The Most Bizarre Airline Promotion of 2018

The Most Bizarre Airline Promotion of 2018Last month, Iberia announced a new promotion offering 9,000 bonus Avios (Iberia miles) for booking any flight on Iberia or its regional subsidiaries. The Avios would post within 10 days of booking the flight, and up to 90,000 Avios were available per person. This was a great deal because Avios are relatively valuable and Iberia flights within Spain can be very cheap. So it’s little surprise that many people joined Iberia’s frequent flyer program and booked 10 one-way flights for around $30-40 each.

At the time, this seemed like a bizarre airline promotion that was almost too good to be true. But few could have predicted the thrilling roller-coaster ride that would be experienced by those who took part!

It seems Iberia really did not think through the terms of this bizarre airline promotion. They were promising to give away very large amounts of Avios to people who booked very cheap flights. What’s more, they promised to credit the points within 10 days of booking – regardless of whether any of the flights were actually taken. When questioned, Iberia even confirmed that this was a legitimate promotion and this was all correct. The only real catches were that the flights had to be booked on the Iberia website, and the Avios would have to be redeemed by December.

At some point, Iberia must have realised the promotion was a mistake. But it seems they didn’t really know what to do. Around a week later, Iberia started blocking access to some members’ accounts. Meanwhile, other members were asked for proof of identity (which is fair enough).

As an update for those playing along, you may have seen blogs and/or experienced this yourself – you cannot log into new accounts. The error states that user/pass do not match etc (error I599).

I think its fair to assume that this promotion exceeded their initial expectations and fulfilling their commitment is taking a toll on their antiquated IT systems. Temporarily disabling access to new accounts is evidently the quickest or easiest way to execute this back end transaction.

Some lucky AFF members did eventually receive the Avios as promised

Once Head For Points reckoned it was legit I jumped on board at the last minute. Bought ten flights for an average of $48 each. Points came through this morning. Normally I’d never buy throwaways like this (ok, the rare hidden city maybe) but Iberia did say they were cool with it!

But some are still waiting to hear back from Iberia after sending proof of identity. Others have been offered refunds because their accounts were not located in eligible countries, or due to “booking inconsistencies”.

When the deal was first announced, one AFF member declared that life’s too short for these kinds of promotions…

Sometimes life is way too short for this sort of thing. I looked at it, and found a way of seeing availability ex-Australia. Only found availability long haul on BA, and very limited domestic QF availability (which did not correlate well with what BA sees, IB much more restrictive). Trying to price the flights – error our each time. And every time I submitted a new query went through Captcha. Decided that not worth it.

It’s often hard to know if these kinds of airline promotions are too good to be true. In life this is generally the case, but not always with airline promotions. Indeed, many people are able to comfortably travel the world in Business and First class just by signing up for credit cards or legitimately buying discounted miles. While this bizarre airline promotion has been a rollercoaster ride for some, the outcome has been positive for many. Some people have received their points, and many who were deemed ineligible (despite not breaking any of the promo’s T&Cs) are at least being offered refunds for the booked flights.

It’s unlikely we’ll ever see another promotion like this from Iberia.

Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Iberia Avios 9000 points per booking dont need to fly

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]