based award chart where you pay more Avios for longer flights. Further, it offers lower pricing on off-peak dates. Here's a look at the award chart:

Distance (miles)Off-peak economyPeak economyOff-peak premium economyPeak premium economyOff-peak business classPeak business class
0 - 6504,5005,000--9,00010,000
651 - 1,1507,5008,250--15,00016,500
1,151 - 2,00010,00011,000--20,00022,000
2,001 - 3,00011,00012,500--21,25031,250
3,001 - 4,00017,00020,00025,50035,00034,00050,000
4,001 - 5,50021,25025,00031,75043,75042,50062,500
5,501 - 6,50025,50030,00038,25052,50051,00075,000
6,501 - 7,00029,75035,00044,25061,25059,50087,500
7,000+42,50050,00063,75087,50085,000125,000

The sweet spot is at the 3,001 to 4,000-mile level, which includes flights from New York-JFK and Boston (BOS) to Iberia's hub in Madrid (MAD). Until recently, this tier included Chicago-O'Hare (ORD) to Madrid, with off-peak business class awards pricing at 34,000 Avios one-way. This is despite the flight being 4,202 miles long.

Further, the airline priced flights from Los Angeles (LAX) to Madrid in the 4,001 to 5,000-mile tier, so business class cost just 42,500 miles one-way. In reality, the flight is 5,845 miles long.

That ended this week. The airline now prices one-way awards from Chicago to Madrid at 42,500 Avios, while Los Angeles departures will set you back 51,000 Avios. This no-notice pricing change was first reported by Inside Flyer and is reflected on Iberia's website.

Related: A review of Iberia’s business class on the A350, New York to Madrid

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(Screenshot courtesy of Iberia)

Inside Flyer notes that flights from some Central and South American cities have gone up in price too. For example, Mexico City (MEX) to Madrid used to cost 42,500 Avios in business class but moved to the 51,000 Avios tier. Lima (LIM) and Santiago (SCL) to Madrid also went up in price.

(Screenshot courtesy of Iberia)

Thankfully, New York-JFK and Boston awards remain unchanged and can still be booked for 34,000 Avios one-way on off-peak dates.

Related: 6 best ways to redeem 100,000 Iberia Avios

My take on this devaluation

Business class on Iberia's Airbus A350. (Photo by Christian Kramer/The Points Guy)

Unfortunately, Iberia devalued its off-peak business class sweet spot, but it's not surprising.

Iberia has undercharged for tickets from Chicago and Los Angeles for years. This devaluation simply corrects pricing on these routes, in line with its award chart. As Gary from View From The Wing said, the airline never requested additional miles from travelers who have taken advantage of this mispricing over the years.

Frankly, I'm surprised it took Iberia so long to correct pricing on these routes — especially the large pricing discrepancy from Los Angeles. These flights are still a great deal, even at the increased pricing. Redeeming 51,000 Avios for a business class flight from the West Coast to Spain is far lower than many loyalty programs require.

For example, booking the same tickets with American Airlines AAdvantage costs 57,500 miles regardless of where you depart from in North America. So, you still save 15,000 points by booking Chicago to Madrid with Iberia Avios instead of American miles.

Of course, I would've liked Iberia to give notice before making this change, but I find it hard to be mad, given this was seemingly a glitch on American's website.

Why did the airline choose to correct pricing now? It's hard to say, but I wouldn't be surprised if the airline sees a large influx of award bookings after news broke that the EU will start allowing U.S. tourists this summer.

Airlines are still recovering from the pandemic and need ways to reduce liabilities where they can. This is a small way for Iberia to do that, and I much prefer a small pricing correction to a full-blown no-notice devaluation.

Related: The cheapest ways to book a trip to Spain with points and miles

Bottom line

Off-peak Iberia awards from Chicago and Los Angeles now require more Avios but remain cheaper than programs like AAdvantage. Thankfully, flights from the East Coast continue to require just 34,000 Avios in business class Ultimately, this evaluation is a correction of a pricing error and the devalued routes are still a great deal.

If you want to book one of these Iberia awards, they remain accessible. Simply transfer American Express Membership Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards points to give you Iberia Avios balance a boost.

Feature photo by yllyso / Shutterstock.com

Featured image by (Photo by yllyso / Shutterstock.com)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

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  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
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  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more