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One of the best award flight sweet spots is now easier to book

June 17, 2022
6 min read
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We’ve written extensively about the cavity-inducing sweet spot of flying to Europe with Iberia Avios. You can book an economy ticket for as little as 17,000 Avios each way — or a lie-flat business-class seat for just 34,000 Iberia Avios — with moderate taxes and fees. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a cheaper way to shuttle across the Atlantic in style.

This sweet spot has recently received an update: You can now book it with British Airways Avios, too, as first reported by One Mile at a Time. Let’s quickly revisit this deal and explain what the update means for you.

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Overview of Iberia’s award pricing

If you’re unfamiliar with this sweet spot, here’s a quick overview.

Iberia, the flag carrier of Spain, lets you fly to Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport (MAD) starting at just 17,000 Avios in economy and 34,000 Avios in business class from the following airports:

  • Boston Logan International Airport (BOS).
  • John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK).
  • Dulles International Airport (IAD).
  • O'Hare International Airport (ORD).

You can also fly to Madrid in economy for 21,250 Avios and in business class for 42,500 Avios from the following airports:

  • Miami International Airport (MIA).
  • Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW).
  • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
  • San Francisco International Airport (SFO).

These prices only appear during off-peak travel dates (of which there are plenty). Peak dates cost up to 20,000 more Avios.

Related: Maximizing the British Airways distance-based award chart

Even if you don’t want to visit Madrid, this is an excellent way to cross the pond. You can inexpensively hop to the destination you actually want to visit once you’re in Europe.

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The only real caveat to these inexpensive award flights is the amount of taxes and fees they incur, which can cost $280-plus for a round-trip flight.

British Airways slashes fuel surcharges for award flights on Iberia

British Airways and Iberia use the same points currency: Avios. You can freely transfer Avios back and forth between your British Airways and Iberia accounts. However, the airlines can price routes differently, and Iberia has typically been the more favorable choice for its own flights.

For example, the above award prices to Madrid have also been bookable through the British Airways website, but booking this way has required several hundred dollars in fees for business-class tickets, making them a non-starter for any rational award traveler.

Until now.

British Airways has lowered its taxes and fees to match Iberia’s when flying on Iberia metal. In other words, you can now use either British Airways or Iberia Avios to book this deal.

Here’s a business-class flight from Chicago to Madrid via Iberia for Dec. 5. It costs 34,000 Avios and $123.70.

(Screenshot from iberia.com)

And here’s the same flight when booked through British Airways: 34,000 Avios and $123.70.

(Screenshot from britishairways.com)

Those fees are way lower than they once were — and they match Iberia’s prices exactly.

This also makes it extra simple to effectively manufacture your own cheap paid fares with British Airways Avios.

Does this change matter to you?

This change matters for a couple of reasons.

Most obviously, booking the Iberia sweet spot is a bit easier for many, as it’s now doable through two different sites. The ability to use British Airways Avios to book the ticket directly (instead of transferring Avios to Iberia) takes a step out of the process for many Avios collectors, making things a bit less daunting.

Related: How to transfer your Avios between British Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus accounts

It’s worth noting, however, that award availability appears to be far from identical. After extensive searching, we’re finding much more award inventory on Iberia’s own site.

The more important takeaway of this recent change from British Airways is that it represents another step toward alignment between the loyalty programs that use Avios for their currencies, creating value for customers in the process. For example:

And now, British Airways, notorious for its crippling fuel surcharges, has reduced this out-of-pocket cost for Iberia flights, as well. Things are looking up for Avios.

Related: How to book Qatar Qsuite to the Maldives for just 85,000 points

The program continues to take steps to align prices among its various airline currencies — British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus and Qatar. Perhaps in the near future, all four airlines will offer identical prices, for better or worse.

Bottom line

If you’ve been wanting to take advantage of those inexpensive prices for Iberia business-class awards to Madrid from East Coast cities for 34,000 Avios (and reasonable fees), the process just got easier. You can now book the same flights through British Airways without being penalized with high fuel surcharges.

Just note that award seats might be more sparse, since the process is now less complicated.

Featured image by LightRocket via Getty Images
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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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
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  • Intro Offer
    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®

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    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
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Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • 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

Cons

  • 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
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 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