Overlooked airline offers Europe for $1,637 R/T, or
Cheaper than 2-for-1s for Delta travelers, or
American and United loyalists can fly Business Class for just 8,000 more miles than coach round-trip, plus
Get up to 100,000%+ better availability
Iberia vs. Delta
Delta charges 140,000 miles to fly Business Class New York-Madrid. But on Iberia, that flight takes as few as 68,000 Iberia miles—which amounts to two tickets for less than the price of one with Delta.
Iberia vs. American
American charges 115,000 miles in Business Class New York-Madrid, while Iberia charges as few as 68,000 miles (41% less). That’s only 8,000 more miles than AA charges for economy. You’re essentially getting an upgrade for 8,000 miles, and you’ll probably get the upgrade because Iberia now offers 100,000%+ more award space than American. Wow.
Iberia vs. United
United charges 115,000 miles in Business Class New York-Madrid, while Iberia charges as few as 68,000 (41% less). That’s only 8,000 more miles than UA charges for economy. You’re essentially getting an upgrade for 8,000 miles, and you’ll probably get the upgrade because Iberia now offers 100,000%+ more award space than United. Wow.
Benefits of Iberia's Award Program Compared to U.S. Programs: New York-Madrid, Business Class
|Airline||Mileage Rate||Iberia Mileage Rate||Mileage Savings||Examples of Award Space on U.S. Airlines* ||Examples of Lucrative Award Space with Iberia* ||Net Opportunity|
|American||115,000||68,000||47,000 (41%)||3 days with 1 seat between Feb. and Dec.||4 days with 1 seat between Feb. and Dec.||8 months with 13 or more days with award space for 2 passengers; 4 months with 13 or more days with award space for 4 and 6 passengers; 2 months with 13 or more days with award space for 8 passengers||8 months with 13 or more days with award space for 2 passengers; 4 months with 13 or more days with award space for 4 and 6 passengers; 3 months with 13 or more days with award space for 8 passengers||Upgrade for just 8,000 more miles plus get up to 100,000%+ better availability|
|Delta||140,000||72,000 (51%)||3 months with 13 or more days with award space for 2 passengers; 2 months with 13 or more days with award space for 4 passengers; 1 month with 13 or more days with award space for 6 and 8 passengers||6 months with 13 or more days with award space for 2 passengers; 4 months with 13 or more days with award space for 4 or 6 passengers; 1 month with 13 or more days with award space for 6 and 8 passengers||Get two tickets for less than the price of one plus up to 200%+ better availability
|United||115,000||47,000 (41%)||2 days with 1 seat between Feb. and Dec.||7 days with 1 seat between Feb. and Dec.||Upgrade for just 8,000 more miles plus get up to 100,000%+ better availability
Lower Award Taxes
I know what you are thinking: European airline = high taxes. On New York-London, BA’s taxes can be $1,100+. Iberia is an exception. Taxes come to about $196 from East Coast gateways and about $238 from West Coast ones.
Iberia’s U.S. gateways to Madrid are: Boston, Miami, Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles.
Using Iberia Miles to Europe
Iberia uses a flight-distance award chart, so the miles required are based on the length of the flight. Boston, Chicago, and New York departures cost 100,000 miles in peak season and 68,000 in low season. Los Angeles and Miami and are 125,000 and 85,000 miles respectively.
“Buy Down” Cost in Miles with Cash
Iberia also offers a buy-down miles option; this allows you to bring down the mileage cost of an award ticket by paying more in cash.
Iberia, like some other airlines, offers buy-down miles because it would rather have your money than your miles. Fair enough, and buy-down miles can be a much better deal than paying in miles if you don’t have the miles or points needed for the award, since the selling price is about two cents per mile. It also means there’s no need to stockpile miles with Iberia.
One example: Pay 68,000 miles on the New York-Madrid plus $196 cash, or pay 17,000 miles and $1,226.
The Math Behind Europe for $1,637 Round-Trip:
Let’s assume that you have no miles with Iberia and no credit card points to transfer. You can, anyone can, buy 20,000 miles directly from Iberia, which cost 385 Euro (about $411). Add that to the buy-down miles price, $1,030, and add in $196 for award taxes, and you get $1,637. (A ticket that otherwise goes for as much as $5,850, a savings of 72%.)
Award Availability with Iberia Flights
See chart below for example award space for up to eight passengers.
Sweet Redeem Survey: Iberia Business Class
|U.S. Departure Cities||Availability to Madrid||Availability from Madrid|
|Boston||March, April, May, June, July, Sept. to Nov., Dec.||July, Oct., Nov.||July, Aug., Sept., Nov.||March, Dec.||April, May, July, Oct., Nov.||June, July, Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov.|
|Chicago||March, June, July, Sept., Oct., Nov.||Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec.||July, Aug., Sept., Nov.||April, May, July, Oct., Sept.||March, Sept., Nov., Dec.||June, July, Aug., Sept., Nov.|
|Miami||March, June, July to Nov., Dec.||July, Aug., Sept., Oct., Dec.||July, Aug., Sept. to Nov.||March to May, Nov.||Oct., Aug., Sept., Nov., Dec.||June, Aug., Sept., Nov.|
|New York||May, Dec.||Oct., Sept., Dec.||June, July, Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov.||May||June, Oct., Dec.||June, July to Sept., Oct., Nov.|
Handful: Our most recent research shows that award space is available 4 to 8 days during the months indicated.
Hooray: Our most recent research shows that award space is available 9 to 12 days during the months indicated.
Hooray: Our most recent research shows that award space is available for 13 days or more during the months indicated.
Bonus: Fly British Airways Using Iberia Miles
For BA flights, a partner with Iberia, Iberia has a peak and off season rate. The mileage cost and taxes are about the same as BA charges, but the buy-down miles option is a better value when using Iberia miles for BA flights.
Off-season example: On New York-London BA charges 100,000 miles and about $1,100 in taxes round-trip for Business Class. Iberia charges the same amount. But if you use the buy-down miles option, it costs more to use BA miles, as BA charges 50,000 miles plus about $2,525. Using Iberia miles, the ticket costs 25,000 miles and $2,610. So you save 25,000 miles when using Iberia miles for a BA flight.
How to Book & Things to Know
Getting the Miles: Iberia sells up to 100,000 miles at about two cents per mile. To buy miles you must have an account for more than three months or have a British Airways Avios balance of at least one mile—which you can get via transferring points from Amex Rewards. You can also transfer British Airways points to Iberia by merging the two accounts, which gives you access to two more credit card partners via BA: Chase and Starwood.
Iberia Seasons: As mentioned, Iberia also has a seasonal program (calendar here). April, the summer months (June through August), and the holiday season (December through mid-January) constitute peak season. The rest of the year is off-season.
One-Way Awards: Iberia charges 50% of the round-trip miles required. Having trouble with a round-trip award? Consider Iberia one-way as a fallback.
Check Availability & Book: You need an Iberia frequent-flyer account in order to search for award space online (no miles need to be in the account). Once logged-in, click on the “Book flights with Avios”. Or call Iberia for more (800) 772-4642.
Prof. Thomas Y. Levin
New York Times
The Wall Street Journal
Condé Nast Traveler
Los Angeles Times
Fleischer Sports CEO
Four Seasons Resorts Magazine
The New York Times
Lawrence Pass, MD
Prof. Michael Beckerman