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Iberia has announced a new seasonal route between Spain and the US west coast and, at the same time, has also announced changes to its service between Madrid and Los Angeles. The changes aren’t entirely positive but, if you’re looking to book award travel to or from the west coast, now could be the time to book.
Iberia Adds A Route To San Francisco
From 25 April 2018 Iberia will offer a 3x/week service between Madrid and San Francisco for the summer 2018 season. The route will run through to 28 September 2018 and will operate on the following schedule:
IB6175 MAD 12:25 – 16:00 SFO (Mon, Wed & Fri)
IB6174 SFO 18:00 – 14:15+1 day MAD (Mon, Wed & Fri)
The route will be operated by Iberia’s A330-200 aircraft which have a very nice Business Class product….
Iberia A330 Business Class
…although the aircraft only offers 19 seats.
Iberia A330-200 Business Class
In Economy Class there is mixed news as, on the positive side, the seats on offer are over 18″ wide (generous for a transatlantic carrier) but the seat pitch is a miserly 31″…which is the same as you’ll find on most carriers crossing the Atlantic and not very comfortable at all.
Right now there’s pretty good award availability on this route as flights have only recently been loaded.
Here’s an example of availability in May (MAD-SFO on the left and SFO-MAD on the right):
and here’s an example of availability in June (MAD-SFO on the left and SFO-MAD on the right):
If you’re looking to book awards to the west coast (or from the west coast to Europe) I wouldn’t hang around for too long as these awards will get snapped up pretty quickly.
For some reason Iberia appears to be charging considerably more in taxes and fees on these awards than I would normally expect.
If you take a look at an example award to/from LA that I’ve provided further on in this post you’ll see that the taxes and fees there come to just $258.76…..but on these awards the fees are nearly double:
Checking the award on BA.com doesn’t make things any better…..
…and neither does checking through Iberia:
(£369.10 ~ $490)
I’m really not sure why this is happening but, if I was booking this award, I would call up American Airlines (or Iberia)and challenge the taxes and fees if the American Airlines agent sees what we’re seeing online.
This may be a deliberate move by Iberia (if it is it’s bad news) but it could also just be a system glitch so let’s keep our fingers crossed that it’s the latter.
Iberia Changes To LAX Route
As well as adding a new summer service to San Francisco Iberia is also upping its frequency to Los Angeles out of Madrid.
For the 2018 summer season Iberia is increasing the frequency on its Madrid – LAX route to 7x/week but, as good as that sounds, the aircraft on this route will be an Airbus A330-200 rather than the A340 that we’ve been used to…and that’s bad news.
The Iberia A340 offers 27 more Business Class seats than the smaller A330-200 so this aircraft swap is not going to do much for the already hard-to-find award inventory.
Still, on a positive note, if you do manage to find award availability (and, amazingly, there is some out there right now) the taxes and fees for Iberia awards are considerably lower than those you’ll find on Iberia’s sister Airline – BA.
You’re doing well to pay just $258.76 for taxes and fees on a transatlantic Business Class award when you’re using AAdvantage miles and not flying on an American Airlines aircraft – if you tried to book a similar award on BA the fees would be 3x that amount (at least).
If you’re looking to book this award with Avios you should be using and Iberia plus account to do so.
Using an Iberia Plus account the taxes and fees come out to £194.90 (approx $258)…..
….while if you book using a British Airways Executive Club account the taxes and fees are a far more unreasonable $490.08:
Whether you’re an Avios or AAdvantage Miles collector these Iberia routes are a very good way of getting to/from the west coast without paying the higher taxes and fees that we normally have to pay (thanks to the pathetic award availability on American Airlines).
The award availability is unusually good right now so, if you’re looking to fly to or from LA or San Francisco, I would book sooner rather than later.