Should I Transfer AMEX Points to Iberia?

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I decided to take a closer look after reading a few posts about the option to transfer AMEX points to Iberia with a 25% bonus. I don’t have any AMEX points right now since I transferred all of them to ANA a few months back before closing my AMEX Business Platinum card. However, my cousin owes me a few miles here and there, so I’m torn. Where I should transfer his MR points.

  • Back to ANA? I’ve already spent most of my ANA miles for two business class tickets to Brazil. I have about 50,000 miles left.
  • To Delta? A few months ago, I spent all my Delta miles, but then I got 60,000 miles more for me and the wife with the Delta Platinum card.
  • To Iberia? In an unlikely case you haven’t heard, there is currently a 25% transfer bonus.
  • To Hawaiian? Come on, just kidding!

With the time running out on the Iberia Avios Membership Rewards transfer bonus, I thought I would try and see how it would work out in real life. In the end, it’s not just the number of miles that makes or breaks the deal, but whether or not you would be able to put these miles to good use.

If you find that Iberia Plus isn’t working for you, that’s not a big deal. You can still transfer Iberia Avios points into the British Avios program at 1:1 ratio if you so desire. If you are missing the old days when you were able to transfer MR points to BA Avios at 1:1 ratio, here is your chance, and it probably won’t get better than this.

AMEX Transfer Iberia

25% bonus to transfer AMEX points to Iberia

My “study”, however, is not about transferring MR points into the BA Avios account. I wanted to see if transferring them into Iberia makes real sense. I’ve found out that it might be a terrific value, but only in some cases. Keep reading to decide if you want to jump on this deal or sit it out.

Where Iberia Avios Excels

First thing first. Iberia adds fuel surcharges. It wasn’t news to me, as I’ve always known that AA adds YQ when you book Iberia, but for some reason I thought they didn’t add YQ to the Iberia Plus members. I’ve never flown on Iberia across the pond, so I don’t remember why I got this impression  and whether or not it was indeed the case at some point. But even if it was, Iberia is charging YQ now, and it charges a slightly higher YQ for business class than economy.

Iberia Plus EWR-MAD Coach

Iberia Plus EWR-MAD Coach in Iberia Avios

Iberia Plus EWR-MAD

Iberia Plus EWR-MAD Business Class in Iberia Avios

The fuel scamcharge comes down to about $100 for a round-trip business class flight (the rest is rightful taxes and security fees). Is it worth it for this particular route?

You bet it does! If you want to fly to Madrid and don’t mind the lack of  stopovers or open jaws, I dare you try and find a better value. 34,000 Iberia Avios (or 28,000 MR points) for a round-trip flight to Europe beats everything, including the legendary 40,000-mile AA Off Peak rate. And 68,000 miles (or 55,000 MR points) for a business class transatlantic seat  is also beyond terrific now that the wonderful ANA distance-based award chart has gone into the night.

I checked the schedule for the next year and found the availability quite good for both, coach and business class awards. Another great thing about it is that the 34K/68K rate works not only for the New York-Madrid flight, but Chicago-Madrid, as well. Iberia must charge 85,000 miles for a business class seat on this route, but for some reason, they put Chicago in the same band as New York and Boston. Why? Who cares why!

Iberia Chart1

They do charge slightly more in YQ, though.

Iberia Plus ORD-MAD Biz

Iberia Plus ORD-MAD Business Class in Iberia Avios

How good is an Iberia business class seat?

Quite good for what it is. While I haven’t flown a long-haul on Iberia, every review I’ve come across points out to a lie-flat bed. What else do you need, seriously? Perhaps, their less than stellar reputation for a business class seat stems from the old aircraft, but they are currently flying A340 and A330 (even newer with a staggered seating) over the pond. May I remind everyone (and myself, LOL) that a regular economy seat between North America and Europe normally costs 60,000 miles?

What about connecting flights?

Well, unfortunately, the extreme goodness of Iberia Plus ends in Madrid. Continuing your flights to other European destinations might be more or less reasonable, but it’s not an incredible value. You might be better off using miles from other programs or European Ultra Low Cost Carrier like the Iberia own affiliate Vuelis.

Iberia Plus Iberia JFK-MAD-BCN J

Iberia Plus JFK-BCN Business Class in Iberia Avios

Iberia Plus Iberia JFK-MAD-PAR J

Iberia Plus JFK-CDG Business Class in Iberia Avios

Iberia Plus JFK-MAD-BER Bis

Iberia Plus JFK-TXL Business Class in Iberia Avios

More Goodness

Iberia runs specials sometimes. Right now, they are running a special between Chicago and Madrid for 25,500 round-trip. Availability has been depleted by now, but the price is absolutely ridiculous for a Transatlantic flight. So ridiculous, in fact, that you have to act fast when you see it.

Iberia Plus SPecial ORD-MAD Coach

Iberia Plus Special ORD-MAD Coach One Way

 

Conclusion

While the appeal of Iberia Avios and this promo is limited to only one long-haul destination (Madrid), this is still a terrific deal. If you’re interested in European travel and don’t mind making Madrid your base, you will be hard-pressed finding a better value. 34K/68K Iberia Avios to Madrid from NYC or Chicago is already a great deal, but being able to pay 28K/55K AMEX MR points for these flights is beyond great — it is indeed an incredible value!

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[…] The post at Lazy Traveler on transferring points to Iberia was […]

bluecat

For the Iberia specials, how do you find out about those? Do you know if there is an email sent out that I can subscribe to?

In general, is there something like a “Flight Deals” notification, but for award flights from airlines? (Business idea!)

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