In unannounced fashion, Chase added two new airlines to its reward program: Iberia Plus and Aer Lingus. These are two airlines that are both members of the Avios family. This means that it was already possible to transfer Avios to these programs via British Airways, a current transfer partner of Chase. So while this doesn’t exactly open up new opportunities it does make your life a lot easier if you didn’t already have an Iberia account.
While it was and still is possible to transfer Avios from British Airways to Iberia, this was only possible after you have met some specific requirements, such as having activity in your account and having your account open for a specified time period (90 days).
Unfortunately, a lot of people would not realize that they wanted to use Iberia until a random opportunity would arise. At that point, they’d realize that they would have to wait 3 months just to initiate the transfer between the programs. Add in some instances, some people experienced technical issues with the transfer itself and so you could see why transferring to Iberia via British Airways was problematic.
But now you can transfer directly to Iberia and Aer Lingus and totally avoid those issues. So while these aren’t exactly new redemption opportunities being presented, the convenience factor is very useful and will help many to avoid headaches.
It’s also worth noting that while these programs are similar, they don’t have the same exact same award charts. The Iberia Avios award chart is different from British Airways and has some unique sweet spots. For example, business class redemptions from places like Chicago to Madrid are cheaper when using Iberia versus British Airways. On the other hand, economy redemptions from the East Coast to Europe will likely be cheaper with British Airways/Aer Lingus.
While these new partners don’t add “true” new redemption opportunities for Ultimate Rewards, having them as transfer partners makes using them much more convenient. Also, these programs are likely to merge into a single loyalty program at some point in the near future, so it’s nice to be able to more easily take advantage of the unique perks of each program while they still use distinct award charts.