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Flight Deals from SEA or LAX to BCN using points? Iberia vs another carrier?

College graduation present trip to Barcelona and trying to splurge for business class or economy plus for 4 people. I have set up an alert on Google Flights for tracking from SEA (Seattle) to BCN and/or PDX to BCN. We'd like non-stop. Open to flying from LAX if it offers substantial savings. I know not to fly through London due to additional fees. The end goal from a flight alert is to log onto the Citi portal and purchase tickets with credit card points plus some "cash".

We are still TBD about visiting in a June. (We really don't do crowds well and seek out quiet places and wilt in the heat, but this is her trip :-) We are also looking at September or November. Discussing pros/cons of the day time light and temps. I'm hoping for September of 2025.

Wondering if anyone has tips for scoring business class deals using points? If so, how far in advance? Also, thoughts on Iberia vs. using a major US carrier? Does Iberia offer specials like Iceland Air? Any tips for doing a points conversion to air miles at a specific airline and then hoping the tickets are still sitting there? I've been reading The Points Guy and a few other things, but still a bit intimidated about the flights. I keep thinking we will need to be ready to commit to airfare in late December of '24 based on what I saw as specials in late December of '23.

Thanks!

Posted by
6788 posts

Honestly, this is the wrong place to get specific answers to your points-related questions (you'll get well-intentioned responses here but they won't be terribly useful). It's a complex stew, no simple answers, so head over to flyertalk and wade into the pool, bring some patience.

That said, you need to calibrate your expectations...

  1. FOUR tickets in business class is orders-of-magnitude more difficult than one or two.

  2. June - do you mean THIS June of 2024? If so, you are probably about 6-7 months late to the game. Any decent business class award seats typically get snapped up within minutes of when they were made available (which for travel in June/July 2024 would have been last July/August). The time to book award seats for September or November of 2025 will be October or December of 2024 respectively. Most programs release seats about 11 months out (exact dates vary and may or may not be consistent). Do the research, mark your calendar, and be on your A-game.

  3. Take anything you read from the source you named with a gigantic hunk of salt; it is not a trustworthy source (same for most similar sources). There, you are the product. By comparison, Flyertalk - though rough around the edges and very jargon-filled - is at least honest and has no hidden agenda to monetize you.

  4. There really are no "deals" on business class award points (at least none that are legitimate). You just have to be there when the tickets are released, and jump before everyone else does. Be very wary of the sites you're looking at, most of them are quite misleading, and have a direct financial conflict of interest (I'm trying to be nice...).

  5. There are no nonstop flights to Spain from Seattle or Portland (no matter what currency you are paying with and no matter how much you are willing to pay). Your best bet is finding a nonstop from SEA or PDX to somewhere in Europe (those are pretty scarce) and connecting there for the hop to your actual destination. You could connect elsewhere in the US but often the connections/itineraries can become pretty ugly.

  6. Iberia is fine, no worse than any US carrier with a more familiar name. They do fly (a little) from California airports to Spain. If you can manage to snag one of their flights, I would do so, and find a way to make that work.

Hope you are bring a LOT of points to spend - four business class tickets RT will probably require a shipload. Good luck.

Posted by
23 posts

Thanks, David. Appreciate the response and thoughts to consider. Looking at 2025. Yes, we may very much land in premium economy :-) but one can try! My dad was a million miler plus. Eons ago we flew 12 people to New Zealand business class on miles - round trip no less. That sure is a thing of the past.

Posted by
23 posts

Also thank you, Dave. Good to know they are all part of the same parent company.

Posted by
8650 posts

It would help if you could clarify if you plan to transfer Capital One points to an Airline's Frequent Flier Program in order to purchase the tickets (There are 15 transfer partners) or if you plan to simply use the points as part of the payment for a trip purchased through Capital One Travel. Often the best deals happen when you transfer to a partner's frequent flier program and then redeem for a flight through that program. Here is a link to the list of Capital One transfer partners https://www.capitalone.com/credit-cards/travel-partners/

Example: I transferred miles to United from my Chase card. I then bought a business class ticket on Turkish Airlines for a flight to Istanbul through United using points. Had I traded those miles for direct cash they would have been worth $800. If I had made my reservation through their travel portal, they would have been worth $1200. Neither of those were likely to get me a nonstop Business Class ticket from Seattle to Istanbul. Using the transfer partner made that possible.

You can not book flights any sooner than around 330 days out. What you can do is start tracking prices both through reward redemption and purchase.

You asked for tips. Here is mine: Be flexible!

Edited to Add: Since you live in the PNW, chances are good you are already a member of Alaska's Frequent Flier program. If you choose to purchase your flights through Capital One or the Airlines directly, you may want to look at Alaska's partners in the One World Alliance as you could then earn Alaska Frequent Flier miles for your trip. https://www.oneworld.com/members

Posted by
23 posts

HI Carol,

Thanks for the good advice. Yes, I have read that it is best to turn points into miles and then buy through the airline you converted points to. I'm a little stressed about getting 4 tickets that way, but I'm going to do my best to try - if there is enough cost savings to justify the conversion (and fear of then converting and not getting the seats we need).

I've been tracking for about a month at this point through both Google Flights and Sky Scanner. I set up alerts for two different departure points and for 3 different date ranges. I did notice good sales after Christmas and into the early new year. Then the prices jumped a lot.

Good tip on Alaska. It would be nice to at least earn miles for flights overseas. We do earn Alaska miles now, but I don't have a lot of those miles to use as they go towards getting the college student home every year for spring break, Thanksgiving, and Christmas holidays. After years of saving miles, we are just about out of Alaska miles as we get near to graduation. I am used to booking 330 days out on those college holiday travel windows :-)

Thanks! All the feedback is helping me hone and giving me some new things to think on, but also encouraging me I'm not totally off the mark.

Posted by
27434 posts

I believe there are differences in the ways airlines price their mileage tickets. On United, mileage tickets are priced on a one-way basis. A roundtrip mileage ticket is just the sum of the miles required for the two one-way flights. That policy makes it easy to fly business class eastbound, on the overnight flight, and come back from Europe in coach--assuming you can find the business class flight for a reasonable number of miles (which it seems is an issue). Splitting the trip in that way would normally require a lot fewer miles than flying business class in both directions.

If you think you might need to trim your mileage expenditure in that way, investigate the mileage-ticket policies of all the airlines to which you might transfer your credit card points so you know which ones are more likely to be viable for you.

I want to warn you about an unlikely but theoretically possible issue with Iberia which could conceivably affect you if you bought tickets from that airline with money rather than points.. In the last year or two several people have found their way to this forum to complain that flight credits they held on Iberia disappeared, having been used by unknown persons to purchase tickets for other people. Except in one case the airline has seemingly disavowed all responsibility, yet it seems clear there is an Iberia insider involved--someone who has access to information on flight credits and is sharing it with others. This would not be a problem for you unless something happened (canceled flight, family illness, etc.) that caused you to end up with flight credits on Iberia.

Posted by
23 posts

acraven, Thank you! I took a look and most of our flights back would be during the day and about 14 hours and that is a great idea. I particularly like the idea of the overnight from SEA to BCN for non-stop and then coming home economy or premium economy during the daytime. Appreciate this input! (And I appreciate the heads up on Iberia!)

Posted by
6788 posts

There are NO nonstop flights between SEA and Spain - NONE. At any price. On any airline. No airline flies nonstop between SEA and Spain (or Portugal). So you're going to need to let that go.

You really should be getting help for this question elsewhere; folks here are well-motivated and trying to be helpful, but this is not the place to solve your issue.

Posted by
8650 posts

I am going to disagree a bit with David here. I think you can get some good help from forum members. His idea to also look at Flyer Talk is not bad, but I am not quite so quick to dismiss the knowledge on this board. I do think that the more you can learn and the more options you explore, the better.

Posted by
23 posts

Hi David, I'm a bit all over the map on Spain right now. I am searching many airports and lots of times we see some summer non-stops show up as seasonal options whether from PDX or SEA. I can't get into 2025 yet, at least not for the dates we want, but one can hope. We are willing to travel and stay overnight in a larger city to go direct if needed. Have family in various places on the west coast. Thanks!