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.
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.