Book now: Nonstop business-class awards to Spain for peak summer travel in 2020
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Earlier this week, Iberia announced plans to start flying nonstop between its Madrid hub and Washington-Dulles. The new flight, operated by the carrier’s A330-300, will commence on May 1, 2020 and initially operate four times per week — though a fifth weekly frequency will be added on July 6.
And this new route brings good news for award enthusiasts: We’re currently seeing a large number of dates with two business-class award seats on this new flight, covering most of next summer and continuing through the end of the booking calendar.
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While this award inventory was loaded earlier in the week, AA.com was (at the time) imposing fuel surcharges of $600 in each direction, even though other Iberia-operated flights from the U.S. didn’t have them. After coordinating with our contacts at American, they confirmed that Iberia has updated its carrier-imposed surcharges table, so the IAD-MAD flights are now pricing with the correct amount of taxes and fees.
At the time of writing, here are the dates with two awards in business class on this new route:
Washington to Madrid
- May 20, 24 and 25
- June 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 17, 21 and 29
- July 5-8, 10, 12-13, 19-22, 24 and 26-29
- August 2-5, 7, 9-12, 14, 16-18, 23-26, 28 and 30-31
- September 1, 4, 11, 13-16, 20-21, 23 and 29
- October 2, 4-6, 9 and 11
Madrid to Washington
- May 3-4, 6, 8, 13, 15, 18, 22, 25 and 27
- June 1, 3, 5, 8, 12, 17, 21-22, 24, 26 and 28-29
- July 1, 3, 6-8, 14-15, 17, 20-21 and 28-29
- August 2-5, 7, 9-12, 14, 16-19, 21, 23-26, 28 and 30-31
- September 1-2, 4, 6, 8-9, 11, 14, 18, 21-23, 25 and 27-30
- October 2, 4-7, 9 and 11
If you’re happy taking the journey in economy, award availability is outstanding, as virtually every day the flight operates has at least two award seats available.
Finding award availability
The best way to get a snapshot of this award availability is to use AA.com in calendar view, though you can do this in two ways. The first is by using the old award search engine. From the homepage of AA.com, click on the Advanced / Multi-city search link underneath the Search icon, click Redeem miles and enter your search criteria. From the results page, you can sort to see nonstop availability:
Note that this calendar view will not display premium-economy awards — though I’m not seeing any on this route at the time of writing.
Alternately, you can simply search using the homepage to search, though it takes a few additional steps to see the flexible dates. Enter your search details and click Search. Then, from the results page, click on the Calendar link at the top and filter the flights you want to see accordingly. Here’s what you’ll see for one-way, nonstop, business-class awards on this route for June 2020:
The biggest issue with this new search engine is that it will default to show you “relevant” flights — which AA.com interprets as American-operated ones. As a result, even if you use the calendar search and select a date with nonstop, business-class availability on Iberia, the first result will likely be much pricier:
Be sure to change the Sort by box to Number of stops, and then the Iberia flight should pop up to the top:
How to book
Since Iberia belongs to the Oneworld alliance, you can use points or miles from any member airline to book these flights. You’ll want to avoid British Airways Avios — since the carrier adds enormous fuel surcharges to Iberia award tickets — so our recommendation is to use either Iberia Plus or American AAdvantage to snag these tickets. However, there’s a major difference between the programs:
- Iberia uses a distance-based award chart, so the award rate depends on the total distance of your flight.
- American uses a region-based award chart, so the award rate will be fixed between the U.S. and Europe.
If you’re solely interested in the nonstop flight and can find low-level award availability, here’s what you’d need to pay for a round-trip award ticket:
|Program||Economy||Premium economy||Business class||Transfer partners|
|Iberia Plus||37,000 Avios + ~$180||60,500 Avios + ~$180||84,000 Avios + ~$200||Amex, Chase, Marriott|
|American AAdvantage||60,000 miles + ~$180||N/A (couldn’t find any availability)||115,000 miles + ~$200||Marriott|
If you add a connecting flight — either within the U.S. or once you reach Spain — you’ll need additional Avios through Iberia, but American will require the same number of miles. You’ll want to compare the two award rates to make sure that you’re booking through the program that offers the best deal.
If you’re short on Avios, note that the Iberia Plus program partners with both American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards, allowing you to convert these points into Avios at a 1:1 ratio. Even better? Both Amex and Chase points transfer instantly, so you shouldn’t need to wait and worry about someone snapping up the awards you want (though you may need to log out and log back into your Iberia account to see the newly-transferred points reflected in your balance).
If you don’t have any transferable point-earning credit cards, you should definitely consider adding one to your wallet, as these currencies offer some phenomenal flexibility and value. Some top options include:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months after account opening.
- American Express® Gold Card: Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases on your new card in your first three months of card membership — though be sure to check the CardMatch Tool to see if you’re targeted for a 50,000-point welcome bonus (offer subject to change at any time).
- Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card: Earn 50,000 bonus miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening.
Unfortunately, American’s only transfer partner is Marriott, and our tests found that points can take up to 48 hours to arrive in your AAdvantage account. As a result, your best option is to use any AA miles you’ve already earned to book these flights.
It’s always nice to see international airlines expand their U.S. operations, and this typically means wide-open award availability when a new route first goes on sale. That’s definitely the case with Iberia’s new flight from Washington-Dulles (IAD) to Madrid (MAD), but I wouldn’t wait too long to book these. Scoring a round-trip, business-class flight from the U.S. to Spain for just 84,000 points and a couple hundred dollars in taxes and fees is a fantastic deal that many won’t be able to pass up.
Featured photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy.
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