…or not. As you probably heard if you were on any type of miles and points related site yesterday, an (update: maybe relatively new) Iberia award chart for partners other than those owned by IAG got noticed by The Freequent Flyer. I wondered out loud on Twitter whether British Airways would follow suit, since the two airlines are both owned by IAG and share many aspects of their Avios points programs. Until recently, they (update: maybe) also had nearly identical award charts, and if BA does follow Iberia’s lead without warning it would be a massive devaluation on some of the most popular Avios redemptions.
Within minutes of our discussion on Twitter, blog posts and forum threads were popping up with speculation and recommendations to burn your Avios, now! Of course that’s a good idea since you can cancel if needed and lose only the taxes of ~$12 on a domestic trip. However, that’s the same chart I had found on August 15th when putting together our East Coast Avios sweet spot post. I just hadn’t connected all the dots, and neither did anyone else until The Freequent Flyer tried to do a booking yesterday. So the sky may take a while to actually hit the ground, even if it is falling. Also, as headforpoints noted on Flyertalk, Iberia has made (much smaller) changes over the past 18 months without BA following suit.
The primary benefit to using Iberia Avios has been that flights to Europe on Iberia flights incur much lower surcharges than booking the same flights with BA Avios. However, both have charged the same ridiculously high surcharges for booking flights on AA. I thought it made sense to see if that had changed since they were changing other details with no notification or warning. What I found was a booking engine that doesn’t work very well, and inconsistent results when it did work. Sometimes for better, and sometimes for worse.
If you have a simple all-US or all-AA trip to Europe and Avios to burn, it makes sense to check the fees and taxes on your itinerary before assuming you can only get a decent deal by booking with AA or US miles.
From there, it gets crazy as there are some cases where the new Iberia chart may actually be the best value (ahead of BA, AA, US, etc.), and others where it is the worst value! As long as we have both charts and the ability to transfer Avios back and forth, just about everything about this is great news. But…. if BA ‘updates’ their award chart to match Iberia, we lose some of the best award booking deals out there.
What if BA does follow Iberia?
Then I’ll do posts on LAN and JAL, the South American and Japanese oneworld partners that also have distance-based award charts. As will everyone else. I guess at that point I’d have to rewrite several of our Award Booking Sweet Spot pages as well. The game may change as it always does, but there will be deals to be had! On the other hand, the end of another offer is drawing ever nearer and will probably actually occur in the next year or so. You have been warned!
Man the Iberia engine blows, doesn’t it? I was just messing around last night trying to understand things (I don’t have any Avios in my account currently anyways and no real plans upcoming) and I just had a whale of a time trying to understand the Avios that different flights were requiring.
Yeah, it seems Iberia has hired Carlos the Fare Hamster (younger brother of the legendary Conrad the Fare Hamster) to price out Avios bookings.