Would You Accept This Iberia Upgrade Offer?

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Spain’s Iberia Airlines recently sent me an email, offering a cut-price upgrade to Business Class for some upcoming flights. I could upgrade a Barcelona to Madrid flight for 49 euros (£41.50) and/or a Madrid to Zurich flight for 53 euros (£45).

What I found amusing about the email was the “benefits” I would receive:

  • VIP Check-in –> No thanks… besides the fact that I will check in online for my flights, I would already receive this benefit due to my Oneworld elite status
  • Lounge access –> Already get it from elite status…
  • Priority boarding –> Already get it from elite status…
  • More space and free middle seat –> Well, OK, but my pre-selected emergency row seats in Economy will have more legroom, although I will probably have somebody next to me in the middle seat.
  • “Exclusive gastronomic offer” –> I would get fed and watered in Business Class on some short-haul flights (but not on such a short flight as Barcelona to Madrid)
  • Priority luggage handling –> OK, great, but there’s an asterisk…

It’s easy enough to chalk up this email as another IT glitch, with Iberia not being fully aware of my Oneworld elite status. But the reason for this short article is to point out the tiny print at the bottom of the email, because it is well worth highlighting.

  1. “Your baggage allowance is based on the original fare paid”. In other words, if you booked a “Basic” fare – i.e. Hand Baggage Only – you would still not receive a checked bag allowance without paying extra. So, that reference to “priority luggage handling” is rather disingenuous (luckily with Iberia, Oneworld elite status members do receive one free checked bag on Basic / HBO fares).
  2. Your original fare conditions – change/cancellation fees, etc. – will remain the same.
  3. You will receive Avios and Elite Points based on the original fare”. This is a bit counter-intuitive, but if you are thinking about upgrading to Business Class as a way of earning more miles and elite status credit, don’t bother.

It is also worth mentioning a situation I recently found on LEVEL, Iberia’s low cost subsidiary that flies between Barcelona and a few destinations in the United States and elsewhere. Even though the traveller paid for a similar promotional upgrade – in this case to Premium Economy – she still needed to pay for her onboard food according to her original fare conditions.

Bottom line

For a long-haul flight it certainly might be worth considering these promotional upgrade offers – the larger seat and better onboard experience could well be worth the cost.

Similarly, for a short-haul flight, it might make sense for somebody who does NOT have elite status with Oneworld to accept the offer. But if you do have elite status, most of the so-called “benefits of upgrading” simply do not exist…

Would you be tempted to accept these sort of upgrade offers? 

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