Booking Iberia-operated flights from the United States to Europe using Avios is one of the great sweet spots in the points and miles game, thanks to the combination of low Avios and minimal fees and taxes required.
And thankfully, even if you’ve never paid for a flight on Iberia or haven’t even signed up for its loyalty program, these awards may be within your grasp — thanks to the power of transferable currencies.
Iberia (and British Airways, its fellow Avios-accruing partner) are 1:1 transfer partners of major credit card programs — including American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards.
In this guide, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about booking Iberia flights using Avios.
Overview of Iberia flights from the US
Let’s start by looking at where you can depart. At the time of writing, Iberia operates to Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport (MAD) from the following U.S. airports on a year-round basis:
- Boston Logan International Airport (BOS)
- Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
- Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)
- Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
- Miami International Airport (MIA)
- New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
- Puerto Rico’s Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU)
It also operates seasonal flights during the summer from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Washington’s Dulles International Airport (IAD). Both of these routes will temporarily cease at the end of October 2023 — before restarting again in early April 2024.
If you aren’t able to catch a flight from one of these gateways, you could potentially add a connecting domestic flight on American Airlines. However, as we’ll explain below, this will increase the number of Avios you need to redeem.
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Avios award rates on Iberia
Iberia-operated award flights can easily be booked online using Avios in either Iberia’s own program or through British Airways Executive Club. Both of them use a distance-based formula for calculating the award rates, and regardless of the program you use, you’ll need the following Avios for one-way, nonstop flights:
|Zone||Distance (miles)||Off-peak economy||Peak economy||Off-peak premium economy||Peak premium economy||Off-peak business class||Peak business class|
However, it’s worth noting that the actual distances don’t always match, and there’s even some variation that can’t be explained by the above charts.
Here’s how nonstop flights from the U.S. should fall into these zones:
- Zone 5: From Boston, New York, Washington and Puerto Rico to Madrid
- Zone 6: From Chicago, Miami and Dallas-Fort Worth to Madrid
- Zone 7: From Los Angeles and San Francisco to Madrid
However, Chicago flights typically price at Zone 5 rates, while those departing Los Angeles price at Zone 6 rates.
And then there are anomalies like this result — with an economy award rate (28,000) that doesn’t correspond to any published price on the above chart.
Nevertheless, the chart means you should be able to book off-peak, business-class flights to Madrid from any Iberia gateway in the U.S. for no more than 51,000 Avios each way, which is an excellent deal.
For comparison’s sake, American Airlines’ AAdvantage program charges 57,500 miles from anywhere in North America to anywhere in Europe. For flights to Madrid on Iberia, it is a better deal in all situations except for peak flights from Miami, Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Iberia Plus and British Airways Executive Club use this same pricing for Iberia-operated flights, so you can book through either and move Avios between the programs easily in any direction at a 1:1 rate.
The Executive Club platform is more user-friendly than Iberia Plus, and BA’s customer service tends to be better than Iberia’s, so you may wish to focus on booking through Executive Club, though you should be able to fairly easily book all of the itineraries mentioned here online through either program.
Depending on your routing and date, we have found slight differences in the fees and taxes calculated by each program, though they are not large amounts.
Just be aware that BA’s search results often prioritizes British Airways-operated flights via London. It also imposes significant fuel surcharges, so if you plan to travel to Madrid, it’s a much better deal if you can find availability on a nonstop Iberia flight.
Adding a connection increases the number of Avios
As noted previously, the above award charts apply to nonstop, one-way flights from the U.S. to Madrid. When you continue beyond Madrid as a single redemption on Iberia (or add a domestic connection on American), the flights will be priced individually.
For example, flying from New York to Madrid in premium economy and on to Spain’s Palma de Mallorca Airport (PMI) in economy will price as a Zone 5 premium economy redemption plus a Zone 1 economy redemption. Looking at the same flights booked via BA’s Executive Club, or Iberia Plus, BA prices correctly at 30,000 Avios, with Iberia for an unknown reason coming in at slightly more in both Avios and taxes, so it would be a better deal to book through British Airways.
Looking at another connection itinerary between Chicago and Venice Marco Polo Airport (VCE) in Italy, all in economy, this should price as Zone 5 plus Zone 2, so 24,500 Avios in total, off-peak. Both programs allow you to pay fewer Avios and more cash, and at the lower Avios amounts, the pricing matches the two programs.
At the higher end, however, again, British Airways is pricing correctly while Iberia Plus charges slightly more Avios and higher fees and taxes.
If you have transferable credit card points and are looking at connecting itineraries in premium cabins, consider redeeming AAdvantage miles and their zone-based redemptions instead of Avios, as that may be a better deal, especially if you are planning to travel at peak dates.
Iberia also flies to a handful of destinations in North Africa, particularly Morocco.
How to earn Avios
As noted above, it’s very easy to earn Avios for U.S. travelers. Besides crediting paid flights on Oneworld airlines to either British Airways or Iberia, you can also leverage many top travel rewards cards.
Earn Avios on cobranded credit cards
Chase issues three Avios credit cards in the U.S. — one each for Aer Lingus, British Airways and Iberia. These cards are each offering bonuses that could net you 75,000 Avios — here’s a look:
Earning Avios with transferable-points cards
You can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points, Bilt Rewards points, Capital One miles and Chase Ultimate Rewards points to at least one Avios-earning carrier. From there, it’s easy to combine your Avios in the program of your choosing. And since you can also transfer Citi ThankYou points to Qatar Airways, you can also leverage those rewards to book Iberia award flights.
These points transfer at a 1:1 ratio, and transfers should process immediately. Here are some of our favorite cards:
- American Express® Gold Card: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases with your new card within the first six months of card membership.
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $8,000 on purchases on the card in your first six months of card membership.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
- Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card: Earn 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Earn 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
- Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card: Earn 20,000 bonus miles once you spend $500 within the first three months from account opening.
Redeeming Avios for transatlantic Iberia flights, especially in premium cabins, is one of the very best ways to use them. Just 34,000 Avios for a one-way, business-class flight to Europe (with minimal surcharges) is incredible value.
However, the Iberia Plus website can be a little unpredictable, both in how user-friendly it is and the pricing it shows.
It’s worth checking both BA’s Executive Club and Iberia Plus to see which has the best price, especially if you are connecting beyond Madrid. Our searches have found Executive Club prices slightly cheaper and the platform much easier to use.