Our winter trip to Europe all started with Iberia 90,000 Avios Promo. This trip allowed us to book our return flight from Copenhagen to Seattle in first class for less than $500 a person.
The Iberia 90,000 Avios Promo
Back in July Iberia Airlines broke the internet with its 90,000 Avios promo. Iberia Plus Members could gain a bonus 9,000 Avios for every flight purchased within a three day window. What made this deal special is you did not actually need to fly to earn the bonus points. Because Iberia Plus is a free frequent flyer program, this led to a massive rush to purchase the cheapest flights Iberia offered. When the deal first broke the cheapest flights were about $17. This meant that you could earn 90,000 Iberia Avios for about $170 dollars.
I was skeptical when I initially heard of the deal. So I hesitated. I wasn’t confident that Iberia would follow through on the promotion and I did not want to drop $340 to get both Stephanie and I 90,000 avios each. One Iberia made an official statement that you do not need to fly, I went for it. By this point, however, the $17 dollar flights sold out. At that point the cheapest flights were $27.30.
So i went ahead and book 10 flights for each of us from Madrid to Santander Spain, and on July 4th (about a week later) 90,000 Iberia credited Avios to my account. Stephanie’s didn’t credit.
Stephanie did not have an Iberia Plus account prior to the promo. I created her account shortly before I booked her flights. Apparently, creation of new Iberia Plus accounts exploded with the promo, and a lot of these accounts were fraudulent. Iberia required us to submit verification of her identity, and several weeks after the points credited to her accounts.
Why the Iberia 90,000 Avios Promo Blew Up
The Simple reason the Iberia 90,000 Avios Promo blew up was because it is a lot of points. Iberia uses a distance based reward chart which offers some extremely generous potential redemptions for 90,000 avios. Some of the notable potential redemptions were:
- Business Class flights from the East Coast and Chicago for 68,000 pts round trip on Iberia.
- Business Class flights from the West Coast for 84,000 round trip on Iberia.
- Economy Flights from the East Coast and Chicago for 34,000 Avios round trip on Iberia.
- Economy Flights from the West Coast for 34,000 Avios round trip on Iberia.
- American Airlines economy short haul flights for 12,000 R/T
- American Airlines Flagship First from New York to Los Angeles for 96,000 R/T
- British Airways First Class from Europe to the United States for 81,000 One Way
Given all the possibilities and the huge value that those possibilities provided, this blew up fast. I let Stephanie decide how we used ours. She chose between Iberia Business round trip or British First one way. She figured we may never get the opportunity to fly first class ever again.
Travel Tips/Lesson Learned
I learned two important travel lessons from the Iberia 90,000 Avios Promo.
1. Never Hesitate on a Travel Deal
When it comes to insane promos like this, mistake fares, or fare sales it is a huge mistake to hesitate for too long. Flights have limited space. If you take your time to contemplate the flights will sell out and this results in an increase in prices. This is especially true when it comes to error fares.
Keep in mind if you see a tempting booking, that the Department of Transportations requires that all routes to/from the United States allow the Customer a 24 hour cancellation period (provided that your flight is more than 7 days from the date of booking). Thus, you will have 24 hours to determine if you actually want to take the flights. I frequently use this time period to discuss the potential trip with my wife and get the vacation approved by my work.
While the Iberia Promo did not include flights in the US, most major Airlines, including Iberia, have implemented this policy worldwide. You can check these policies prior to making a speculative booking. My hesitation in determining whether it was worth it cost me $200.
2. Create Frequent Flier Accounts for All Major Airlines
One of my major frustrations with this entire process was the delay in getting Stephanie’s Avios. While I understand Iberia fraud concerns, it really concerned me when I saw award availability quickly dry up while waiting for them to verify Stephanie’s identity. I also read reports of some people being denied their points despite submitting the identity verification. Having an existing Iberia Plus profile prior to the promo being announced would have solved all of these concerns.
As almost all frequent flier programs are free, it really does not hurt to create these profiles for all major airlines. It will allow you to be eligible for most major promotions and will also allow you to potentially learn about them as soon as they are announced.