(EXPIRED) Business class to Europe from 5,100 points + $480

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Iberia is offering an award ticket sale good for 25% off both economy and business class, which brings flights between New York, Boston, or Chicago and Madrid down to just 25,500 miles one-way in business class (or 12,750 on economy class). Prices from Miami are a bit higher, but still incredibly reasonable in business, at 31,900 one-way in business class or 15,950 in economy class. I think this sale is also very interesting because of the option to pay a higher cash co-pay and use fewer Avios — from as little as 5,100 Avios + $481.

I haven’t flown it, but Iberia business class doesn’t look too bad.

The Deal

  • 25% off award tickets between Spain and the Americas or Asia for travel between October 1-December 15, 2018 (see blackout dates below)
  • Direct link to promotion (though note that Iberia’s site is a bit confusing to use – might be easiest to start at Iberia’s home page)

Key Terms

  • Must book by March 18th
  • Valid for travel October 1, 2018 to December 15, 2018
  • Must book through Iberia’s new and “improved” award search took
  • Sale prices shown apply to off-peak dates. You’ll pay more on the following peak dates during the promo travel period: December 1, 2, 5, 6, 10, 11, and 15 Update: There are actually more peak dates during the promo period. See peak dates in red below (thanks to THEsocalledfan in the comments):

Quick Thoughts

First, the prices are excellent. Iberia has been running promos like these once or twice a year the past couple of years and it’s hard to beat 25,500 miles each way for flat bed transatlantic business class. What’s more, Iberia is transfer partners with Ultimate Rewards, Membership Rewards, and SPG — making it pretty easy to put together the points for an award. If you’re interested in travel during the late fall / early winter and can avoid the handful of peak dates shown in the “Key Terms” section above.

The biggest downside is that you have to deal with Iberia’s clunky award search tool. It’s far from impossible to use, but equally distant from intuitive at times. That said, it’s noteworthy that availability is better on Iberia’s site than what I’m seeing on AA.com. For example, here are the one-way business class options on Iberia that I see when I search for 2 seats on December 4th on AA.com:

 

As you can see, AA.com comes up empty. They do show some options connecting in Chicago if I include a leg on American – but none direct from New York on Iberia. However, on the same date, I see two seats available when searching through Iberia:

If you select a flight and try to continue without Iberia Avios in your account, you’ll get an error telling you that you don’t have enough Avios to book the award. If you hit “continue with another selection”, it’ll show you the pricing for the flights you had chosen at the bottom:

As you’ll see, you can choose to pay fewer Avios and more money. If you’re paying 16,600 Avios or more, you’re essentially buying Avios for about 1.6 to 1.7 cents per point. At the other end, if you only pay 5,100 Avios and 388.07 Euros (about $481 US Dollars), you’re buying 20,400 Avios for about 1.9 cents per point. Those aren’t prices at which I’d buy Avios necessarily — but I might consider paying that much to keep URs, MRs, or SPG points in those respective accounts in order to have them for a more valuable use. While 25.5K each way is terrific, being able to pay $481 plus just 5,100 Avios for flat-bed transatlantic business class still looks like an awesome deal compared to cash prices.

Don’t make this mistake

If you’re transferring in from Chase Ultimate Rewards or Membership Rewards, you’ll have to transfer in increments of 1,000. That means you’ll end up transferring a bit more than you actually need. I transferred 11K points to my Iberia account to double check for this quick deal that there were no additional taxes to pay. I had done my search for 2 seats, so the total was 10,200 Avios and 776.14 Euro (to seats at 5100 + 388 each). Since I had 11,000 Avois in my account, Iberia offered me the choice to book as shown above or buy the additional Avios needed for the award. Initially, this made me laugh. If I were going to book for 5,100 Avios plus cash, my co-pay for 2 tickets was going to be 776.14 Euro. But Iberia offered to sell me the 40K that I was short for just 757 Euro.

For several minutes, they had me fooled into thinking that it’s even cheaper to buy the difference in Avios than it would be for me to pay the 10,200 + 776.14. But then I remembered that I’d still be paying 73.07 per passenger in tax after buying the Avios. No, you aren’t going to save 19 Euro by purchasing the remainder of the Avios — you’re going to pay another 146 Euro after buying them. Don’t fall for it.

Marriott Travel Package for the win?

Greg pointed out that a really interesting idea here would be to redeem a Marriott Travel Package with the current British Airways promotion for a 35% bonus on miles (See: 35% bonus on hotel points to Avios). With that promotion, you could redeem 270K Marriott points (or 90K SPG via Marriott) for 162,000 British Airways Avios (and a 7-night Marriott Category 1-5 hotel voucher). Unfortunately, the terms of the British Airways promotion state that the bonus miles take 4-6 weeks to post. However, if you could do this, that’s enough points to fly 31 people one-way in business class. You’d just have to get them to let you put the $480 per person on your rewards credit card and then have them pay you back. I’m sure you’ll have a little difficulty finding that much availability — but at least you have 3 gateway cities at that price :-).

Peak pricing isn’t bad, either

If you have to travel during peak dates, you’ll pay more — but it’s still a much better deal than the 57,500 miles you’d be charged to book with American Airlines miles:

Bottom line

It’s great to see Iberia continue with these off-peak 25% off sales. Since it’s easy enough to transfer points from a number of different partners, this sale looks pretty good to me. While availability isn’t wide open, there are more seats available on Iberia.com in my searches. While many people would more quickly consider 25.5K plus tax rather than indirectly buying Avios with a higher cash copay, it might be worthwhile to consider if you have a more valuable use for your points. It’s not often that you have the option to pay so few points — the equivalent of $51 cash back earned on a Freedom or Freedom Unlimited card — to reduce the cost of business class so drastically.

H/T: One Mile at a Time

 

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