How Iberia Made Us Believe They Devalued — When They Simply Got More Transparent

Iberia published new, much more expensive award charts for travel on partner airlines recently.

That was pretty scary, not because Iberia points were worth less (nobody cares), but because of what it could mean for British Airways points. The two programs are structured similarly. The airlines are jointly owned. And points transfer between the two fairly freely.

Commenter Prospero offers some good insight into what’s going on.

The prevailing wisdom seems to be that Iberia published this partner award chart online, which they hadn’t done before, but the rates themselves aren’t actually new.

  • Iberia hadn’t posted the chart before
  • Few people booked partner awards with Iberia.
  • You couldn’t book most partner awards online with Iberia for a long time, and you can with British Airways.
  • The Iberia awards are non-refundable.

Non-refundable awards you’d have to call Iberia agents to book, few bothered, using British Airways Executive Club instead. In other words, there was little reason to mess with Iberia call centers to get less-desirable awards. So their crazy pricing wasn’t really noticed.

So they never updated their online award charts before. These are the old rates, but no one really knew it. I have an award booking business, and I haven’t had to use Iberia Plus Avios points.

I still believe the best values go away eventually. That’s always been true in miles and points, if an opportunity is several standard deviations better than the median program offering it won’t last. That’s the case with short-distance non-stop partner awards using British Airways points.

But the publication of the Iberia chart — odd they wouldn’t have done it in 3 years! — isn’t necessarily a sign of that.

Of course there may well be a reason for them to publish the chart now.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Online functionality for oneworld partners was always on I was able to price out AA flights online just make sure to select the oneworld tab before you enter your flight’s

  2. @Dov I got my tenses screwed up so I’ve clarified. Online partner booking has been pretty limited with Iberia but indeed it’s been possible and has gotten easier.

  3. Of course no apology from Gary for stirring the pot and causing panic without actually investigating when the changes took place, all the blame is on Iberia.

  4. @Ben I posted as quickly as I could what seemed to be going on as soon as it was flagged in the comments here. It made good sense.

    I explained how the misunderstanding happened. Their *publishing* this award chart was new. And I explained why I did not know its implementation was already in place. I’m definitely sorry for that!

  5. Hmm interesting – of course some of the long haul rates actually were quite reasonable, perhaps we SHOULD be booking some travel through IB! (I think premium classes to Oz were particularly good value?)

  6. Indeed! Possibly lower taxes though with IB? I find availability one of the biggest issues, SQ is pretty good in that regard when booking through KrisFlyer.

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