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How to book Iberia flights with American AAdvantage miles

by on Mon August 8, 2016 • 7 Comments
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Madrid-based Iberia is an American Airlines oneworld partner that you can use for redeeming award flights between the U.S. and Europe. Its recently upgraded Business Class cabin has already received accolades from satisfied travelers. Even better, Iberia flights aren’t subject to the same hefty surcharges you’re stuck paying when you book British Airways flights using American AAdvantage miles. The catch is, you won’t find Iberia award flights on AA.com, and we’ll show alternative places you can check.

Routes from the US

Iberia flies to 5 cities in the Continental U.S.: Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles (seasonal), Miami, and New York (JFK).

IB MAP

via GCMap.com

Where to Search for Space

Since American Airlines doesn’t display Iberia award availability, you can use the British Airways website to do the search. If your desired itinerary consists of more than a flight to Madrid, don’t try to feed the British search engine your whole itinerary or it may chock on it. Search for the flight between your U.S. gateway airport to Madrid first, then do separate searches to find other segments.

Qantas.com is another website that will show you Iberia award space. Since Iberia Business Class award availability is not overly abundant, the Qantas “Flexible with dates” option can help fish out that “accidental” elusive award seat, and it’s less tiring than clicking date after date in the BA award search. Be aware, though, that the Qantas website is well-known for displaying phantom availability sometimes.

Another excellent and free way to search for your flight is a Chrome extension called Award Flight Finder. For a free tool, it’s excellent at what it does. You can set all kind of parameters including the class of service, the desired number of seats, the booking window, and the app will work in the background while you are free to do anything else. If you want to know more about this great tool, you can check our review here.

Of course, you can always check availability on Iberia.com, but keep in mind that not all its business class award space is shared with partners.

Finally, there is another great way to search for Iberia (or most other airlines for that matter) – a website and an app called Expert Flyer.

Although the Expert Flyer’s premium versions aren’t free, they will give you a lot of functionality and save you countless amount of time, especially if you are interested in premium class tickets.

Expert Flyer has a free version, but we don’t think it’s worth signing up because the functionality is severely limited. Rather than wasting your time and getting disappointed, you could get the Pro version for 5 days free to see if it works for you.

Iberia award space is not great, but with an exception of an LAX – MAD (which is a seasonal flight anyway that operates only from August to December) it can be good for up to two people if you are flexible and booking far in advance.

BA JFK-MAD

 

BA ORD-MAD

BA MIA-MAD

Routing Rules when Booking with American AAdvantage Miles

You can use Iberia for flights to Europe, as well as a way to connect to flights to Africa, the Middle East, and India, though your only viable connecting option to those regions is British Airways with its hefty fuel surcharges.

No stopovers are allowed, so all connections must be less than 24 hours in duration.

Read our full guide to using American Airlines miles.

What’s interesting about the product

While Iberia Business Class was widely criticized in the past for its uncomfortable angled-flat seats and inattentive service, its new A330 and A340 (that will be replaced with A330 in October) long-haul aircraft currently offer great staggered 1-2-1 design, a true lie-flat seat and generally excellent meal service.

STAGGERED

via SeatGuru.com

Key Opportunities

Here is what you pay for flights between the U.S. and Madrid/Europe:

  • 30,000 miles for Economy
  • 57,500 miles for Business

Economy Class is similar to what you’d pay with Delta SkyMiles and United MileagePlus.

The Business Class price is better than the 70,000 miles United charges to Europe on partner flights, or Delta that charges 62,500 miles.

If your travel is taking you to Russia, Iberia can be an especially good deal. It’s retrofitted the A319 old Business Class cabin with a blocked middle seat into a real 2×2 business class cabin. Few European carriers (Aeroflot seems to be the only exception) consistently operates real business class intra-Europe flights.

How to Book

You’ll have to call AAdvantage: 1-800-882-8880. Since the flight can’t be booked online American will waive the phone booking fees.

 

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7 thoughts on How to book Iberia flights with American AAdvantage miles

  1. Tim

    Can I book an AA ward flight using Iberia Avios points? I’m assuming all i have to do is call Iberia and feed them the award flight # and information correct?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Tim – Yes it’s possible. They have their own award prices so it won’t be the price you see on the AA site, but if you see a flight with ‘MileSAAver’ award seats available, it should be visible to Iberia.

      Reply
  2. Brian

    Ah, but Iberia and American are partners – and looks like American does have flights for my domestic US connections (in fact, if I do a dummy booking on iberia.com from MAD to SEA, it offers me routings with the AA connection), so that should take care of the “needs to have a published fare” issue.

    Last wrinkle: I am actually looking to go to Europe on a different airline/using different points, so the outbound and return would be one-ways, booked separately…

    I assume that AA allows booking a one-way award trip (which would be my return) on Iberia (using AA miles), right? As long as that’s the case, I think this could work.

    Thanks again for all the help and useful info!

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Brian – Sounds like it’s pieced together. Booking one ways is totally OK with American, and is actually how all American awards are booked on the backend.

      Reply
  3. Brian

    Thanks again, very helpful info.

    For the last domestic connection to SEA, there’s also an AA flight available (I’d rather go on AS, but AA is fine) – and Iberia and AA are partners, so hopefully that would work. I just checked a dummy booking, and Iberia.com offers up a couple routings from MAD that include a domestic connection on AA to SEA, so I think that covers the “must have a published fare from A to B” issue.

    One more follow-up: I am thinking about doing our outbound on another airline/different points, and am only looking at the return on Iberia (so each way would be booked separately, as two “one ways”). Are there any issues with booking, using AA miles, for a one-way on Iberia (originating in Europe with destination in US)? They (Iberia booked through AA) do allow one-ways, right? And no extra-high gotcha fees for this, right?

    Thanks again for all the info and assistance, very helpful!

    Reply
  4. Brian

    Good info, and a very timely post for me. But it has prompted a couple more questions…

    I’m trying to put together a trip to Europe next year. I’d love to be able to use AA miles (but of course I won’t willingly suffer the BA YQ gouge, nor AA’s apparent commitment to forcing a horrible routing with multiple layovers on me). So Iberia looks like a great alternative…if I can make it work.

    Using the BA award search, I can find seats on the flight I want. So far, so good. Right now I’m looking at the return from Europe.

    If I search leg by leg (just the TATL leg, actually), I’m finding what I need. However, I’d like to connect on arrival back from Europe (let’s say, on my return, go MAD-ORD, then connect to an Alaska flight ORD-SEA). On BA.com, I do see availability MAD-ORD. But if I add the ORD-SEA leg (searching MAD-SEA), it shows zero availability. On AA.com, I see availability on the ORD-SEA leg, so AA sees availability. I know I will need to call AA to book the award. My 2 questions…

    1. Is it permitted under AA’s rules to book MAD-ORD-SEA? Or does adding the AS leg kill the option?

    2. How accurate a predictor of actual availability (booking through AA) is the availability shown on the BA website?

    Basically, I see the seats I want for the TATL on BA.com (that site shows them available), and I also see the seats I want for the domestic connection on AA.com – but don’t see availability for both legs on either system. Does this indicate that if I call AA they should be able to see both legs and be able to book them?

    Thanks for your blog, I find it generally a refreshing change from most that so often contain half-truths and misleading info just to push credit cards. Appreciate your help.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Brian – One issue is BA.com never shows Alaska award space, and AA doesn’t show Iberia, so you’ll never see both at once during a search.

      Where you might run into a problem is in theory the primary carrier (Iberia in this case) needs to have a published fare from Madrid to Seattle that allows travel on Alaska. Iberia and Alaska aren’t partners.

      This may end up varying by the agent you deal with, so there is a chance you end up paying for two separate awards, but worth trying to see if they can price it as one award.

      But based on what you described the award space itself should be there for both segments.

      Reply

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