I’ve blogged about Iberia multiple times. Long story short — you can fly between the U.S. and Madrid starting at 34,000 Avios in Business class with a very low fuel surcharge.
There are other good redemptions, too. You can fly AA starting at 13,000 Avios per round trip. You can fly to Casablanca (or a third country via Casablanca, just stay under the distance of 8,000 miles) on Royal Air Moroc for 100,000 Avios round trip. Or you can jet nonstop to Barcelona for 25,500 in Premium Economy on LEVEL. But nothing — nothing — beats 34,000 Avios for traveling in Business Class to Madrid.
But what if you don’t have any interest in Madrid?
It doesn’t matter! Fly to Madrid, then continue on a cheap award or revenue flight or train ride to anywhere in Spain or Europe. Just remember that there is no flexibility with Iberia; you pay for every additional segment, so avoid connecting flights if at all possible. In most cases, it’s cheaper to buy 2 different tickets than to add more segments to your U.S. – Madrid itinerary.
Another reason why you want to remember this number — 34,000 Avios to Europe — is that there are regular AmEx transfer bonuses to Avios airlines including Iberia. The last huge 40% bonus was offered between August and October 2019. Using that bonus you could buy your Business Class ticket to Madrid for 25,000 AmEx points. That’s simply an insane value, although there is no guarantee we’ll see this huge bonus in the future (but we might).
How is Iberia Business Class seat and service? Absolutely great! Here is my small review.
How I unblocked my Iberia Plus account for the first time
Yesterday I spent hours and hours poking around Iberia.com. The reason? I was doing research for the piece I’m writing for a client, and the damn website didn’t recognize my log-in credentials. No, I didn’t forget or misplace my User ID or password. They did. Again!
Because the first time this happened to me was in 2018, and it took me weeks to have my account restored. I had to perform the following jumps — feel free to weep with me:
- Trying to reset my password multiple times, never got the reset email
- Emailing email@example.com — useless, just received a boilerplate response from firstname.lastname@example.org
- More emailing — more boilerplate replies
- Sending DMs to their Twitter team: received the standard Serviberia phone number link
- Calling their customer service number multiple times until finding someone who at least knew what to do
- Receiving another email from email@example.com, informing me that my account “had been blocked due to several attempts to enter in your Iberia plus account with the wrong PIN.” Aha!
- Finally getting another email containing the link to the “Rectification Data Document,” which (I kid you not!) I had to sign and send back along with a copy of my passport.
So, when I was unable to log in again yesterday, I presumed I’d have to go down the same path, but fortunately it was a bit easier this time. Here is what happened step by step, just in case you find yourself in a similar situation.
How I unblocked my Iberia Plus account for the second time
- Tried to reset my password the easy way — got the reset email on the second try
- Was able to log on after changing the password
Great, right? Not so fast. Any attempts to dummy-book an award were met with the error message below. I tried and tried and tried. Tried the Incognito mode, cleared the cache — no avail. The system just kept logging me off and erroring out.
Then I remembered there was another way to search for award flights. The first path that had been giving me so much pain was this:
Iberia.com –> Log on –> Iberia Plus –> Using my Avios –> Go book with Avios (at the bottom of the page)
Or you could reach the award booking engine by going to this link.
So out of desperation, I decided to try another path.
Travel –> Search Flights –> Search (make sure the Pay with Avios box is checked at the bottom of the page)
Or just use this WORKING link while logged on. Bingo. Life started to make sense again! 🙂
So I have no idea why the most logical Iberia Plus booking path wasn’t working for me. But who cares!
Iberia award space and prices
Iberia flies from Madrid to 6 U.S. cities: New York (JFK), Boston, Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles, and lately San Francisco (seasonal). They were supposed to return to Washington, DC (IAD) in summer 2020, but then the pandemic happened. The flights seems to be loaded (IB6131 and IB6132), but I can’t find a single award or even revenue ticket on this route, and I’ve tried multiple dates.
First, award space between the U.S. and Madrid for the first half of 2021 is excellent in all classes of service. I’ve checked availability for 2 people and most dates in the spring and early summer of 2021 are available. Here is what you’re paying for a flight between the U.S. and Madrid.
|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|
|City||Economy Blue||Economy Full||Premium Economy||Business|
|NYC, Boston, Chicago||20K||28K||35K||50K|
* No PE between Madrid and LAX/SFO.
Iberia peak dates 2021
May and the first half of June are great times to visit Spain, especially the south. The weather is great and not yet sweltering. Sure they call Seville the frying pan of Europe, but during these months, it’s usually on medium.
Iberia hasn’t published the new Peak dates for 2021 yet, so what you see in the screenshot below is the one for 2020. I manually checked some 2021 dates and found that they mostly follow the 2020 calendar, but some Iberia Peak dates in 2020 are non-peak in 2021. For example, all Iberia Peak dates in May 2020 are non-peak, as well as June 11, 14, and 15. However, the last Off-Peak date in June 2021 seems to be June 18, vs. June 19 this year.
Iberia has lowered fuel surcharges for transatlantic flights compared to 2019
Iberia fuel surcharges have never been draconian to begin with (nothing like British, Lufthansa, and other European airlines), but they’ve lowered it further, and I’ll take a win no matter how small. Compare these cash components for flights from the U.S. to Madrid in 2019 and now (one way):
JFK – MAD in Economy
- 2019: $74
- 2020: $55
JFK – MAD in Business
- 2019: $86
- 2020: $67
LAX – MAD in Economy
- 2019: $95
- 2020: $78
LAX – MAD in Business
- 2019: $106
- 2020: $89
Well, nothing revolutionary as you can see, but you stand to save at least $17 in Business and probably slightly more per round trip. In 2019, my round-trip JFK – MAD award ticket cost me $188 (of which $114 was a fuel surcharge). Today the same ticket would cost $168. The difference will be more pronounced for flights between Madrid and Miami or Los Angeles. Just to give you an idea of cash outlay, here is what Iberia taxes and fuel surcharges would cost today.
- JFK – MAD, Economy: $145
- JFK – MAD, Business: $168
- LAX – MAD, Economy: $191
- LAX – MAD, Business: $213
While there are several decent redemption options with Iberia Avios, the option to fly between the U.S. and Europe for 34,000 Avios in Business Class is a true bargain. Availability for the first half of 2021 is great; the seats are excellent; and both service and food, in my 2019 experience, were quite decent. In addition, Iberia often offers fantastic fares between Madrid and other cities in Spain and Europe, so think of Madrid as the gateway to whenever you’d like to fly.
Even if you can’t find a bargain fare from Madrid to your final destination, you can use Iberia or British Airways Avios to connect to other parts of Spain or Europe (surprisingly, British Avios fees are often lower than Iberia’s), but you have both options to choose from.
So despite the Iberia website clunkiness and maddening errors, Iberia Avios can be a fantastic resource for visiting Spain and Europe on a dime. Well worth the effort, IMHO.
Used Iberia or going to? Share your thoughts!