Last month John wrote about an email Iberia Plus sent out to remind members who participated in the infamous 90,000 Avios promotion this summer that these miles will expire on December 1, 2018.
The date has now passed and indeed the miles have vanished from the account but some members also found themselves with a negative balance following their redemptions and in some cases transfers to other Avios accounts.
This promotion was pretty much a train wreck and a half in terms of execution but to be fair Iberia in the end came through for let’s say 95% of all who participated in it based on the feedback we got from our readers.
You can access John’s last article here. This is the email sent out by Iberia in early November:
Alright so the miles would expire. Everybody knew that and everybody knew the date as well. On top of it everybody SHOULD have known to redeem their Avios in a timely manner and NOT wait until the very last second of doing so given Iberia’s website performance but it seems like many did exactly the opposite of what you would consider a common sense decision.
Based on various emails, tweets and online posts I monitored there were plenty of folks who ended up booking during the last hour of November 30th (many didn’t even specify which time zone they used to determine this “last hour before midnight” claim). What happened? Well, in many cases the website simply didn’t work properly and they never got around to book anything losing the entirety of all their promotional Avios. Others did manage to book something but Iberia later moved their account into a negative balance for the entire amount, presumingly because they exceeded the midnight timestamp of November 30th (I assume Spain time).
I even personally know some people who never got around to book something because they simply forgot about the Avios even after jumping through hoops to finally get the miles. And there are apparently many of such cases out there. Well, what can you say about that?
How does a negative balance on Iberia Plus look like?
I booked a long haul flight on Iberia to Shanghai this week and was also looking for a feeder to Madrid. This feeder was readily available on British Airways Executive Club but not on Iberia Plus. Their call center was completely useless and had some of the worst staff I have ever encountered apart from Avianca LifeMiles. In the end I decided to transfer ~ 20k to BA and book my Iberia feeder FRA-MAD that way. It worked perfectly fine and I expected that it would create a negative balance at some point which it did:
I had other transactions apart from purchasing these tickets for the promotional miles as well so the negative 21,500 are only a leftover. I would have even booked it directly with Iberia to completely satisfy the T&C but it was absolutely impossible to book the flight. In fact Iberia Plus is usually a little cheaper compared to BAEC.
What does the negative balance mean for the account and booked award tickets?
The account is definitely useless for as long as there is a negative balance in there. All miles added to it would just reduce the outstanding balance so no real benefit of continuing crediting miles to Iberia Plus under such conditions.
It’s hard to predict if Iberia is going to take action against negative balance accounts with active award bookings such as cancelling those. Iberia’s communications are shambolic so I wouldn’t expect advance notice in such a case, yet letting the passenger come to the airport and refusing to board them would likely open a case of EC261/2004 and entitle the passenger to compensation. Keep in mind you can get your Iberia boarding pass immediately after booking well in advance of your flight.
It’s obvious that Iberia has not the slightest control over their website and other distribution channels, making it next to impossible to run such a complicated promotion without hiccups.
People even report that they were getting actual Avios for those purchased Iberia flights they checked in for but never showed up at the airport. This should never happen if the staff properly unchecked no-show passengers from the flights. The emphasis being on IF they did that.
Personally I won’t waste any thought on this anymore and I’m certainly not concerned about the 21.5k negative Avios in the account. Dealing with Iberia was simply a horrible experience and makes ones wonder how they can still be in the air as even the most basic services and procedures are mismanaged to the core.