InsideLook: Iberia Plus

InsideLook: Iberia Plus

Iberia’s first planes took flight in 1927 from Madrid to Barcelona, equipped with two crew and 10 passengers seated in wicker chairs. The airline began flying to Portugal in 1939 and added flights to London, Paris, Rome and Buenos Aires in the early 1940s. The first Madrid to New York flight occurred Aug. 3, 1954.

Iberia claims to be the first European airline to create an international frequent flyer program when Iberia Plus was launched in 1991 and currently there are more than 5.5 million Iberia Plus members worldwide.
Iberia joined oneworld in 1999 and Iberia Plus members can earn and redeem miles on an international network of carriers to nearly 1,000 destinations. The program offers interesting features such as limousine services for Platinum members and free parking at the airport for Gold members.

Children 2 to 11 years old can join the Iberia Plus program with the Iberia Plus Kids card (equivalent to the program’s entry level Iberia Plus Classic).

Earning Ability
On Iberia flights, members earn Avios based on distance and class of service with a minimum of 500 Avios earned on every flight. Economy fares earn .80 Avios for every mile flown, business fares earn 1.5 Avios per mile and first class fares earn two Avios per mile.

Top tier elite members can earn more Avios with Elite Bonuses: 100 percent for Platinum and Gold and 25 percent for Silver.

Earning partners are varied and extensive. Members can earn Avios with hotel stays, car rentals, financial services, shopping, health partners and more.

Award Choices
One-way award flights on Iberia in Blue Class (economy with restrictions) range from 4,500 to 30,000 Avios based on distance. Blue Class tickets are subject to capacity controls and a fee of 25 euros is charged for changes and refunds. Full economy class award tickets range from 6,750 to 45,000 Avios and business class award tickets range from 9,000 to 60,000 Avios. Domestic Blue Class roundtrip flights can be redeemed with Avios plus cash starting at 4,500 Avios plus cash, full economy class tickets start at 6,750 Avios plus cash and business class starts at 9,000 Avios plus cash. Members may also redeem Avios and cash for one-way domestic awards starting at 2,250 Avios.

Upgrades range from 4,500 to 30,000 Avios one way depending on the flight distance and are only available from full economy fares.

Iberia recently began offering members the ability to redeem Avios towards discounts on revenue tickets. Members can redeem Avios for up to 50 percent off fares and still earn Avios on the flight, giving members more options for using Avios and the ability to use Avios on flights where award seats are not available.

Iberia’s hotel partners allow members to redeem Avios for stays. Rates vary (depending on the room and hotel) from 7,500 Avios to 75,000 Avios per night. Members can also choose to redeem Avios plus cash for hotels bookings.

Car rental awards are available with Avis and Budget beginning at 3,750 per day.

Partnerships
Airline partners include Iberia Regional Air Nostrum, Vueling, Binter Canarias, Iberia Express, Avianca, TACA, Royal Air Maroc, Meridiana and oneworld airlines (Air Berlin, American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, JAL, LAN, TAM, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar, Qantas, Royal Jordanian, S7 and SriLankan). Earning with oneworld airlines is based on the flight distance and fare class. Members earn between 0.25 to 0.80 Avios per mile flown (depending on the partner) in discount economy, one Avios per mile flown in full-fare economy, 1.25 Avios per mile flown in business and 1.5 Avios per mile flown in first class.

Iberia has many hotel partners, including Accor, Iberostar, Melia, NH Hotels, Hilton, Starwood, IHG and Marriott to name a few. When staying at hotels, members earn either a set number of Avios per stay or a variable number based on the amount of money spent. Earnings range from 150 a night to 3,000 Avios per stay (varies by hotel and room type) or one to three Avios per dollar spent (varies by hotel and elite status level).

Earn up to 510 Avios per day with Avis. Iberia Plus recently ended partnerships with Atesa, Europcar and Hertz. Members can also earn Avios for buying tires or paying for car repairs from Euromaster, car insurance with Mutua Madrilena or filling up at Repsol gas stations.

The co-branded Iberia Sendo American Express card earns one Avios for every euro spent and the Iberia Sendo Visa earns one Avios for every two euros spent. Cardholders can also purchase tickets on Iberia flights at a 10 percent discount on public fares and Gold cardholders can use the business class counter at check-in when flying on Iberia. Members may transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to Iberia Plus Avios at a one-to-one ratio. Other financial services partners that award points include Aegon Seguros, Santander Mexico, Inversis, Global Exchange and Diners Club Peru.

Shopping partners include Vinoseleccion and Todovino (five Avios per two euros spent), Microsoft (25 Avios per 10 euros spent), Heineken (4,500 Heineken points transfer to 5,000 Avios) and Chic Outlet Shopping (15 Avios per 12 euros spent). Members also earn 15 Avios per 12 euros spent for in-flight purchases aboard Iberia-operated intercontinental flights.

Iberia Plus partners with many other companies where members can earn Avios. The comprehensive list is long and includes travel packages, tours, entertainment, golf, concerts, health clinics, health insurance providers, eye clinics and language courses. If you live in Spain, you can probably find a way to earn Avios with just about any purchase you make–there are a lot of partners.

Elite-Level Program
Iberia Plus has three elite levels: Silver, Gold and Platinum. Members attain Silver status upon accumulating 1,100 elite points or 25 routes flown. Elite points are earned with Iberia Group, Vueling or oneworld partner airlines, from April 1 each year to March 31 of the following year. Silver benefits include priority waitlisting, priority boarding, business class check-in, a bonus of 25 percent more Avios on flights, extra luggage allowance, foreign travel insurance and Ruby membership in the oneworld alliance.

Gold status is attained after accumulating 2,250 elite points or 50 routes flown. In addition to Silver benefits, Gold members receive Fast Track access, access to Preferential Care Points, automatic seat booking with seat preferences, a guaranteed seat in full economy class up to 24 hours prior to departure, double Avios on flights, award seats for double the Avios when award seats are not available, access to Iberia’s business class VIP lounges and arrival VIP lounges at Madrid T4 airport, free parking at Madrid and Barcelona airports and Sapphire membership in oneworld.

Platinum status is achieved after accumulating 6,250 elite points and is valid for two years. Platinum members receive all of the above benefits, plus two free upgrades from full economy fares on Iberia flights, maximum baggage allowance, limousine service when flying into or out of Barcelona, Madrid, Santiago de Chile, Buenos Aires, Mexico City and Sao Paulo and Emerald membership in oneworld. Platinum members are also eligible for an Avios credit (up to 22,500) when short on award points (you will have a negative balance).

Rules and Conditions
Award tickets and vouchers are valid for one year. Avios will expire within 36 months without at least one account activity. Missing Avios can be requested online within six months. Avios pooling is not available. Members may request awards for their designated beneficiaries or one travel companion but awards cannot be transferred after issuance. Flight awards are subject to capacity controls but not blackout dates. Members may purchase or gift up to 35,000 Avios or transfer up to 144,000 Avios per calendar year.

Service Support
Customer service is available 24 hours at (800) 772-4642 within the U.S. When we called we were connected with an English speaking representative within four minutes. Members may also call customer service in Spain and receive help through Twitter.

Online Services
Members can view their account balance and transactions online. Flight awards on Iberia or oneworld airlines can be redeemed online but upgrade awards and some partner awards need to be booked over the phone. Online promotions and bonuses are numerous and the information about the promotions is up-to-date. Program Terms and Conditions are displayed online at Iberia.com and while there is a short page of Frequently Asked Questions, there is no ability to submit questions online. If you connect your Facebook or LinkedIn profile to your Iberia Plus account Iberia can suggest a seat next to your ideal travel companion.

Plus Features
Iberia Plus has a wide variety of airline, hotel, car and miscellaneous partnerships. Members have the ability to earn Avios through promotions, bonuses and Avios-accumulating relationships with a large number of businesses within Spain. Elite-level benefits like VIP parking for Gold members and limousine services for Platinum members add that special touch. Unlike many European airlines, the program allows members to earn Avios on discount economy fares. Iberia frequently offers award redemption sales, allowing members to redeem fewer miles for award redemption flights.

Minus Features
Iberia charges fuel surcharges on award redemption flights, however, they are lower than British Airways fuel surcharges. Award redemption rates for oneworld partners are high.

Program Rating
Overall Score 7.36
Earning Ability 7.5
Award Choices 7.0
Partnerships 8.0
Elite Level .7.5
Rules & Conditions 7.5
Service Support 7.0
Online Services 7.0

Program Information:
Iberia Plus
Apdo. de Correos 62033
28080 Madrid, Spain
(800) 772-4642

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