What a week of football it’s been. The race is now very much on to get to Madrid on June 1st for the Champions League final between Tottenham and Liverpool.
As a fan of one of the two finalists, I have a good idea of what many supporters are going through right now in terms of finding flights to Madrid. I can’t make it to the final, unfortunately, but hopefully, these tips can help you get to Madrid without blowing your life savings.
Whether you’re a Spurs or Liverpool fan, here are five ways you can use miles and points to fly to Madrid for the 2019 Champions League Final.
If you were thinking about an easy direct flight from London or Liverpool to Madrid forgeddaboutit!
Here’s what availability on direct flights from London to Madrid on Friday 31st May currently looks like:
The day of the final itself is even worse:
Direct options from Liverpool/Manchester to Madrid are no better:
So you’re going to need a stop somewhere along the way.
The first bit of advice I’d offer is to piece your trip together bit by bit. You’re likely to be booking flights on a bunch of different airlines anyway and this way you won’t end up missing out on your preferred flights because one part of the trip won’t come together.
Option 1 – Reward Flight saver to…anywhere but Madrid
Note: I’ve searched for two passengers on each of these routes. If you need just a single ticket, you may have additional success.
Reward Flight Saver is one of the best ways to use British Airways Avios, with taxes capped at just £35 per person return. Madrid is out of the question of course but I’m currently seeing availability from London to:
Friday 31st May
- Amsterdam – 4,500 Avios
- Lisbon – 15,000 Avios (Business class)
- Ibiza – 7,500 Avios
- Rome – 15,000 Avios (Business class)
- Palma de Mallorca – 7,500/15,000 Avios (Economy/Business class)
- Milan – 9,000 Avios
- Zurich – 4,500/9,000 Avios
Saturday 1st June
- Milan – 4,500/9,000 Avios
- Zurich – 4,500/9,000 Avios
Option 2 – Iberia Plus is your friend
Madrid is Iberia’s hub airport. That means that you’re likely to find a large range of Iberia flights from other European airports or indeed other Spanish cities to Madrid. Flying on Iberia opens up the possibility of redeeming Avios via their Iberia Plus frequent flyer program.
You can transfer Avios freely and instantly from British Airways Executive Club to Iberia Plus using the Combine my Avios tool.
For example, Avios availability via either ba.com or the Iberia website is still excellent on Friday 31st May from Barcelona to Madrid. Find a cheapish ticket to Barcelona and you’re good to go.
There are also options for the return leg on Sunday 2nd June. For the best choice of flights, use Iberia Plus, which appears to have a much wider choice of availability compared to the BA website.
A return Madrid-Barcelona trip on Iberia costs just 13,000 Avios + £44 per person.
Option 3 – Reduce the cost of cash flights by using Avios on Vueling
The other week, I wrote about my decision to Part Pay with Avios on Vueling. While I didn’t get great value for my Avios at all, it did at least allow me to significantly reduce cash the cost of my (expensive) ticket.
Considering how expensive accommodation and match tickets will be, you may be similarly happy to use some Avios to offset the cost of your flights.
This may be especially helpful on the way home, as miles options for those who want to be on work by Monday morning, look particularly scarce.
Option 4 – Extra BA Gold Avios availability
British Airways Gold members can access additional economy Avios availability (also known as V class availability). If you’re a BA Gold member or have a friend/family member who would be willing to book for you, this is another option. There are no extra charges for redeeming Avios this way, so you’ll still benefit from Reward Flight Saver capped pricing.
For example, at the time of writing, there is currently additional economy availability on the following routes from London:
Friday 31st May
- Palma de Mallorca
Saturday 1st June
Option 5 – Use BA OnBusiness points
As with the additional BA Gold Avios availability above, members of the British Airways OnBusiness scheme have access to different availability when it comes to redeeming OnBusiness points.
Direct flights to Madrid are still a no-go, but there is currently very good availability to Ibiza on Saturday 1st June for example.
Flights are workable but hotels are much more tricky in terms of using points. It seems most hotels are either sold out or available for massively inflated pricing. There’s certainly no standard room availability using Hilton, Hyatt, IHG or Marriott points. Here a couple of tips to bear in mind.
Minimise your nights in Madrid
This may seem obvious but fans will want to spend as much time in Madrid as possible, soaking up the atmosphere ahead of the game. This might not be the most wallet-friendly approach though.
Instead, if you are stopping elsewhere in Europe en route to Madrid, consider overnighting there before continuing your journey on the day of the game.
At this point, you may have little choice but to pay an extortionate amount to stay in Madrid on the night of the final. But you can save yourself a small fortune by redeeming points or finding a cheap hotel room in Barcelona/Ibiza/Milan/Zurich etc en route to Madrid.
Hotel elite status ‘reservation guarantees’
One of the perks of Hilton Diamond status is the 48-hour Reservation Guarantee. The Hilton website describes this as follows:
Need a room at the last minute? You are guaranteed a room when you make a reservation at least 48 hours prior to your arrival.
Bear in mind the following restrictions in the Hilton T&Cs:
RESTRICTIONS: This guarantee does not apply to a hotel when that hotel becomes overbooked on inventory by 10% or more (meaning, 110% or more of rooms are reserved). For certain hotels within the Hilton Portfolio, this guarantee does not apply when that hotel becomes overbooked on inventory by 2% or more (meaning, 102% or more of rooms are reserved). Consult with the individual hotel or view hotels with the 2% cap to determine whether the 2% limitation applies.
This guarantee also does not apply to any hotel during Extraordinary Demand Dates. The term “Extraordinary Demand Dates” are dates determined by the hotel and Hilton Honors, in their sole discretion, that are consistently popular reservation dates for guests, such as during major events in the area or New Year’s Eve.
There’s no guarantee that any of these hotels won’t term this period an extraordinary period, but before you shell out £860 a night for something like this, a quick call to the various reservations departments is probably worth your while.
If you do make it to Madrid, this guide to the city from GSTP is well worth a read.
Are you heading to Madrid for the final – how have you booked?
Header image credit: kovop58 / Shutterstock.com