Booking an American flight on Iberia—some notes

It’s been a while since I last posted an update about the amazing Iberia promotion a few months back.

To quickly summarize, if you were living under a rock back in June (ish), Iberia offered 9,000 bonus points for every flight booked on up to 10 flights. At the time, there were a ton of one-way flights within Spain for as low as $27, which all counted as a flight on the promotion. And the best part — the points (eventually) posted to accounts, months before even flying.

The main “restrictions” are as follows:

  • Points accrued during the promotion must be used (applied towards a flight), before Dec 1 (flights don’t necessarily have to be taken before this date, but further restrictions may apply if you try to change those flights)
  • Usually Iberia Avios can be transferred to British Airways (which I’d argue are much easier to use), but if you decide to transfer your Iberia Avios

I fortunately had an Iberia account already opened, so I booked 10 one-way flights between Santander and Madrid for early next year. All the flights totaled me about $290, and my 90,000 points posted without any issues.

Which was a few months ago now. So while you are able to “technically” book a flight before Dec. 1 and fly after that date, I am most likely going to try and take any flights by the beginning of next year. Since the points already posted, most people that took advantage of the promotion, including myself are not going to take those ten one-way flights.

So to be safe, I want to make sure I’ve used up all my points by then.

How I’ve used my points

Thus far, I’ve used about half of my 90,000 points. And I haven’t flown one of those miles.

The classic question here is — you have 90,000 points you have to use, and you haven’t used any of them? And the answer is yes. But I have still been flying — a lot.

Without going on too much of a tangent, I want to explain myself. I travel weekly for work — which means spending my Sundays packing, waking up on Monday to get on a plane, spending three nights in a hotel, getting back on a plane Thursday, Friday and Saturday at home, then Sunday the routine starts back again.

And the reason I wanted to draw that out was not to complain, or ask for sympathy — because I love the job, and it’s what I looked for out of college — but I do want to stress that my few days at home on the weekend are well earned. So as much as I want to use these points, I haven’t gotten the chance.

So instead I “pay” for friends and family to come to me. On a few occasions, said friends have paid me to book the flight with these points (at a severely reduced rate), but for the most part I almost enjoy this more. Living in a new city I love having people come to visit, and I also enjoy being able to offer my help when I can.

In booking these tickets I’ve learned a few things about booking flights with Avios on Iberia, though, and figured I would share here.

How to book Iberia tickets with Avios

First, let’s cover exactly how to book flights on Iberia using your Avios. It’s quite simple.

From the homepage, once you input your desired route and date under the “Where can we take you?” heading, you’ll want to select the “Pay with Avios” option at the bottom. From there, you can search your options.

It’s important to note one of the major quirks of the Iberia Plus program. If there is no availability on the routing options that you input, the search will return a failure — and that’s availability on either route! So if there is an award flight available on your outgoing flight but not your return, it will fail. Which can get a bit frustrating.

So my recommendation, and strategy, is to search for your flight options on the British Airways website, and then come over and book on Iberia. Since I am looking mostly at domestic flights on American, its Oneworld partner, any flights available on British Airways will be available on Iberia.

Which brings me to my next point — and where it continues to get interesting — actually booking the flight.

Booking Iberia award flights

Once you find the flight that you want (ideally on for the flights listed below), with available dates and routing, you should get a results page that looks something like this.

And up to this point I think things are pretty straightforward — find the flight you want, search it, and then book. But from there things get a bit confusing.

I tend to just blame it on the fact that this is a European website, and don’t have much experience booking on foreign airlines, but I’ve read that this website is on the bad end as far as user experience.

When booking a flight for yourself, the process is relatively straightforward. There aren’t a ton of extra steps you need to do as compared to any other awards booking, but it is worth noting the fare types that Iberia offers.

The confusion of Iberia fare types

As you’ll notice above, there are two options of fare types when flying on Iberia — which seems to line up with the options on American..sort of. Looking at the options I would assume that Blue Class correlates to Economy on American and Business, of course correlates to domestic first class.

But after selecting a seat in Blue Class, I wasn’t so convinced — because there is now the option of Basic Economy that American (unfortunately) offers.

Dissecting this further, and referring to the picture above, I think many would be lead to believe that this Blue Class is basic economy on Iberia — and in this case, basic economy on American. And the luggage rules, as noted above, would also lead one to believe that there are restrictions to this kind of fare.

1 piece of hand baggage is extremely limited — and definitely a basic economy match.

But I can positively report that this Blue Class correlates to American Economy when flying on American economy award ticket. Based on the bar chart seen above there is a fare between Blue Class and Business on Iberia, which I can assume means that Blue Class is basic economy on Iberia operated flights, but on flights booked with American these are simply economy.

Which I’m not necessarily complaining about, but with little information online, a lot was left up to interpretation. Which further strengthens the argument that Iberia’s website just isn’t very user-friendly.

Booking Iberia flights for someone else

I’ve booked quite a bit of flights using points for myself, but I’ve also been fortunate enough to help other people using my points . And for the most part, it’s been relatively painless.

On the main US carriers, all that is really required is a full legal name, as it shows on a valid ID, and a date of birth — and that’s it. Which at times I’ve thought is a bit crazy, but kind of makes sense. The true ID check happens at the airport, anyways.

But Iberia is not so straightforward. If you decide you want to book a flight for someone else, you have to add that person as a “beneficiary” on your Iberia Plus account. This can be done during the booking process, though.

Once you deselect the box next to “I’m flying,” you’ll see this prompt to “Register new beneficiary.” And to be able to book a flight for someone else, you have to go through this process first.

Which, once again, seems straightforward for the most part. But I was a bit tripped up on the “Document type.” There are 4 options they offer as this document type.

  • Spanish DNI
  • Passport
  • Local National Identity Card
  • Resident Card in Spain

And I think most people should probably just input a Passport number, if you have it. But I understand maybe not everyone has a passport, as is the situation I ran into recently.

So in that scenario I entered a driver’s license number as a “Local National Identity Card.” Which I can now report does not matter one bit. Because this was a flight on American, there were no other special rules or checks in place to validate this person’s identity.

I can’t really imagine any American employee taking the time to validate the drivers license number presented against what was provided, but I was more concerned about anything that was being tracked in the system. Because while I assume that is what Iberia translates as this “Local National Identity Card,” I was never able to confirm that anywhere online.

Nevertheless, there were never any questions, and as I previously mentioned, I think the only thing that the agents looked at were the names and dates of birth.

If you are booking an international flight, however, or even a flight within Spain on Iberia, I would most definitely recommend entering a Passport here. Of course, if you are flying in Spain you’d have to have a passport anyways!

Iberia award flights must be round-trip

And finally, while this has nothing to do with the actual booking of the flight, it is a pretty major caveat (nay pain in the you know what) in this system that I wanted to point out. Especially if you are searching for flights on British Airways, which does allow one-ways, you might get thrown for a loop.

Booking award flights on Oneworld partners through Iberia does not allow for one-way tickets. Which I have found to be a bit tricky, because a lot of the flight options are fine on one end of the trip but just awful on the other. For example, the DCA-DFW example I was looking at earlier only has super early flights on Friday and Sunday.

Not the most ideal situation for a weekend getaway. (And yes, I did check Monday morning flights)

So while I am on the fence about transferring points to BA and incurring a negative balance with Iberia, if the flight options continue to be this way I may have no other choice. I’m sure I could find some way to use them, though — because that’s the kind of problem I’m looking for!

Stay tuned..



Tucker is an avid points and miles enthusiast. Being fully involved in the world of credit cards and frequent flying for only a few years now, he brings a very fresh and unique perspective to the world of travel.

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