Should You Check In Online for a Flight That You’re Planning to Miss?

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Now that autumn is here, a few readers might have cheap flights booked between Madrid and Santander or Palma de Mallorca. 😉 This situation is probably due to booking the cheapest flights you could find to take advantage of Iberia’s absurdly over-generous promotion offering 9,000 Avios for each flight booked on Iberia. Yet since most readers aren’t actually resident in Spain, you probably had no intention of actually taking those flights.

The terms and conditions of the promotion made clear that cancellations would result in the forfeit of the bonus Avios. To catch those (non) travellers who might insist upon a refund of the airport and government taxes imbedded in a non-refundable ticket, most airlines now charge a “processing fee” that is higher than the tax refund otherwise due.

So… cancelling those flights for a small refund isn’t an option. However, you might still be thinking that you bought a flight ticket and are entitled to the miles from that flight. Unfortunately, it simply doesn’t work that way.  If you don’t fly, you don’t earn the miles. Full stop!

So why are you still tempted to check in online for a flight departing hundreds of miles away from your current location?

Not a flight you’re likely to skip on purpose…

What is 99% Likely to Happen?

Nothing! You didn’t check luggage into the hold, so there’s no reason to hold the aircraft at the gate to find your luggage and offload it. Nobody is going to call your name over the airport speaker system.  The gate agent will “close” the flight and you will be treated as a “no show”.

This isn’t a tragedy, as airlines overbook flights precisely because a certain percentage of passengers simply won’t show up. Business meetings run long. Traffic can be bad. No airline is going to delay a flight because a checked-in, no luggage passenger has gone AWOL. Heathrow is way ahead of the game, since airline staff can check to see whether the passenger has cleared security. I suspect that other airports also use the information generated by that boarding pass scan at security…

That said, if the flight is indeed oversold you’ve acted like a *!@#! by checking in online, as it may take a few minutes longer for airline staff to determine that you aren’t planning to fly after all, and that they should give your seat to somebody else. Or worse, your seat flies empty and somebody is unnecessarily left behind…

What Are You Hoping For?

The jargon YMMV exists for a reason. You might be hoping that an IT error means that you earn miles for your purchased, but not flown, flight after all. I can assure you that you won’t earn Avios for an Iberia flight that you skip. Would sending a boarding pass for retro-credit to random Iberia partners such as Royal Air Maroc, Avianca Lifemiles or S7 Airlines work? Possibly… and I suspect that a few of you have fond memories of BMI Diamond Club. If you don’t know what I am talking about, this is a good thing – the rest of you should have guilty consciences. 😉

Another lottery ticket like outcome would be a last-minute cancellation of your ticketed flight. Even though you had no intention to fly, you might be able to make an EU261 claim or negotiate a travel voucher as compensation from Iberia.


If you don’t fly, you aren’t entitled to the miles. So don’t bother checking in online and potentially creating an issue at the airport for airline staff or your fellow travellers.

Others may feel differently. What do you think?


  1. Tilly71 says

    So with all that went on with this promo, has everyone emptied out their iberia accounts, transfered over to BAEC and hope IB do not track the whereabouts of transferred points and remove them?

      • Joe Deeney says

        Oh, I can always find use for Avios/miles at those prices! 🙂 (even just using them for hotels would be basically half price – minus status benefits / points / cashback, admittedly). But yeah, certainly a large chunk was for Iberia to Shanghai. I’ve not transferred any over to BA, and don’t think I will from my own account due to potential headaches it might cause. I might experiment using the account of a family member who doesn’t travel much, for blogging research purposes though.

    • Tim says

      I’ve managed to use 55,000 on short haul inbound BA redemptions via LHR to NCL/EDI – inbound taxes with Iberia on 2x segment tickets are the same, or less than BA I’ve found. The Iberia website didn’t let me pay numerous times though. Much time was wasted. I’ve just dropped from BAEC gold to silver, but also am Star Gold. I’m trying to work out the best way now to requalify as Star Gold – I need 10-25 short haul segments, so going to try and use the 35,000 Avios plus more BA Avios to combine with Star segments. Maybe an outbound from Madrid to San Jose on Iberia business? Any ideas?

      • Richard says

        What are you crediting to in order to need 10-25 segements to requalify as star gold? surely aegean is easier than that?

        and have a look through Iberias long haul routes and pick the country you fancy the most basically.. there are a zillion Star Airlines, there will always be one nearby to where you go to use

        • Tim says

          Air New Zealand. I need just short of 300 Airpoints before end of year. Typically 15-20 a pop for my short hauls on Swiss – I appreciate there are ‘easier’ Star programmes out there but up until August of this year I was mainly OWE with a bit of overlapping Australian travel. Going to have a rethink as back in Europe but for moment maintaining Star Gold for 2019 plus OWS drop with BA until September 2019 keeps my options open a bit more, rather, than for example starting with Aegean from scratch.

  2. Tim says

    I flew all my 10 segments in August. But if I had not, I would check-in anyway. I don’t trust Iberia not to back track on their offer – maybe their IT accidentally will view none check-in as cancellation. Irrelevant of that, I’ll always check-in for a non-refundable flight no matter what. If airlines don’t want me to this then offer me something – such as my government taxes returned for no fee.

  3. Tony says

    Am I missing something here. The subject of whether you needed to take flights, or not, was discussed at great length on several forums when the offer came out. I am certain that it was confirmed by IB on numerous occasions that you did not actually have to take the flights to earn the Avios, just book and pay for them. There will be thousands of people out there in this position. Is Craig now saying if you do not take the flight, to wherever, you will not get the Avios or am I missing the point. I like many others got nearly the 90k (lost 9k on one booking but could not be bothered to flight it). Have booked return flight to JFK with said Avios. Is the implication that because I am going only take 2 of the 10 booked flights I will lose the lot and also the JFK flight?

    • Craig Sowerby says

      You’ve missed the point slightly. I’m not talking about the bonus Avios – those should be safe – simply the few hundred Avios you would receive if you actually flew the booked flight. (and trying to get them even though you aren’t actually flying)

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