Last year I participated in Iberia’s excellent Avios promotion which awarded me 90,000 Avios for purchasing 10 one-way tickets. Iberia’s technology failed and issued me a negative balance. I wondered at the time how that might affect my redemption trip.
Iberia’s Warned About Negative Balances
It was clear that Iberia hadn’t fully thought-out their promotion. Bloggers and those that took advantage of the promotion demonstrated how cheaply the Avios could be purchased since flights didn’t have to be flown by the booking passengers at all. Early adopters were able to scoop up cheap tickets and, in essence, buy Avios for as little as $.002/Avio – a fraction of the price if buying them under normal circumstances.
When the flaws were exposed, new conditions were placed on the promotion quickly which included the inability to transfer points from Iberia to fellow IAG carrier British Airways which has a far more flexible Avios award system.
Iberia warned that those who transferred their promotional Avios to British Airways would be penalized with a negative Iberia account. That would be really scary to those who had used their Iberia account often, less so to those who had never used it before (guilty as charged.)
Regardless of how toothless their threat, I played by the rules and did not transfer them out. Instead, I booked coach awards on American Airlines where I found good value.
My Trip Went Fine… Except For American’s Service
I feared that the negative balance on my Iberia account would cause significant problems at checkin. I shopped the flights at walk-up prices and awards in the event that we were surprised at checkin that the trip had been canceled. It hadn’t. In fact, on the return segment departing Mérida, Mexico, I was even able to add my American Airlines account number with remaining Gold status and utilize some upgrades.
The outbound flight wasn’t as successful and inspired this post from last week after shockingly bad service from a pair of American Airlines employees. I blame them less now that I have come to understand some of the struggles at the carrier (new post on this coming today.)
Nevertheless, there was absolutely no penalty for holding a negative Iberia account balance at the time of flying (even though it was their error). I remain glad I didn’t call in regarding their error prior to departure and give them an opportunity to alter my ticket.
I still want to get the matter resolved for two reasons.
- Morbid curiosity
- In case they offer another great promotion like this one.
To resolve this I believe I have a pair of options. The first option is to call them up and try to talk them through the problem, show them how the balance is incorrect and should be corrected and hope that they make the correction. The second option is to make a separate account for future transaction unrelated to the first.
I don’t like the second option because I didn’t do anything to violate their terms and shouldn’t be punished for following their protocol just because their IT is shaky. It goes around their system and makes me feel guilty when I’m not.
The promotion, whether by design or flawed forethought, was generous. My negative Avios balance had no adverse effect on my ticketed reservation. For those concerned about negative Iberia account balances, either due to Iberia’s error as in my case or by other reasons – your itineraries should be fine.
Do you have a negative Iberia Avios balance? What have you done to remedy the negative balance? What trips did you take with your 90,000 promotional Avios?
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