Sunday I read a post on Gary Leff’s blog that said that Iberia Avios had massively devalued its award chart for flights on oneworld airlines.
I looked up the Iberia award chart for oneworld flights and came to the same conclusion as Gary–that Iberia had put out a new, worse award chart. I wrote a post Sunday and another yesterday about the changes and how to beat them.
It turns out my posts were mistaken. Iberia hasn’t touched its award chart since November 2011.
The reason I was wrong is that I had misunderstood Iberia’s program. I had thought it was identical to British Airways’ program (except that Iberia charges lower fuel surcharges on its own flights.) In fact, it had always had a far worse award chart for most flights than British Airways offers.
My goal is to know everything about every frequent flyer program to wring out the best deals for myself and pass them along to my readers. I came up short of that goal in my posts about an Avios devaluation that never happened. I’ll keep working towards my goal though, (and tomorrow I expect to make a very valuable contribution to the milesphere.)
- Who gets credit for figuring out my mistake about Iberia Avios?
- Why do I now think that we won’t see a no-notice British Airways Avios devaluation?
- What will I do not to repeat my mistake?
Who Got It Right?
Almost no one in the world knew the rates for Iberia Avios oneworld redemptions because they weren’t bookable online. Thankfully this FlyerTalk thread and in particular these two posts set the record straight.
“I don’t know what the fuss is all about. These have been the same Avios amounts for Oneworld redemptions through IB Plus since 2011. (I have printouts).
Surely they are not competitive, but there have been no changes at all.
Back in November 2011, what IB Plus did was maintain their own distance bands for Oneworld redemptions and simply adjust x15 the original IB Plus Point amounts, therefore, causing such disparities. (Even though the amounts shown are for return trips, compulsory for Oneworld redemptions under IB Plus)
My guess is that whoever first stated that this had been a devaluation simply hadn’t studied or compared the chart before and assumed they were the same as BAEC [Scott: British Airways Executive Club] and that now an increase had taken place.”
“I just found this in an FT [Scott: FlyerTalk] thread from 2005:
As for a Oneworld-award the price seems to depend on the amount of miles your journey covers. AGP-MEX direct is 5678 miles, and AGP-MAD-LHR-MEX (for example) would be 6582 miles. Most routings would fall into the 5,001 – 8,000 mile category, which costs 3200 points in Tourist (economy) class.
… which corresponds to the above, and to the 48,000 quoted on the new table.
So nothing happened ….?!
Here is the thing. You cannot book OW redemptions online with IB, never could. And as they were non refundable, no-one did. So no-one knew the rates.”
Travellair and Raffles got it right. Pretty much everyone else got it wrong. I got it way wrong, and I’m embarrassed. I don’t think other people getting it wrong is an excuse because I want to have the best blog, not an average blog.
I do want to make one minor clarification though. I didn’t get this wrong because I copied anyone else’s analysis. I independently came to the same wrong conclusion that Iberia Avios had devalued based on my misunderstanding of how Iberia Avios operated.
Silver Lining: Why I Don’t Think We’ll See a No-Notice Devaluation from Avios
In my posts about this phantom devaluation, I mentioned that when the Avios program drastically changed in November 2011 (and most people say it “devalued” then), we were given no notice. That’s only partially correct.
We were given no notice of the specific changes to the award chart would be, but as Mommy Points points out, “British Airways did announce a change was coming last time they made major award chart changes in fall 2011.”
Hopefully next change, we’ll get all the specifics in advance with time to book under the old rates, but at a minimum the precedent is that we’ll get notice that a change is coming and time to book under the old rates even if we don’t know exactly what the change will be.
What Am I Going to Do To Ensure I Don’t Make This Mistake Again?
All I can do is try to make sure I completely understand all the airline programs, so I won’t make mistakes describing them in the future. That’s already my goal, though, so there aren’t any substantive changes I can make to reduce errors going forward.
Happily major errors like this are very rare for me. The only other one I can think of in 2.5 years of blogging is my reporting that American Airlines would be adding fuel surcharges to award tickets back in August 2013, which turned out to be based on mistakes made by American Airlines phone agents.
I’ll try to make them even rarer going forward.