DEAL: Use American or British Airways Miles for Business Class To Europe Next Summer Without Big Fuel Surcharges

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.

On odd occasions American offers great spurts of availability on their own flights, then it dries up. Fortunately there’s Iberia

Iberia business class award space for two passengers is fantastic for summer next year. American can book award space only 331 days out, so only a bit of August is yet available to AAdvantage members.

iberia business class

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).

Here’s Miami – Madrid for 2 passengers in business class in July:

Here’s Boston – Madrid for 2 passengers in business class in July:

Here’s New York JFK – Madrid for 2 passengers in business class in July:

Here’s Chicago – Madrid for 2 passengers in business class in July:

The only route where availability isn’t especially good at this time is Los Angeles – Madrid.

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.

American charges 57,500 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

Iberia awards don’t appear on the American Airlines website of course, you need to call, which is perhaps why availaility stays so good.

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, 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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  1. any idea how well availability opens up close to departure? Looking for June 2017. The dates I wanted out of ORD got snatched up from BA/Iberia FF before I had access with AA miles. Had to route via MIA and would prefer the nonstop. Been checking every couple of days. Of note inventory does not seem to track very well of expert flyer alerts.

  2. Coincidentally, I was just searching yesterday for a MIA-ZRH flight for July and did a search on Iberia, MIA-MAD-ZRH. Although the award chart says 125,000 points round trip, when I priced it out it was 158,000 + $288. Still not the worst deal, but I guess that MAD-ZRH leg adds the extra. Economy was 66,500 RT but still $250 surcharges.

  3. Gary, if the award info isn’t available through AA then where did you get the above award calendars (expertflyer?)?

  4. @Dave P — if you use avios you pay for each segment seperately, but if you book with AA miles you can put multiple segments together as one award. Note that IB and AA availability can be very different. I have even seen dates where you can book using partners but cannot book using IB avios, especially on the LAX route. There was one day I was looking at where IB had 8 seats available on the early ORD-MAD flight but partners had access to none, but on the late flight IB had zero seats on its web site but both BA and AA had access to two seats. One of the few programs I have seen that sometimes permits bookings by partners but not its own FFs. It can be a little frustrating when trying to book four seats together because they rarely make more than two available to partners, and so trying to mix and match by booking two on Iberia and two on AA can be tough.

  5. I booked B/C on the new B789 (with the new seats) to Madrid on the new route on AAL for next summer and a return to the states from Orly on BOOS also B/C, on the 757 using our FF miles. I did pay a fee on AA, also paid to select our seats on the BOOS flight home. Not sure if these are rookie mistakes, we only travel to Europe every few years.

  6. There’s actually a whole lot of phantom availability on Iberia showing up on both Qantas and through ExpertFlyer right now. There is some Iberia availability in the spring and summer, but anything that isn’t showing up on BA isn’t there. To give one example, Qantas shows there being 4+ award seats available on MAD-ORD flights for many of the days in April, whereas real availability is 1-2 seats on a few select days.

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