How to Fly Business Class to Europe for Just 49K Points RT
Between full-service airlines and the major carriers slashing prices, it’s never been cheaper to get to Europe, but that doesn’t mean you can easily snag a lie-flat seat in business class for cheap. And even when you’ve got points and miles, many airlines will charge you an arm and a leg for that cozy seat up front.
Enter Spanish airline Iberia. You won’t find a cheaper way to get to Europe in style, as Iberia charges roughly half what most airlines want for a flight across the Atlantic Ocean in business class.
And thanks to credit card transfer partnership, plus a massive 40% bonus when transferring American Express points to Iberia, it’s never been easier or cheaper. Read on to find out how you can make it happen for as low as 49,000 points round-trip – less than most airlines charge for economy.
How Iberia Airlines Awards Work
Iberia Avios work a bit differently than most airline mileage programs. And you can use it to your advantage.
Rather than setting award rates based on regions – or seemingly at random, like Delta SkyMiles – Iberia is a distance-based program: How many miles you have to use to book a flight depends on how long it is. Along with its parent company partners like British Airways and Aer Lingus, it’s one of the few major airlines using this approach.
While that generally makes long-haul travel pricey, that’s not the case here. What’s more, Iberia also carves out lower pricing for “off-peak travel.” And Iberia has a generous definition of what’s “off-peak” – only late June through mid-September and the winter holidays will trigger higher peak pricing. Check out Iberia’s full calendar to scope out the dates.
Take a peek at how Iberia divvies it up.
|Miles Traveled (One Way)||Off-Peak Economy||Off-Peak Business||Peak Economy||Peak Business|
|0 - 650 miles||4,500 Avios||9,000 Avios||5,000 Avios||10,000 Avios|
|651 - 1,151 miles||7,500 Avios||15,000 Avios||8,250 Avios||16,500 Avios|
|1,151 - 2,000 miles||10,000 Avios||20,000 Avios||11,000 Avios||22,000 Avios|
|2,001 - 3,000 miles||11,000 Avios||21,250 Avios||12,500 Avios||31,250 Avios|
|3,001 - 4,000 miles||17,000 Avios||34,000 Avios||20,000 Avios||50,000 Avios|
|4,001 - 5,500 miles||21,250 Avios||42,000 Avios||25,000 Avios||62,500 Avios|
|5,501 - 6,500 miles||25,500 Avios||51,000 Avios||30,000 Avios||75,000 Avios|
|6,501 - 7,000 miles||29,750 Avios||59,500 Avios||35,000 Avios||87,500 Avios|
|7,000+ miles||42,500 Avios||85,000 Avios||50,000 Avios||125,000 Avios|
The distance-based chart generally means that your best deal is flying to and from the East Coast: You can expect to pay just 17,000 Iberia Avios for a one-way economy during the off-peak season, or just 34,000 in business class. For West Coast travelers in San Francisco (SFO) or Los Angeles (LAX), those same flights would be 21,500 miles or 42,000 miles, respectively. So it’s still a great deal, but more expensive.
That means Boston (BOS) and New York City (JFK) are your targets, as Iberia flies directly between those two cities and its hub in Madrid (MAD). But there’s one more addition: Chicago-O’Hare (ORD). Although flights from Chicago should be more expensive based on the distance, Iberia treats it as an East Coast city. So once again, you can fly business class from Chicago to Madrid for just 34,000 each way.
For round-trip flights from all three cities, you’ll fork over just 68,000 miles to fly in the comfort of business class. For comparison, Delta typically charges at least 160,000 miles for a round-trip to Europe in business. American charges at least 57,500 miles each way, and it’s nearly impossible to find flights at that rate. So this price is nearly unbeatable – and we’ll show you how to score it for even fewer points later on.
Don’t live in one of these three cities? Consider using a positioning flight to get there and take advantage of this deal! You can even book cheap domestic flights on American Airlines using Iberia Avios, too.
Like all airlines flying to and from Europe, Iberia passes on some award fees and taxes when using miles – typically about $220 or so on each round-trip business class fare. While that may seem steep, it pales in comparison to the hundreds more (if not $1,000-plus) you frequently pay flying in and out of other airports like London-Heathrow (LHR) or Paris-Charles de Gaulle (CDG). And considering these flights usually cost $4,000 or more, it’s a price worth paying.
Of course, maybe Madrid isn’t your bag – though it should be. But Madrid is well-positioned to hop almost anywhere else in Europe, be it Barcelona, Italy, Paris, or farther into great Eastern European hotspots. Just book a separate flight and continue on your way.
How to Earn Iberia Avios to Fly Business
It doesn’t matter if you’ve never stepped foot on an Iberia plane. You can easily get the miles you need to fly business class.
That’s because you can transfer credit card points to Iberia from some of the biggest banks in points and miles: Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express, as well as Marriott Bonvoy points. With that many options, Iberia Avios are some of the easiest miles to earn in the world. You’ve got a lot of options to get to Spain in business class.
With a 60,000-point sign-up bonus after spending $4,000 in three months, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is almost enough to get you there in one fell swoop. You’ll earn at least 64,000 Chase points after hitting that minimum spend requirement. And with just a $95 annual fee, it’s an easy, approachable way to make it happen.
Once you hit a 68,000-point balance, you can immediately transfer them over to Iberia and you’re ready to book your trip in business class.
Click Here to get more information about the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
But there’s one option that’s even better – and currently requires fewer points. It’s the American Express Platinum card.
The Amex Platinum card is one of our absolute favorites, thanks to an unbeatable set of travel perks like lounge access, $200 in credits for both airline fees and Uber rides, and much more. With a $550 annual fee, it’s not for everyone.
But this card’s sign-up bonus can easily get you to Europe in business class. It starts with a 60,000-point welcome bonus after spending $5,000 in three months. But you may be able to get an outstanding 100,000-point bonus via the CardMatch tool.
Click Here to learn more about the Platinum Card from American Express
Like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you can transfer these points to your Iberia Plus account. But it’s currently even better with American Express points, as the credit card company is offering a 40% bonus on transfers to Iberia, British Airways, and Aer Lingus through Oct. 1, 2019.
With that bonus in mind, you only need 49,000 points to book your round-trip to Europe in business class. You could book a dream trip for two if you qualify for the card’s 100,000-point bonus!
How to Book Iberia Business Class
We’ll be honest: Using Iberia’s website is a bit of a headache. But there are workarounds, and at this cheap rate to fly business class, it’s worth the work.
Make sure you’ve got an Iberia Plus account set up. Just don’t transfer any points yet.
First things first: You need to check out award availability. You can’t book flights at these dirt cheap rates unless if Iberia is making them available. And transfers to airline partners are a one-way street – once you send the points to an airline account, you generally can’t get them back.
Rather than heading to Iberia.com to look for the seats and dates you want, use one of its partner airlines: American Airlines. AA’s website functions far better than Iberia’s, and gives you an easy way to scroll through a month’s worth of award availability at a time.
Thrifty Tip: Use American’s older award search engine, which gives you a full calendar view and also allows you to filter only for the nonstop Iberia flights you want.
As with all things, it’s important to be flexible. Don’t lock in your travel dates ahead of time, but head into the search process with an open schedule and let the availability determine when you travel. Focus at least three to four months in advance, when you’re more likely to find the award space you want.
Once you’ve zeroed in on the dates that seem to work, it’s finally time to head to Iberia.com. Log in, click your account, and then “Book flights with Avios” in the drop-down menu. Then click “Booking with Avios” again on the following screen – or skip all that nonsense and just follow this link to Iberia’s award search engine.
Plug in your origin, Madrid (MAD), and the dates you found through American. Select your flights in business class, and make sure they price at 68,000 miles for the round-trip.
All good? OK, now you can transfer those miles to your Iberia account. Keep in mind that while Chase transfers are instantaneous, Amex transfers to Iberia can sometimes take between 12 hours to as much as 48 hours.
One the points hit your account, book those flights. Congrats on getting one of the best deals in the world of points and miles.
Flying Iberia Business Class
Iberia flies a mix of older Airbus A330s and nearly brand new Airbus A350s between the U.S. and Madrid. But no matter which plane you’re on, you’ll get pretty much the same setup in business class.
The business class cabin is laid out in a 1-2-1 configuration, so every traveler has direct access to the aisle. While the seats aren’t flashy, they’re plenty comfortable – especially reclined into bed mode, when there’s plenty of legroom and no cubby hole you need to jam your feet into. These seats offer a great mix of privacy and comfort.
If you’re traveling with a companion, you’re in luck: Iberia has some of the best seats for couples. Dubbed “honeymoon seats,” this alternating row of seats in the center section are great for talking with your companion, unlike some other seats airlines use in the center section.
Food in Iberia’s business class is a huge step up from your typical meals in economy, with some great appetizers, cava to drink, and tasty desserts. And to top it all off, the service is generally quite good, too.
Read our full review of the business class flight from Chicago-O’Hare (ORD) to Madrid (MAD). In short, Iberia probably won’t win any awards for its business class anytime soon. But nor will any of its competitors flying between the U.S. and Europe. And at these rates, it’s the best deal of the bunch – by far.
If you want to get to Europe in the comfort of business class, you can’t beat the combination of Iberia’s great offering at this unbeatable price. Booking this for as little as 49,000 credit card points is an absolute steal.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.