Spain is no stranger to U.S. tourism. Even more popular than Italy and Germany, Spain enjoys over 80 million visitors from around the world every year! Home to bullfighting, delicious food, siestas, wine, and art, Spain is a cultural paradise.
If you’d like to see this tourist hotspot for yourself, Upgraded Points has your back — we’ll show you how to fly to Spain with your hard-earned points and miles.
And don’t worry: if you don’t have enough points, we’ll help you along that avenue as well.
Spain is home to Iberia and Air Europa, which are 2 of the largest airlines headquartered in the country. While Iberia is a Oneworld partner, Air Europa is a Skyteam partner. This gives you plenty of options when flying to Spain on points and miles.
In this guide, we will explore all the major airline alliances and discuss the best ways to fly to Spain on points and miles. We’ll also show you some ways you can try to avoid the infamous fuel surcharges too.
We’ll start off with our top recommended redemptions that cost the least and are the easiest to book. Then, we’ll work down the list for some alternatives that could still be worth your while.
Table of contents
Table of contents
Table of Contents
- Best Programs to Use to Book Flights
- American Airlines AAdvantage
- British Airways/Iberia Avios
- Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
- Japan Airlines Mileage Plan
- All Nippon Airways (ANA) Mileage Club
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
- United Airlines MileagePlus
- Avianca Vuela (AV) LifeMiles
- Air France/KLM Flying Blue
- Delta Airlines SkyMiles
- Korean Air SKYPASS
- Other Options
- Final Thoughts
Best Programs to Use to Book Flights
American Airlines AAdvantage
Because Spain happens to be a Oneworld hub, the best flight availability tends to be through American Airlines or Iberia. In this case, there are 8 AA flights and 4 Iberia flights departing from the United States.
|Airports With Nonstop Flights to Madrid on American Airlines|
|New York City (JFK)||Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW)|
|Philadelphia (PHL)||Charlotte (CLT)|
|Airports With Nonstop Flights to Barcelona on American Airlines|
|New York City (JFK)||Charlotte (CLT)|
|Philadelphia (PHL)||Chicago O’Hare (ORD)|
|Airports With Nonstop Flights to Madrid on Iberia|
|Los Angeles (LAX)||Chicago O’Hare (ORD)|
|Boston (BOS)||New York City (JFK)|
Booking any of these flights will have round-trip costs of 45,000 AA miles in off-peak economy, 60,000 miles in economy, and 115,000 miles in business.
Hot Tip: To make things even better, AA will not pass on all fuel surcharges on Iberia or AA flights! You’ll only pay $150 round-trip in taxes & fees. This is a super-easy way to save hundreds of dollars!
Off-peak economy for flights to Europe booked through American Airlines is from January 10-March 14 and November 1-December 14.
If you’re planning on flying economy, the off-peak pricing is very hard to beat. Otherwise, 115,000 miles for round-trip business class is a great deal, especially if you have AA miles from holding the co-branded American Airlines credit cards from Citi or Barclays.
|Cabin Class||AA Miles Round-trip Price||Taxes & Fees|
Using your AA miles to fly to Spain is an easy process! You’ll want to use the British Airways website to search for award availability.
Here’s how you can book on American Airlines:
- Visit the British Airways website.
- Log in using your BA username and password.
- Hover over the Executive Club banner and click on Spending Avios.
- Click Book a Reward Flight.
- Enter your departure city, destination city, travel dates, desired class, and number of passengers.
- Click Get Flights.
- Note the flight numbers, airlines, and times.
- Call American Airlines and make the reservation (1-800-433-7300). Be sure to ask to waive the $25 telephone booking fee.
Hot Tip: Although AA is known to “hide” availability on routes where they fly their own planes, AA can now show Iberia award availability. Even if British Airways has the best way to search award availability, it can sometimes glitch out. Searching on AA is an option in this instance if the British Airways website is being glitchy!
Need help booking? See our step-by-step guide for booking American Airlines business class.
Earning American Airlines AAdvantage Miles
You can earn AA miles pretty easily, and you can top up your AA miles balance with credit card sign-up bonuses.
In particular, the Barclays Aviator Red Mastercard is a great option since you only need 1 purchase to hit the bonus of 40,000-60,000 miles! That means you can fly one-way to Spain just by opening the credit card, paying the $95 annual fee, and making 1 purchase.
The business equivalent credit card offers a similar sign-up bonus, so opening both would definitely get you closer to flying to Spain.
You can also look into Citi’s AA credit cards as another option to get more AA miles. You would normally want to apply for the Barclays credit cards first, since Barclays is more inquiry-sensitive than Citi from a credit card approval standpoint.
Lastly, you can top off your AA balance with Marriott points, but it wouldn’t be the best use of them unless you had a specific redemption in mind and were short a few thousand miles. Keep in mind that it can take up to 2 business days to transfer Marriott points to American Airlines.
British Airways/Iberia Avios
Another program worth keeping in mind is British Airways. Why?
It’s simple: competitive economy awards and great transfer partners. On all the same flights mentioned above with American Airlines and Iberia, British Airways will only cost 35,000-50,000 Avios for round-trip economy tickets.
I use the term “Avios” loosely, because British Airways and Iberia merged in 2010 and have similar points systems.
British Airways Avios are nearly identical to Iberia Avios, with a few subtle differences. Namely, there are different award charts for using British Airways Avios to fly on Iberia vs. flying on British Airways’ own metal. Additionally, there are different off-peak dates.
British Airways employs a distance-based award chart for its own flights along with partner flights. Here’s the award chart for Iberia peak and off-peak flights booked with British Airways Avios:
|Bands||Blue Class||Full Fare Economy||Premium Economy||Business|
|1 (0 – 650)||5,000||7,500||–||10,000|
|2 (651 – 1,151)||8,250||12,500||–||16,500|
|3 (1,151 – 2,000)||11,000||16,500||–||22,000|
|4 (2,001 – 3,000)||12,500||18,750||–||31,250|
|5 (3,001 – 4,000)||20,000||30,000 / 28,000*||35,000||50,000|
|6 (4,001 – 5,500)||25,000||37,500 / 35,000*||43,750||62,500|
|7 (5,501 – 6,500)||30,000||45,000 / 42,000*||52,500||75,000|
|8 (6,501 – 7,000)||35,000||52,500 / 49,000*||61,250||87,500|
|9 (over 7,000)||50,000||75,000 / 70,000*||87,500||125,000|
|Bands||Blue Class||Full Fare Economy||Premium Economy||Business|
|1 (0 – 650)||4,500||6,750||–||9,000|
|2 (651 – 1,151)||7,500||11,250||–||15,000|
|3 (1,151 – 2,000)||10,000||15,000||–||20,000|
|4 (2,001 – 3.000)||11,000||16,000||–||21,250|
|5 (3,001 – 4,000)||17,000||25,500 / 22,000*||25,500||34,000|
|6 (4,001 – 5,500)||21,250||32,000 / 27,750*||31,750||42,500|
|7 (5,501 – 6,500)||25,500||38,250 / 33,250*||38,250||51,000|
|8 (6,501 – 7,000)||29,750||44,650 / 38,750*||44,250||59,500|
|9 (over 7,000)||42,500||63,750 / 55,250*||63,750||85,000|
The steps for booking with British Airways Avios are nearly identical to AA. This time, however, you can book awards completely online!
- Visit the British Airways website
- Log in using your BA username and password
- Hover over the Executive Club banner and click on Spending Avios
- Click Book a Reward Flight
- Enter your departure city, destination city, travel dates, desired class, and number of passengers
- Click Get Flights
- Complete the purchase and book your flights
Earning British Airways/Iberia Avios
If you want to transfer your miles from BA to Iberia, sign up for an Iberia Plus account. To transfer, your Iberia account must be at least 90 days old and must have had points activity.
Although British Airways is known for levying fuel surcharges on its own flights, it does not do so on Iberia and AA flights.
You can also earn lots of Avios by looking at the Chase co-branded British Airways credit card!
Recommended Chase Cards (Personal)
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card - This is our favorite beginners travel rewards card which has a 60,000 point bonus (highest ever) after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. |
This sign up bonus is worth $750 in travel purchases (flights, hotels, car rentals etc) when you redeem your points through Chase's travel portal, which works like Expedia. The bonus alone could get you multiple round-trip flights or hotel stays.
|Chase Sapphire Reserve® - Consider this premium card if you want to get into a lot of airport lounges. The current sign up bonus is 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. You'll also get a $300 travel credit per year which wipes away a big chunk of the $450 annual fee.|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited® - A simple, no annual fee card that earns you a $150 bonus after you spend $500 in your first 3 months. Easy earning at 1.5% on all purchases. Just know that you won't get any travel benefits or the ability to earn bonus points with this card.|
Recommended Chase Cards (Business)
|Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card - This is our #1 recommended business card and comes with a whopping 80,000 sign up bonus after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening. This bonus is worth $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards for travel purchases (flights, hotels etc). Also, if you pay for your cell phone bill with this card, you can get up to $600 in cell phone insurance coverage per year.|
|Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card - earn $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening. In addition, get up to 5% cash back on a range of business expenses such as office supply stores, internet, cable, and phone services. This is one of the best no annual fee business cards.|
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
Yet another Oneworld partner, Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles program provides great opportunities to fly to Spain. If you wanted to fly to Spain on business class, Asia Miles is a great way to do so.
Since Cathay Pacific is a transfer partner with American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points, and Marriott, you won’t run out of transfer options, especially if you have credit cards that earn Citi ThankYou points!
All but one of the routes mentioned above will cost 100,000 miles plus fuel surcharges. The Los Angeles – Madrid route will cost 150,000 miles plus fuel surcharges.
These fuel surcharges can be in excess of $400, so be aware of this when booking with Cathay Pacific.
We recommend using the Qantas or British Airways website to find award availability first, then using the Cathay Pacific Asia Miles search engine to confirm availability that you found on the other websites.
Hot Tip: If visiting Spain wasn’t your only goal, you can consider using Cathay Pacific’s generous award routing rules to construct complex but very valuable itineraries!
Earning Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
In addition, you can look into the Cathay Pacific co-branded credit card offered by Synchrony Bank to top off your balance. The best offer in the past has been 75,000 miles, so it might be worth holding out for that offer before grabbing this credit card.
Similarly, Marriott is a transfer partner with Cathay Pacific.
Japan Airlines Mileage Plan
This is the last Oneworld partner we’ll be looking at.
Japan Airlines is a complicated frequent flyer program. On one hand, it has been one of the most treasured programs for several reasons: lots of luxury airline partners, amazing award redemption prices, and no fuel surcharges.
But as we know, all good things must come to an end. Japan Airlines has come out with huge devaluations and added fuel surcharges on a host of carriers including Emirates.
To make matters worse, starting November 20, 2018, award booking prices will shoot up again, resulting in yet another devaluation.
The problem with Japan Airlines currently is the lack of quality transfer partners. It only partners with Marriott, and its co-branded U.S. credit card offers a lackluster sign-up bonus.
As a result, it can be difficult to rack up enough points for these flights. Even so, let’s examine some potential areas of value.
Hot Tip: Japan Airlines’ impending devaluation starting November 20, 2018 is a great reason to make your award bookings prior to that date.
If you’re planning on traveling (or booking future travel) before November 20, you’re in luck. Round-trip economy flights to Spain will run you 39,000-40,000 miles, and business class will cost only 63,000-65,000 miles!
This price is nearly half of the prices mentioned above; however, the problem of transfer partners still exists.
Come November 20, round-trip economy prices will be 45,000-47,000 miles, and business will cost 80,000-85,000 miles.
Hot Tip: With such a great price, it’s not too surprising that you’ll be on the hook for some fuel surcharges. These surcharges will cost around $450…if flying on Iberia. If you fly on American Airlines, you will be free of fuel surcharges!
Earning Japan Airlines Miles
|Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card - for a limited time, earn 100,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Get automatic silver elite status each account anniversary year; and a free night award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary.|
|Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card - earn 75,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. A solid card for business owners who will get complimentary Marriott Bonvoy silver elite status. Annual fee is $125. For rates and fees of the Bonvoy Business Card, click here.|
All Nippon Airways (ANA) Mileage Club
Until now, we’ve been focusing on Oneworld partners and redemptions, but we’re moving on to Star Alliance. Although we don’t see as many routes available, there is still tremendous opportunity to be had here.
There are 3 flights available from Canada and 4 flights available from the United States. All Canadian flights will be aboard Air Canada, and all flights departing the United States will be on United Airlines.
|Nonstop Air Canada Routes to Spain|
|Montreal (YUL) – Barcelona (BCN)||Toronto (YYZ) – Barcelona (BCN)|
|Toronto (YYZ) – Madrid (MAD)|
|Nonstop United Airlines Routes to Spain|
|Newark (EWR) – Barcelona (BCN)||Washington D.C. (IAD) – Barcelona (BCN)|
|Newark (EWR) – Madrid (MAD)||Washington D.C. (IAD) – Madrid (MAD)|
To fly economy round-trip will cost 55,000 miles, and you’ll pay 88,000 miles in business. Luckily, ANA does not pass on fuel surcharges on Air Canada or United flights.
Hot Tip: ANA offers 1 free stopover AND 1 open-jaw, OR 2 open-jaws on round-trip award bookings. If Spain was not your final destination, you could work in some extra value with this generous award routing.
When flying Star Alliance partner United Airlines to Japan, search for award space on United’s website and then confirm availability on ANA’s website.
Be careful when using United Airlines to search for award space! Sometimes United Airlines has “phantom” award space, so double-check with Air Canada Aeroplan before booking your Star Alliance flight on ANA.
Earning ANA Miles
Amex points transfer to ANA at a 1:1 ratio. Keep in mind that transfers usually aren’t instant and can take 24-48 business hours.
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
Singapore Airlines is another viable Star Alliance partner for booking award flights to Spain. You’re going to fly Air Canada or United, but it will cost you 55,000 miles in round-trip economy and 144,000 miles in round-trip business.
When would you rather use Singapore Airlines over ANA to fly to Spain, you might ask? I would only use Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer to fly to Spain if 2 conditions were met:
- I only had Chase Ultimate Rewards points
- I’m flying from Canada to Spain
If you only have Chase Ultimate Rewards points, you can use Singapore Airlines, which will cost more miles than ANA but still be bookable.
United MileagePlus from the U.S. has Singapore Airlines beat in this case, since it only takes 120,000 miles to fly round-trip business class from America to Spain while Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer will run 144,000 miles.
Lastly, Singapore Airlines basically abolished fuel surcharges, so you definitely won’t need to worry about that.
Earning Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Miles
KrisFlyer miles are quite possibly the easiest miles that you can accrue a lot of, but it can cost a lot of miles to redeem for flights (as we see above when compared to ANA).
They are transfer partners with Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, and Citi ThankYou Points. As a result, there are countless credit card sign-up bonuses that make earning KrisFlyer miles as easy as applying for a credit card!
United Airlines MileagePlus
United Airlines has a couple advantages in this situation: their straightforward booking process, and reasonable business class redemptions from the United States.
Round-trip economy flights cost 60,000 miles, and business class from America costs 120,000 miles. We include United Airlines here because their business class rate is one of the most competitive among Ultimate Rewards partners.
Economy is not that amazing…British Airways can provide Oneworld economy flights for 35,000-50,000 miles, and Singapore Airlines can provide Star Alliance economy flights for 55,000 miles.
United Airlines slightly edges out Singapore Airlines for United business class flights from the U.S. to Spain with a 10,000-mile advantage (120,000 United miles versus 144,000 KrisFlyer miles).
Hot Tip: When using United Airlines’ search engine for awards, be sure to use the award calendar. You can book awards completely online using United Airlines.
Earning United MileagePlus Miles
There are a few Chase co-branded credit card options that will allow you to earn United miles directly.
In the end, you have 3 options to earn United miles:
- Co-branded Chase credit cards
- Chase Ultimate Rewards credit cards
- Marriott credit cards from Chase or American Express
Avianca Vuela (AV) LifeMiles
The last Star Alliance partner we’ll be mentioning is Avianca Vuela. Their LifeMiles program, while full of quirks, is still a viable option in this case.
Those with Citi ThankYou points will rejoice knowing that you can book Star Alliance partner flights with LifeMiles. North America to Spain in economy will cost 60,000 miles round-trip and 126,000 miles in business class.
What’s the difference between using Cathay Pacific Asia Miles vs. LifeMiles?
Asia Miles offers better business class redemption rates, but LifeMiles does not levy any fuel surcharges! This is a sure-fire way to save $500 in extra fees. So, that extra 26,000 miles is basically saving you $500.
Here are the steps to book your flights:
- Visit the Avianca Vuela website
- Click on “LifeMiles” in the bottom right corner of Avianca’s homepage
- Once you’re on the LifeMiles page, hover over “Use” and click on “Airlines”
- Enter your desired destination and travel dates and hit “continue.” The next screen shows availability and costs for those dates, as well as for 2 days before and after
- Select your flight
Earning Avianca Vuela LifeMiles
If you spend a lot on Citi credit cards that earn ThankYou Points, it may be worthwhile to consider LifeMiles…especially if you don’t feel like paying $500 in fuel surcharges with Star Alliance partners.
If you regularly stay at Marriott hotels, then you could possibly find transfer value with their hotel points.
As a last resort, you can also purchase LifeMiles! They often have sales of up to 150% bonus miles, so be on the lookout for these when they come around.
|Cabin Class||LifeMiles Cost||Fees|
Air France/KLM Flying Blue
The last set of airlines we will be examining are those in the SkyTeam alliance. Similar to Oneworld and Star Alliance, SkyTeam has a variety of opportunities for travel to Spain.
The first SkyTeam partner we’ll dig into is Air France/KLM. We at UpgradedPoints believe the main value in this program for flights to Spain is in business class. Why? Fuel surcharges will suck the value out of economy and premium economy flights.
Air France charges either 43,000 or 58,000 miles to fly in economy, but they pass fuel surcharges on. Basically, you could be spending nearly 60,000 miles and still have to pay $500! That sounds pretty much like throwing away your hard-earned points, so we’ll pass.
Overall, there are 7 flight options on SkyTeam: 6 flights are on Delta and 1 flight is on Air Europa.
|Nonstop Delta Routes to Spain|
|New York City (JFK) – Madrid (MAD)||Atlanta (ATL) – Madrid (MAD)|
|New York City (JFK) – Barcelona (BCN)||Atlanta (ATL) – Barcelona (BCN)|
|New York City (JFK) – Málaga (AGP)||Miami (MIA) – Barcelona (BCN)|
|Nonstop Air Europa Routes to Spain|
|New York City (JFK) – Madrid (MAD)|
All of the above 7 flights can be booked through SkyTeam. Since Air France uses a variable award chart, we can’t exactly pinpoint the award costs, but we can provide a range.
It will run somewhere between 106,000-120,000 miles for round-trip business class aboard Delta or Air Europa with ~$500 in surcharges.
Even though you’ll be paying for fuel surcharges with this method, it’s important to note that American Express and Citi often offer transfer bonuses of up to 35% to Flying Blue! This means that 120,000 miles will only cost ~88,888 points round-trip. This value is very difficult to beat.
Hot Tip: Seriously consider transferring your points to Air France/KLM when transfer bonuses are offered by American Express and Citi.
You can search for award availability through Air France/KLM and book awards completely online.
Looking for other ways to redeem Air France/KLM miles? Check out the best ways to redeem Air France/KLM Flying Blue miles for max value!
Earning Air France/KLM Flying Blue Miles
There are plenty of ways to earn lots of Flying Blue miles. It’s a transfer partner with all of the 4 major transferable currencies: Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Marriott, and Citi ThankYou Points.
Delta Airlines SkyMiles
Since Delta miles are very easy to earn with co-branded credit cards, American Express Membership Rewards, and Marriott, it’s worth looking into.
Getting to Spain will cost you 60,000 miles round-trip on Delta metal in economy and 65,000 miles round-trip on Air Europa in economy. Fuel surcharges are not levied in this case, so you’ll save hundreds of dollars!
We don’t recommend booking business class through Delta because it costs a whopping 164,000 miles round-trip. If you still wanted to use Delta miles for your business class flight to Spain, you would definitely save money on fuel surcharges.
You can search for award availability through Delta and book awards completely online.
Earning Delta SkyMiles
Generally speaking, you can earn lots of Delta points directly with Delta credit cards from American Express, or transfer them from flexible rewards points through American Express or Marriott.
Check out more ideas on how to earn lots of Delta SkyMiles.
Recommended Delta Cards
|Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express - The current welcome bonus is earning 60,000 Bonus Miles after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in purchases within your first 3 months and a $50 Statement Credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months [Offer ends 10/30/2019]. Plus, with a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year (then $95), this is a solid Delta card. Click here for rates and fees of the Gold Delta.|
|Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express - Earn 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMS) and 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. In addition, earn a $100 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. For rates and fees of the Platinum Delta, click here.|
Korean Air SKYPASS
The final option that we’ll be looking at in this guide is Korean Air’s own SKYPASS program. Recently removed as a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner, you’ll only be able to earn Korean Air miles from Marriott.
Korean Air charges 50,000 miles for round-trip economy and 80,000 miles round-trip in business class.
Until Korean Air lost Chase as a transfer partner, they definitely would have been at the top of my list for business class flights to Europe. This was because of the ease of earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points and the extremely favorable business class sweet spot to Europe.
Today, though, Korean Air miles are hard to earn. In fact, they’re now similar to Japan Airlines and Asiana with Marriott as the sole transfer partner for their tempting award redemptions.
One frustrating part of the Korean Air SKYPASS program is that they don’t allow you to book awards for anyone who is not a direct family member. In addition, they will require you to submit the SKYPASS Family Registration Application prior to booking for a family member.
It’s also possible to book with other airlines such as Asiana Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Air Canada, and Korean Air, but they were excluded here for the following possible reasons:
- Uncompetitive award rates
- High fuel surcharges
- Other viable alternatives with the same transfer partners
All 26 routes from the United States or Canada have been examined in this guide, and we’ve provided ways to book economy or business class flights on all 3 alliances: Star Alliance, Oneworld, and SkyTeam.
Here’s where I’d look first for each one:
- Oneworld — American Airlines or British Airways Avios
- Star Alliance — ANA or United Airlines
- SkyTeam — Air France/KLM or Delta
Bottom line, there’s a lot of value to be had when flying to Spain, especially when you fly there with points and miles!
Featured Image: Courtesy of United.com