Maybe one of the biggest highlights of the year in the points and miles community was the 90,000 points Iberia promotion, where you could potentially score 90,000 points for about $280. And whether or not you took advantage of the deal, you’ve probably heard about some of the headaches it’s caused people along the way.
I for one did take advantage of the offer by booking 10 one-way trips within Spain next year, all for around $28 — none of which I intend on taking. Because I had created an Iberia account a few months back, the 90,000 points hit my account without any real problem. In other words, I booked 10 flights, and before I even flew any of them I received all of my points.
If you ask around about the experiences of others, you’ll quickly realize how difficult this entire process. There were all kinds of issues not only with the Iberia system but also when dealing with Iberia over the phone. I think most people ended up getting their points one way or the other, but I’m not sure many are pleased with how it panned out.
And one more note– the points redeemed through this promotion had to be redeemed by Dec. 1, which was this past Friday. So as you might imagine, there has been a lot of discussion in the past few days and even a few phantom rules that I happened to learn about.
How I decided to use my points
Receiving these points back in the summer, I figured I would use them up pretty quickly. I didn’t want to book any extravagant trips overseas but rather use them up on American Airlines for a ton of short-haul domestic fares. Fast forward a few months and of course I’ve still got about 20,000 points to use with only days until they expire.
As I mentioned in a previous post, the one major restriction to Iberia’s program (in my opinion) is that all trips booked on partner airlines must be round-trip. And for whatever reason, all of the tickets I’ve been able to find have been available on only one of the routes. So the last 56,000 of my points I decided to transfer to British Airways.
I did book 36,000 miles worth of flights and have already flown those flights (important to note for later). Which has left me with the 20,000 still outstanding in my account.
I’ll admit that it ended up that I booked one of those tickets round-trip, so it could have been done on Iberia, but since they were already in my British Airways account I figured it would just be easier to book there. There was one big rule, however, I kind of missed, and as hindsight is 20/20, would have been a good thing to catch.
I guess I “missed” this…
This weekend I was reading about some other folks’ experiences with the Iberia promotion, and wanted to see how everyone decided to use their points. And in some cases, I wanted to see whether or not people ended up being able to use all of their points. And if not, what actually happened.
As I understood it, whatever points you were not able to use would show up as a negative balance in your account. For instance, if you couldn’t find a way to use 20,000 of the 90,000 points, and you previously had a 0 balance on your account, your Iberia Avios balance would now show as -20,000 Avios. But I was admittedly not certain about any repercussions (or negative balance) if you decided to transfer the points to one of Iberia’s partner’s. My thoughts were that no matter where my points were, if I used them before the Dec. 1 deadline I would not receive any negative balances, repercussions, etc.
According to Iberia’s rules I was ill informed
To be clear, I am not saying that I was misinformed. And I am not really putting the blame on Iberia, but I definitely missed something in regards to the information about transferring points to a partner. But according to the rules of this promotion, you cannot “combine” these promotional points with points from another program. In other words, you can’t transfer these Iberia Avios into your British Airways account.
Usually, you are able to transfer points back and forth from both programs seamlessly– I even talked about it here. But in order to keep this promotion “in-house” for Iberia, they were obviously trying to get as much traffic on their website, which I understand. And while I am not complaining, I do think that overall this promotion was severely mismanaged by Iberia. I’m assuming they didn’t expect the popularity, and quite obviously couldn’t handle it.
Why I don’t care (I think)
Ultimately, I think this promotion is a net positive for Iberia. Whichever way you try to twist it, they are making money, especially if you look at all the people who bought the one-way fares and did not receive the promotional Avios. A bunch of people bought tickets for flights that probably wouldn’t otherwise have been bought, and the optics of their ticketing system will look a lot better.
With everything being said above, when I checked my Iberia account on Saturday morning my account balance showed -56,000 Avios. Which I was not expecting — to say the least.
I think I’ve pretty much summed up the reasons why my account balance showed this way, and also why I was not expecting it. But here’s why I don’t (think I) need to worry.
My flights are booked
As mentioned above, the rules of the promotion (per Iberia) state that these promotional Avios cannot be combined with those from another program (i.e. British Airways). And while that is stated as the “rules,” there is nothing within the system that restricts you from doing so. Rather, as we can see from above, it looks like the system is treating transferred points as points not used at Iberia — so a negative balance.
The important distinction in my case, though, is that I have used some of these points to not only book a flight with British Airways, but also fly with it (on American). And the other flights that I have yet to take were booked before the Dec. 1 date, and both have been ticketed.
I have read about some similar experiences, where folks tried to transfer their points before the deadline in hopes that they wouldn’t just lose them, and for now it sounds like that did work. They are getting a similar negative balance on their Iberia account, but the points are still in their British Airways account.
I would take a lot more caution in this situation, but I’m not certain there’s a ton to worry about here. I’m not sure how easy it is to track these points once they move from system to system, but I would definitely be trying to book tickets ASAP.
I guess I’m still a bit worried
With all of this being said, the other side of the argument is that Iberia has had just so much going on with this entire promotion that they haven’t been able to catch up to all of the different scenarios that seemed to fall through the cracks.. So while I was able to book and fly with a flight through British Airways, they could eventually catch up to me and take away my flights booked through British Airways.
Unfortunately, I have a few weeks until my flights, so now it will just turn into a game of checking my account daily in hopes that the flights are still there.
And finally, why I don’t care..
Ultimately, I have just had to come with terms of the fact that my Iberia account is going to be negative and I just won’t be able to use it. As you can probably guess from all of my comments above, I care way more about my British Airways Avios than my Iberia. So while I would have much rather kept open the possibility of using my Iberia account, at this point I don’t really care. And I really don’t have a choice.
I got the value that I needed in transferring the points to my BA account, and whether or not I made a mistake in misreading the rules, I don’t really see the negative points in my account being reversed in any way. If you read my post about the two programs recently, you’ll probably know that I don’t care to spend much time even trying to book a ticket on Iberia.
So whether or not it was truly my decision, my forced friendship with Iberia will have to be put on hold — at least for now.
Wondering what you all think about my situation? Should I be looking at alternative options?