For those hoping 90,000 Iberia Avios would quickly hit their account after 10 days…be patient. It may take some more time, if the the points appear at all. A pair of moves over the last 24 hours reveals how Iberia is dealing with a promotion that far more took advantage of than Iberia anticipated. What is Iberia’s legal obligation to honor this promotion?
First, let’s not jump to any conclusions. Here’s what we know now:
1.) No bonus Avois have posted yet (10 days later).
2.) Iberia has locked thousands of Iberia Plus accounts, requesting a copy of ID or passport in order to re-activate.
3.) Iberia has refunded some tickets, arguing that some promotion participants were never eligible to take part in it in the first place.
Iberia Locking Accounts for “Security” Reasons
Iberia is locking or freezing all recently created accounts on fraud grounds. Many of the more enterprising (to put it charitably) people who took advantage of this promotion set up multiple accounts, some with bogus names, in order to rake in extra Avios.
Iberia is sending out messages like this:
Your Iberia plus account has been blocked for security reason. In order to activate your account, it is necessary to send an email to email@example.com with a signed copy of the Rectification Data Document and a copy of your ID or Passport.
You can download the Rectification Data Document from the link below:
For those who are legit and took advantage of this promo honestly, you have nothing to worry about here. Many are already reporting their accounts have been re-opened after submitting this paperwork. Some are reporting that upon re-opening, their accounts display zero balance. I’d let the dust settle before worrying about this.
As a data point, my Iberia Plus account has been open for several years and I did not take advantage of this promotion. It was never locked.
Iberia Cancelling Tickets, Citing Country of Residence
While the account audits are not particularly concerning, a handful of passengers are receiving cancellation notices stating that their bookings are NOT eligible for the Avios bonus due to country of residency. It appears, however, that Iberia will offer a full refund of recent tickets booked.
Regarding your request, we inform you that we have checked your Iberia Plus account details and we noticed your country of residency is AUSTRALIA, we are sorry to inform you that our 9,000 Avios promotion was not valid for this country.
For this reason, it is not possible for us to credit the corresponding 9,000 Avios, since there is a discrepancy between your Iberia Plus account and your booking’s country of issue.
We kindly recommend you to contact our Customer Service Line at the phone number (+1) 800 772 4642 and request the total reimbursement of your tickets.
Your Iberia Plus Service Center
Terms and Conditions Do Not Indicate Residency Requirement
But the terms and conditions of this promo (still live online) do not indicate a residency restriction. The T&Cs are simply three paragraphs long:
Special offer of an extra 9,000 Avios for each ticket purchased between 21 and 24 June 2018 (maximum of 90,000 promotional Avios per member) on iberia.com for a flight operated by Iberia, Iberia Express or Air Nostrum. The Avios will be added within 10 days of the purchase to the Iberia Plus account of all customers identified as members of the Iberia Plus programme during the purchase process.
If the customer requests a refund, either because it is permitted by the fare or for any other reason, the promotional Avios will be withdrawn from their account. The extra promotional Avios not redeemed by 1 December 2018 will be withdrawn from the customer’s account. The redemption terms and conditions are subject to the general terms and conditions of the Iberia Plus programme.
For example, if a customer purchases tickets on Iberia.com for three people to fly from Seville to Madrid and two of the people are identified as Iberia Plus members during the purchase process, 9,000 Avios will be credited to both of these people within 10 days of the purchase. These two people must have redeemed at least 9,000 Avios by 1 December 2018, or this same amount of Avios will be withdrawn from their account.
Once the promo began, Iberia did tell some passengers via Twitter that the promo is only available in 16 countries:
The promotion is available when the tickets are bought on iberia.com in the following countries: Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Portugal, Russia, United Kingdom, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Peru, Mexico and USA, regardless of the origin of the flight.
These happen to all be countries that Iberia serves, but not ALL countries Iberia serves (for example, Israel and Ireland are missing).
Interestingly, though, Iberia never officially updated its T&Cs online.
Is Iberia Legally Bound to Honor This Promo?
Creating a discrepancy between country of booking, country of residence, and registered country on your Iberia profile seems like a weasel move by Iberia to dodge the full consequences of its generous promotion.
Iberia certainly has the prerogative to limit its promotion to bookings made in select countries or to residents of select countries. But it did not do this. Its official T&Cs never stated a geographic restriction. They still do not. To fail to honor the agreement now strikes me as an unethical, and potentially unlawful, move.
What about someone who lives in Australia and Spain? Or someone who was on vacation in Thailand during this promo and booked there? Based on the letter above, it appears Iberia is targeting passengers who booked outside the 16 countries above or have addresses on file outside the 16 countries.
Again, let’s not jump to any conclusions as this continues to play out. Ultimately, though, Iberia should honor this promotion for all who took advantage and have legitimate Iberia Plus accounts. Unless I am missing additional published T&Cs, I do not see a legal leg Iberia has to stand on.
A couple final notes. First, the fact that Iberia is spending the time and resources to audit new accounts suggests to me they will honor this promo for most people. Second, the fact that Iberia is offering refunds to those it deems ineligible for the promotion is far better than simply telling them they are not eligible for the promo and failing to provide a refund.
In a thread that has had over 100,000 page views, a discussion on Flyertalk continues. Check there for a live play-by-play or continue to check back here for updates.
My prediction: Iberia is about to initiate a lot of ticket refunds for those outside the 16 countries above. But for residents of those 16 countries, the bonus Avios will post…eventually.