UPDATED: Awesome Iberia Business Class Award Availability Like You’ve Never Seen Before; Chase 30% and AmEx 40% Transfer Bonuses

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UPDATE 9/2/21

I’m updating this post because:

  • AmEx is now offering a 40% transfer bonus to all Avios programs including Iberia
  • I’ve revised a part of my original post (explained below)

As you might or might not know, I have posted a lot, and I mean A LOT of stories about Iberia, mostly for one unicorn-grade reason: 34,000 miles price tag for an Iberia Business Class award flight between some U.S. cities and Madrid.

I haven’t touched Iberia for a while, because nothing has happened much in the last year or so. There have been some “slow-day” news, which have been covered in the blogosphere quite nicely, so I didn’t have anything to add.

Until now!

First, I guarantee you’ve never seen Iberia Business Class award availability like this!

Iberia is quite well known for blocking its Business Class seats close to departure, so it was nearly impossible (with some rare exceptions) to find award space within two to three months before your flight. It’s still the case — mostly — because I’ve managed to find some award space in October (the first two available spots I’m seeing from New York is October 4 and 8). October, by the way, is an awesome time to visit Spain, especially Costa del Sol if you can’t imagine not going into the ocean.

But in general, Spain shines between May and October. Here are my thoughts (although keep in mind that I haven’t been everywhere 🙂 )

  • May and late September-October are great for Valencia and Andalusia (do NOT go to Seville in Summer).
  • June and September are perfect for Barcelona and Costa Brava.
  • July, August and early September are fantastic for the Basque country.

Now let’s take a look at Iberia Business Class award availability for two people in May and June.

New York (JFK) to Madrid (MAD)

  • May availability: 2, 3, 5-7, 9, 12, 14, 16, 21, 23, 26, 28, 30 – 14 days total!
  • June availability: 2, 4, 6, 9, 11, 13, 15, 19, 20, 23-27, 30 – 15 days total!

Madrid to New York? Even better: 17 days in May and 19 days in June. Wow, just wow!

Again, this is award space for two people. If you’re a solo traveler you might get an even bigger pool of available dates.

Availability, however, is not the source of my unbridled enthusiasm. 🙂

It gets even better in the summer of 2022

While I love traveling to Europe off-peak or in shoulder seasons (cheaper, not as hot and as crowded), not every family can roll this way. With kids out of school, summers are the busiest travel time of the year. As if to please you, Iberia Business Class award availability gets even better in July and August until the end of schedule (August 24 at the time of writing).

I’ve found that at least 70% of the dates in July and August are available in Business Class between New York and Madrid for two people, and probably more!

July and August 2022 also bring good availability to Chicago – Madrid flights (again for two people and in both directions).

Third … take a good look at this Iberia Off-Peak chart

UPDATE 9/2/21

I have rewritten this section since I can now confirm that all redemption rates will price at the correct peak and off-peak values even though they appear at the Off-Peak level in the search calendar. Thank you for fooling me yet again, Iberia. After dealing with your many glitches, I should’ve known better. 😥

UPDATE 8/31/21

Reader Armando says: “unfortunately when you click on the lower price (e.g. 34K from JFK-MAD) it will actually show the correct price (50K).”

I can confirm that something is different on Iberia.com from yesterday. I don’t have enough Avios to confirm myself, but yesterday I could see the same 34K price plus breakout for taxes and fees after clicking on the Business Class button. Today I don’t, there is only an offer to buy Avios. It probably was a glitch, and Iberia might’ve “half-fixed” it because the Avios search still shows Off-Peak rates throughout the year.

If anyone has enough Avios to check it out for me, I’d appreciate that.  

DEVELOPING.

This is a 6-month calendar for the best travel dates in 2022. The full Peak / Off-Peak calendar is here.

OFF-PEAK PRICES

City Economy Blue Economy Full Premium Economy Business
NYC, Boston, Chicago 17K 22K 25.5K 34K
Miami, Los Angeles 21,250 27,750 31,750* 42.5K
San Francisco 25,500 33,250 51K

PEAK PRICES

City Economy Blue Economy Full Premium Economy Business
NYC, Boston, Chicago 20K 28K 35K 50K
Miami, LA 25K 35K 43,750* 62.5K
San Francisco 30K 42K 75K

* No PE between Madrid and LAX.

From what I can tell (I didn’t check every single day for the next year so I might be wrong), all Peak dates in 2022 are priced at Off-Peak rates. Is it a glitch? (Well, yes, apparently.)

What else do you need to know about Iberia?

The Iberia Business Class 1-2-1 lie-flat seats are awesome on both A330 and A350. They’re massive and have wide footrests, which make them comfortable for sleeping. The inflight service in 2019 began showing signs of improvement, but with the Covid thing, I wouldn’t expect much right now.

 

Still, the Iberia hard product is excellent and unlikely to disappoint.

How to search

The Iberia website is clunky. For Business Class travel you must check one date at a time, although for Economy, there is a monthly calendar.

The AA website now displays Iberia award space, so I would start there. Even though it might not pick up all availability (airlines tend to offer better space to their own customers), in my experience (I’ve checked both AA and Iberia websites for May and June), I’ve found AA to reflect the actual Iberia business class award availability quite accurately. It seems that Iberia makes the vast majority of its awards available to partners.

Search in the following order.

  • Search for one way in each direction
  • Pick a date close to when you want to fly
  • On the next page click Calendar
  • Choose Nonstop only and Business / First 
  • The dates that show 57,500 miles must be available with Iberia Avios
  • Repeat the search for your flight back
  • Go to the Iberia page to complete the booking
iberia business class award availability on AA.com

AA.com accurately reflects Iberia business class award availability

Note, there might be two possible issues with searching on AA.com.

  • AA also flies to Madrid. You might want to click Apply changes for the date you’re interested in to make sure the Iberia flight is available.
  • While the AA calendar is only available until the end of July, Iberia has a wider schedule — till the end of August.

Fuel surcharges

Iberia adds a fuel surcharge (YQ) to its flights. Nothing like British Airways or Lufthansa, but, unfortunately, it’s gone way up since last year.

2020 (YQ one way)

  • JFK – MAD in Business: $67
  • LAX – MAD in Business: $89

2021 (YQ one way)

  • JFK – MAD in Business: $94
  • LAX – MAD in Business: $106

To give you the full picture, here is what your cash outlay per round trip will look like including all taxes and fees:

  • JFK – MAD in Business: $284
  • LAX – MAD in Business: $307

Where to get Iberia Avios

Transfer Avios from British Airlines BAEC or Aer Lingus; points from Chase Ultimate Rewards, AmEx Membership Rewards and Marriott Rewards.

Transfers from Chase are reportedly instant, while transfers from Amex can take from 48 hours to seven days. Yep, seven! Read my sad story and weep. Although, per Award Wallet and Frequent Miler, things might have improved since then.

If you have a BAEC Household account, you can’t transfer Avios between BA and Iberia.

And your Iberia Plus account should be open for at least 3 months to receive transfers.

There is currently a 30% transfer bonus from Chase to all Avios programs

UPDATE 9/2/21

AmEx now has an even better 40% transfer bonus to Iberia

Quite honestly, Avios aren’t hard to get. Both Chase and AmEx transfer to British Airways, Aer Lingus and Iberia, and while AmEx bonuses come frequently, Chase’s transfer bonuses are rare. Under equal circumstances, I’d rather transfer from AmEx, because AmEx doesn’t have Hyatt. (And it seems I’ve got my wish now 🙂 ).

Chase, however, doesn’t have ANA. 🙂

Some people value AmEx and Chase points the same, I tend to value Chase a little more. Then again, the Chase 30% bonus gets you a roundtrip Business Class ticket to Madrid for 53,000 Chase points! Unreal! And the AmEx 40% bonus get you the same ticket for 49,000!

So should you go for it? If you don’t have enough Avios; if you live close to one of the hubs (see the table above); and if you really want to go to Spain (or, quite honestly, anywhere in Europe because Iberia intra-Europe flights can be dirt-cheap on both cash and Avios) — then yes. Absolutely!

Here is another idea if you live in or close to New York. See two fascinating countries in style for 69,000 miles.

  • TAP Portugal JFK-LIS flight in Business for 35,000 Avianca miles
  • Iberia Business Class for 34,000 Avios back from Madrid
  • LIS-MAD transfer in between for Avios or a little cash

Let’s recap

Chase has a 30% transfer bonus to all Avios programs including Iberia. The transfer is reportedly immediate.

AmEx has a 40% transfer bonus. The transfer is not immediate. According to some reports it can take 24 hours or more. It took about 5 days for me once.

Iberia adds fuel surcharges to its flights. As an example, for New York it’s $94 in Business one way, for LA it’s $106.

Availability for two people in Business seems to pick up in July. So far it’s excellent for New York and Boston, pretty good for Miami and Chicago, and quite decent for LA. Although for New York and Boston flights, there are plenty of available dates in May and June, too.

What are your thoughts? Are you tempted at least? 🙂

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armando letrado

unfortunately when you click on the lower price (e.g. 34K from JFK-MAD) it will actually show the correct price (50K)

JohnnieD

Used BOS/MAD a few times @34k. Can’t beat it. Last trip in the before times we went to Morocco. Beautiful.

HoKo

Hey Andy, two questions: what does the price work out to if you need to add a short connecting domestic segment (I.e. ~300 miles) to one of the Iberia destinations cities? And what is Iberia‘s current award cancellation policy?

Ryan del Mundo

I read in a few places that Iberia switched to allowing one-way Avios awards. I can price out one on Iberia (a great deal from BOG to Madrid in biz, with somehow much less taxes booking BA than Iberia). But I can’t get any AA awards to price out on their website one-way. Glitch? Was hoping to get a mixed cabin award.

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