Armed with our newly minted 90,000 Avios points we received from the Iberia’s promotion, it is time to redeem the points. Just to recap on this promotion (now expired), by booking the cheapest one way Iberia flights ten times, we received a total of 90,000 Avios points. No flying was necessary. Essentially, we acquired 90,000 Avios points for just €243. See our articles relating to this:
90,000 points open up quite a lot of avenues for premium travel. We evaluated many options on how to obtain the best value for these Iberia Plus Avios points including redeeming them for flights and hotels. In the end, we maintain that redeeming for long haul business class flights is one of the more attractive options.
We plan to hike the Inca Trail in May 2019, so it is an opportune time to take advantage of the points.
Consider this. If you were to buy a business class flight on Iberia, from Madrid to Lima, then return from Rio de Janeiro to Madrid, the cash price would be €2,403.06.
However, using the points, it would cost only €377.59, saving a whopping €2,025 each. At €377.59, you could not even get an economy return flight.
Apart from hiking up the Inca Trail (ultimate destination – Machu Picchu), we are also planning to combine this trip with Brazil to see Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro. Our mission next year is to complete our trips to see the New7Wonders of the World.
How did we book our flights with Avios points?
Some handy tips to remember:
1. Avoid British Airways – their charges and fees will impoverish you.
2. Avoid London as point of origin due to high airport departure taxes/fees. Try Madrid, Paris, Amsterdam, Dublin, instead.
3. Where possible, use Iberia flights for simplicity in booking.
4. Some countries regulate strictly on what the airlines can charge as fees when it comes to points redemption. Brazil and Hong Kong, for example, prohibit airlines from putting on carrier surcharges, etc.
5. For one ways, you can only book on Iberia or British Airways flights (possible with Vueling, Air Italy, Level and IB Express too). Iberia’s partners’ flights are bookable as returns only.
6. Multi-city option is not available through Iberia Plus website. Book as two one-ways.
Redeeming through Iberia Plus website is quite constrained. It is good for straightforward itineraries. If you need multiple stops, you need to be creative; even so, your choices are quite limited. If you get the dreaded error message “Request not processed”, log out and try again (and again). You can call Iberia Plus, but the general consensus is that they are not a helpful bunch.
With all the factors above considered, we proceeded to book our multi segments trip. Our itinerary:
Main Long Haul Flights
1. Madrid (MAD) to Lima (LIM) Business Class
2. Rio (GIG) to Madrid (MAD) Business Class
Our first task was to secure our long haul flights. We chose Madrid as our starting and ending point because it has low surcharges and Iberia has many non-stop flights to and from South America. Basically, we are flying into Lima, but returning from Rio. This kind of itinerary is commonly known as ‘single open jaw’. That is, fly into one city and return from another city.
To accomplish this, we have to make two one-way bookings. Currently, there is no facility in Iberia Plus to book multi-city flights online. It is imperative that you have researched availability for both flights, and then work quickly and accurately to get the seats confirmed. The last thing you want is to end up with an ‘orphan’ booking where you cannot get the remaining leg confirmed.
How to make an open jaw booking on Iberia Plus?
As previously mentioned, Iberia’s booking engine is not the friendliest nor rich in features. You have to work around it to get your desired results.
Firstly, login to your Iberia Plus account.
Click One Way, and Pay with Avios, and Search.
You then have to input the characters in the image (not case sensitive) to prove that you are not a robot.
On many other airlines’ websites, we would use “Multi-City” option to book flights such as these, but not with Iberia. It is only good for cash booking, not on Avios redemption.
Select the flight and click View (at the bottom right screen).
Continue with the rest of process to complete the Madrid-Lima booking.
Next, we want to book the other half of the long haul flight, i.e. Rio to Madrid.
Repeat the steps as above, except change the “From” and “To” (from Rio to Madrid respectively).
Complete the booking and payment process as before.
Note: The currency shown for the charges depends on which country website you selected or defaulted. The above two were in US dollars.
To summarise, we have now completed the booking for:
Outbound – Madrid to Lima for 42,500 points, charges USD 125.64 (EUR 109.89)
Inbound – Rio to Madrid for 42,500, charges USD 28.91 (EUR 25)
Total Avios points redeemed was 85,000 with a total fee of USD 154.55 (EUR 134.89).
If all that you require is a simple return trip, say Madrid-Lima-Madrid, just use the “Round Trip / Return” option.
This leaves us a balance of 5,000 Avios points. You can still make good use of these. You can get one way Spanish domestic flights, for example, Madrid to Barcelona for only 4,500 points. You can even get Madrid to Casablanca, Lisbon or Nice for 4,500-5,000 points.
Bear in mind, if you had acquired the 90,000 points through the Iberia’s special promotion, you have to redeem all the points by 1st December 2018, or they will expire. But your travel plans can be beyond the deadline date – into 2019.
Earlier on, we mentioned that we are hiking up the Inca Trail to get to Machu Picchu. That means after landing in Lima, we have to find our way to Cusco, which is the nearest town/airport to Machu Picchu. In our next installment, we will write about how we secure our domestic flights (Lima-Cusco-Lima) and a regional flight (Lima to Rio).