Amazing Iberia Business Class Award Space to Europe Using British Airways or American Miles (Without Big Fuel Surcharges)

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Booking Europe awards with American miles can be tough. American releases very little space on its own flights, and their primary transatlantic partner is British Airways — and British Airways fuel surcharges can be truly choke-worthy.

American adds fuel surcharges onto British Airways awards, and very very limited fuel surcharges onto Iberia flights, but not other partner awards.

Generally speaking the only way to get premium cabin awards between the US and Europe without big fuel surcharges is to book Iberia through Madrid, or airberlin. American’s partner Finnair flies New York JFK – Helsinki but business class awards are quite limited. Even airberlin is a limited option as well.

Fortunately Iberia business class award space for two passengers is fantastic in July and August of next year. American can book award space only 331 days out, so the last few days of August are not yet available to AAdvantage members.

iberia business class award

Iberia flies from New York JFK, Chicago, Miami, Boston, and Los Angeles. With American, you can include flights to one of those cities in your award and also flights beyond Madrid to elsewhere in Europe (or on to other regions where Europe awards are permissible).

Iberia Business Class Award Space Available Most Days From Most Cities

New York, Miami, and Chicago have the best availability. Boston availability is good. And Los Angeles – a flight that operates just 4 times a week – does have availability on some dates in August.

Here’s availability for two passengers in business class, Miami – Madrid non-stop and vice versa, in August.

iberia business class award

Here’s availability for two passengers in business class, New York JFK – Madrid non-stop and vice versa, in August.

Avoiding Big Fuel Surcharges With Iberia Business Class Award Bookings

If you use British Airways points directly to book these flights, fuel surcharges really hit the wallet (especially if booking more than one seat!). Here’s the fuel surcharge on a one-way business class flight from New York JFK to Madrid.

iberia business class award

However booking an Iberia business class award through American AAdvantage or through Iberia directly entail fuel surcharges that are less than 15% of what British Airways would charge.

If you have an Iberia Avios account that has been open at least 90 days, and has had some activity (earned at least a mile, American Express Membership Rewards transfer into Iberia) you can move British Airways Avios over to Iberia and then book Iberia flights from your Iberia account.

Mileage Cost

American charges 50,000 miles each way between the US and Europe in business class. That includes connecting flights in the US and in Europe, and is a fantastic deal as long as you’re not paying big fuel surcharges.

These awards will cost 50,000 – 62,500 Iberia Avios each way depending on city (New York and Boston are cheaper) or the same number of British Airways Avios though with big fuel surcharges. Off peak dates are even cheaper:

  • Boston and New York – Madrid costs 34,000 points each way in business class
  • Chicago, Los Angeles, and Miami – Madrid costs 42,500 points each way in business class

(British Airways should charge more than this post-April 28 devaluation, but they seem to use Iberia’s award chart for these flights.)

Unfortunately while British Airways has some August dates coded as off peak, off peak for Iberia ends in mid-June:

Nonetheless, the ability to claim these awards at reasonable points cost with minimal fuel surcharges using American miles, Iberia Avios, or British Airways Avios transferred to Iberia will be huge for many readers.

Bulking Up on AAdvantage Miles and Avios

There are currently big limited-time offers for credit card signups providing both American AAdvantage miles and British Airways Avios.

  • British Airways Visa Signature® Card. Earn a total of 100,000 British Airways Avios.

  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard. Earn 75,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles. (offer expired)

  • Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints transfer 1:1 into both American and British Airways, with a 5000 bonus awarded for transfers of 20,000. My major source of Starpoints is the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express.

  • Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 into British Airways. The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card has both a 40,000 point signup bonus you can earn and awards double points on all travel and dining.

(HT for the idea to share this to MileCards)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. This post has great timing! Gary, I’ve been researching all around and can’t find a definitive answer. I’m looking to do my honeymoon in Spain, and planning to use Iberia points for biz class jfk-mad. The flights i want are both a340-600. Do you know if these plans have the retrofitted new gray seats with the bigger IFE screen? Or are they the red seats with the smaller screen? The iberia website is kind of vague (it says A330 and some long haul routes on a340-600s have new seats, while some a340s don’t have new seats yet), and the only trip reports i’ve found having the new seats are on a330s with 1-2-1 seating. the a340-600s have 2-2-2. Any thoughts on this?

  2. @Matt so far all the a340-600s I’ve seen have been upgraded (three flights, but not sure how many planes!) . But on the a340-300 none of them have as the planes are being retired I believe.
    It used to be the case Iberia showed an a340-500 as a 600 not updated I believe, or the other way round! Now they only list the one type, so perhaps that is a sign the refit is completed.
    If you ring Iberia they should be able to confirm, but I’ve had a lot of changes to the operating planes over the past year, so doesn’t necessarily mean much…

  3. @adam thanks! I’ve tried calling and haven’t been able to get many CSRs proficient in English, unfortunately. Those that are have given me different answers (one said yes, one said no, one put me on hold for 20 min to check and then came back to say he couldn’t find out definitively). Guess I’ll just roll the dice.

  4. We loved their hard product ORD/MAD in summer 2014. IFE was good too. As for their food, it’s the worst food I’ve ever eaten on a business class flight. They should be ashamed of themselves for serving food that can’t be eaten. In Biz class??? Come on IB.

  5. From LAX n/s to MAD, Iberia lists an a340-200, and neither the IB site nor Seat Guru has a seat map. No idea if this is lay flat or angled, 2-2-2 or 1-2-1. Anyone have any idea of what the hard product is like?

  6. I’ve flown IB in Biz 4 times now. The hard product is excellent on the refurbished A340’s and A330. The service, however, really sux! The last two flights that I took in April had the worst flight attendants I’ve ever seen. They were arrogant snots to put it kindly.

    I would choose them again however, because their hard product is so good. Food wasn’t bad in my experience but I’m not very picky. The wine glasses are tiny though and you have to harass the crew for re-fills.

    IB is not the best TATL product in J but for 50000 miles still well worth it in my view.

  7. Gary, everyone seems to think very little of American’s international premium products (compared to most other airlines’.) If I already have an award trip to Paris booked on American metal, do you think it’s worth adding a layover in Madrid to change to Iberia? I guess I’m asking how much better Iberia is.

  8. @pointster – As long as you have American’s new premium cabin seats, keep them. Iberia’s service/food aren’t great. (That said if you are on an American 767 that’s their least good new business class product.) I wouldn’t add a connection in order to fly iberia

  9. @pointster – I flew ORD-CDG on American’s 767 last month and I would not hesitate to fly that route again, and unless I wanted to go to MAD there is no way I would add a stop in order to fly Iberia. The AA business class seat on the 767 was not as comfortable as Cathay Pacific but I think it was better than British Airways, better than the angled flat I had on Lufthansa last time SEA-FRA. AA across the Atlantic would not always be my first choice but on a route like ORD-CDG it’s pretty good.

  10. Thanks, guys! I suppose I will keep our AA itinerary. Now I just have to choose between Dom and Krug, right?

  11. It seems like Iberia is going to be introducing the 2-2-2 angled seat configuration on their LAX-MAD flight. Too bad. The 1-2-1 configuration was so much more comfortable and private. Their seat maps are already out through the end of July 2016, but I did not find a way to check the map on a flight you are not booked on (except of course for SeatGuru which is not always accurate).

  12. So is there any free site to search Iberia Availability?
    Heck, I don’t even see flight maps with direct routes on their site to see what to search.
    Very sad this trend of airlines is….

  13. Hi Gary,

    So I went to AwardNexus and see OneWorld BA and OneWorld QF but I don’t see IB. How do I use AwardNexus to get your nifty award chart for IB?

    Thanks, Craig

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