One of the cheapest ways to book a domestic flight in the U.S. is to use Iberia Avios to fly on American Airlines. It can save thousands of miles compared to using American AAdvantage miles for the exact same flights.
At least when it's working. For several months last year, booking AA flights via Iberia wasn't available. Any time you searched for round-trip flights on American within the U.S., you'd get an error. The issue returned late last month: Once again, American flights have not been bookable via Iberia.com for several weeks.
Luckily, that problem has been solved – and quicker this time. Reader Adam G. tipped us off that American award space has returned to the Iberia.com search engine. After double-checking a handful of routes, it's clear that this workaround is once again workable!
There are some great sweet spots that are worth considering. And it's all because of how – even when you use them to fly on American
Iberia uses a distance-based award chart, which means the savings are typically best with shorter flights. Flights under 600 miles round-trip price at just 11,000 Avios, while journeys between 601 and 1,000 miles come in at just 12,000 Iberia Avios. Flights up to 2,000 miles cost just 17,000 Iberia Avios, which still gives you some solid savings.
Here’s a quick example. American will typically charge you 25,000 AAdvantage miles for the round trip from Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) to Washington, D.C.-Reagan (DCA) – unless you book an economy web special fare. But because those flights are under 2,000 miles total, you need just 17,000 Avios to book the exact same flight.
But it can get even better. British Airways has long been the go-to way to book domestic flights within the U.S. on the cheap using miles, but the airline charges on a per-segment basis – so if you need a one-stop flight, you'll be charged separately for both segments of the journey. That's not the case with Iberia, which measures based on the total distance of your round-trip flights – regardless of how many stops it takes.
Thrifty Tip: Use GCmap.com to punch in your airport codes and measure the distance of a flight.
So if you need to make it from Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) to Grand Rapids (GRR), Michigan, you could book American flights through American – a SAAver award costs 25,000 AAdvantage miles. Booking with British Airways, it'd be 33,000 Avios for the same flights.
But Iberia doesn't care that you have to make a stop in Chicago-O'Hare (ORD) on the way to Michigan. The flights are under 1,000 miles round-trip, so it prices at 12,000 Avios – nearly a third of the cost of booking the same flights through BA.
You may pay some additional cash fees when booking through Iberia, but these savings are worth it. And considering you can transfer credit card points to Iberia from both Chase and American Express, it's a great way to book domestic flights in the U.S. if you don't have AAdvantage miles.
That said, there are some caveats to keep in mind. Iberia requires round-trip bookings when using Avios to fly with American Airlines – you can’t book a one-way flight. And much like American Airline’s economy web specials, you generally can’t cancel or change AA flights booked through Iberia.
It took a while, but this great sweet spot has finally returned. If you're up for flying American Airlines, booking with Iberia could save you a lot of miles.
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.