British Airways and Iberia Avios
Avios is the currency of British Airways Executive Club and Iberia Plus. Think of Avios as miles or points.
British Airways and Iberia have a unique partnership. Some of the general principles I’ve written about award travel do not apply if you use British Airways Avios or Iberia Avios to book flights operated by Iberia or British Airways. Everything I’ve taught you about partner award flights goes out the window with these two programs*.
*To be clear, this is only for flights operated by these 2 airlines. British Airways and Iberia are both Oneworld alliance members. This means you can use their loyalty programs, Executive Club and Iberia Plus, to book their own flights plus you can redeem Avios for flights operated by Oneworld airlines such as American Airlines.
You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards or Amex Membership Rewards to British Airways or Iberia at a 1:1 ratio
There are co-branded credit cards for both British Airways and Iberia, but I suggest using a card that earns a transferable currency. The two credit card rewards currencies I mostly collect are Chase Ultimate Rewards points and American Express Membership Rewards points. Both of these transfer to British Airways or Iberia at a 1:1 ratio. You can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards to several other airline and hotel programs. Multiple transfer partners means more redemption options.
Earn your first 100,000 points!
The Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card is the card I suggest opening first. No matter what your travel goals are, the welcome bonus of 100,000 is worth $1250 at the very least. But you can potentially get even more value out of those points by using transfer partners such as British Airways! This card also earns 2 points per dollar on travel and dining spend. Click here for 25 great ways to get amazing value out of Chase Ultimate Rewards by using transfer partners.
British Airways and Iberia have a unique partnership with each other
These airlines are under the same parent company. There are certain conditions that apply, but you can actually transfer Avios between the 2 airline programs. This isn’t really relevant if you’re transferring from Chase or from Amex since you can transfer Ultimate Rewards or Membership Rewards to either of the 2 programs. It is something that I wanted to point out, though.
I want to reiterate that this is not the norm. Generally, you cannot transfer airline currencies to other airlines, including partners. Instead, you can use one program’s currency (such as British Airways avios) to book an award flight operated by a partner airline (such as American Airlines), subject to the rules of the program which which you are booking (British Airways in this example). That’s where this British Airways and Iberia partnership is unique, though. You can actually transfer British Airways avios to Iberia and vice versa.
British Airways and Iberia have distance-based award ticket pricing
A distance based program means that the redemption price is calculated based on the distance between the departure city and the destination city. Distance ranges are divided into tiers and each distance range has an amount of Avios required for a redemption. The best routes with these progams are city pairs that are just under the max distance of a tier.
Every distance based program has different distance ranges and different rules. Also, each program has a different way of calculating distances. For instance, an American Airlines flight booked with British Airways Avios may have a different redemption cost than if you use Iberia to book the same American Airlines flight. Update May 2021: it appears that Iberia has updated its pricing model for AA flights to match that of British Airways for AA flights. I’ll discuss that more below.
You can read more about different types of award ticket pricing here.
Award pricing for each program
Most frequent flyer programs have an award chart for redemptions on their own flights and then another chart for partner flights. For example, Iberia has a chart for flights operated by Iberia. It has different charts if you are using your Avios to book partner flights.
You can use Iberia Avios to book an American Airlines flight. The program with which you are booking (Iberia Plus) determines the redemption cost, not the program of the airline operating the flight (AAdvantage).
That’s where the British Airways and Iberia partnership is different. Redemption costs are the same on flights operated by either program regardless of the program you use to book.
British Airways Executive Club
British Airways doesn’t officially post a chart, but there has been enough data to establish how they price tickets.
Redeeming British Airways Avios to book British Airways or Iberia flights:
These redemption amounts are per segment.
Redeeming British Airways Avios to book partner flights except Iberia:
It is important to note that zone 1 pricing on flights within the US appear to be 7500 instead of 6000.
For nonstop economy award tickets British Airways has better pricing than American Airlines AAdvantage on most routes.
Redeeming British Airways Avios to book flights operated by Iberia:
Iberia’s table applies:
Iberia does post its charts, and there are several of them. Iberia has a chart for flights operated by Iberia and then there is a chart for each of its partners, including British Airways. You’ll notice that the chart for flights operated by British Airways is the same as the pricing British Airways uses.
I’ll also include Iberia’s chart for American Airlines, but each partner has its own. It does appear that other partner charts are the same as AA.
If you are redeeming Iberia Avios to book an Iberia flight:
If you are redeeming Iberia Avios to book British Airways flights, this table applies:
If you are redeeming Iberia Avios to book American Airlines flights, this table applies:
Update May 2021: It appears that Iberia has updated its award chart and redemption pricing to match that of British Airways for American Airlines and for other partner flights. This is unfortunate as the old Iberia pricing for AA flights was a good alternative to booking AA flights when your itinerary has a connection. Now, it appears that each segment requires a redemption just like British Airways. The only difference that may make British Airways or Iberia better for any given flight is taxes/fees/fuel surcharges (when applicable). In other words, the amount of avios required for a redemption is the same, but the out of pocket total may be different.
According to the new table and rules, you should be able to use Iberia Avios to book one-ways operated by AA, but every time I try to search I am unsuccessful unless I search for roundtrip. This is probably just a glitch and booking a one-way may require a phone call until this is sorted out.
When redeeming Avios to book an Iberia or British Airways flight, peak and off-peak dates are determined by the operating airline
Not every airline program will have peak and off-peak dates for partner flights, but when they do, the dates are determined by the frequent flyer program with which you are booking. British Airways and Iberia do not have off peak pricing for partner operated flights. But other AA redemption partners might. For example, Etihad Guest has off-peak dates for select American Airlines routes. If you are using Etihad miles to book an American Airlines flight, peak and off peak dates are determined by Etihad, not the American Airlines AAdvantage program.
Once again, British Airways and Iberia are an exception. British Airways and Iberia each have their own calendars for off-peak dates. When using either program to book flights operated by the other, the airline operating the flight determines the peak and off peak dates. This goes against what I’ve said about partner award tickets with other airline programs.
Off-peak dates for Iberia:
- May 18-24, 2021
- May 27-28, 2021
- May 30-June 9, 2021
- June 12-17, 2021
- September 13-October 7, 2021
- October 10-11, 2021
- October 13-21, 2021
- October 24-28, 2021
- November 2-4, 2021
- November 8, 2021
- November 10-December 2, 2021
- December 5-7, 2021
- December 9-11, 2021
- December 13-15, 2021
- December 21-22, 2021
- December 27-29, 2021
- January 11-April 7, 2022
- April 10-12, 2022
- April 19-28, 2022
- May 1, 2022
- May 4-12, 2022
- May 15, 2022
- May 17-June 14, 2022
- September 12-October 27, 2022
Off-peak dates for British Airways
- June 1-3, 2021
- June 7-9, 2021
- June 13-19, 2021
- June 21, 22, and 24, 2021
- June 27-29, 2021
- July 1-3, 2021
- July 6, 2021
- August 10 and 17, 2021
- September 7-October 14, 2021
- October 19-21, 2021
- October 26-28, 2021
- November 1-December 11, 2021
- December 14, 2021
- January 12-February 4, 2022
- February 6-10, 2022
- February 15-17, 2022
- February 22-25, 2022
- February 27-March 25, 2022
- March 28-30, 2022
- April 4-6, 2022
- April 11-13, 2022
- April 20-May 6, 2022
Using British Airways Executive Club Avios for British Airways or Iberia flights:
- If you are using British Airways Avios to book a British Airways flight, peak and off peak pricing is determined by British Airways
- If you are using British Airways Avios to book an Iberia flight, peak and off peak pricing is determined by Iberia
The same applies to Iberia:
- If you are using Iberia Avios to book an Iberia flight, peak and off peak pricing is determined by Iberia
- If you are using Iberia Avios to book a British Airways flight, peak and off peak pricing is determined by British Airways
If you redeem British Airways or Iberia to book other partner flights, there are no off-peak dates
When using British Airways or Iberia Avios to book an award ticket, peak and off peak pricing is not available for Oneworld partners. In other words, there are no off-peak dates if you are using British Airways Avios or Iberia to book an American Airlines flight.
So if the redemption cost and peak dates are determined by the operating flight, does it matter which program you use to book?
As far as redemption costs, booking a British Airways flight or an Iberia flight with either program will result in the same amount of Avios required. There is one other factor that may make a difference in your total, though, so make sure you use the right program! That factor is fuel surcharges. Also sometimes known as carrier charges.
British Airways is notorious for fuel surcharges on transatlantic routes (US-Europe). Iberia also collects fuel surcharges, but sometimes they are significantly more reasonable than British Airways on transatlantic routes.
Fuel surcharges are different than taxes and fees
Some taxes and fees are collected regardless of which airline issues your ticket. Certain cities in Europe are notorious for these fees. The flight from the US-Europe is not the problem, it’s the return flight. London is the worst. A flight out of London is nearly $200. Try to avoid London. For more information about fuel surcharges and other fees, read this post.
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