Cuidado! Iberia Doesn’t Have a 24 Hour Cancellation on Award Tickets


The Iberia Award Booking Cancellation Policy is another installment of the Booking series which provides directions for each reservation TPOL makes.

Initially, I wanted a flight to Albania to sort of make good on my stupid marketing ploy, Vote Where TPOL Moves in December (For Real This Time). I found availability on Iberia from ORD-MAD for 50k Avios. While that’s not a great deal compared to my the best deal ever, 25k Avios from MAD-ORD, it was an easy way to get over the pond during the summer. Since I already had the points in my Iberia account, a currency that I do not value as much as MR’s or UR’s, I booked the ticket and went on with my day.

Much like my initial booking from the the US to Kilimanjaro for 80k United points, this booking was not creative. I ended up cancelling the Kili booking and putting together a far more creative itinerary (see an An Insane Use of The United ‘Free’ One way (Part 1) and An Insane Use of The United ‘Free’ One Way (Part 2)) which allowed me to fly to South America and then to Africa for 105k United points (see South America & Africa Points Heist Trip Report).

With the same buyer’s remorse, I tried to cancel my Iberia booking the next day. I assumed that the 24 hour rule would apply but was not sure. Unlike Alex the legal contributor for Frequent Miler, TPOL the traveler does not read the fine print. It came as a surprise when I was told that it would cost $40 to cancel the ticket regardless if I did it the next day or a month later. Anytime beyond 24 hours before departure would result in a $40 fee.

I have yet to cancel the flight as I am still trying to piece together my round the world itinerary. When I do cancel, I will put this $40 fee in the losing column in what has otherwise been an immaculate booking record.

Google Iberia points cancellation or look on Iberia’s website (something I admittedly did not bother to do before booking) and tell me where it spells out the award booking cancellation policy. Next time I book an awards ticket on a foreign carrier, I will call and verify the rules with a live person. And there you have it.

Snookered by my own stupidity.






  1. Actually, although most Iberia call center agents are clueless on it, there is a hold and cancellation policy for US customers through the Customer Service Plan required of each airline by DOT. Here is Iberia’s, with the relevant clause provided. Have to push a bit, and would only have saved you $15 in this case, but just for future ref…
    (look towards bottom of page for ‘Customer Service Plan’ link)

    4. Allowing Reservations to Be Held or Cancelled Without Penalty for a Defined Amount of Time
    When you make your travel reservation by telephone, via SERVIBERIA or with any of our other reservation centres outside Spain, please note that:
    You may hold your reservation without paying for the ticket, for a 24 hour period, subject to the expiry dates relating to the ticket.
    If you book a fare and pay for it at the time of booking, you may cancel it, subject to payment of a $25 service charge, within 24 hours of making the booking. If a refund is required, this can only be carried out where the ticket was originally issued: Serviberia, Iberia ticket offices or authorised agencies.

    • Although you do have to call for that policy to apply, and I haven’t been able to figure out if they try to charge you a fee to do so, even if the policy seems to imply it should be free

  2. Looks like it applies to revenue tickets as well. Good to know. I got into an argument with someone who claimed the EU has the same cooling off rule but neither of us could find a source either way. Guess this proves that law does not exist!

      • What do you mean by “same thing.”

        The guy (or gal) I referenced claimed that all EU tickets have a 24 hour cooling off period. I was unsure if that was true but after reading your post and the Iberia site, I now realize it was false.

  3. The Iberia agent (guy or girl) said that Iberia does not have a 24 hour cooling off period. He said EU rules apply. When I book BA tickets, there is 24 hours. The Iberia agent said BA bookings are technically made in the US so US rules apply.

  4. Oh I see. “He” refers to your IB CSR. I thought you meant my anonymous internet friend.

    Correct. My understanding is that DOT rules only apply to tickets that touch US soil which is why one ought to be mindful booking foreign airlines. Furthermore, that rule only applies to the airlines, not OTAs.

    This raises a legal question: How do lawyers prove that a law doesn’t exist? Is there a mechanism to do that?

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