In an interesting move, Iberia have announced the launch of Avios-only flights. In short, they’ll operate like any other flight – but you can only book with your Avios points.

Iberia A320 - view from window of the airport.

How does it work?

Iberia have announced the launch of two return flights over the summer period which will only be bookable through Avios. You can book exclusively through your Iberia Plus account. Interestingly, British Airways launched a similar scheme last year. Since launching, the airline has operated Avios-only flights to Tenerife, Nice and Sharm El Sheikh, among others. Typically, these flights are scheduled to give you one week at your destination, before flying back on another Avios-only flight.

What Avios-only flights have Iberia launched?

Iberia has started the launch of their Avios-only flights with two routes. These are Santorini and Catania. At the publication of this article, both still have plenty of availability to book. The routes and dates are:

Madrid to Santorini: 7 July 16:50 – 14 July 22:25Β 

Madrid to Catania: 27 July 8:40 – 3 August 12:00

How many Avios points do I need?

The number of Avios points you’ll need depends on the route. Iberia is being a little tricky with its marketing. They’re advertising prices from 2,750 Avios each way for flights to Santorini, and 2,100 for Catania. While reserving for this relatively low amount of points is possible, it’s not the best value option. If you decided to use so few Avios, you’d need to pay €170.75 return in cash per person. Let’s look at the options for each route in a little more detail though:

Madrid to Santorini (return):

Iberia Avios-Only

The default option presented is 11,000 Avios each way redeeming the Blue Class economy rate. If you’re curious, the main difference between Blue Class and Economy Class is that while Economy class redemptions allow you to change or cancel your flight and receive a refund, with Blue Class you’ll need to pay a €25 fee before your Avios and any surplus cash amount is refunded back to your account.

Once you’ve chosen your flights, however, you’ll be presented with a variety of options. Some involve using less Avios but a higher amount of cash, while others involve a higher number of Avios, but less in cash.

Iberia Avios-only Santorini

Madrid to Catania (return):

Iberia Avios-only flight Catania

For return flights from Madrid to Catania on the Iberia Avios-only flights, the default option presented is 8,250 Avios each way with the Blue Class fare. Since it’s a shorter flight than Santorini, it’s a more Avios-friendly amount if you’re short on points.

As with Santorini, you’re still presented with several different Avios and cash options.

Catania Avios Plus Redemption


Can I fly in business class?

Yes. These flights are designed to operate exactly like normal flights and business class is available. What isn’t clear, however, is how many business class seats are being made available. Iberia usually adjust the size of their business class cabin on short-haul flights depending on demand.

If you are interested in booking these flights, but especially in business, I’d recommend doing so as soon as possible to secure availability. It could disappear quickly. In general though, I like Iberia’s short-haul business class product, which I’ve previously reviewed.

Are the Iberia Avios-only flights a Good deal?

The launch of Iberia Avios-only flights should be seen as a positive. It can be challenging finding enough Avios seats if you’re travelling in a group or as a family, especially during the summer holiday period, so these flights provide a great alternative.

Additionally, destinations like Santorini and Catania are usually expensive to reach during peak summer. For example, the cheapest return fare in July with Iberia from Madrid to Santorini is €318. And of course, as a basic economy fare, it doesn’t include a checked bag, or any flexibility if you need to change or cancel, unlike an Avios redemption.

Therefore, if you’re interested in these options, I’d recommend booking as soon as possible. When British Airways launched similar flights, availability was gone within 24 hours.