It can be a bit confusing to be told “just combine your Avios” when you’ve spent your lifetime knowing that you cannot move miles from one frequent flyer program to another (for example, American to United). However, this rule doesn’t apply to airlines owned by the International Airlines Group – you know them better as British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus and Vueling.
The frequent flyer programmes offered by these airlines – British Airways Executive Club, Iberia Plus, AerClub and Vueling Club – all use something called Avios as their currency. Some people call them Avios points or Avios miles, but I think they are basically just supposed to be called Avios…
Perhaps one day all four of those aforementioned frequent flyer programs will be merged into one. But for now they all operate separately. However you can still move your Avios between the different programs. This process is called “Combining Avios”.
The most popular combination of Avios is between British Airways Executive Club and Iberia Plus; frequently there are special offers or reward redemptions that are only available with one program or the other.
“Combine Your Avios” is actually an unfortunate choice of words, as many beginners then rush to query “can I combine the Avios of my parents/siblings/friends into my account?” The answer is no. In order to combine Avios, the following details must be IDENTICAL in the two accounts (at least for an online combination to work):
- The member’s name is identical in both accounts. This might sound obvious, but actually Spanish citizens have two surnames, so their Iberia Plus account reflects this. British Airways Executive Club doesn’t cater for this, meaning that online combinations of Avios will fail. Another common error is setting up your BA account as “Tim Smith” and your Iberia account as “Timothy Smith”.
- The member’s birthdate is the same in both accounts. (so forget about stealing your father’s Avios as payback for his giving you his name and calling you Junior)
- Both accounts use the same e-mail address.
In addition, the following restrictions apply to combining Avios:
- The Iberia Plus account must be “activated”. The account must have earned at least 1 Avios from a standard earning transaction such as crediting a flight, hotel stay, car rental, etc. Naturally, many people inquire about free or low cost methods of activating an Iberia Plus account. I’m not aware of any current “100% free” methods of activating an Iberia Plus account, but some people have successfully activated an Iberia Plus account by transferring some points from American Express. You can also set your browser settings to “Spain”, enter the IberiaPluStore (Iberia’s online shopping portal) and buy something that can be delivered electronically.
- Your Iberia Plus account must be at least 90 days old.
- Your British Airways Executive Club account is NOT a Household Account. If it is, you can get around this restriction by opening an individual Aer Club account and combining Avios to your Aer Club account before separately sending them from Aer Club to Iberia Plus.
And, in case you were wondering, Combining Avios is not an activity that extends the life of any expiring Avios. Avios expire after 36 months of inactivity. If you use more than one “Avios” account – i.e. a BA, Iberia and Aer Lingus account – you must make sure to have activity in each separate account…
How to Combine Avios Online?
Assuming your accounts are all set up properly and activated, you can combine Avios via any of ba.com, iberia.com or avios.com (i.e. Aer Club / Vueling Club).
With BA, you log-in to your Executive Club account and, whilst hovering over “Manage my account”, you click on “Combine my Avios”. From there all is straightforward.
With Iberia Plus, the capability is hidden away and counter-intuitive. You log-in to your Iberia Plus account and hover over the Iberia Plus menu in the top right hand corner. You then select the “Elite Points and Avios” sub-menu and aim for the “Buying or transferring Avios” link.
You will then be taken to a page that is principally concerned with selling you Avios. But way down at the bottom of the page you will see this, and from there all should be straightforward.
The Bottom Line
I expect to publish an article soon that outlines the best uses of Avios. Many of these will be redemptions ONLY available to Iberia Plus members. So, I recommend that you have an Iberia Plus account open, 90+ days old and fully activated. You can tell whether you do by attempting to Combine Your Avios…
Once you get the hang of it, it becomes second nature to combine your Avios between accounts. If you happen to have a very inactive account, make sure to double-check the last time you made a qualifying activity – you don’t want to move any BA Avios to Iberia Plus and have them expire immediately!