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As the sun rose this morning the world is thankfully still rotating just as it was before, but the British Airways Avios 4,500 point shortest distance based awards for flights within/to/from the United States are no more. I know, I felt a pang of sadness, too, literally because I was too tired yesterday to firm up one final booking.
But, since the world still turns just as it did before, and most of us will still want to fly around it for as few points as possible, it is time to take one easy but important action if you haven’t already. If you do nothing else miles and points related today, you must do this one thing…
Iberia Plus utilizes Avios as the currency for their award flights via a distance based award chart similar to British Airways, but with some key differences. You can also transfer Avios between your British Airways and Iberia Plus accounts if (and only if) both accounts are 3 months old, and both have had some type of activity in them (including transfers from Amex Membership Rewards).
Most of us probably have an open and active British Airways Avios account (or else today’s changes don’t impact you anyway), but I’m guessing not all of us have an open and active Iberia Plus Avios account. Since it needs to also be 90 days old to transfer Avios from British Airways, you need to open it today and let it start aging.
At some point you will also need to have some activity in it such as transferring a few Membership Reward points into the Iberia Plus account.
You want an Iberia Plus account because they now have the more favorable award chart for some short-haul bookings, especially those that involve connections on partners such as American Airlines. Iberia charges Avios based on the total mileage of the journey, and not per segment as the British Airways award chart does.
The cheapest award flights that involve a connection using British Airways Avios will now ring in at 30,000 points (7,500 Avios per segment) round trip while round trips with connections could start as low as 11,000 Avios via Iberia Plus if the entire journey is less than 600 miles total. For trips up to 1,000 total miles the price for economy flights only goes up 1,000 Avios to 12,000 total Avios via Iberia Plus.
As an example, we have commonly used Avios to fly my in-laws from Wichita, Kansas to Houston. On American operated flights this means Wichita – Dallas – Houston, which will now cost 15,000 British Airways Avios each way instead if the 9,000 points it used to cost.
However, via Iberia Plus we can book the same round trip journey for 17,000 Avios + $29.20 in taxes/fees. That is actually fewer Avios than it used to cost via British Airways, but there are a few trade-offs (in addition to slightly higher fees).
Some caveats to booking with Iberia Plus Avios are that they do not partner with Alaska, there are no changes/refunds permitted for OneWorld parter awards such as American, and you cannot book one-way awards. That said, booking a round trip (even if you don’t need the return) for very short hauls that involve connections may still be cheaper via Iberia than with British Airways. I’m not saying I highly recommend that strategy, but theoretically it would save you some Avios in certain situations.
I’ll get more into Iberia Plus in the coming weeks, but for now get those accounts open so they can start aging like a nice bottle of port, or something like that.