Wide Open Summer Business Class Awards Using American AAdvantage Miles

oneworld carrier Iberia – owned by British Airways parent IAG – is starting new summer seasonal service between Washington Dulles and Madrid five times a week, effective May 1. The flight will be operated by an Airbus A330-300 with 29 business class, 21 premium economy, and 242 coach seats.

    Washington Dulles – Madrid, 8:30 p.m. – 10:15 a.m.+1, IB6132
    Madrid – Washington Dulles, 3:50 p.m. – 6:55 p.m., IB6131

Iberia award availability is fairly predictable. It is good when its schedule opens, usually making two business class seats available, and much tougher closer to travel.

Since the flight is new, and schedules just loaded, there’s wide open award space for 2 passengers in business class pretty much every day that the flight operates. Here’s an award calendar from the American Airlines website showing dates available in blue (remember, the flight only operates 5 times a week):

American AAdvantage charges 57,500 miles each way between the U.S. and Europe and that includes connections through Madrid to other European destinations. (There aren’t going to be many American Airlines connections through Washington Dulles to pick up this flight, however customers in Dallas, Charlotte, and Los Angeles may make particularly good use of the service – not just those in D.C.

There’s only one hitch and it should work itself out. (HT: @KirkDanner) Update: The glitch described below has been corrected.

American charges very low surcharges on Iberia redemptions (while they’re most known for adding big fees, the do add some fees with Iberia). For instance here are taxes and fees on a Chicago – Madrid Iberia redemption:

Oddly, instead of $66 in surcharges the Washington Dulles – Madrid route is showing $600 in surcharges.

I have a question out to American on this. I assume this is a mistake, since no change in policy has been announced and it doesn’t appear to affect other routes – only this one new route. My advice is:

  • If you’re using American AAdvantage miles for redemption, put the award on hold. Hopefully we’ll know more pretty quickly.

  • My bet is that this is a mistake, and that even if you have to pay higher fees to get the award ticketed prior to hold expiration, that the overcharge will be refunded.

Another great opportunity is transferring British Airways Avios over to Iberia – because when you redeem Iberia Avios for travel on Iberia it generally costs fewer points and the carrier-imposed surcharges are much much lower along the lines of what American charges for Chicago – Madrid redemptions. As long as an Iberia account has been open 90 days and has had some points credited (including transfers from Chase or American Express) it can receive points from a member’s British Airways account.

The ability to use American AAdvantage miles at the saver level, though, without significant fuel surcharges is a relative rarity and worth jumping on assuming things work out as I expect.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. The YQ is showing on Iberia website too when searching using their search tool. For example, June 1-8 r/t WAS-MAD calculates as 68,000 miles + $1292.41. Hopefully it’s just a glitch and not a change in policy.

  2. Btw what’s up with AA charging $11.20 on one way domestic routes? TSA fees are $5.60, why are they are doubling them? If its one or three segments, TSA should be $5.60

  3. High surcharges on redemptions with an IAG carrier? Sounds to me more like “harmonization” of the policy than a mistake…hope I’m wrong.

  4. This is not a mistake, it is American airlines policy to rip off customers. I tried multiple times to fly to Frankfurt with saver milers and I always get offered horrible connections with British airways and a fee that is higher then $600. If I use the unrestricted miles options suddenly those hick ups disappear

  5. Thanks for the heads up, just found 2 business 6/22 out and 7/3 return. 230k miles plus $2584.90. No way.
    However, just booked DL JFK-BCN in April 98k miles and $46.
    Thanks Gary

  6. How good is Iberia about opening award seats? Would be looking for three minimum (first longhaul trip with toddler daughter).

  7. I’m looking right now, and I don’t see any Business Saver awards from IAD-MAD on Iberia in summer 2020. Did they completely sell out in less than 24 hours? There are some indirect routes on BA, but that’s garbage.

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