As part of Iberia’s excellent Avios promotion, I earned 90,000 Avios for less than $400. However, despite following the promotion, I have a negative balance and a booked trip. I can’t decide if I should leave it negative or risk my booked trip by trying to make my account right?
Iberia’s Great Avios Promotion
Iberia, the Spanish national airline owned by IAG (parent company of Vueling, British Airways and Aer Lingus), utilizes Avios like their IAG partners within their own program rules and redemption chart.
Last fall they offered a promotion allowing participants to earn 9,000 bonus Avios for any flight booked (during a specific period) up to 90,000 Avios in total. The promotion failed to include a minimum purchase price, roundtrips or requiring the passenger to fly the purchased tickets.
After the word got out, the program validity period was truncated but h0nored as written with one new detail – an ominous threat that transferring points out would leave Iberia Avios accounts negative after their December expiration period.
While others found tremendous value in Business class tickets from Chicago to Madrid for around 64,000 Avios, I had trouble finding space on days that worked for me. Where I did find great value, was using the points to fly to Mexico from Miami utilizing some wide open American award space, and 500-mile upgrades to move to First.
I had made a total of six roundtrips, two separate family vacations for myself, my wife and my daughter. In all, the promotion saved me about $900 when compared to paid tickets after considering taxes, fees and the cost to acquire the points initially.
Problems at the Last Moment
I had forgotten to book the last set of tickets until the last possible day to spend them. Still worse, I recalled it just 10 minutes before it would have been midnight in Madrid on the expiration day to book it.
No sweat, I have booked maybe 100 British Airways Avios bookings in the past and have yet to find a day that the route doesn’t have at least three coach seats on American. I confirmed as much quickly on American’s website as the Iberia page loaded.
I found the space on Iberia’s website as well but then ran into some trouble with Iberia’s technology or lack therein – this isn’t the first time. Without boring readers to tears, I wasn’t able to book for more passengers than just myself unless they were added as companions to my account. The only problem, the website wouldn’t allow me to add companions.
Time was running out and I wasn’t about to let the points expire. I resisted the temptation to transfer them to my British Airways Avios account and instead called in.
I played by the rules 100%.
Booked, But Weeks Later Iberia Takes 78,000 Avios from My Account
Despite the website challenges and those of booking with a representative from Iberia over the phone, ultimately the tickets were issued, the correct number of Avios were deducted from my account we were set.
I immediately checked for the confirmation email and took a screenshot of the deduction from my account. I was left with zero Avios as I should have been. However, weeks later I was notified by Award Wallet (a must-have frequent flyer tool) that my Iberia Avios account was inexplicably -78,000 Avios.
I had transferred 12,000 points in to complete the reservations (two at 51,000) so it appears that they drew all of the 90,000 originally credited out of my account despite having the tickets issued and the first set already flown. This was later corrected to just -39,000 as the previous tickets were clearly already validated.
Will I Have An Issue At The Airport If I Do Nothing?
At most carriers, this is an obvious and simple mistake to fix. But at Iberia, I don’t trust them to get this right. Their website has been spotty, phone support has been poor – even argumentative at times, why would I trust them? What would stop an agent from deciding that the calculation was correct despite my evidence of a valid booking and cancel my trip on the spot?
If I leave it, however, I could have an issue at the airport on the day of my flight. In the past, we have encountered issues with tickets at the airport for any number of reasons. Whether credit card transactions didn’t clear before currency fluctuations short paid for the ticket, we failed to start the trip in the correct location, or Korean Air’s lounge vigilante – we would rather not have a problem on the day of travel.
That being said, the ticket still shows as valid on Iberia’s system, they haven’t refunded the taxes we paid on the three tickets ($250 in total) and we are flying a partner carrier (American) who won’t even pull up our Iberia accounts.
What would you do? Would you try to correct the record and avoid an incident at the airport? Do you think it’s best to let sleeping dogs lie?