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Fly business class to Europe for just 34,000 points in late 2021 with wide-open award space

Dec. 23, 2020
13 min read
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Let me let you in on a points-and-miles secret: Iberia business class is one of the best deals in the sky.

You can book a one-way ticket from Boston (BOS), Chicago-O'Hare (ORD) or New York-JFK to Madrid (MAD) for just 34,000 points and minimal taxes. Cities like Miami (MIA) and Los Angeles (LAX) cost just 42,500 Avios, which is a great deal as well.

You'll book with Iberia Plus Avios — these transfer in from American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards. Plus, you can transfer existing British Airways Avios to the Iberia Plus program so long as both accounts are open for at least 60 days.

And fortunately, we're seeing plentiful award space on these routes in late-2021. Even though Europe is still largely closed to Americans for the time being, we expect the region to gradually open up as the coronavirus vaccine rolls out worldwide. This makes now a great time to book your 2021 international travel — if you're comfortable with the risk of possibly having to cancel your flight.

Let's take a closer look at the open award space and how to get the best deal when booking them.

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Should you book travel now?

Booking late-2021 travel now comes with minor risks. (Photo by Karol Ciesluk/Shutterstock)

Many readers are wondering if it's a good idea to book travel at the moment — and there’s no right or wrong answer.

Most international borders remain closed due to the pandemic. Because of this, you run the risk of having to cancel your trip if borders don’t reopen by the time you’re set to travel.

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That said, the coronavirus vaccine rollout has been making progress worldwide, so we’ll hopefully see international travel make a comeback toward the end of 2021.

If not, there’s a good chance Iberia — or any other airline you’re flying — will waive change or cancellation fees. All this said, the risk of both not being able to travel and having to pay out of pocket to cancel an award ticket is slim.

Think through your own risk tolerance and see if booking travel now is right for you. If you’re comfortable with it, now could be the perfect time to lock in your 2021 travel plans before travel demand returns and award space is booked up.

Just remember that transferring points to an airline is final and can't be reversed — so if you book a flight that winds up being canceled, you'll be left with the carrier's currency. There's no way to convert them back to flexible, transferable points.

Related: 6 awards to book for 2021 before travel demand returns

Iberia off-peak, business-class award space

There are a variety of dates with open Iberia award space in late 2021. (Photo by Christian Kramer/The Points Guy)

With the heavy stuff out of the way, let's talk award space.

Iberia has open off-peak award space on a variety of dates in 2021. The airline hasn't published an off-peak calendar for 2021, but we've found that most dates in September, October and November are currently pricing as off-peak — with some limited exceptions.

For example, flights departing around Labor Day price as a peak award, as do certain dates in early December.

Below, you'll find all the available Iberia business-class award space between September and November 2021. Most of these dates are currently pricing at off-peak levels, but a handful are showing up with peak pricing. Thankfully, peak rates are still reasonable — 50,000 Avios from the East Coast U.S. to Madrid.

It's also worth noting that these are the dates with at least one award seat. However, virtually all of them have at least two business-class awards — and many even have four.

Screen shot courtesy of Iberia

And amazingly enough, this might be even more widespread. Earlier this week, TPG Senior Editor Nick Ewen booked three, one-way business-class flights from Madrid back to Miami in late November to return home from his rescheduled trip to Santa's Lapland. Today, just a couple of days after booking, that same date is still showing four seats available — meaning that Iberia was willing to make a total of at least seven seats available for business-class awards on that date.

Now that's no guarantee that every route will book like that, but it's an incredible number of seats open for redemption.

Here's a look at current award space:

Boston (BOS) to/from Madrid (MAD)

  • Outbound:
  • September: 7-8, 10, 12-14, 19, 22, 24 and 27-29
  • October: 1, 3-5, 8-13, 15-20, 22-27 and 29
  • November: 1, 3, 6, 8, 10, 13, 15, 17, 20, 22, 24, 27, 29
  • December: 1, 4, 6, 8, 11, 13, 15 and 18
  • Inbound:
  • September: 1, 3, 5-8, 10, 12-15, 17, 19-22, 24 and 26-29
  • October: 1, 3, 5-6, 10-13, 15, 18-20, 22, 24-27 and 29
  • November: 1, 3, 6, 8, 10, 13, 15, 17, 20, 22, 24, 27 and 29
  • December: 1, 4, 6, 8, 11, 13, 15 and 18

New York-JFK to/from Madrid (MAD)

  • Outbound:
  • September: 3, 6-7, 9-10, 20-21 and 25-30
  • October: 1-6, 12-13, 15-27 and 29-31
  • November: 1-30
  • December 1-18
  • Inbound:
  • September: 1-2, 4, 8-12, 14-24, 27 and 29
  • October: 1, 4, 7-8, 11, 13-20, 24-28 and 31
  • November: 1-30
  • December 1-18

Chicago-O'Hare (ORD) to/from Madrid (MAD)

  • Outbound:
  • September: 5-6, 10, 12, 23-24 and 27-28
  • October: 1, 3-8, 10, 12-15, 18, 20-22, 24-26 and 29-31
  • November: 1-30
  • December 1-17
  • Inbound:
  • September: 1-4, 6-10, 12, 14-18, 20, 22-24 and 30
  • October: 1, 5-6, 10-15, 17-20, 24-27 and 29-31
  • November: 1-14 and 16-30
  • December 1-18

Los Angeles (LAX) to/from Madrid (MAD)

  • Outbound:
  • September: 20, 23, 25 and 28
  • October: 2, 5, 18-19, 21, 23, 25-26 and 30
  • November: 2, 4, 6, 9, 11, 16, 18, 20, 23, 25, 27 and 30
  • December: 2, 4, 7, 9, 11, 14, 16 and 18
  • Inbound:
  • September: 2, 4, 9, 18, 20-21, 23, 25 and 28
  • October: 2, 5, 18-19, 21, 23, 25-26 and 30
  • November: 2, 4, 6, 9, 11, 16, 18, 20, 23, 25, 27 and 30
  • December: 2, 4, 7, 9, 11, 14, 16 and 18

Miami (MIA) to/from Madrid (MAD)

  • Outbound:
  • September: 8, 14, 16, 18, 20-21, 25 and 26-28
  • October: 4-5, 10-11. 13, 15-21, 23 and 25-31
  • November: 1-10 and 12-30
  • December: 1-19
  • Inbound:
  • September: 8, 14, 16, 18, 20-21, 25 and 25-28
  • October: 4-5, 10-11, 13, 15-21, 23 and 25-31
  • November: 1-10 and 12-30
  • December: 1-19

San Francisco (SFO) to/from Madrid (MAD)

  • Outbound:
  • September: 13, 15 and 27
  • October: 4, 6, 11, 13, 15, 18, 20, 22, 25 and 27
  • Inbound:
  • September: 1, 3, 10, 17, 22 and 24
  • October: 1, 11, 13, 15, 18, 20, 22, 25 and 27

Related: The best websites for searching Oneworld award availability

How to book Iberia award tickets

To take advantage of these excellent redemption rates, you'll want to book with Iberia Plus Avios — for a few reasons. It typically offers the lowest award rates (especially on nonstop flights), and you can also transfer points from American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards and British Airways Avios. While all transfers process at a 1:1 ratio, transfers from Amex to Iberia are not instant. However, you can get around this by transferring points from Amex to British Airways and then using the Combine My Avios function to transfer to Iberia Plus. Redeeming British Airways Avios for Iberia-operated flights will result in massive fuel surcharges.

Read more: Three versions of Avios: When to use Aer Lingus, Iberia and British Airways

Finally, Iberia award flights are available through its own program 360 days in advance — American AAdvantage only gains access to these award tickets 331 days ahead of time. This gives you nearly a month's head start over other programs if you're looking for late-November or December flights.

You can book Iberia award tickets right on the Iberia website. Just navigate to, sign in and search from the home page. Make sure to select "Pay with Avios" before you run your search.

(Image courtesy of Iberia)

Off-peak awards will price at the discounted rate automatically, so there's no need to call Iberia to book your tickets.

(Image courtesy of Iberia)

One quirk of the Iberia Plus program is that you must add your travel companions as "beneficiaries" in your account before you can redeem Avios for them. Here's how to do that:

  • Log in to your Iberia Plus account.
  • Click on your name at the top right, then select My Iberia Plus.
  • Click on Iberia Plus Card (on the left).
  • Click on My beneficiaries (on the left).
  • Click on Add beneficiary or companion.
  • Check the box for beneficiary, enter your beneficiary's information, then click Add.
  • Repeat these steps for additional beneficiaries.

You can then complete the online redemption process for anyone on your account.

Finally, keep in mind that Iberia uses a distance-based award chart, so if you add another segment within the U.S. or beyond Madrid, it'll require additional Avios.

Related: Transatlantic steal: A review of Iberia’s A330 in business from Madrid to Boston

Earn Avios with these cards

You can earn Avios quickly with transferable points credit cards. (Photo by The Points Guy)

If you're new to the points and miles world, you'll want to start with Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Under the bank's infamous 5/24 rule, you can only be approved for a new Chase card if you've opened fewer than five new credit cards in the past 24 months, so get in on these deals while you're eligible.

Here's a look at the best Chase offers:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. $95 annual fee.
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve®: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. Earn 3x points per dollar on all travel and dining purchases. $550 annual fee.

On the other hand, you can apply for a card that earns American Express Membership Rewards points. I (personally) find Membership Rewards points more useful as they have more valuable transfer partners, like ANA Mileage Club and Etihad Guest. Of course, you can transfer directly to Iberia Avios to book one of these tickets too.

These are our favorite Amex offers:

  • American Express® Green Card: Earn 45,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $2,000 on purchases within the first six months of card membership. Earn 3x points on dining, travel and transit, 1x points on all other purchases, $150 annual fee (see rates and fees).
  • American Express® Gold Card: Earn 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new card within the first six months of account opening. Earn 4x points on dining at restaurants; 4x points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per calendar year; then 1x points); 3x points on airfare purchased directly from airlines or via; 1x points on all other purchases, $250 annual fee (see rates and fees).
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the card in the first six months of card membership. Earn 5x points on airfare purchased directly from airlines or Amex Travel (earn 5x points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year, starting Jan. 1, 2021), 5x hotels booked through Amex Travel and Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts; 1x on all other purchases, $695 annual fee (see rates and fees).

The information for the Amex Green card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Don't want to transfer points? Consider applying for the Iberia Visa Signature® Card. You'll earn up to 100,000 Avios. Earn 75,000 Avios after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening and earn an additional 25,000 Avios after you spend $20,000 in the first 12 months of account opening.

Related: Amex Membership Rewards vs Chase Ultimate Rewards: Which is the best?

Bottom line

Off-peak Iberia business class award tickets are a steal at just 34,000 Avios one-way from the East Coast to or from Madrid, and it's just 42,500 Avios for other U.S. gateways. We're seeing a huge number of dates in the fall of 2021 with two or even four of these seats available, so if you're looking to plan a European getaway late next year, you may want to jump on these awards before they disappear.

For rates and fees of the Amex Green card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Gold card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum card, click here.

Feature photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy

Featured image by Iberia is flying the A330 to The Maldives. (Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)
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.