The Best Ways to Fly to Spain With Points and Miles [Step-by-Step]

Air Canada Signature Class

Full Disclosure: We may receive financial compensation when you click on links and are approved for credit card products from our advertising partners. Opinions and product recommendations on this site are ours alone, and have not been influenced, reviewed or approved by the issuer. See our Advertiser Disclosure for more details. We appreciate your support!

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.

Best Programs to Use to Book Flights

American Airlines AAdvantage

american airlines business class 777
American Airlines’ business class is a great way to fly to Spain. Image Credit: American Airlines

Because Spain happens to be a Oneworld hub, the best flight availability tends to be through American Airlines or Iberia. Here are the flights offered to Spain on American Airlines or Iberia:

Airports With Nonstop Flights to Madrid on American Airlines
Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW)New York City (JFK)
Charlotte (CLT)Philadelphia (PHL)
Miami (MIA)

Airports With Nonstop Flights to Barcelona on American Airlines
Charlotte (CLT)New York City (JFK)
Chicago O’Hare (ORD)Philadelphia (PHL)
Miami (MIA)

 

Airports With Nonstop Flights to Madrid on Iberia
Boston (BOS)New York City (JFK)
Chicago O’Hare (ORD)San Francisco (SFO)
Los Angeles (LAX)Washington, D.C. (IAD)
Miami (MIA)

Booking any of these flights will have round-trip costs of 45,000 AAdvantage miles in off-peak economy, 60,000 miles in economy, and 115,000 miles in business.

Hot Tip: To make things even better, American will not pass on all fuel surcharges on Iberia or its own flights! You’ll only pay $150 round-trip in taxes and 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 AAdvantage miles from holding the co-branded American Airlines credit cards from Citi or Barclays.

Cabin ClassAAdvantage Miles Round-Trip PriceTaxes and Fees
Economy Off-Peak45,000~$50-$100
Economy60,000~$50-$100
Business115,000~$50-$100

Using your AAdvantage miles to fly to Spain is an easy process! You’ll want to use the British Airways website to search for award availability. Here are some great example routes you can take:

  • Charlotte (CLT) – Barcelona (BCN) one-way in American Airlines business class for as little as 57,500 miles + ~$20 in taxes and fees
  • San Francisco (SFO) – Madrid (MAD) one-way in Iberia business class for 57,500 miles + ~$100 in taxes and fees

Here’s how you can book on American Airlines:

  1. Visit the British Airways website.
  2. Log in using your British Airways username and password.
  3. Hover over the Executive Club banner and click on Spending Avios.
  4. Click Book a Reward Flight.
  5. Enter your departure city, destination city, travel dates, desired class, and number of passengers.
  6. Click Get Flights.
  7. Note the flight numbers, airlines, and times.
  8. Call American Airlines and make the reservation (800-433-7300). Be sure to ask to have the $25 telephone booking fee waived.

Hot Tip: Although American is known to “hide” availability on routes where it flies its own planes, it 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.com 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 AAdvantage miles pretty easily, and you can top up your miles balance with credit card sign-up bonuses.

In particular, the AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® is a great option since the spending required to achieve the bonus is quite low. That means you can fly one-way to Spain just by opening the credit card, paying the $95 annual fee, and making some purchases (usually $1,000 or even 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 top off your AAdvantage miles 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.

Marriott’s transfer ratio is 3:1 with a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred to American Airlines. Transfers can take up to 2 business days.

Bottom Line: American Airlines AAdvantage offers very competitive redemption rates on off-peak economy and business class flights to Spain. The program is extremely easy to understand and book. Furthermore, its miles are easy to earn with all the different credit card offerings. Lastly, your out-of-pocket costs will be minimized since no fuel surcharges are passed on. 

British Airways/Iberia Avios

Iberia Business Class
Iberia Business Class. Image Credit: Iberia

Another program worth keeping in mind is British Airways for its 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.

We use the term “Avios” loosely, because British Airways, Aer Lingus, and Iberia 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:

Iberia Peak Season
BandsBlue ClassFull Fare EconomyPremium EconomyBusiness
1 (0-650)5,0007,50010,000
2 (651-1,151)8,25012,50016,500
3 (1,151 – 2,000)11,00016,50022,000
4 (2,001 – 3,000)12,50018,75031,250
5 (3,001 – 4,000)20,00030,000 / 28,000*35,00050,000
6 (4,001 – 5,500)25,00037,500 / 35,000*43,75062,500
7 (5,501 – 6,500)30,00045,000 / 42,000*52,50075,000
8 (6,501 – 7,000)35,00052,500 / 49,000*61,25087,500
9 (over 7,000)50,00075,000 / 70,000*87,500125,000
Exceptions
Madrid-Barcelona Shuttle4,5009,000
Madrid-London7,50011,25015,000

 

Iberia Off-Peak Season
BandsBlue ClassFull Fare EconomyPremium EconomyBusiness
1 (0-650)4,5006,7509,000
2 (651-1,151)7,50011,25015,000
3 (1,151 – 2,000)10,00015,00020,000
4 (2,001 – 3,000)11,00016,00021,250
5 (3,001 – 4,000)17,00025,500 / 22,000*25,50034,000
6 (4,001 – 5,500)21,25032,000 / 27,750*31,75042,500
7 (5,501 – 6,500)25,50038,250 / 33,250*38,25051,000
8 (6,501 – 7,000)29,75044,650 / 38,750*44,25059,500
9 (over 7,000)42,50063,750 / 55,250*63,75085,000
Exceptions
Madrid-Barcelona Shuttle4,5009,000
Madrid-London6,5009,75012,750

Here are some great example routes you can take:

  • Boston (BOS) – Madrid (MAD) one-way during off-peak in Iberia business class for 34,000 miles + ~$180 in taxes and fees
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Madrid (MAD) one-way during off-peak in Iberia business class for 51,000 miles + ~$180 in taxes and fees

The steps for booking with British Airways Avios are nearly identical to booking with American. This time, however, you can book awards completely online!

  1. Visit the British Airways website.
  2. Log in using your British Airways username and password.
  3. Hover over the Executive Club banner and click on Spending Avios.
  4. Click Book a Reward Flight.
  5. Enter your departure city, destination city, travel dates, desired class, and number of passengers.
  6. Click Get Flights.
  7. Complete the purchase and book your flights.

Earning British Airways/Iberia Avios

You can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to Iberia, and you can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to British Airways and then to Iberia.

If you want to transfer your miles from British Airways 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 American flights.

Unlike American, however, British Airways is a transfer partner with Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, and Marriott! Chase and Amex transfer nearly instantly at a 1:1 ratio, while Marriott transfers in 1 business day at a 3:1 ratio with a 5,000 Avios bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred to British Airways.

You can also earn lots of Avios by looking at the British Airways Visa Signature® 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 $550 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. Earn 1.5% cash-back on all purchases, but 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 right now comes with a 100,000 sign up bonus after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening. This bonus is worth $1,250 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards for travel purchases (flights, hotels etc). Pay your cell phone bill with this card to receive 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. This no annual fee business card earns up to 5% cash back on a range of business expenses such as office supply stores, internet, cable, and phone services.

Bottom Line: Though slightly confusing with the different types of Avios and peak dates, using your British Airways Avios is a great way to avoid fuel surcharges and fly economy to Spain. You can earn Avios very easily through transfer partners and co-branded credit cards. We do not recommend booking business or premium economy class due to the unfavorable redemption rates. 

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

British Airways First Class
British Airways First Class is bookable using Asia Miles. Image Credit: British Airways

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 Asia Miles 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 in the American Airlines AAdvantage section will cost 100,000 miles plus fuel surcharges. The Los Angeles – Madrid route will cost 150,000 miles plus fuel surcharges.

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! 

Here are some great example routes you can take:

  • Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) – Madrid (MAD) round-trip in American Airlines business class for 100,000 miles + ~$20 in taxes and fees
  • San Francisco (SFO) – Madrid (MAD) round-trip in Iberia business class for 100,000 miles + ~$350 in taxes and fees

Here are the steps for booking flights using Asia Miles:

  1. Visit Asia Miles’ Flight Awards website.
  2. Click Redeem Now.
  3. Enter your route pairing, select the airline operating the flight, and click Search.
  4. After the flight cost populates, click the desired cabin class. Choose the number of passengers and travel date(s).
  5. Choose the flight you like.
  6. Complete the booking process by paying with miles and for any taxes and fees using a credit card.

Earning Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

Earning Asia Miles is relatively easy since there are quite a few transfer partners. As mentioned above, Cathay Pacific partners with American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, Capital One Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy.

Amex and Citi transfer at a 1:1 ratio, Capital One transfers at a 2:1.5 ratio, and Marriott Bonvoy transfers at a 3:1 ratio. Amex takes around 5-7 business days to transfer, whereas Citi takes 1 business day, Capital One takes around 36 hours, and Marriott takes up to 10 business days.

Lastly, you can look into the Cathay Pacific Visa Signature® 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.

Bottom Line: The generous transfer partnerships (particularly with Citi) and reasonable business class prices make Asia Miles a worthwhile program to consider. Be sure to think about using more miles to add in stopovers, open jaws, etc. Be cautious of fuel surcharges, as Cathay Pacific passes on American and Iberia fuel surcharges to Europe. 

Japan Airlines Mileage Plan

Iberia Business Class
Iberia Business Class. Image Credit: travel-dealz.eu

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, decent award redemption prices, and no fuel surcharges.

However, Japan Airlines has come out with huge devaluations and added fuel surcharges on a host of carriers, including Emirates.

The problem with Japan Airlines currently is the lack of quality transfer partners. Japan Airlines partners only with Marriott, and its co-branded U.S. credit card, JAL U.S.A 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.

Round-trip economy flights to Spain will run you 45,000-50,000 miles, and business class will cost 80,000-100,000 miles. The price will depend on the distance you fly.

Hot Tip: With Japan Airlines, 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! 

Here are some great example routes you can take:

  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Madrid (MAD) one-way in Iberia business class for 60,000 miles + ~$180 in taxes and fees
  • Washington, D.C. (IAD) – Madrid (MAD) one-way in Iberia business class for 42,000 miles + ~$200 in taxes and fees

If you’re ready to book with Japan Airlines miles, follow these steps:

  1. Visit Japan Airlines’ website.
  2. Choose your city and language. Click Go.
  3. In the top-middle banner, click JAL Mileage Bank Login. Log in with your JAL Mileage Bank information.
  4. In the re-directed page, click Award Ticket in the same area where the previous login button was.
  5. Click Book JMB Partner Airlines Award Ticket.
  6. Select your airline. Enter your flight information, number of passengers, class of service, and click Search.
  7. Find the flight you like and pay with JAL miles and for any taxes and fees using a credit card.

Earning Japan Airlines Miles

Japan Airlines is a transfer partner with Marriott, and you can earn Marriott points with the following cards:

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card - Earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 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 Bold™ Credit Card - Earn 30,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. Earn 3X points per $1 at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels. A solid card for Marriott loyalists looking for a no-annual-fee card offering Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status.
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. Terms Apply. For rates and fees of the Bonvoy Business Card, click here.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card - earn 75,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. Earn 6x per $1 at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels plus 3x at U.S restaurants and flights booked directly with airlines. Annual fee is $450. Terms Apply. For rates and fees of the Bonvoy Brilliant card, click here.

Marriott transfers at a 3:1 ratio, with a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred to Japan Airlines. Also, transfers take around 7 business days to process.

Bottom Line: Have lots of Marriott points? If you use Japan Airlines, you can book Oneworld airline flights, including Iberia and American Airlines. You’ll still be responsible for fuel surcharges if you fly on Iberia, but you can avoid fuel surcharges by flying American Airlines.

All Nippon Airways (ANA) Mileage Club

United Polaris Lie-Flat Seat
Enjoy a lie-flat seat with direct aisle access when flying Polaris. Image Credit: United Airlines

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.

ANA offers so many sweet spots, and Europe is no exception. Keep in mind that ANA only allows round-trip bookings, so one-ways are not an option here.

There are many options that involve either the U.S. or Canada. All Canadian flights will be aboard Air Canada, and all flights departing the U.S. will be on United Airlines.

Nonstop Air Canada Routes to Spain
Montreal (YUL) – Barcelona (BCN)Toronto (YYZ) – Madrid (MAD)
Toronto (YYZ) – Barcelona (BCN)

 

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)
San Francisco (SFO) – Barcelona (BCN)

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 is not your final destination, you could work in some extra value with this generous award routing.

Here are some great example routes you can take:

  • San Francisco (SFO) – Barcelona (BCN) round-trip in United’s newest Polaris class for 88,000 miles + ~$30 in taxes and fees
  • Toronto (YYZ) – Madrid (MAD) round-trip in Air Canada Signature class for 88,000 miles + ~$47 in taxes and fees

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.

When you’re ready to redeem ANA miles for travel to Spain, follow these steps:

  1. Visit ANA’s website.
  2. In the left search box of the home screen, click Award Booking.
  3. Log into your ANA Mileage Club account.
  4. Enter the desired flight information.
  5. Click Search.
  6. Click on the resultant flight option that you like.
  7. Check out, confirm the flight with miles, and pay for taxes and fees using a credit card.

Earning ANA Miles

ANA partners with American Express Membership Rewards and Marriott.

Amex has many personal and business cards to choose from that earn Membership Rewards points, making it easy to accumulate the necessary points for this booking. 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.

Marriott transfers at a 3:1 ratio with a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred to ANA. Transfers may take around 7 business days to complete.

Bottom Line: We keep reiterating that ANA has some excellent business class sweet spots, and this is one of them. You can fly business class round-trip for 88,000 miles, add a stopover and open-jaw, and avoid fuel surcharges when flying to Spain. What’s not to like? 

Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer

Air Canada Business Class
Air Canada Signature Class on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Image Credit: Air Canada

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? You would only use Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer to fly to Spain if 2 conditions were met: 

  1. You only had Chase Ultimate Rewards points
  2. You are 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 (Saver level) to fly round-trip business class from America to Spain while Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer will run 144,000 miles.

Here are some great example routes you can take:

  • Montreal (YUL) – Barcelona (BCN) one-way on Air Canada Signature class for 72,000 miles + ~$250 in taxes and fees
  • Newark (EWR) – Madrid (MAD) one-way on United’s old Polaris class for 72,000 miles + ~$30 in taxes and fees

Here are the steps you’ll want to follow to book using Singapore KrisFlyer, as these bookings should be made over the phone:

  1. Use United Airlines or ANA to locate flight award availability.
  2. Call Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer at 800-742-3333.
  3. Feed them your flight information and pay with your miles and for any applicable taxes and fees.

Earning Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Miles

KrisFlyer miles are easy to earn, but it can cost a lot of miles to redeem for flights (as we see above when compared to ANA).

Singapore Airlines is transfer partners with Chase Ultimate RewardsAmerican Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, Capital One Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy. As a result, there are countless credit cards that make earning KrisFlyer miles easy.

Chase, Amex, and Citi transfer at a 1:1 ratio, while Capital One transfers at a 2:1 ratio and Marriott Bonvoy transfers at a 3:1 ratio with a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred to Singapore Airlines.

Chase, Amex, Citi, and Capital One take around 1-2 business days to transfer, whereas Marriott points take around 6 days to transfer.

Bottom Line: KrisFlyer miles are an option when you have lots of Ultimate Rewards points and are flying from Canada via Air Canada. Otherwise, you’d rather use ANA with your American Express points or use United MileagePlus if departing from the U.S. 

United Airlines MileagePlus

United Polaris Middle Seats
It’s only fitting to use United MileagePlus miles to fly on United’s Polaris business class! Image Credit: United Airlines

United Airlines has a couple of advantages in this situation: it has a straightforward booking process and has reasonable business class redemptions from the U.S. However, United MileagePlus offers variable award pricing, which means that the mileage cost will fluctuate over time.

Round-trip economy flights cost as little as 60,000 miles, and business class from the U.S. costs as little as 120,000 miles. We include United Airlines here because its Saver level business class rate is one of the most competitive among Ultimate Rewards partners.

British Airways can provide round-trip Oneworld economy flights for 35,000-50,000 miles, and Singapore Airlines can provide Star Alliance economy flights for 55,000 miles. These rates are more competitive than United’s economy prices.

United Airlines slightly edges out Singapore Airlines for United business class flights from the U.S. to Spain (120,000 United miles vs. 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.

Here are some great example routes you can take:

  • Newark (EWR) – Barcelona (BCN) one-way in United Polaris class from 60,000 miles + ~$5.60 in taxes and fees
  • Washington, D.C. (IAD) – Madrid (MAD) one-way in United Polaris class from 60,000 miles + ~$5.60 in taxes and fees

Here are the steps you can take to book United MileagePlus awards:

  1. Visit United’s website
  2. Enter the search parameters in the homepage’s search box, which include the city pairing, travel date(s), number of passengers, and cabin class.
  3. Click Find flights.
  4. Find the flight options that appeal to you.
  5. Pay for the flight using miles and the taxes and fees using a credit card.

Earning United MileagePlus Miles

There are a few Chase co-branded credit card options that will allow you to earn United miles directly.

You can earn Chase Ultimate Rewards that can then be transferred to United. Furthermore, United is a transfer partner with Marriott. Chase transfers at a 1:1 ratio nearly instantly. Marriott transfers at a slightly improved 3:1.1 ratio with a 5,500-mile bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred. This means that you’ll earn 27,500 United miles for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred.

In the end, you have 3 options to earn United miles:

  1. Co-branded Chase credit cards
  2. Chase Ultimate Rewards credit cards
  3. Marriott credit cards from Chase or American Express

Bottom Line: Using United miles is more convenient than almost any other frequent flyer program. You will get good value when booking United Airlines from the U.S. to Spain in business class for 120,000 miles and ~$6 in taxes and fees. 

Avianca LifeMiles

Lufthansa B747-8 First Class Seat 1A and 1K - Cherag Dubash
Lufthansa First Class is an immaculate product. Fly them to Germany and connect onwards to Spain using LifeMiles. Image Credit: Cherag Dubash

The last Star Alliance partner we’ll be mentioning is Avianca LifeMiles. LifeMiles, while full of quirks, is still a viable option in this case.

Round-trip flights between North America and Spain will cost 60,000 miles in economy, 126,000 miles in business class, and 174,000 miles in first class. To get the one-way cost, simply take half the price.

Asia Miles, a fellow Citi ThankYou partner, 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, the extra miles are saving you a handsome amount of money.

Here are some great example routes you can take:

  • Detroit (DTW) – Frankfurt (FRA) – Barcelona (BCN) one-way in Lufthansa business class for 63,000 miles + ~$31 in taxes and fees
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Frankfurt (FRA) – Madrid (MAD) one-way in Lufthansa first class for 87,000 miles + ~$31 in taxes and fees

Here are the steps to book your flights:

  1. Visit the Avianca Vuela website.
  2. Click on LifeMiles in the bottom right corner of Avianca’s homepage.
  3. Once you’re on the LifeMiles page, hover over Use and click on Airlines.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

On the other hand, Avianca LifeMiles is transfer partners with American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards as well as Capital One Rewards.

You can transfer from Amex and Citi at a 1:1 ratio, while you can transfer from Capital One at a 2:1.5 ratio. Transfers are almost instantaneous for Amex, Citi, and Capital One.

You can also earn LifeMiles miles by applying for the Banco Popular co-branded card. There aren’t many other ways to earn lots of LifeMiles besides credit card spending.

If you regularly stay at Marriott hotels, then you could possibly find transfer value with Marriott points. Marriott transfers at a 3:1 ratio with a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred.

As a last resort, you can also purchase LifeMiles. There are often sales of up to 150% bonus miles, so be on the lookout for these when they come around.

Bottom Line: LifeMiles provides a great opportunity for a niche group of travelers: Citi loyalists and those who don’t want to pay for fuel surcharges with Asia Miles through Cathay Pacific. You can also transfer from Amex, Citi, or Capital One, but there are more attractive partners than LifeMiles unless you want to avoid taxes and fees at all costs.

Air France/KLM Flying Blue

Delta One Suites A350-900 seat 8B
Delta One Suites A350-900 seat 8B. Image Credit: Stephen Au

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 to 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 round-trip, but it passes 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 quite a few flight options on SkyTeam: you’ll either fly Air Europa or Delta.

Nonstop Delta Routes to Spain
Atlanta (ATL) – Barcelona (BCN)New York City (JFK) – Barcelona (BCN)
Atlanta (ATL) – Madrid (MAD)New York City (JFK) – Madrid (MAD)

Nonstop Air Europa Routes to Spain 
New York City (JFK) – Madrid (MAD)
Miami (MIA) – Madrid (MAD)

All of the above 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, even with surcharges.

Hot Tip: Seriously consider transferring your points to Air France/KLM when transfer bonuses are offered by American Express and Citi. 

Here are some great example routes you can take:

  • Atlanta (ATL) – Madrid (MAD) one-way in Delta One for 60,000 miles + ~$30 in taxes and fees
  • New York City (JFK) – Madrid (MAD) one-way in Air Europa business class for 59,500 miles + ~$583 in taxes and fees

You can search for award availability through Air France/KLM and book awards completely online. Here’s how:

  1. Visit Air France’s website
  2. You’ll see a search box on the left-center area. Click Use my miles.
  3. Click Sign in. Enter your Flying Blue loyalty program information and click Log in.
  4. Enter your routing information, trip type (one-way or round-trip), number of passengers, and class of service.
  5. Click Find a flight.
  6. After you’ve located a flight with availability, confirm the price of the flight in miles as well as taxes and fees.
  7. Pay using Flying Blue miles and for any taxes and fees using a credit card.

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 major transferable currencies: Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Marriott Bonvoy, Capital One Rewards, and Citi ThankYou Rewards.

Chase, Amex, and Citi transfer at a 1:1 ratio, while Capital One transfers at a 2:1.5 ratio, and Marriott Bonvoy transfers at a 3:1 ratio with a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred to Flying Blue.

Amex and Capital One transfer instantly to Flying Blue, whereas Chase takes around 1 hour and Citi takes around 2 business days. Marriott takes around 1 business day for transfers to complete.

Bottom Line: Air France is a great way to book SkyTeam business class awards to Europe. You’ll pay for surcharges, but with the frequent transfer bonuses from Citi and American Express, it can save you bundles of points! 

Delta Air Lines SkyMiles

Air Europa Business Class Cabin
Try Air Europa’s lie-flat business class product with Delta SkyMiles! Image Credit: Air Europa

We’d be remiss if we mentioned SkyTeam awards without talking about Delta. Delta’s true value in this situation comes from its economy flights.

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.

Here are some great example routes you can take:

  • Miami (MIA) – Madrid (MAD) round-trip in Air Europa economy for 65,000 miles + ~$5.60 in taxes and fees
  • New York City (JFK) – Barcelona (BCN) round-trip in Delta economy for 60,000 miles + ~$5.60 in taxes and fees

You can search for award availability through Delta and book awards completely online. To book, follow the steps:

  1. Visit Delta’s website
  2. On the top of the homepage, you’ll see a large search box. Enter the flight information, trip type, travel date(s), and number of passengers.
  3. Click the button that says Shop with miles. Click Advanced Search and select Best Fares For Delta One if flying in business.
  4. Click the red arrow to search.
  5. After you’ve located award space, click the flight you wish to take.
  6. Pay with SkyMiles and for any taxes and fees using a credit card.

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 Bonvoy.

Amex transfers instantly at a 1:1 ratio, while Marriott Bonvoy takes 2 business days to transfer. Furthermore, the Marriott transfer ratio is 3:1 with a 5,000 SkyMiles bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred to Delta.

Recommended Delta Cards

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card- use this card to get one free checked bag for you and up to 8 companions on your itinerary, which we see as a "must-have" if you fly Delta regularly. Earn 35,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Card also now earn 2x miles at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets in addition to 2x miles on Delta purchases (1x on all other purchases). For rates and fees of the Delta Gold card, click here.

However — you may be eligible for a (much) higher offer by using the CardMatch Tool. (There's no pull on your credit to check for personalized offers.)

Korean Air SKYPASS

Air Europa Business Class Dining
Enjoy a unique business class experience to Spain with 80,000 Korean Air miles on SkyTeam partners such as Air Europa! Image Credit: Air Europa

The final option that we’ll be looking at in this guide is Korean Air’s own SKYPASS program. The drawback is that you’ll only be able to earn Korean Air miles from Marriott Bonvoy.

Korean Air charges 50,000 miles for round-trip economy and 80,000 miles round-trip in business class.

If you can earn these miles and you’re fine with booking round-trip flights, you’re definitely going to want to look at Korean Air miles. The drawback is that you’re going to pay a lot of fuel surcharges, so watch out for that.

As we alluded to, Korean Air miles are hard to earn. In fact, it is now similar to Japan Airlines and Asiana with Marriott as the sole transfer partner for its tempting award redemptions.

One frustrating part of the Korean Air SKYPASS program is that it doesn’t allow you to book awards for anyone who is not a direct family member. In addition, you are required to submit the SKYPASS Family Registration Application prior to booking for a family member.

Here are some great example routes you can take:

  • Atlanta (ATL) – Barcelona (BCN) round-trip in Delta One for 80,000 miles + ~$600 in taxes and fees
  • New York City (JFK) – Madrid (MAD) round-trip in Delta One for 80,000 miles + ~$600 in taxes and fees

Although it’s possible to book partner flights online using Korean Air SKYPASS, it’s generally not recommended due to the clunkiness of the search system. Here’s how you can book:

  1. Use the previously discussed Delta Air Lines strategy to find availability.
  2. Call Korean Air at 800-438-5000.
  3. Feed them your flight information.
  4. Book the ticket with miles, and pay for any applicable taxes and fees with a credit card.

Earning Korean Air SKYPASS Miles

Korean Air miles are among the hardest miles to earn. Their sole transfer partner is Marriott Bonvoy. Marriott transfers at a 3:1 ratio with a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 points transferred to Marriott. Transfer times will vary wildly, though it usually falls somewhere between 2-3 weeks.

Bottom Line: If you happen to have lots of Korean Air miles or Marriott points and are fine with paying fuel surcharges, definitely give this program a long, hard look. 

Other Options

It’s also possible to book with other airlines such as Asiana Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Air Canada, and Korean Air, but those were excluded here for the following possible reasons:

  • Uncompetitive award rates
  • High fuel surcharges
  • Other viable alternatives with the same transfer partners

Final Thoughts

All routes from the U.S. 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 we’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!


Frequently asked questions

Which airlines include carrier-imposed surcharges on award flights to Spain?

Cathay Pacific, Korean Air, and Air France each impose fuel surcharges on flights to Spain.

What is the fewest number of miles you can use to book an economy class award flight to Spain?

You can use Japan Airlines Mileage Bank to book Oneworld flights for 45,000-47,000 miles round-trip. You can also use Ultimate Rewards on British Avios for 40,000-50,000 miles round-trip, or American Express Membership Rewards on ANA for 55,000 miles round-trip.

What is the fewest number of miles required to fly business class to Spain?

Without a doubt, ANA has the best business-class value of 88,000 miles for round-trip business class. This also includes an open jaw or stopover for free!

If you have Marriott points, you can book business class for 80,000-85,000 miles using Japan Airlines Mileage Bank or 80,000 miles using Korean Air SKYPASS.

What is the fewest number miles required to fly first class to Spain?

First class is not offered on routes from the U.S. or Canada to Spain.

Stephen Au

About Stephen Au

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Stephen has been privileged to enjoy many premium cabin products and 5-star hotels. A petroleum engineer by trade, Stephen caught the travel bug in college when he traveled to Asia several times. After 2 years of continual promotions, Stephen quit his safe and secure career path in favor of entrepreneurship.

We respect your privacy. Please view our privacy policy here.

Disclaimer: Any comments listed below are not from the bank advertiser, nor have they been reviewed or approved by them. No responsibility will be taken by the bank advertiser for these comments.

14 comments

  1. Michelle L Casey September 5, 2018

    Tell me about using my capital one miles. I have 200,000 miles. Lax to Barcelona.

    Reply

    • Capital One miles are fixed value. You’ll be able to use it to pay for cash plane tickets. You just log into your Capital One account and use your rewards to purchase plane tickets.

      Reply

  2. Fantastic article – written like a true engineer! Taking a family of four on a trip from LAX to Washington DC to Madrid, then returning Barcelona to LAX unfortunately during peak season in summer. Using Chase Ultimate Rewards Points on Sapphire Reserve:

    1) Worth saving Chase only for flights to/from Europe?
    2) Preferable to book each leg separately on optimal carrier?
    3) Any savings in flying into smaller regional European airports, or in listing them as final destination?

    Any other suggestions are most welcome. Newbie excited to learn, this is my first points trip.

    Thanks!

    Reply

    • Hey CD! Thanks for reading the guide. We’ve got tons of other guides for different countries, along with the best ways to redeem your points for MAX value!

      Generally, Chase Ultimate Rewards points using the travel portal at 1.5 cents per point is best for economy flights.

      You can fly in business or first class for more points, which gets you ~$5,000-$15,000 flights for almost nothing.

      1) Chase is useful for flights around the world, not just Europe!
      2) Using a website like momondo.com or google.com/flights will allow you to plan flights as one itinerary. If you book flights on separate reservations, you have to pick up luggage and clear security every single time. It’s up to you how much of a headache you’re willing to put up with to save time.
      3) We can’t help without more information on which airports. Use Google Flights to help plan your trip! It’s a great resource.

      Reply

  3. Stephen Manson March 31, 2019

    I have been trying to book Iberia flights through Oneworld American Airlines miles and all they come up with is Iberia Avios. Even if I call American they do not know how to do it. It is impossible for me because up until today I have never heard of Iberia Avios; I have always booked through American Airline miles. What do you know about this new turn of events?

    Reply

    • Stephen Au April 1, 2019

      Hey Stephen,

      You will not book using Iberia Avios. You will get the flight information and call American Airlines to help book with AA miles. You spend AA miles but fly on Iberia flights. Thanks for reading.

      Reply

  4. Excellent article and very well written…exactly what I needed to understand international award travel!

    We are taking our family of 4 on a cruise next June out of Barcelona and I’m needing to fly on my AA miles. We plan to fly to Barcelona or Madrid (and take the bullet train to Barcelona). My husband and I each have enough miles for our business class tickets but need to use Membership Miles for the kids. Each of us has an AA account (kids included) but not a BA account. He and I share the AmExp Account. I assume I will set up a BA account and transfer miles from AmExp to BA and follow the your directions above.

    The confusion is whose name do I set up the BA account in to make this all work?

    Also, I will be booking the first day they are available to hopefully get the 57,500 miles each way. I presume I will book the outbound the day it is available and book the return the day it becomes available. Basically booking 2 one-way tickets.

    Thank you for all of your help and any suggestions or insight.

    Reply

    • Christine Krzyszton April 25, 2019

      Hi JXD. Thank you for your kind words and sharing your trip plans. Stephen, the author of this article, may have some advice too but I do know that the account you transfer from (the American Express Membership Rewards points account) and the account you transfer to (the BA Executive account), can either be the primary Amex cardholder’s account or the Amex authorized user on the account. You may want to have the primary American Express cardholder open the BA account for the transfer to facilitate smoothly. Once you have transferred points, it cannot be reversed.

      Reply

  5. Great article. I looked in AA for business tickets using points (PHL>MAD), but it came up double what you outlined per round trip. Did I do something wrong?

    Reply

  6. Great article but it looks like for the 115k AA booking through American and operated by British, the taxes and surcharges are over $1,300 and not the $50-150. Am I doing something wrong?

    Reply

    • Hi Sean,

      For the $50-$150 taxes and surcharges, you want to look for a flight operated by American Airlines or Iberia, not British Airways.

      Reply

  7. Hello, I’m confused about AA & BA. The dates I’m searching for ORD-MAD are 42k + $56 in economy round trip on AA.com. In your guide, you say to search BA and then call AA. I’m not understanding why I want to search on BA and would not just book directly on AA. I’ve seen instructions previously for finding an AA flight and then booking it on BA using Avios, but I’m lost on why I should search BA first and then call AA to book with them. Thank you for your time.

    Reply

    • Hi Deanna,

      It is a good idea to check flight options on both platforms because, at times, British Airways will show availability that does not show up on the American Airlines site, and vice versa.

      Reply

Any thoughts or questions? Comment below!

Advertiser Disclosure

Many of the credit card offers that appear on this site are from credit card companies from which we receive financial compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). However, the credit card information that we publish has been written by experts who know these products inside out, and what we recommend is what we would (or already) use ourselves. This site does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers that are on the market. Click here to see a list of advertisers that we work with.