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Update: As of June 2017, you can now book Iberia flights on the AA.com website. Just make sure you use this trick to force the flights to show up in your search.
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.
Iberia flies to 5 cities in the Continental U.S.: Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles (seasonal), Miami, and New York (JFK).
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.
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.
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.
Here is what you pay for flights between the U.S. and Madrid/Europe:
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.
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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